In 2004, Scott Rogers, 35, became the first above-the-knee amputee to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. Rogers lost his left leg in 1998 as a result of an accidental shooting – he shares that the accident made him stronger. He now gets around with C-leg, a prosthetic leg and foot that’s driven by hydraulics and controlled by microprocessors that monitor his movement to create a stable gait. Rogers, who was known as “One Leg” on the AT, had to resort on occasion to crutches n the trail which made him “really feel handicapped.”
Hiker and photographer Kevin Gallagher set out on his thru-hike on April 2, 2005. He arrived on Mount Katahdin on October 6 (a little over 6 months). Being the artist of the camera, Kevin decided to take 24 photographs of 24 steps of the trail each day. Returning home Kevin had over 4,000 pictures of the AT. With these still photographs, he created a stop-motion film called the “Green Tunnel” enabling the viewer to see the 6 month journey in a matter of five minutes. I have seen a shortened version on YouTube and it gives you a quick sense of the terrain and an idea of this grandfather of all footpaths.
Many men and women have attempted to be the fastest AT thru-hikers, but the record, until recently, was held by Andrew Thompson, who completed the trail in just 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes in 2005. A veteran hiker, Thompson averaged more than 45 miles per day and by the time he finished all 14 states, he’d lost more than 35 pounds. But in August of 2011 a new speed record was set – 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes by Jennifer Pharr Davis who averaged 47 miles each day.
Both of these hikes were considered “assisted” hikes. The hiker carries a day pack with a minimal amount of weight, the hiker is supported by a team that meets him/her at roads that cross the AT and provides her/him with food, water, dry clothes, first aid, and other support. The fastest unassisted or unsupported hike (the hiker carries in his/her backpack everything she/he needs for the adventure) was set by Matt Kirk in August of 2013, who started at the trail’s northern terminus in Maine, and arrived at the summit of Springer Mountain, Ga. in 58 days, 9 hours, 40 minutes. Neither Matt nor Jennifer need to stay awake fearful that the 64 year-old from Springboro, OH is going to smash their records – I just want to finish!
Photo: Scott Rogers http://www.oddee.com/contrib_12245.aspx
Photo: Matt Kirk http://blueridgehikingco.com/matt-kirk/