What’s Your Story? – An 18 year hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail
In October of 2014, I received a request from Bob Palmer from Charlotte, NC to preserve a pair of his son’s Adam’s hiking shoes. These were no ordinary pair of shoes as they were the final pair worn to complete an 18 year hiking trip on The Appalachian Trail.
For those unfamilar with the Appalachian Trail, it is approximately 2,180 miles that runs from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. What is remarkably unique about Bob Palmer ‘s story is that he began the hike when his son Adam was 5 years old. Since his youth, Bob Palmer had a particular lifelong dream to hike the entire trail. When he made the decision to make that vision a reality, he decided to include his young son…maybe this was something the two of them could accomplish over a lifetime.
So on April 27, 1991 the journey began. Admist torrential rain they set off on the path before them. The early hikes were walked in sections during Adam’s spring and fall school breaks. Eventually they would combine their weekends into a 10-14 day annual excursion. It would take 39 trips to complete the entire trail.
Father and son’s love of the Appalachian Trail, hiking together day after day, and hope of accomplishing an incredible journey kept them faithful year after year, even during Adam’s early teenage years as Adam pursued sports and other activities. The lure of peaks and valleys, nature and camping kept them going year after year. In an October 2009 interview with a Charlotte Observer reporter, the reporter asked Adam what was it like to hike all those years with his dad and Adam commented, “I thought I was on top of the world”.
The experience as described by Bob Palmer was an extraordinary one for both father and son. Their mutual love for the outdoors, observing animals in the wild and a deep respect of nature solidified the bonding between the two. Bob kept a journal of the entire experience which describes in detail the trials and tribulations of his ultimate adventure.
By the time Adam graduated from Appalachian State University, father and son had only about 120 miles to complete the trail. However, Adam with a friend decided it would be a dream to do a thru-hike, which is walking the entire Appalachian Trail within a year, and meet his dad at the last place they ended the year before, and finish his thru-hike and their lifetime section hike at the same time. So on March 1, 2009, Bob dropped Adam off at Springer Mountain, GA (same spot they were at in April 1991) and 5 months later, they would meet up to hike the final 120 miles as planned.
Finally on August 9, 2009 father and son completed the Appalachian Trail after 18 years and 39 trips and an enduring lifetime of memories.
As a gift to his son Bob created an exceptional display with the preserved hiking shoes (as pictured here).