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And So It Begins… Thru-Hiking The Appalachian Trail


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22 minutes ago, Rick1971 said:

been watching a series that Homemade Wunderlust made on her thru-hike of the PCT and AT

like it alot

Just yesterday, I started to watch her Appalachian Trail Full Documentary. Also, I see that she's going to attempt to thru-hike the CDT this year. If she's successful, that would give her the Triple-Crown.

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  • 3 years later...

Update. On April 24th, 2018, Wayne was having immense pain in his legs and could barely walk. Reluctantly, after having hiked almost 450 miles of the AT, he came off the trail. His doctors found that the pain in his legs was being caused by spinal compression. They began therapy and recommended that he not attempt to return to the trail for 90 days.  Fifty-one days later on June 5, 2018, after having made good progress with his therapy, Wayne returned to the exact spot where he had come off the trail and continued his northbound thru-hike. On June 30, after having hiked more than 700 miles but realizing that his average daily mileage would not be enough to get him to Katahdin in time, he made the decision to flip to Maine. On July 9th, he summited Katahdin then began hiking south. Wayne made it through the 100 Mile Wilderness and in fact, had hiked 140 miles south when on 7/22/2018, he collapsed on the trail. He was evacuated to a hospital in Skowhegan Maine, where he was diagnosed with a viral form of vertigo. He spent several weeks in Skowhegan hoping that the dizziness would subside enough to allow him to continue his thru-hike, but unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. Eventually, with the year wearing on and winter approaching, Wayne had to make the decision to return to his home in South Carolina.

Since then, although Wayne has undergone many medical tests, received much treatment and been given a variety of medications, the vertigo persists. In a recent conversation he told me that the virus had effectively killed a part of his brain, causing permanent damage. Even so, by early 2020, he had felt physically ready to give a thru-hike a second attempt, but then, as we're all well aware, the Covid 19 pandemic struck, causing everything to come to a screeching halt. Wayne's plans would have to be put on hold for another year.

On March 21, 2021, three years and two weeks after he had started his first attempt, Wayne (just two months shy of his 74th birthday) returned to the trail. Beginning from Catawba Virginia, where he had flipped in 2018, he began hiking north with three goals. The first was to complete the more than 1300 miles from where he had flipped to where he had collapsed. If he was successful, his second goal was to continue north, covering ground that he had already done and summit Mt Katahdin once again. Finally, if he could pull that off, his third goal was to return to Catawba and hike south 700 miles to Springer Mountain, thus completing his thru-hike.

The hike would prove to be brutal at times, particularly in New England where the trail was rocky and the weather was relentlessly bad. Vertigo, or Vert T Go, as Wayne called it, was his constant companion. Boulder hopping across streams was especially difficult because the boulders would appear to Wayne to be moving.

175 days later, after many hardships and a total of 54 falls, on October 16, 2021 at 8:55 am, Wayne summited Springer Mountain and completed his thru-hike. I had joined him on the trail the night before, and was honored to accompany him for the culmination of what is undoubtedly a great personal accomplishment. At the start of his previous attempt, I had said that Wayne had a lot of grit and that baring circumstances beyond his control, I was confident he would do well. In the three years since and especially these last six months, Wayne has demonstrated in spades just how much grit he really has, together with an abundance of sheer determination. Not many people could do what he's done, particularly with the added challenge of constantly dealing with the affects of vertigo all the while attempting to navigate mountainous terrain. Congratulations Wayne! Well done!

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