“Phil Valentine’s call to walk the Appalachian Trail is a vivid example of moving beyond recovery FROM life-threatening illnesses as a means of recovering TO a life of extraordinary possibilities. Thousands of us who have shared the challenges and unexpected gifts from such recovery journeys will be walking in spirit with him.”
Here is an update of Phil's venture, an article from the Hartford Courant:
'Phil Valentine has walked 1,467 miles and spent 129 days on the Appalachian Trail since leaving his Manchester home on March 19.
"But who's counting?" Valentine, 55, said at the Hartford office of the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery, a nonprofit where he's served as executive director the last 10 years.
Valentine was visiting work on July 27 during a three-day rest period from his hike, which he's doing in the name of recovery and to raise funds for the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery. Donations can be made at at4recovery.org. He was to resume his hike July 28.
Sober for 27 years, Valentine has over come addition to both alcohol and cocaine. And after a cancer diagnosis five years ago, he's also free of that disease.
With 722 miles left on his through-hike of the trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, Valentine's goal has changed from starting on the journey to finishing it.
"My goal is now to finish," Valentine said. "It's also my family's goal now too. They won't let me come off."
Valentine, whose trail name is "Right Click" because his right knee clicked when he was hiking uphill at the start of the trail, said he's learned a lot about overcoming adversity on the trail.
"One of the great things I've learned is that no matter how I'm feeling, whether I'm elated or dejected, the cure for it is to just start walking," Valentine said. "You get in a rhythm and you start processing and things feel better."
Valentine always intended his Appalachian Trail hike to help put a face on recovery.
"People in recovery can go on to do extraordinary things," Valentine said. "Whether it's recovery from alcohol addiction or stage four cancer, there is the potential for people. It's really a message of healing and hope more than anything."
Valentine said that recovery is a lifelong process and that it never ends, but all that matters is what's happening now.
"The past is a rearview mirror," Valentine said. "All we have is the present."
One special moment on the trail was when his 19-year-old daughter Samantha Valentine joined him to hike a 280-mile section over a 23-day period.
"She was a link in the chain," Valentine said. "She joined me in Virginia and completely lifted my spirits and helped me not miss my family so much. It was just beautiful."