Appalachian Trail 2003

Appalachian Trail MapAnyone attempting to do a Thru-Hike is tackling the entire 2,160+ miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT) in one trip. On average, only 3 of 20 people who attempt a Thru-Hike completes it, spending between 4 to 8 months to do it.

Attempting a Thru-Hike and completing it takes great training, planning, and above all, endurance. Hiking 15-20 miles a day, Thru-Hikers burn nearly 6,000 calories. That means they need to take in more than 3 times the amount of calories on a daily basis.

In addition to the physical nature of the trip, most people drop out because of the mental aspects, especially those going solo.

“For me, the physical and mental challenges I faced seemed small compared to what those who are fighting cancer, and Hodgkin lymphoma in particular, have to face.”

Daniel began his 2,169-mile Appalachian Trail journey in March of 2003 at Springer Mountain in Georgia. He finished the entire trail at Mt. Katahdin in Maine in September 2003.

on the Appalachian Trail

Thoughts on Finishing the Appalachian Trail

This trip has far exceeded my expectations. Five months in the woods is indeed a test of mental and physical strength. The rewards at the finish and the life long impact on ones self are incredible. I was always at odds with myself when it came to following a path. While I enjoyed my adventures, I had this lingering guilt in the back of my mind that I wasn’t following the “expected path.” I’ve finally freed myself of that guilt.

Our society’s little rulebook doesn’t apply anymore. We are so clever at coming up with excuses for not doing things in our lives. We say things like, “the timing isn’t right” or “my life is too busy”. Material gains are the wrong motivation. They say do what you love and the money will follow – I say do what you love, period. Do people gain wisdom with age? If so, why don’t we listen to them? When I hear older folks reflect on their lives they often say that they wish they had done things a little differently. I believe the fonder the memories and experiences, the more fulfilling my life will be.

Finishing the AT
At the finish line.

I will always cherish my AT adventure – the beauty of the trail, the incredible feeling of being in the best shape of my life, and the life-long friendships I made along the way. It’s a pity it sometimes takes a loss before one has a clear moment where they wake up and decide to take life and embrace it – following one’s dreams. I’m happier than I’ve ever been – I greet everyday with a smile looking forward to life.

Joe Chirdon was my inspiration for living – he walks with me and I celebrate with him everyday. Thank you everyone for your support. Bless Joe and all our loved ones who have passed.

“It’s not the miles – it’s the smiles.”

View more photos from Daniel’s Thru-Hike.