17 Months — A Story in Backpacker Magazine — “Gone Hiking”

Friends ~

This is an amazing account of Andy’s story written through the eyes of a gifted writer from Backpacker Magazine, Casey Lyons, who took many hours to truly get to know Andy (Astro), to interview his family / friends, by reading this blog, listening to Andy’s numerous voice memos while on the PCTrail and pouring over his personal journals. This is Andy’s story, a journey of walking IN and OUT of life and his incredible pilgrimage from Mexico to Canada.

Be sure to listen to the short excerpts of Andy’s own voice.

Thank you so much for your support over these last 17 months of grieving and looking back.  I have so many sweet memories of a wonderful son that continues to bring me much joy and happiness.

As always, I look forward to your comments.



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21 Responses to 17 Months — A Story in Backpacker Magazine — “Gone Hiking”

  1. Dambara says:

    Oh, I’m SO glad to get this, Betsy! Look forward to savoring it all, yay! It was pure delight just hearing Andy’s voice on the first clip so far. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Pam Wicks says:

    Thank you SO much for this Betsy.I am really looking forward to reading this and “being” with Andy again. I haven’t seen WILD yet but my big attraction is knowing that Andy walked that trail. Much love to you and Michael..

  3. cheryl says:

    What a beautiful story they did on Andy and this part of his journey.

  4. Dorothy Groszhans says:

    Each and every time I see “Andy’s Big Adventure” on my email my heart registers an ‘evergreen’ image of a deeply beautiful soul, of blue wonders and wanderings, o f poetic, sublime significance    … beyond what is common. Thank you so much for sharing such beauty. 

  5. Darcy says:

    What a wonderful article! Your son, Andy, is such an inspiration! Blessings to you and your family.

  6. amy says:

    Thank you for sharing your son’s story. A story for us readers putting off work on a Wednesday to browse in our Backpacker magazines. Wow, I had no way of preparing myself for such a story to start my day; a story to start the rest of my life.
    I was on the trail that summer and I intend to walk that trail again. I feel strength and courage knowing your son Andy spent such a formidable time there.
    Peace and love to you,
    Amy Hafer

  7. Gary and Jane Weber says:

    Tremendously moving on so many levels. Hearing Andy’s voice was most comforting. We will reread over and over, savoring his wise thoughts and insights. We feel so privileged to have known your loving son.
    Gary and Jane

  8. D. Groszhans says:

    Each and every time I see “Andy’s Big Adventure” on my email my heart registers an ‘evergreen’ image of a deeply beautiful soul, of blue wonders and wanderings, of poetic, sublime significance … beyond what is common. Thank you so much for sharing such beauty.

  9. Dear Betsy,
    Wow, what a special son you have (he will live forever in your heart) and such a close relationship with him. We can’t begin to imagine how much you must miss him. Betsy, this is, by very far, the best feature we have ever read in Backpacker Magazine and we have been getting this magazine for probably 20 years. What an amazing story, what an amazing young man, what an amazing writer, and what an amazing God to have brought pieces together like the new treatment option in only Yakima, like the connection with Gourmet at the end, like the spirit Andy had, like the mom he had who supported him on this adventure whatever it took. And for the PCT, of which my husband and I have done from Canada to Oregon and much of the Sierras when we were almost 60 or older, this is thousands of times better than the story Wild. This is so much more true to the spirit of the PCT and its hikers – so much more like our experience of it than Wild. We so appreciated this.

    Thank you for sharing this very intimate part of your life and choosing Casey Lyons to write it. He kept us on the edge of our seats from the first line. What a blessing this is to us. We wish that we could say that we met Andy (Astro) on the trail. His story has really touched us.
    DnD (our trail name), Debbie and Dave Campbell, Seattle

  10. Carol says:

    So glad to see this and to hear Andy. To remember him. Lovely to read the story. What a tribute..

  11. Freddie says:

    Dear Betsy,

    I came across this blog when I was looking up the PCT after reading about the new Wild film. I think it’s the most beautiful and moving blog I have ever read – from the glimpses I’ve gotten of Andy it seems like he was really one of a kind.

    Thank you so much to you and Andy for sharing this with everyone. I feel like it will stay with me for a long time – and I now hope that one day I’ll be thinking about you all when I’m through-hiking the PCT myself.


  12. Dambara says:

    Finally able to savor the article, and all Andy’s comments. Bless your heart & soul, Astro! And you, Betsy, and all the supportive family & friends. Lots of tears here, but joyful ones, that inspire us to go on & do likewise. 🙂

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this; I feel uplifted seeing an email from you and I’m eager to read the entire story this weekend!

  14. Paula says:

    Andy continues to inspire me and am so grateful to be included in this amazing tribute to his spirit and yours, Michaels and Alex…he is missed but lives on in all of you….

  15. Janet says:

    Thank you for sharing. It was a beautiful story and such a blessing to actually hear Andy’s voice.

  16. Simple Man. says:

    I read the article in Backpacker magazine. I couldn’t help but read the article over and over again. I hiked the PCT from March to September 1992. While in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, two of my buddies and I talked of hiking the trail when we returned stateside. They never committed so I set off alone on March 20, 1992 and finished on September 30, 1992. My trail name was Simple Man (after the Lynyrd Skynyrd song.) I met some incredible people during my trek. I will meet Andy’s spirit someday somewhere on the PCT and pause for a moment to listen to his voice in the winds. May you be strong as he was.

  17. Sandra Cumbest says:

    Dear Betsy,
    This beautifully written piece about Andy’s journey was such an enriching read. And hearing his voice was so beautiful and powerful. Thank you for sharing this. It serves to remind us of what can be found inside ourselves through nature. Thank you always. Sandra

  18. Honey badger says:

    Andy’s, (Astro’s), story reached my heart and I could relate in more ways than I wish. I admire PCT through hikers and enjoy my section hikes (someday I might finish the whole trail). Completing the trail in a season earned him a great honor that few share, yet the circumstances of the cancer put him in a category above all others. “Inspiring” doesn’t quite hit the note I’m reaching for… I agree with the Campbell’s note that this was Backpacker Magazine’s best feature so far. It is so intriguing that just a trail in the mountains can take mortal humans on a journey of spirit otherwise uncommonly attained. The photo of Andy at the northern terminus really spoke a thousand words. His happiness with finishing was present, but more importantly he had an air of someone who knows he is loved and supported and that everything will be OK.

  19. Neda says:

    Hi Besty, I recently finished Gone Hiking and it was very inspiring to learn about Andy and his journey. Thank you so much for sharing and I wish you and your family comfort. I would like to do a fundraiser and would like to know your thoughts on it. Could I please private message you?

  20. howlinhounds says:

    I think of Astro *everyday* and did so while watching other stars in the heavens this morning after a short hike. And the gift continues… I came in at 4:15 to brew coffee and discovered your email! When I’m thinking of him, it’s as a wonderful example of love for life and enthusiasm of spirit. Walking in the foothills with my young neighbors they frequently ask to hear his courageous story. Again. And I love to repeat it.
    Our friend is always in our hearts as inspiration; for me when I think *I* face a challenge. I hope you will always share with us your thoughts and heart as you did by giving us Andy.
    Cheers, everyone!

  21. Pingback: 17 Months — A Story in Backpacker Magazine — “Gone Hiking” | Indemuzeekmon's Blog

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