Age is Just a Number

The saying, “Age is just a number,” is more of a motto for one 75-year-old Canton, GA resident, who proved that adage, completing the 14-state, 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail last month.

Richard Smith, known to those on the trail and many in Canton as “Old Scout,” completed the momentous hike in what is known as the “AT Flip-Flop.” Instead of hiking from Georgia’s Springer Mountain through to Maine’s Mount Katahdin, he hiked from Harpers Ferry in West Virginia to Maine, took a combination of trains and buses back to Harpers Ferry and completed the hike back to Springer Mountain in December.

“Most people start their through-hike at Springer Mountain in Georgia and hike north to Mt. Katahdin. I didn’t want to do it that way, because the trail (has) too many people hiking north at the same time. By doing a flip-flop, I avoided the crowds and had much more private time. There were days when I didn’t see another person on the trail,” he said.

Smith said recently that he has always hiked and had hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail for the past 50 years. He said last spring it “felt like it was time to put it all together.”

“I wanted to challenge myself, both physically and mentally. A through-hike is more of a mental challenge than it is a physical challenge. I wanted to show my grandchildren that no matter your age, with proper planning and commitment to a goal, you can accomplish anything you want,” he said. “I hope at some point in their lives, when they are faced with a challenge that seems impossible, they will look back on my hike and think, ‘If Pop could hike 2,190 miles at age 75, surely I can overcome this challenge.’”

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