PORTLAND, Maine — A 67-year-old hiker whose trail name was “Buffalo Bobby” suffered a fatal medical problem Thursday along the Appalachian Trail just 20 miles before he would have finished the 2,180-mile trail for the third time.
Robert Yerike, a free-spirited retired truck driver from Brick, N.J., had called his son, also named Robert, the day before. He was feeling good, eating a hamburger, had gone for a swim and wanted to make sure someone turned the water on in his house. He’d be home Sunday.
Another hiker, who found him unresponsive and vomiting, walked two miles to get cell phone service to summon help. Yerike (pronounced YEHR’-ik) then had to be carried two miles out of a rugged area known as the “100-Mile Wilderness” because bad weather made a helicopter rescue impossible.
He made his first Appalachian Trail “thru-hike,” as such journeys are known, in 2003. He lost more than 40 pounds despite eating as many as six meals a day, and he told The Asbury Park Press that he didn’t plan on becoming one of the rare hikers to complete the trail more than once.
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