An 82-Year-Old Broke the Appalachian Trail Age Record

After hiking for more than seven months, 82-year-old Dale Sanders completed the Appalachian Trail on Thursday, October 26, 2017 officially becoming the oldest person to finish the 2,190-mile trek. Sanders, known on the trail as “Greybeard,” broke a record previously held by Lee Barry, who set the mark in 2004 at age 81.

“I feel numb right now. It’s really a euphoric experience,” Sanders says. “I’m just so thankful to the people who have helped me. I literally would not be here if it weren’t for all the people who encouraged me along the way.”

In all, the retired civil servant spent about seven months on the trail this year. But his trek officially began last January when he section-hiked the stretch between Springer Mountain and Neel’s Gap in Georgia. On March 14, he began his continuous journey north and made it to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia—the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy—by June.

To avoid the coldest autumn weather, he then traveled north to Maine and set off southbound from Mount Katahdin back toward Harpers Ferry, where he hiked the final mile of the trail the morning of the 26th. He was met at the finish line by his family, a crowd of supporters, and officials from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

While it’s arguably his most impressive, this record is not Sanders’ first major feat. In 2015, he became the oldest person to paddle the Mississippi River 2,300 miles from source to sea. And while he’s taking 2018 off to spend more time with his wife and his dog, in 2019 he plans to paddle the entirety of the Missouri River and beyond.

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