Each year, members of various branches of the Armed Services come through Silver City as they continue their through hikes of the Continental Divide Trail. Each hiker has his own story.
Four of the five that have undertaken this journey arrived in Silver City on Friday, April 28, 2017, after completing the first approximate 150 miles. They were welcomed that evening, as is customary, by Jim and Connie Zawacki at their home.
Heath Lanctot, who was born and raised in Minnesota and now lives in Virginia, served in the Marine Corps for seven years.
"This hike is a life reset from the Marine Corps and a move on for me," Lanctot said. "I love the woods and mountains."
He said he would still be serving in the Corps, but when he decided to become an officer with an overage waiver, he blew a knee, and they wouldn't let him continue.
John French, who hails from Mobile, Ala., spent three years in the Army.
"I am looking to complete the triple crown of hikes," French said. "I've done the Pacific Crest and the Appalachian, so this is my third.
He said he has been living the vagabond life. "I just got back from Southeast Asia. I have a degree in electrical engineering. I guess I'll use it."
Jeremy Tierney grew up in Michigan and spent 20 years in the Army.
"I'm actually still in," Tierney said. "I'm on transition leave. Hearing about this hike resonated when I heard the 'walking back home.' That's what I said to my wife. We have three kids, the oldest, our son, is 20, and we have a 17-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old daughter."
Brian Flatt from Denver spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
"This hike was a unique opportunity for discovery of our country and for self-discovery," Flatt said. "When you tune out everyday noise, you learn something about yourself."
He, too, has an electrical engineering degree.
The fifth member of the group, Sean Hansen, had a death in the family and had to return home to San Antonio, Texas. He was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot and retired from the Army.
Hansen will catch up with the group on Monday evening at Gila Hot Springs. He plans to return later with his girlfriend to do the portion he missed from Mexico to the Gila Hot Springs.
The foursome headed out Sunday morning and intends to reach Gila Hot Springs on Monday afternoon.
The group plans to complete the 3,100 miles of trail between Mexico and Canada around the third week of September.