Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Veteran in crisis began to heal on Arizona Trail

The Arizona Trail chrysalis for life

Payson Roundup
Micheal Nelson
February 19, 2019
Mike Buckley makes his way from the Roosevelt Marina where he met a very friendly and helpful bar owner.

Mike Buckley stared at the gun on his desk.

“It was the night I started to crack,” he said in front of more than 200 members of the Arizona Trail Association at its annual meeting recently.

The 30-year Army veteran commanded a bomb squad in Afghanistan, but after months of sending his boys home in pieces, he’d reached his breaking point.

Sitting with the gun and his despair, he had no way to know the Arizona Trail would save him.

Little did he know a bartender on a golf cart, an Australian woman with body odor and a Pine winemaker with a bathrobe encountered along the trail would restore his faith in humanity — and heal the wound in his soul.

He ultimately found himself again in a charred burn scar, near the end of the 800-mile-long trail.

“At Telephone Hill, passage 41 runs through a burn scar,” said Buckley. “It incinerated ponderosa pines. Even to go out through the devastation is profound because you see life. I became overwhelmed. It was like a chrysalis of new life and I realized it was who I was.”
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