Only 50 Hikers Age 70 and Above Have Completed a Thru-Hike on the AT

When I first decided to thru-hike the AT I thought I would be the first at my age to do it, then some dude 82 years old (Dale Sanders) sets the record and I realized lots of older people must have completed the hike.

Now an 87-year-old hiker is attempting to complete the trail for his second time! Let’s hear it for Pappy. So now I kind of think it’s no big deal to be a hiker of age. Then I read the stats on the trail and found that number is 50 people (in the 2017 ATC stats) and I realized that it is a big deal to be of age and complete the hike. It’s a big deal regardless of age.

No Fear

It has never entered my mind that I would not finish. I have read the list deal in the book “Appalachian Trials” of where you write what would you think if you didn’t finish. I have no thoughts of what I would think or do because the only way I don’t finish is if I get sick or hurt and that is somewhat beyond my control. I had wanted six months off from my part-time job but could only get five so it is possible I will have to finish in 2019. I am going to enjoy the journey, and not hurry. I will take that side trail to a view or stay a little longer in a cool trail town. That being said, I do want to be a thru-hiker so it will be a balancing act close to the finish.


My goal is to have the time of my life. I look forward to beautiful days in nature. I want to be a child in wonder. I want to be totally present. I also want to experience the worst kind of suck. I will tell my granddaughter about the time it was wet, cold, miserable, and a trail angel appeared to give me a ride to warmth and food. I am the person who believes that if my piece of gear is lost or breaks that I will find one in the next hiker box. All of my life when a door is closed on me another one opens, always leading me to a better place. I always know I am where I am meant to be. I will have a blast.

Baby Boomer

I have always been close to the leading edge of my generation and have had great experiences (I am disappointed that my generation is not as progressive as I had hoped it would be). I want to learn something from each person I meet on this quest and above all I want to learn from nature. I also hope I can pass something on to others.

Next Up, Waiting to Start

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Comments 6

  • Kamakazee : Apr 3rd

    Could you please explain the picture with the rattlesnake and the birds surrounding it?

  • Old Scout : Apr 4th

    Boomer, hope to see you on the trail. I am also starting NOBO from Harper’s Ferry late April.

  • Dami : Apr 4th

    Boomer, as a 71 PCT section hiker myself (1400 miles so far) I salute your attitude. Just put one foot in front of the other! Enjoy and pick the right season for where you hike!

  • ISBN : Apr 4th

    A great picture. Did you click the shutter? If you did, were those guineas making a lot of noise. Maybe, just maybe the pic was shopped!
    Good luck on your adventure.

  • Dick Sorensen : Apr 5th

    We’re not old; just seasoned. I’m just a few steps short of 73. Go get’m!

  • Robert J Coia : Jun 12th

    In April 2021, I at 73 I will attempt with my Friend Neal who will also be 73 the AT thru hike. When completed we will be the 51 & 52 over 70 to complete it.. Happy trails!!!! Hope to see some of you in Damascus 2021!!!

    Bob Coia


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