I received my copy of Bradley Hilltopics yesterday. It’s always interesting to review the accomplishments of and at Bradley.
I graduated in 1952 in one of the first classes to receive a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. My wife Peg and I now live at Independence Village. We have been a very happy team for 64 years.
Continued success to Bradley U.
HENRY BANKIE ’52
I first heard about the Appalachian Trail while I was serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa. I read a book, There are Mountains to Climb, about a woman in her 50s who decided to thru-hike the trail. What really struck me was the idea of a trail that crossed the country.
Two years later I returned to Peoria to plan my thru-hike with a friend from the Peace Corps. We bought the biggest packs we could find, and on the first day of spring in 2002, we started north. I had never backpacked before in my life, and my gear was heavy. We quickly learned what did and didn’t work while trying to hike 15 miles a day.
The first days were cold and rainy, but as we got stronger, the flowers and leaves appeared. Georgia became North Carolina and then Virginia. An infected blister on my heel took me off the trail for two weeks. I waited for my foot to heal in a little church hostel. I bought sandals because my foot would still not fit in a shoe, and kept going. My hiking partner and I saw each other a month and a half later when she came down with Lyme disease, and I caught up with her.
By summer, it was getting hot. My mileage was getting up to the 20s per day; one day I did 33 miles over Bear Mountain in Connecticut. I turned 25 on the trail, saw bears, felt as strong as I ever had in my life, made amazing friendships, and learned to love sleeping outside and how to eat incredible amounts of food while in towns.
I finished the AT on August 22, 2002. I spent the final month in Maine, swimming in as many rivers, creeks, and lakes as I could. I was hooked; I kept hiking. Since 2004, I have hiked in Scotland, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Colorado Trail, the Northville Placid Trail, and the Arizona Trail and Wonderland Trail. I am planning on hiking the Continental Divide Trail in a few years. I love long-distance hiking!
RENEE PATRICK ’99
It was great to read the latest Bradley Hilltopics regarding the Appalachian Trail. I hiked the AT in 2006. It was something I dreamed about since high school after hearing about it from a hiker. I currently live and work in New Zealand as an engineer for FujiFilm NZ Ltd. However, I consider those six months my greatest achievement. I have many great memories and met such wonderful people as we completed a dream.
Here is a link to all my journals, including pictures that I shared with friends and family when I was out there: trailjournals.com/grinds.
TODD POWELL ’03
Auckland, New Zealand
Persevering with CF
The story in the fall issue by EMILY HEISE ’09 stopped me cold. Our youngest child, Claire, was born with cystic fibrosis. The prognosis? Five years maximum. With death on your doorstep, your priorities change. The family focus became raising funds for the CF Foundation and keeping our child alive.
As it turns out, our three kids have done amazingly well. Claire is working on her Ph.D. in bioengineering after having a double lung transplant and a kidney transplant. She’s also a wife and mom of a 4-year-old. She’s a survivor and wants to stamp out CF.
To help other families and young adults contend with CF, I printed Claire’s story and freely pass it along to others.
So our story goes back to the determination that Bradley University helped foster, which I passed along to my family.
By the way, my grandmother played in Lydia Bradley’s backyard as a child, or so she told us. Our family has a long heritage in Peoria.
ROBERT G. COLEMAN ’66