Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Playing ‘save the toes’
by Tom Sherlin

Long distance hiker Bert Emmerson is home in Maryville recovering from frostbite. He survived being stranded in a snowstorm for days in frigid temperatures while hiking the Continental Divide Trail earlier this month.

By Rick Laneyof The Daily Times Staff
Bert Emmerson is back home after being stranded in the Gila Wilderness Area of New Mexico above 10,000 feet during a four-day snowstorm.
Since arriving back in Maryville shortly before Christmas, he has been to hospitals and doctors’ offices regularly. Although Emmerson’s feet were badly frostbitten during the incident, he believes he will keep his toes.
Emmerson is calm and reflective as he describes his ordeal — a common characteristic of long-distance hikers who sometimes spend months alone on the trail. He is even casual as he pulls back his socks to reveal his ravaged feet that look more like they lost a battle with a lawn mower than the victims of frigid temperatures.
“I’m playing ‘save the toes’ right now,” Emmerson said. “It looks like I’ll get to keep them.
“It’s really amazing how much better they are now. The first night was very painful — like a severe burn.”
Until a few weeks ago, Emmerson was hiking the Continental Divide Trail, a 2,567-mile trail from Canada to Mexico that stretches through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. He started his journey at Glacier National Park in Montana on June 15 and has been hiking ever since. His plan was to reach the Mexico border and be home with his wife, Becky Emmerson, by Christmas.

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