Blind Hiker Tackles Appalachian Trail

Minnesota man hopes to navigate using GPS voice technology

Most Appalachian Trail thru-hikers rely on the view to sustain them through the hardest pasts of the trail, but Mike Hanson doesn't even have that. This week, the 44-year-old Minnesota man will begin hiking the Appalachian Trail blind.

Hanson hopes to show that visually impaired people are as capable and independent as anyone. He hopes to use just his walking stick and the turn-by-turn voice commands on his GPS phone as a guide. He'll be accompanied by a documentary filmmaker who has promised not to interfere with navigation.

"It gives me everything I would need to know about the trail but the view," Hanson said. "I will be able to hear and smell what is going on."

Surprisingly, Hanson won't be the first person to hike the Appalachian Trail blind, but he will be the first to do it unassisted if he's successful. Right now, Hanson's raised about $9,000 to cover expenses, but he hopes to reach $25,000. You can follow his progress on his Facebook page.

—Ted Alvarez

Star Tribune via The Goat