August 9, 2013
The Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine and crosses through Nelson, Albemarle, Greene, and Madison counties along the way.
Hundreds of hikers pass through Central Virginia each year walking the more than two thousand miles of the mountain range.
One hiker, whose trail name is "Fast" Eddie, walked through the Warren County section of the trail on Tuesday. Eddie estimated he was about 45% of the way through.
Eddie's daughter inspired him to hike the Appalachian Trail.
"My daughter hiked the trail in 2003," said Eddie. "She was telling us how much fun it was...She's a fantastic writer. She would write emails and make you feel like you were right there with her. So, the next fall, she and I did some section hiking for about five weeks and I caught the bug."
Most hikers hiking the Appalachian Trail south to north crossed through the Afton Mountain section around June.
"Everybody hikes the trail a little differently," said Eddie. He is hiking the trail solo. "I've made a lot of great friends."
"You know, when you meet people and hike with people you just have these wonderful conversations and people say, 'don't you get lonely when you're by yourself?' I've never been lonely. I've learned to really enjoy the solitude. Some of the best conversations I've had are conversations I've had with myself."
"Fast" Eddie began his journey on April 4. He hiked the Amicolola State Park Approach Trail to the southern end of the trail, the summit of Springer Mountain, Georgia. The Northern terminus is Mount Katahdin in Maine. (The newer International Appalachian Trail extends the trail from Mount Katahdin into Canada.)
He hopes to make it home to Southwestern Maine before Thanksgiving.
"'Once in a lifetime, now or never.' That's what keeps me going. When you have a really, really bad day, and you say, 'what in the hell am I doing out here? 'Once in a lifetime, now or never.' You have those days when you're cold, and wet, and hungry, and miserable, and you're hiking day after day in the rain. And you can't tell what is louder, the squish of the mud or the squish of your socks, and say, boy, I could be home, comfortable, eating some real food instead of peanut butter and granola bars. But as we say on the trail, never quit on a bad day."
The exact length of the Appalachian Trail changes from year to year due to trail maintenance rerouting the trail. In the 2011 "Appalachian Trail Data Book," The Appalachian Trail Conservancy stated the official length of the Appalachian Trail as 2,181.0 miles.
If he completes his once in a lifetime hike, he will get a certificate from the Appalachian Trail conservancy saying that he is a Two Thousand Miler.
In addition to the certificate, Eddie has already learned from hiking to his near halfway point in Virginia.
Walking along a section off of 722 near Front Royal, Virginia, he said as he walked, "I hear some water. Can you hear it?"
Eddie explained he's learned to better distinguish between sounds during his journey.
"After a while, you've been listening to nature all this time, you can figure it out," he said.
"That's a big part of the trail," Eddie continued, "is learning from yourself, learning from nature, learning from other people, and learning how to figure it out.
"The trail is great teacher of life. 'Cause if you can learn to teach yourself, and teach yourself to figure things out, those are the main tools for getting through the trail and getting through life."