Got a Loved One on the Appalachian Trail?

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Warrior Hiker Adam "Machine" Bautz giving the "thumbs-up" to Nicole Hauser's story, "My Heart is on the AT."

Passionate people hike the Appalachian Trail (AT).

Most leave behind passionate people who love them and miss them. For months and months.

A lot can change in 30 weekends.

Thru-hiking the AT takes more than a new pair of Keds and a Transformers backpack. It's 2,181 miles of mountains, swamps, flatlands and valleys.

My guess is the valleys knock as many people off the Trail as the mountains do. You get lonely. You miss your loved ones. They miss you. You begin to wonder .

If you're going to make it, you're going to need your very own support group.

Warrior Hiker Adam "Machine" Bautz has more than one support group. He's hiking with his buddies from "Walk Off the War."

His girlfriend, Nicole Hauser, is also urging him on ... from afar.

Nicole was kind enough to share her thoughts with us about what that's like. She calls it

"My Heart is on the AT."

As I sat and stared at a blank screen trying to figure out where to start, joy and sadness both overcame me: my heart is on the AT. It's funny that you never really believe in soul mates, or coming across (and know from that moment) the one person you are meant to be with, until it actually happens.

"The connection we have in undeniable and there's no reason not to be together. It will be hard, but there is no question it's worth it" we said as we looked into each other's eyes the last night we had together. We were in a crowded bar with no recollection of anyone around us. To each other, we were the only people there. That's what stands out to me most about that night. Crowds came and went, and we left hand in hand having the best conversation to date about our lives and how we became the people we are today, and more importantly: our goals for tomorrow.

I left that weekend knowing I have met one of the most incredible people of my life and regardless of distance, he would have my support the entire way.

The strength of this man was obvious to me, but the respect I gained from hearing about how he has become who is today will never be able to be justified by words. I hope everyone gets to meet someone like this in their lifetime.

Adam Bautz, you are a true inspiration.

So how is life dating someone hiking the AT?

Long distance is a tough thing to deal with; but, long distance without being able to talk is something completely new and at times, incredibly frustrating.

I think there is so much truth behind the quote by Charles R. Swindoll: "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." When all I want to do is pick up the phone and share news, an event, a breakthrough and can't -- I have to sit back and think of the number of reasons not to get sad and upset, but to be proud and excited. I'll get to share the news, just not now. If I ever had to learn patience the hard way -- this is most definitely it.

I have been lucky enough to stay in touch with Adam a great amount through the first month of this hike. Big thank you to for providing him with a lightweight solar panel to charge his phone! There are never set-times of contact due to spotty service, but the random check-ins and fun videos sent back and forth make this time much more bearable.

Warrior Hike is an incredible organization that is giving such a wonderful group of people the opportunity to bond, learn about each other, and walk off the war united. Although I am not part of it, the engagement and excitement they have about their hikers makes you feel like you want to somehow be involved, veteran or not.

Although at times I may have a strong feeling of loneliness overcome me, hearing first-hand from my warrior about the incredible events, fundraising, and overwhelming hospitably from the people he meets fills my heart with so much joy.

These warriors are out there doing an amazing thing not only for themselves, but for the countless people they are helping in the end, and even along the trail. The joy they bring to people is evident in the photos, articles, and press coverage that is taking place. Through Adam, I have learned the trail names of this amazing group and I am so thrilled to meet everyone when I make my way down for a visit in Damascus, VA in May.

Strength during this time is everything, but strength comes easy when you have met someone that has changed your life like Adam has done to mine. I couldn't be more proud that my better half is on this journey and impacting the lives of so many.

Nicole Hauser


Thanks, Nicole.

You are inspirational too. Thanks for supporting your own personal Warrior Hiker.

I've met Adam. Your comments about him were spot on.

May Adam make it to Mount Katahdin and may you both make it to "living happily ever after."

We can all support Warrior Hikers by clicking here.

Tags: Events, Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, and Festivals

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.