We were on the way home from NYC, my son Frank, his Girlfriend Beth and I and we decided to stop to see the Delaware Water Gap. We weren’t real clear what a Water Gap was, so it seemed like it might be fun to find out.

We got off Route 80 and went onto the local roads. We went through a small town and saw some Trolley Tours. That might be a way to see this Gap thing. We looked around and decided not to take the tour, but were told of several overlooks up the road where we could see the sites. We went off to the scenic overlooks.

The first one answered our questions, in a way. It turns out, the Delaware Water Gap is a US National Park along the Delaware River. At the southern end of the 60-mile long park, where we happened to be, is a pass through the mountains where the river passes through. Thus the “Gap.”

We went on up the road to the next observation point and parked. Walking through the parking area, I spotted a hiker walking down the road. The Adirondack Trail passes through this area. We had seen it cross the road just a short way back. So I wasn’t surprised to see a hiker with full backpack walking along the road. But what caught my eye and made me decide to take a photo was a big white sign with the message “LOVE LIFE” in red letters above his head.

He saw me taking his picture, even from a distance and waved. I waved back, just being friendly and letting him know I enjoyed his sign and appreciated being able to photograph him. He started crossing the road and walking towards me, so I walked down to the edge of the road to meet him. He gave me a card with his information on it and told me how he was walking around the US and had already walked 26,000 miles! Wow!

His name was Steve Fugate and he has a website www.trailtherapy.com.

I asked if he was hiking the ADK Trail and he told me that he had already done that, but was just passing through the area on his latest trip. I told him that I’d send him the picture I took and wished him a good trip. It was all over in a minute or less, but it was quite intriguing and I couldn’t wait to check out his website.

When you run into someone like that, you never know what you are getting into. People with signs often are pushing some religious agenda and you wish you had run the other way, but not Steve. He was doing his own thing and did genuinely wish anyone who would listen to Love Life, so he had a message, but chooses to spread his message by example. On the most basic level, I guess that’s still a religious message, but one we can all agree on. I won’t attempt to try to tell his story – I wouldn’t do it justice anyway – but you can visit his web page and read all about how how came to start hiking and many stories of his travels. It’s a moving and inspirational story and I urge you to check it out. A documentary about him is in the works as well.