If you purchased a copy of my son's story, I hope you enjoy the guys' adventure and thank you for your purchase. My hope is that this story will help answer the question of who thru-hikers are and some of what they experience. The story was a collaboration between my son and I. He had the final say on which stories and details were included. If you don't have a copy, see the Contact link on the right.
The pictures are intended to augment the story. I would love to be able to offer a color picture version of the book, but this is not economically feasible for an on-demand printed book.
I would love to have hiked the AT as a young man, but National Geographic's article on the AT wouldn't be published until a few years after I graduated from college and I knew nothing about it. I'm sure my new wife would have loved for me to disappear into the woods for six months and leave her alone with my college loans. Like so many of us, my window for a thru-hike has been kicked down the road. Seeing Dale "Grey Bead" Sanders complete his thru-hike in 2017 at age 82 and a couple carry their 1 year old the entire trail renews my hope to one day soon spend 6 months living what I have only been able to experience through blogs and spending time with my son and his friend.
In the tradition of living vicariously through others, I became nearly obsessed by the technical aspects and progress of this endeavor. Though the guys wouldn't make use of any of them, I would have. The mapping software loaded onto Eric's phone became compromised and so they did what most do and followed the white blazes north. Not mentioned in the story was a solar powered compass watch he wore which included a barometer. He said the barometer wasn't needed after a few weeks as he could usually tell when rain was on the way.
My hat's off to anyone who undertakes this endeavor, especially those who succeed. I fear that the 2015 thru-hiking season will be remembered as the year which started a permitting system which may develop into one like that of the P.C.T. The A.T.'s popularity will likely necessitate measures to put less stress on the trail. Large groups can lead to parallel hiking which puts more stress on areas surrounding the trail. Baxter State Park has already started a permit system as they feel this will allow better management of the park. Will the A.T.C. follow suit remains to be seen.
It’s the spring of 2015 and three teenage friends set out to thru-hike the entire 2,189 miles of Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. They are not alone in their quest as thousands attempt this each year with only one in four completing it. Eric loves the woods and adventure. He is a hiking purist who believes that to say you thru-hiked the A.T. means you hike the entire trail with your pack, no skipping or slack-packing. Being from the coast where he rarely wears shoes, he chooses to hike in unusual footwear. While most wear hiking boots or trail runner shoes, he hikes in sandals. They slog through rainy Georgia where an early injury threatens to unravel the group. Upon befriending a female Australian hiker, the sordid side of the hiking community reveals itself. Trail angels and parents provide support and motivation along the way to the trail weary travelers. Opportunities for a unique experience are not overlooked in this once in a lifetime adventure. The notorious White Mountains of New Hampshire present them with a level of danger any hiker should take heed of. Which of them will prevail over the trail is for the reader to discover. The story presents the human side of the struggle to conquer this beloved trail.