Andy “Astro” Lyon, Adventurer to the End

I didn’t write the following, it is a post by Kolby Kirk, a guy I’ve followed on Facebook for a year or so, and a man very inspirational in his own right. I found it moving, inspiring, and a great, if tragic, story. I’d have shared Kolby’s original post on Facebook, but I think there are people that read this blog whom I don’t interact with there that would also be interested in, and benefit from, this post. Here’s Kolby:

I am full of sadness today. On Friday, August 30th, Andy “Astro” Lyon passed away. Andy Lyon had been fighting Hodgkin’s lymphoma since he was 18 years old. For over four years, he had been through chemo and a stem cell transplant to try and stop the disease. But when the cancer came back again in 2012, Andy said enough was enough. Instead of more chemotherapy, he decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in April, 2012.

It was a difficult journey, as it is for every thru hiker. However, after hiking 2,302 miles, pain in his back was so great, he had to get off the trail to see a doctor. The pain he was experiencing was a tumor along his spine, pressing on nerves and causing the increasing pain in his body, making it difficult for him to hike. Despite the news, he continued his hike. On October 6th, 2012, Astro completed his goal of hiking the Pacific Crest trail from Mexico to Canada.

In an interview with KEPR News, Astro said, “One of the greatest blessings I’ve gotten from this whole experience with cancer and healing is it’s given me the freedom and the drive to do whatever I want to do. And that includes the Pacific Crest Trail. Ultimately, the greatest healing lies in new things and opening yourself up to the power of the spirit, the power of the universe, the power of nature, letting go and letting that take you,” said Andy.

He was an inspiration to all that he met. He was an inspiration to me, and I had never met him. I will remember him for this picture, taken at the northern terminus of the trail, after Astro had hiked 2,660 miles. You will be missed, brother.




The moral of this story? Get out there and live, people, no matter what your definition of “live” is. Life is all too easy to take for granted.


Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

8 thoughts on “Andy “Astro” Lyon, Adventurer to the End”

  1. I would have missed this, Chris. So thank you for posting here. Astro’s words are profound and the way I’m feeling these days. What I find sad is so many people will live to be 80 and never truly be alive. Folks like Astro, up against the clock, LIVE to the fullest! What a great example for the rest of us.
    After my nephew Kyle’s passing I have deliberately picked up pastimes I knew he enjoyed like sketching, nature watching, and poetry. It makes me feel closer to him, keeps his memory forever fresh, and expand/enriches my life.

    1. David, it is such a drag when someone so young is taken so early. But it is also a beautiful thing when their short lives can inspire the rest of us who remain. That is really the best any of us can hope to leave behind, I think. It is also an important reminder to simply be kind; to others, and especially to ourselves, because living the lives we are blessed with to their fullest is definitely a practice of kindness, I think.

  2. Great story! Having hiked the Appalachian Trail and parts of the PCT, I can understand the excitement of going for it, but I can’t imagine what it would be like with a tumor on your spine. The guy was tough!

    1. If I can’t do both, I’d sure like to do at least one of those trails before I hang up my hiking boots. This Astro guy was definitely made of stern stuff.

  3. I have a friend who’s in the same position as Andy Astro Lyon. A different cancer, though. Anyway, she chose to really live this summer with lots of fun activities, conversations with her children, doing things she wouldn’t normally try (like cliff jumping). It’s been amazing to witness. I’m really trying to learn from her experience.

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