“Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”

Genesis [13:17]


On March 30th, Connie and I will attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail, from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. This is a journey of almost 2200 miles. We expect this trip will take close to six months.

Some interesting notes about the Appalachian trail are:

  • The trail crosses 14 states.
  • The highest point on the trail is Clingsman Dome in North Carolina at 6643 feet.
  • The average hiker takes 165 days to complete.
  • Volunteers maintain the trail, spending close to 250,000 hours on maintenance.
  • One and four hikers finish.
  • Each day of walking is equal to 5500 calories burned.
  • The average hiker goes through 4-5 pairs of shoes.

Why are we attempting this trek? It has been a life long dream, since my mid-twenties. But a career, family and life responsibilities appropriately took precedence. But just having a dream isn’t enough, there has to be a purpose other than a desire to take 6 months out of our lives.

As strong advocates against “ageism”, we will walk representing those who are over 50, who are denied opportunities because of their age. We will walk to prove that the term “young and energetic” can be replaced with “old and energetic.” Being older doesn’t mean slowing down, it means being wiser.

It is also a time when we can reset our lives and bodies. A time to prepare for the next few decades of our lives. A way to find out what is important, when you are stripped down to a small tent and two sets of clothing. A way to answer the question, “What is most important in life?”  Our hope is move from being consumers of life to living life with a focus on what is important.

It will also be to find God in the wilderness. To meet inspiring people. To hear their stories and learn about human nature without the trappings of modern life.

Henry David Thoreau, who walked many of these miles said, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.” 

What’s the right life for some isn’t the right life for all. This is what we seek, a period to find out what is it that we seek. A time to raise up dormant desires or those just beneath the service.

Certainly, serving others is most important, but what does that mean for us? Perhaps we will find it on the trail, likely we will at least get clues.

For me, it is also to find a gentler self that will tame my quickness to be offended. A self that loves first. A time to wash completely off the effects of a lifetime of being a corporate warrior.

As we have trained and prepared for this trek, we met a young man who teaches at REI and has not only walked the Appalachian Trail but the Pacific Coast Trail and the Continental Divide trail. In total 8,500 hundred miles. He has mentored us and helped us with our gear selection. Because of him we feel relaxed and prepared.

I asked him about the difference between young hikers, which represent the majority of those who hike, and older hikers. His comment was that young hikers recover faster, but older hikers are wiser. When you look at the statistics around the completion rate, both groups have the same finishing percentage!

So we start this journey to watch and not measure. To enjoy the wilderness with a wonder. To meet wonderful people and hear their stories. To connect God with all that we do. For it is to him we hope to glorify. For it is from him we have been given this great privilege.

Our aim is to be called Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker’s, we hope the journey leads us to Maine. But also to become students of life.

Jesus, himself walked twenty miles a day, to not just minister to humankind, but to meet and hear. Tirelessly he roamed revealing the message of God. Certainly, we can walk if he walked.

While this post is the last we will write for a while, we have prepared posts for the next 6 months. We will continue to post on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, thanks to our very capable friend Amy. The year with God has been written for the next nine months. Our other posts will be placed on Monday’s and Friday’s. After two weeks on Wednesdays, we will post updates on our progress. We will post where we are, as we are able. We will continue to work on the books we publish and hold dear. Perhaps a new book will arise from this journey.

Be well, we will not be too far away.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti

We love giving credit to budding photographers to help them gain more exposure.