Three Statesboro college students, all of which are also Eagle Scouts, took a few semesters off to hike the Appalachian trail this summer. The two of which hiked the over-2000-mile Appalachian trail. It took them four months and seventeen days to complete the adventure.
The Appalachian trail travels through fourteen states along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian Mountain Range, from its southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the northern terminus at Katahdin, Maine.
With a couple years in the making, ambitious hikers, Eagle Scouts and childhood friends, Christian Scott along with brothers Wilson and Dillon Calhoun set out to conquer the trail that takes most hikers five to seven months to complete, in just four.
They chronicled the trip on social media in a private facebook group called Eagles Hike.
“By the time we got up to Virginia, we started realizing that it was realistic to be able to do a marathon a day,” said Christian Scott.
Starting at a steady pace, the young men worked their way up to hiking 25 miles per day, which gave them a few rest days at a time to hang out and enjoy themselves swimming and climbing.
“It was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was totally worth it,” said Wilson Calhoun. “You have to do something hard and challenge yourself, and then you can have this moment where you’re on top of the mountain that you just climbed, and it’s beautiful.”
“Once you’re living in the woods for that long, your body is just naturally in-tune with your surroundings, and so as soon as there was a little bit of light, there were birds singing and you were awake,” said Christian Scott. “Even though you were hiking 20+ miles a day, you just felt rest constantly… surrounded by the forest. It was just very, very peaceful.”
Scott and his friends saw other hikers on the trail, of course, but only a rare few hike over 1000 miles to get there. “Every mountain had its sense of accomplishment, but it wasn’t anything like super passionate or energetic,” said Scott. “It was just this calm sense of here we are.”
On the trail, hikers leave behind their birth-given names for trail names, Wilson Calhoun said; Scott went by ‘Junko’ and Calhoun by ‘Roadburn’. Many of the hikers end up running into each other for hundreds of miles as they make their way up the trail.
“You meet a lot of really cool people, a lot of like-minded people out there who are doing it,” said Wilson Calhoun. “COVID didn’t really exist at all in the woods, so that was nice.”
Backpacking the Appalachian Trail means pitching tents, cooking on camping stoves, sleeping in sleeping bags and packing it and carrying it up the mountain on your back to do again. But their four months wasn’t all spent in the wilderness.
Every four or so miles along the boys would find a road to town where would occasionally hitch a ride from a friendly local to connect to wifi and resupply.
“You’re always pretty close to civilization, closer than you’d think,” said Calhoun
Scott started sending things home from his pack on visits to town to lighten his pack and figure out what he couldn’t live without: “Water filter, something to keep me warm at night and something to keep whatever keeps me warm at night dry, and that’s all I need.”
But for anyone wondering which state to visit next vacation, forget about Connecticut.
“It was over 95 degrees every day we were there, and just a muddy state with no views,” said Scott. “I remember at one point it was burning up, and we tried to swim in a river to cool off and the water was just lukewarm. It was just not a great time.”
Surviving off of Cliff Bars and instant mashed potatoes, these guys do not fear the wilderness nor a rustling in the woods. They ran into raccoons, moose and mama bears.
“We did have a lot of encounters with bears, but you know, we were pretty comfortable around them,” said Wilson.
All three of the hikers are Statesboro natives. Wilson Calhoun and Christian Scott were able to complete the hike. Dillon developed some health issues that required him to cut the hike short, but he hiked 1,350 miles before it took him out.
Photos provided by Scott and Calhoun.
Below is a slide show of images from the hike.