An article written by, author, Steve Burge, the original founder of AppalachianTrail.com.
One of the most popular questions we get from potential thru-hikers is this:
I have a limitation. Do you think I can complete a thru-hike?
Our answer is almost always, “yes, absolutely!” Over the years we’ve been lucky enough to talk with and read about people overcoming all sorts of limitations to complete the Appalachian Trail.
Here are 10 inspiring groups of people who have walked all the way from Georgia to Maine:
1) Blind hikers
Bill Irwin went blind at the age of 36. When he was 50-years-old, he became the first blind thru-hiker, walking with his guide dog, Orient, and without a map, GPS or compass.
More blind hikers followed Bill, including Roger Poulin was is deaf-blind. Roger completed the trail in 2014 with Roni Lepore, his Support Service Provider and friend. Click here to read Roger and Roni’s blog.
2) Elderly hikers
According to the ATC, hundreds have thru-hikers have been in their 60s. About 25 thru-hikers have been over 70.
Lee Barry was 81 in 2004 when completing his second thru-hike.
Mike Caetano was 86 when he finished the trail in 2009, and he returned to the Appalachian Trail again several years later, aged 89!
3) Amputee hikers
Scott Rogers has a prosthetic leg and foot that are controlled by microprocessors which track his movement and create a stable walking pattern.
He completed a thru-hike in 2004 and runs a site called http://www.onelegwonder.com. Here’s a video of Scott with a fellow amputee:
4) Hikers with kids
One couple have hiked the trail with with 7 and 9-year old kids. In 2004, one hiker is bringing her 4-year-old twins.
5) Diabetic hikers
A good number of hikers have completed the trail with diabetes. There’s some great advice here if you’re considering it.
Brett Hessenius, a diabetic hiker, blogged about his journey and posted dozens of YouTube videos.
6) Solo hikers
It’s far from uncommon to hike alone. If you take sensible precautions, you don’t need to have a hiking buddy for the trail.
7) Out-of-shape hikers
Thru-hikers have started the trail weighing well over 300 pounds. Many of those who start hiking while overweight will take things slowly, building up their endurance over the first days and weeks. For large hikers, there’s some very helpful advice here on hiking and on finding the right gear.
8) Young hikers
Neva Warren (trail name, “Chipmunk”) is the youngest ever thru-hiker. She started the trail at 14 years old and finished it when she was 15. Here’s an interview with Neva:
9) Non-American hikers
If you can get a visa for long enough, you can like the trail. The ATC reports successful thru-hikers from, “Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Chile, The Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, North Ireland, Norway, the Philippines, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Wales.”
10) Poor hikers
You don’t have to be rich to hike the trail. Thru-hikers on Reddit reported completing the Appalachian trail for between $1000 and $5000.
None of this is to downplay how hard the trail is. Only about 25% of the people who start a thru-hike manage to complete it. But, if these people can do it, you can too with the right preparation and determination.
Like this article and want to read more like it?
AppalachianTrail.com offers extensive information relating to the longest hiking-only trail in the world.
You can check it out here: AppalachianTrail.com
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