LINCOLNVILLE — When Tom Jamrog was a student at the University of Massachusetts in the early 1970s, a friend gave him the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail.

And Jamrog put the quest on his bucket list.

A move to Midcoast Maine to build a home in Lincolnville with his wife, Marcia, in 1977 and then raising a family and working as a school psychologist in Rockland put off the long-distance hike. But when Jamrog finally got around to the Appalachian Trail decades later, at age 57, he didn’t stop there.

Jamrog completed the Appalachian Trail in 2007, then turned that quest into a late-in-life odyssey by completing another six major long-distance trails over the next 10 years. Now 67, he’s not done.

In 2010, Jamrog completed the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. In 2013, he traversed the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico, believed by many to be the world’s most arduous long-distance trail. Between these three major hikes, Jamrog hiked the 24-mile wilderness trail called the Fundy Footpath in New Brunswick (2008), the 272-mile Long Trail in Vermont (2011); and the 186-mile East Coast Trail in Newfoundland (2017).

In addition, he went to Europe in 2016, where he and Marcia hiked the 382-mile Camino de Santiago trail in Portugal. Originally a path taken by pilgrims in the Middle Ages to the shrine of St. James, the Camino trails have become a popular group of footpaths as well as a cultural experience. Jamrog said the flat, coastal trail gave him another perspective of the possibilities ahead.

“The Camino is not backpacking. It’s a walking adventure,” he said. “But if/when I get older, I can’t haul around a backpack, I can see how these Caminos can be a nicer, gentler option for being outdoors on an adventure.”

Recently, Jamrog got his Maine guiding license and has led others on backpacking trips in Maine’s 100- Mile Wilderness. He wrote a self-published book about the Continental Divide Trail called “In the Path of Young Bulls,” and has given talks about his adventures.

He credits his mental and physical conditioning, how he exercises an hour and 15 minutes every day, and works to keep his heart rate low.

But mostly Jamrog credits his hiking health with several young hiking companions he befriended on the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.

“I visit them. We talk on the phone. There is a bond, a respect,” Jamrog said. “I enjoy … them (very much).”

After retiring full-time in 2002 from work as psychologist in the Rockland school system, Jamrog went off to complete the Appalachian Trail in 2007, and found in that first week that he hated it.

Slowly along the way, he met other hikers who helped make it a more worthwhile adventure.

“There’s a lot to be said for the power of a group,” Jamrog said. “If you feel crappy and you’re alone, you’re done. But if there are two to three others, you hold on and follow them. You let them make decisions. This is what we’re meant to do as human beings.”

When Jamrog finished the Appalachian Trail, he thought he was finished with long-distance hiking. Then, he thought, what if every three years he set a goal for a major long-distance hike?

Six months after returning home, he asked his new friends if they’d hike the Pacific Crest Trail with him in 2010.

“Four of them showed up,” Jamrog said.

Justin Lee of Georgia, who now lives in Costa Rica, was one. After meeting Jamrog on the Appalachian Trail, Lee, now 33, hiked with him on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Long Trail and Continental Divide Trail.

Lee said while hiking the Appalachian Trail with Jamrog and five others from Texas and Georgia, an unbreakable bond formed as they “helped one another to survive.”

“Tom’s contagious positive energy and high spirit make him a true joy for all to be around,” Lee said. “Whether it’s coaching someone across a perilous icy traverse or rescuing another from being carried downstream in a river crossing, we supported each other time and again. Then at the end of the day, we shake it off with a laugh.”

Alan Widmaier met Jamrog in the San Diego airport on the way to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010. They completed the trail together with two others from the Appalachian Trail group. Widmaier teamed up again with Jamrog and two from his band of hikers in 2013 on the Continental Divide Trail.

Now 34, Widmaier, of Bothell, Washington, said Jamrog’s enthusiasm for life and outdoor adventure drew him in. He called Jamrog “the core” of this band of hikers.

“I’ve learned from Tom that no matter where you are in life, having core values and an appreciation for the challenges life throws at you should be embraced,” Widmaier said. “I know he has plenty of hiking left. I have to say I view Tom not as older or a retiree, but as a peer and a brother.”

Jamrog called his band of hiking friends, “a little family of like-minded folks.”

On every hike, he helps keep the team on pace, while the younger guys help him to sometimes indulge in an unforeseen adventure, like the day they stepped off the Pacific Crest Trail to hike the unusual granite rock formation called Half Dome in Yosemite National Park.

“It was a side trip that would be a full-day hike. I wasn’t going to do it,” Jamrog said. “I said, ‘I’m older.’ But they pushed me, and said, ‘It was the chance of a lifetime. You’ve just got to give it up once in a while.’ So I said, ‘Yes.’ ”

Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: FlemingPph

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