Lost Sailor 

I mentioned this hiker we met named Lost Sailor who we stayed with at The Green Mountain House   Hiker Hostel.  He was one week into the Long Trail Northbound and he was feeling pretty beat up and had just taken his first day off the trail at the hostel to recover.  He was super friendly and we chatted with him quite a bit sharing stories. He hiked the AT in 2000.  He was 57.  He was a really nice guy and very social. Jeff, the incredibly generous owner of the hostel gave us all a ride back to the trailhead together just this past Friday morning.  I kinda wanted to hug Lost Sailor but we fist bumped instead and we wished each other the best since he was going north and we were going south. I remember this moment so clearly as I was just kind of struck by this guys humility and sensitivity and openness to us.  He called us by our trail names and it was connecting.  We have since talked about him a lot and wondered how he was doing and I was seriously rooting for the guy!  

He told us that the Long Trail’s nickname is “The Quiter’s Trail” because it’s so hard and so many people quit. He gave us so many props for getting all the way to southern Vermont.  Before we parted ways he asked for my blog address and I was really hoping he would write me and tell me his adventures as he hiked north.  I was looking forward to keeping in touch with him.  

We were just googling Long Trail stuff and found this news that someone died  on the Long Trail who was from Indiana and put it together that it was him.  He died on the trail just 10 miles north of Manchester.  I was just literally just reading his AT Trail Journals earlier today.  So shocking and so sad and my heart goes out to his family and friends and the trail community for this loss.  We are stunned.  We have talked about Lost Sailor everyday since we met him and I have been imagining him hiking north.  

Lost Sailor you are in our hearts.


16 thoughts on “Lost Sailor 

  1. Tam,
    This is so beautifully written. The fragility of life. Now I too will remember Lost Sailor. I felt a sense of shock reading your words and the newspaper article May his memory be a blessing to all who knew him. Always.

  2. wow, life sure has its uncertainties. I am glad you met lost sailor and it is so sad that he is off this earthbound trail. I like the thought of him being in your hearts for always.

  3. Thank you for such a beautiful tribute to the Lost Sailor. He was a very special person and dear friend. We traveled from Indianapolis and I hiked the Pine Cobble Trail to the start of the Long trail with him. He was in good spirits when I left him and doing what he so passionately loved. We have to remember that not very many people get to leave this earth exactly how they would want to. He was a wonderful person that touched everyone he met and so deserving. We had numerous conversations regarding following you dreams while you can as you never know when you will run out of tomorrows. Safe travels to you and all you meet on the trails.

    • Brenda, I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Lost Sailor was clearly an incredibly passionate human being who touched many lives including mine for however brief. His spirit will live on the trail and inspire us to follow our dreams. Sending my deepest condolences.

  4. This is Lost Sailor’s sister Mary Ellen. How ironic now that Michael has gone home I am lost. I cannot express my sorrow nor describe just how the pain has taken over my days since his death. Reading your beautiful words only reinforces what I already knew. Michael was a great man of integrity, honesty, courage, love, and loyalty. Did he have flaws? Absolutely. Did he make mistakes? Yes. But above all that he exuberated a sense of ease with life and all it had to offer. Michael never met a stranger. His passion for the AT and nature itself was with him wherever he went. It is with a heavy heart to see him in my mind out on the trail. I know he has gone on to the biggest trail to hike home never to be lost again. Thank you again for catching Michaels character in such a short time. He was greatly loved and will be missed beyond measure.

    • Mary Ellen I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. I continue to be humbled by the endless waves he made and the far reaching impact he had on so many people. Grateful to have crossed paths with him and I’m so deeply sorry for this heartbreaking and unexpected loss.

  5. I have been thinking about the lost sailor and how he came in and out of your life so quickly Think about what he told u.

    Find the message

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Tam, thank you so much for the beautiful post. It is the last of so many encounters the Lost Sailor had that affected people deeply. As a travelling and life partner of his for 6 years, we had many adventures and met so many wonderful people, but unlike our dear Lost Sailor, I was initially so shy and afraid to talk to the strangers we met. He had no such qualms…people warmed to him naturally, and through the years, I tried to learn by his example and began to open myself up as well. In the years before I knew him, he had already lived 10 lifetimes compared to most, and every day with him was a new adventure in itself. Thank you again for the wonderful record of one of his last days, and good luck in all your future adventures.

    • Hi Angie, I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine. He mentioned you and when I heard that he passed I remembered him talking about his partner and my heart broke for you without knowing you. I’m headed to Vermont tomorrow for the day and if you want me to pass on any information to the Green Mountain Club or if there is anything I can do, feel free to email me at tamwilley@gmail.com

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