Matthew “Odie” Norman to Retire from Hiker Yearbook Project

Matthew “Odie” Norman, creator of the iconic Hiker Yearbook, will be retiring from the Hiker Yearbook Project this year and passing the torch to the AT Museum. He plans to volunteer with the AT Museum for one year in order to facilitate a smooth transition. In order to fund this year of volunteer labor, he is compiling a book of “Odeisms” called Hikers Hike!!! which he is selling for $30 with a $5 shipping charge (available for preorder here).

History of the Hiker Yearbook

After his NOBO thru-hiker in 2013, Norman found himself longing for permanent relationships with hikers he’d met on trail. The idea for the Hiker Yearbook was born— a book full of pictures and contact information of anyone who had been part of the trail community, including both successful and unsuccessful thru-hikers. Since 2016, over 2,000 hikers a year submit their photos, trail names, real names, and email addresses, to facilitate post-trail contact with the trail community.

Norman’s commitment to selling the yearbooks at a reasonable cost without advertisers means he always sells them at a loss. His motivation is not money, but a commitment to facilitating lasting ties among hikers. Since 2013 he has sustained himself through the generosity of the trail community, supplemented with the occasional roofing gig. He is committed to the value of the book as a physical object, to be seen on a shelf and held in the hands of hikers, so he refuses to produce a digital version.

Matthew “Odie” Norman with his yearbooks. Photo via Bloodhound.

In 2018, he nearly quit the project after his manager/editor resigned and he was left to finish the yearbook by himself. In 2019, he was reminded of the beauty of the trail community at the hiker festival at Amicalola State Park, and he decided to return to the yearbook. He hired a new manager/editor and has been producing yearbooks ever since.

Norman never intended to be the sole producer of the Hiker Yearbook. He always planned to eventually pass the torch and “return to what he loves best: hiking,” as reported by The Trek in 2019. We wish him the best and thank him for his hard work and dedication to the hiker-trash community!

Featured image via The Hiker Yearbook. 

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