All within the week of JULY 26, 2015:
David J. Cote (Founder of The Summit Project) interviewed Micheal Keighley, a UMO grad and Army Officer veteran, who, this coming Sunday, will complete a 7 month journey of the entire Appalachian Trail. Throughout the entire Maine section of the AT Mike carried the stories and stones of two of Maine’s fallen heroes as part of The Summit Project. Here is a transcript of that interview —
Michael Keighley wrote:
Tremendous thank you to everyone who has followed and supported my adventure from GA to ME. As well as those that joined in for my final journey through ME with Jay Brainard and James Zimmerman.
Although the weather could have been a bit better yesterday I can’t think of a more perfect group to have summited Katahdin with. Everyone came together to help one another up by far the toughest climb of the AT up 4,000 feet over 5 miles in rain and 30-40mph winds over an 11 hour day. Diane Keighley was a beast in particular ignoring her fear of heights to climb some pretty gnarly rock ledges that even had me nervous!
Having James’ parents with us was absolutely amazing. They provided numerous stories of James growing up which were inspiring.
Yesterday completely made my entire thru-hike and I look forward to continuing the relationships I’ve made with both Jay and James’ families as well as The Summit Project family that has welcomed me in!
– Archangel, MHANF (Maine Heroes Are Not Forgotten)
Diane Keighley wrote:
Back from an awesome, terrifying, humbling, and life changing week-end in northern Maine. Thank you to members of The Summit Project ( David J. Cote, Catherine Frost, Tony Llerena & Russ Shoberg) Nancy White and Whitey, Tom and Jane Zimmerman, Sean, Kim and James A Keighley for your support of not only Michael Keighley as he completed his Appalachian Trail journey from GA to ME, but for also encouraging me and giving me strength to climb Katahdin. I couldn’t have done it without all of them, along with James and Jay from above.
Nancy, Whitey, Jane and Tom – a special thanks to you for sharing your wonderful stories about Jay and James. The way the light shone in your eyes when you spoke of these 2 amazing young men is a testament to how special and loved they are.
The Summit Project is an amazing group of dedicated volunteers –what you do to keep the memory of the Maine heroes alive, and families involved is wonderful. I feel privileged to have been a part of it. Would love to see it become a nation-wide organization.
I didn’t take any photos, but will share some from others.
Nancy White wrote:
Congratulations Michael Keighley for an amazing lifetime accomplishment!! And thank you for carrying the tribute stones of Jay Brainard and James 1stLt Zimmerman Fitness Challenge with you all through Maine and to the Summit of Katahdin along with The Summit Project founder David J. Cote and fellow TSP supporters! Maine Heroes are Not Forgotten!!!!
Sean Michael wrote –
We had a great time yesterday celebrating Michael Keighley finishing the Appalachin Trail at the top of Mount Katahdin. It was a tough hike in bad weather, and Kim Meagher almost lost an eye, but it was worth it to Summit with stones to honor several of Maine’s fallen. Mike carried stones memorializing our fallen friends from UMaine; 1LT James Zimmerman and CPT Jay Brainard all the way from the NH border to Katahdin. We also remembered others, as I carried stones for SSG David Veverka and SSG Dale Kelly (Ascend to Victory!) and others carried stones for SGT Kevin Baldaf and CPT Chris Cash.
I’m glad to have been a part of it and to have hiked with Zimmerman’s parents to have gotten to know them. If anyone is interested in a way of remembering Maine’s fallen please visit www.thesummitproject.org to see the great things that organization is doing.
Tony Llerena wrote :
I had a wonderful experience yesterday hiking Katahdin for the second time in my life. Dare I say this time was a bit “easier” but also more difficult than the last. The Hunt trail is no joke, especially when the boulders are slick from rain and visibility is about 50 feet. What made this hike even more special than the last was that I had the honor and privilege of accompanying Michael Keighley as he completed his through hike of the Appalachian Trail. We were joined by his parents, his friends Kim, Sean, David, Catherine and the Zimmerman family. Michael and James Zimmerman were best friends at UMaine. He was also good friends with Jay Brainard. If you’ve seen my previous posts, you’d know that Michael carried both James’ and Jay’s Summit Project stones throughout the entire state of Maine on the AT. He carried them all the way to Baxter Peak as well.
It was a long day of hiking 11 miles and over 4,000 feet of elevation. I’m not going to lie, we’re probably all sore today. The weather at the summit was pretty horrible. There was a driving rain with wind gusts up to 40-50 mph. It got to the point where I couldn’t feel my fingers. None of that mattered. We were celebrating Michael’s amazing accomplishment and honoring the lives of James Zimmerman, Jay Brainard, Dale Kelly, David Veverka, Kevin Balduf, and Christopher Coffin. I want to thank you, Michael, for letting me join you on your remarkable day. This is a memory I won’t soon forget. #MHANF
The Summit Project wrote:
Today Michael Keighley will summit Maine’s highest peak and complete the five month, 2,100 mile plus journey of his Appalachian Trail surrounded by the support of family and friends and in the same spirit of selfless service as two of his fallen UMO brothers — 1stLt James Zimmerman and CPT Jay Brainard.
Some of his highlights: meeting Hilary Clinton, Scott Jurek; favorite towns of Hot Springs NC, Waynesboro, VA, Boone, NC on Spring Break, Receiving TSP stones on July 4 in Gorham, NH, hiking w his dad and even being struck by lighting!
Stay tuned for more. MHANF.