During my five months on the trail as a ridge runner for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, I carried my camera everywhere I went. I photographed all sorts of thru-hikers: teenagers and octogenarians; a millionaire and drifters who were living day-to-day. The people in these photographs all walked over 2000 miles to get to the point where they are standing. One thru-hiker would be the first person to hike the trail with two replaced hips when he finished. Another had hiked the trail in 1981 and summited Katahdin on September 11th. He was so horrified that that the twentieth anniversary of his finish was that faithful autumn day that he set out to hike the trail again just to summit on a different date.
The goal of these portraits is to give you a sense of the diversity along the trail. The thru-hike experience is as much a social one as a wilderness one. Maybe when the time is right, you will be motivated to explore the trail yourself. Maybe it’ll be after you retire, or maybe next week. Whatever the time, prepare to be touched by the trail forever.