Working on My Bucket List

By Brian Kibler

Early last spring, near my 65th birthday, I realized it was time to make that transition into retirement. But, like many people who are retiring, I had a burning question: What will I do with all of my free time once I retire? I then realized that it would be my time to catch up on the things that had accumulated on my bucket list—a list of things I wanted to accomplish in my life.

When I was 12, my family traveled to the Green Mountains of southern Vermont to visit my grandparents. While we were out one evening sightseeing in the mountains, I spotted a sign that read: Appalachian Trail (AT). After learning from my grandfather about the nearly 2,200-mile trail that covered 14 states, I was quite intrigued. I told him I would hike the entire AT one day. That ambition eventually faded and was replaced by life, work commitments, house mortgages, and supporting a family.

On May 15, 2018, my dream became a reality. My AT trek began at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Hiking the AT is no walk in the park for anyone. However, being an upper-limb amputee puts me in a rare category of hikers.

I was able to complete 600 miles before falling on a remote mountainside in—of all states—Vermont. The fall resulted in a broken ankle. Six wonderful hikers spent hours helping me down that mountain to an area where search and rescue finally found us.

Brian Kibler’s helpful hikers (trail names Friend, Bob Gnarley, Hank Hill, Wilt, Brew, and Happy Feet).

During my five months of recovery and rehab, I struggled with the idea of returning to finish from where I left off. I finally concluded that finishing the remaining 1,600 or so miles is a distinct possibility.

Once again, I am joining the throngs of other hikers doing what we all love best. My experiences last year were awe-inspiring. The beauty and serenity of nature is breathtaking. The people and places I visited were unforgettable. I learned a little about myself as well and had time to enjoy the peace and solitude of coexisting with nature.

For more information, visit my blog at to view my journal entries and photos.



  1. Know and respect your limitations.
  2. Learn to adapt and become more resilient toward adversity. In hiker terms, “Embrace the suck!”
  3. Pursue your passions and you will be rewarded with a rich and fulfilled life.
  4. Respect gravity.
  5. People of the AT are incredibly awesome.

IMAGES: Images courtesy of Brian Kibler.

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