Most backpackers take nearly six months to hike all 2,175 miles of the Appalachian Trail. But on October 10, students and alumni from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, will try to cover that ground in a single day. Hiking in groups of three or four, they'll stagger themselves along the length of the AT and tackle sections ranging from several miles to more than 20. The attempt celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Dartmouth Outing Club, the nation's oldest such group.
Nearly 1,000 participants chose their portions using Google Earth. Matt Dahlhausen, a Dartmouth junior and lead organizer behind the effort, will be among a half-dozen student posses fanning out over the 75 AT miles that pass just south of the university, while alumni will hike sections farther from campus. Wayne Bardsley, class of 1970, will join eight alumni hiking two 20-mile sections in Maryland. They'll rendezvous at the Pine Knob Shelter, at mile 1,036.
Dahlhausen says it's about more than setting a record, though. With the help of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, participants will connect with local trail clubs to volunteer for maintenance projects. "The single-day hike will be cool, but our biggest goal is to engage people with the trail," he says.