Beards, Teaching, and Hiking the AT

“For anybody that grows a beard or has hair on their face, I welcome you to the beard game. We’re all family. I encourage that. I encourage beards.” -Rick Ross

Hello outdoor lovers and beard enthusiasts. My name is Kristopher “Kyle” McDill. I am a lifelong resident of Mississippi and love to hike the outdoors. I have been married for almost ten years. Luckily, my wife, Kaci, also loves the outdoors and is the one who got us hiking. Now, along with growing a great beard, for the past several years hiking has been one of the biggest parts of my life. I, with Kaci, have planned ways that we could enjoy the outdoors and especially hike. Furthermore, hiking and being in the outdoors is an outlet like no other for me. It has made me an all-around healthier person. When I am outdoors I can cleanse my mind, body, and spirit. In the end,  nature enables me to put my life into a better perspective and prioritize the things that are important to me.

That Bearded Teacher

Yes, I have a glorious beard and I am a teacher, but why should you care? Well, I don’t know, but here is my story anyway. I started out teaching history six years ago. The more I taught history, the more interested in the geography/geosciences aspect of the curriculum. This was probably from spending time outside hiking trails in state and national parks. So, this led me to a master of science program at Mississippi State University geared toward Earth sciences. Since I started hiking, sharing my experiences in the outdoors with others has become important to me. Many people I know do not have the same relationship with the outdoors as I do. Through social media, I have been able to expose others to outdoors and educate them about many aspects of the earth, along with why it is important to conserve its most beautiful parts.


That Bearded Hiker

Sometime last year my brother-in-law called me “That Bearded Hiker.” After that, I put the name on social media and started to video/photo blog the trips that Kaci and I took. I started doing this for a few reasons. First, social media makes it easy to communicate with family and friends. Next, social media helped me educate my students about the outdoors. Last, I wanted to document our trips for myself and others. So, fast forward to now. When Kaci and I decided to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I knew I wanted to be able to inform others about what we are doing. This is the reason that I am writing this blog. To help educate and inform others. Also, the knowledge that I have gained has come from others sharing what they know or what they have experienced. I want to pay this forward.


Telling Our Story

As an educator, I teach kids how to write, but I am not a writer. This is the first narrative writing that I have ever done. Ultimately, I want this blog to tell our story. Mine and Kaci’s. In it, you will read about our successes and failures. Some of them extremely funny and some extremely uncomfortable. If nothing else, I hope that our escapades will help you enrich your experience with the outdoors. So let’s end this hiker introduction with something that a teacher would say: If you take care of nature, nature will take care of you.


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Comments 2

  • Jane : Jan 11th

    Hey “Kyle” (or Kristopher)!
    Congrats to you and Kaci for making plans to thru-hike the AT in 2020! That’s awesome! I thru-hiked in 2006 and actually ended up meeting my future husband on the trail. My trail name is Jangles and his is Mouse. A few years later, after we were married, we went together and thru-hiked the PCT in 2012. This year, we are planning for a NOBO thru-hike of the CDT. After reading some of this post, I know we can all share our love and passion for the outdoors. I also see that you were/are a teacher. I am currently a middle school teacher and coach as well. So, I’m curious…… are you taking a leave of absence from teaching in order to thru-hike? I’m currently working on ways that we can share our experience with others as well, so I’m always interested in how others are sharing their story.

    The A.T. is great and you will definitely meet lots of people…all with unique stories. The trail community itself is pretty amazing, as we still keep in touch with our “Trail Family” years later. However, you can also find a create time for solitude as well if you are looking for that too. When are you guys planning to start? I’ll look forward to hearing more as you go. Good luck to you both!

    Jangles– AT 2006, PCT 2012

    • Kristopher Mcdill : Jan 13th

      Hi Jangles and thank you!!!! We are planning on starting in the middle of June. Tentatively June 15th. I am (currently) a middle school educator and will not be renewing my contract this year in order to thru-hike. Although I am planning on sharing my story here, I also plan on sharing it through my social media channels as well.


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