Paul’s Boots

We got a call from Australia. M’Lynn’s husband, Paul, passed away this past July. He left behind three pairs of polished hiking boots and a backpack packed for his dream hike: the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail.

She had an idea for one final gift for her husband. “How good would it be,” she asked, “for his boots to make the journey even if Paul could not?” We want to make it happen. Give a listen. We need your help.

Want to help? To learn more, visit:

Music: Original score by our friend Amy Stolzenbach.


51 Comments on “Paul’s Boots

  1.  by  Al Hiscox

    Dammit, I musta gotten something in my eyes. They’re watering quite a bit.

    Thanks for taking this on, and for sharing with this great community.

    •  by  Jen Altschul

      Yep, Al, I think the Dirtbag Diaries office must have gotten a little dusty off and on over the past few months, as well. Thanks for the kind words.

  2.  by  Renee

    I’m a friend of Paul and M’Lynn and I live in Pennsylvania. While it’s super cold here now, I would be happy to take his boots for a walk on the Appalachian trail when spring comes around. It runs right through the town where I live and on up into the Water Gap and the Poconos.

  3.  by  Michael Allen

    I would love to help out with this. I am currently living in Missoula Montana till September. I will be riding my bike back to Pennsylvania on September 15th and hiking from Harrisburg Pa to New Hampshire where I will continue to live. I will be on the Appalachian Trail the whole way. This would make the trip even more enjoyable for sure. I hope this works out for you and everyone involved. Oh and I’m a size 13

  4.  by  Nathan A Bland

    Very neat way to bring a community together! I live in Boone NC and am a climber who currently works in mapping for property taxes. I am out on the weekends and longer trips. Normally I hike in trail runners, but the story is too good to pass up. If you need someone from Roan Highlands NC to Damascus or up as far as Troutdale VA please let me know. Any time of year is fine, I hike that section often. Size 12 is my size too. I am 6′ 5″ tall. Can do 20 mile days if needed. Thanks for the story.

  5.  by  Jeff

    Getting a longer hike in would be tough for me. But as a Day Hiker if I can help I would be willing to do what I can. One thing that comes to mind is to keep people posted on the location of the boots so that we can help with Trail Magic.

    •  by  Jen Altschul

      Jeff, thanks for your interest! Just in terms of logistics, we’ve decided that we really need folks to commit to a multi-day section of trail in order to carry the boots. I like your idea of trail magic, though. That could make for a cool way to keep folks involved even if they can’t commit to a large section. We’ll take that into consideration! Thanks, again.

  6.  by  Gary Butcher

    Jeff, Thanks for the great story. I live in Roanoke VA, home of the most photographed point on the AT, McAfees Knob. I would love to carry Paul’s boots from Damascus to Roanoke this spring. Damascus is the home of Trail Days which is a huge event to celebrate through hikers on the AT. This part of the trail is approximately 250 miles which will take about 2 weeks to cover. Let me know how I can help. I am willing to pick them up anywhere along the way.

  7.  by  Charlotte White

    Hey guys! I’m a grad student living about 30 min from the trail in NC. I’d love to help out and do a small chunk!

  8.  by  Marcus Williams

    I have just started browsing your site and this caught my eye, and this story is quite the tear-jearker. I’m trying so hard to hold back these tears. Paul’s story is just amazing. He sure must be smiling up in heaven eh?

  9.  by  Chris Jackson

    I don’t wear that size shoe, but if it would make someone’s dream come true I would. I plan on doing a section hike from Fontana Dam North Carolina for about a week I would be honored if someone hasn’t done it already very inspiring story. Thanks Chris Jackson out of Jacksonville Fl. I lost my 11 year old son in 2011 and wear a shirt with a picture of him and it says hiking the at trail in memory of my son James Colton Jackson, so I’m already hiking in the memories of my only son. Good luck Paul

  10.  by  Matt Derrickson

    Hi! I am going to embark on a northbound AT thru-hike starting in April. I would love to help out with any part of this. Feel free to contact me via email.

  11.  by  James Myers

    Hi – I am starting my thru hike from Harper’s Ferry in May – flip flop! I will hike the entire trail south to north, then north to south. I’m a size 12/13 boot and would gladly wear the boots along any stretch of the trail.

  12.  by  Clay Bonnyman Evans

    Thank you for such a moving episode (I heard about the podcast over at Sounds From the Trail).

    I may be too late, but I am planning to hike several sections of the AT between March and June (wish I could do a thru-hike, but I was gone most of last summer and that wouldn’t be cool to my wife!). I’m 54, same age as Paul, and I would be glad to carry his boots if any of my plans coincide with the boots’ travel.

    I’ll follow up by email.

    Thank you.

    •  by  Jen Altschul

      Hi Clay, You’re not too late yet! We’re still accepting volunteers through Wednesday, February 17th. We’ll look forward to your email!

  13.  by  Tony Gatehouse

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story and for helping to make Paul’s dream come true.

    Although I’m unable to participate, I do run an outdoors website based out of Brisbane, Australia. If there’s anything I can do to help share this story in the way of an article or feature to help raise awareness of the project, please let me know.

    All the best.

  14.  by  Nancy LaChance

    I know I am late to the party, but this story spoke to me. I am a recent widow, and I wear my husband’s knit cancer cap when I walk in his honor. I only day hike, but is there anything I can do to support this effort? I would love to be a part of this and honor all of those who died with a dream.

  15. Pingback: Sunday Night Check-In: Paul’s Boots | Midlife Moments

  16.  by  Carolyn Nicoli

    Hi there I hope I’m not too late! I’m a day hiker from New Hampshire who is interested in starting section hiking. I would be totally willing to take in a leg of Paulsboots journey around New Hampshire or Vermont. Please email me if I can be of any help to this amazing adventure!!!!!!!! Go Pauls Boots!!!!!

  17.  by  Michael Fleming

    I thru-hiked the trail in 2011, and I live right by the Smokies. Size 13 shoe. I would love to hike the 70 odd miles of the AT in the Smokies in Paul’s boots! Hope it’s not too late.

  18.  by  Amy

    Ohh gracious M’Lynn. Paul is alive through your words.. Love to you

  19.  by  marianne818

    I am one of the dreamers that you mentioned. I cannot hike but a short section because of medical issues, but this has gotten to me and I feel I have to stop dreaming and reading about the AT and go explore what is practically in my backyard. If there is an opening for a part of the trail from Neel’s Gap to Springer I would be honored to be part of this plan

  20.  by  Colton Wayne Chance

    Hello Dirt Bag Diaries

    My name is Colton Chance (23) and i live in Sacramento CA, I am a film major at the art institute. i was at school with a friend of mine who is a avid listener of your pod cast. we got to talking about a feature documentary idea i had came up with when his face lit up and told me i had to listen to a pod cast from you guys. it was Pauls boots, as i sat there and tried not to cry i couldn’t help but relate to Paul and not just as a hiker but in aspects of our lives. i am 6’3 300 lbs size 12-13 hiking boots and a very avid hiker.i try and go hiking every weekend, rain, snow, sun, it dosen’t matter every one of the elements add a fun factor for father was in a bad accident when i was 12 and since 16 i have been working and helping to take care of him and my mother both physically and financially. but i decided that if i had to spend 40+ hours a week working i wanted to make it worth it and give back so i decided to work for my mothers non profit that helps mentally disabled adults and volunteer at other non profits that help abused and battered women. i dont get paid well but it is all worth it. i have been dreaming/planning to hike both the PCT and the APP and believe that i was shown this pod cast for a reason. i had filed paperwork to leave school for a year and work on building my portfolio and pursuing my ideas for documentary’s the day i was shown this podcast. i would love to make a documentary that follows all the pairs of boots and tell the story of the journey along with each person who carries/wears the boots background and what brought them to the trail, what hiking means to them, and why carrying Pauls boots is important. i believe this is a perfect example of how close the outdoor community is. how we look out for one another and how important it is to everyone to help pay tribute to another hiker. i have much more i would like to say and talk to you about but i want to keep this short ( well somewhat short) i would love to hear back from you if you are interested or not, either way i felt i had to say something and be a part of this in one way or another.
    I look forward to hearing from you

    Colton Chance

    •  by  Jen Altschul

      Hi Colton, Wow. Thank you for the kind words and thank you for reaching out. It’s cool to hear that Paul’s story affected you that way–it certainly affected us. We have actually already started production on a film that will follow the boots down the trail and tell the stories of the people who wear/carry them. We may need extra hands with the film at some point. If you would like to get involved, please send an email to: Thanks!

  21.  by  Michael wagenseil

    Where are the boots now? Live in western NC not far from the trail

  22.  by  Mark Ingram

    My Granddaughter and I would be privileged to hike part of the Maryland section. I can do all 40 miles if needed

  23. Pingback: My Favorite Backpacking Podcasts | Wayfaring Lens

  24.  by  Kathy Estes

    I’d love to know where Paul’s boots are, where they’ve been and what’s going on going forward. I’ve ridden my horse on parts of the PCT here in Oregon but haven’t been to the east coast.

    •  by  Jen Altschul

      Hi Kathy,
      You can follow Paul’s boots is at #PaulWalksOn. Hikers are already on the trail showing Paul their favorite AT places. We’ll be updating the story later this year as well on the Diaries.

  25.  by  Judy Marshall

    My husband and I just section hiked a part of the AT the last couple of weeks, We were introduced to Pauls boots on the trail. What a wonderful way to help this widow fulfill her husbands dream.

  26.  by  Jay Lamb

    My brother, nephew, and I came across a man by the name of Jim while hiking a portion of AT/LT. He was carrying Paul’s boots, and introduced us to the concept and also to The Dirtbag Diaries. He is a really awesome guy, and I look forward to seeing footage of him in the upcoming documentary.

  27. Pingback: Paul's Boots -- An Update from the Trail | The Dirtbag Diaries : The Dirtbag Diaries

  28. Pingback: New Film "Paul's Boots" Honors His Appalachian Trail Dream

  29.  by  Sharon Parrish

    What a wonderful remembrance. Shows how much you Loved him and understood his ambitions and goals in life. He was a dedicated and I respect him and his legacy. You are a wonderful wife to see that is boots keep walking. As Nancy Sinatra sang, “These boots were made for walking…and that’s just what they will do ” I wish you much love and success with this endeavor in his memory.

  30.  by  Barbara

    Great way to make someone’s Bucket List come true. I wish I knew earlier to be active in being part of Paul’s dream.

  31. Pingback: What's Next? | The Dirtbag Diaries : The Dirtbag Diaries

  32.  by  randy reinke

    Not a dry eye in the house. Would love to see the movie. Another great example of giving and receiving the small , but long lasting rewards of helping a dream come true.

  33. Pingback: Audio for adventures: 14 Podcasts to check out – dirtbaglawyer

Leave a Comment