83-Year-Old Becomes Oldest Hiker to Complete Appalachian Trail

by Shelby Scott

The United States’ Appalachian Trail covers the length of the entire East Coast and has seen numerous records set upon its walking paths. Now, in the latest record-setting achievement, one 83-year-old man became the oldest hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail network.

According to the Associated Press, the elderly hiker, M.J. “Sunny” Eberhart, began hiking in 1993. His hike began following his retirement as an optometrist in Florida that same year. Now, the Alabama resident has hiked a good distance more than the trail’s 2,100+ miles as the outlet stated he covered areas based on weather, covering various sections at a time out of order.

Further, despite the hiker’s great achievement, the 83-year-old did reveal this particular trek took quite the toll. He admitted that during the journey, he suffered more than a few falls on slippery rocks. Nevertheless, his outlook remained positive as he said, “I’ve got a couple of skid marks on me, but I’m OK. You’ve got to have an incredible resolve to do this.”

A friend who previously hiked with Eberhart, known on the trail as Nimblewill Nomad, asked the elderly hiker if he wanted to take a break following one of many spills. In response, Eberhart said, “Do you think if I complain about it it will go away?”

He obviously continued after. However, despite his resolve, the trail made him realize his age, also highlighting his reflexes aren’t what they once were. As such, he limited himself to around eight hours of walking daily.

Appalachian Trail’s Oldest Hiker ‘Seeks Peace’ In the Journey

While Eberhart’s latest feat is no doubt impressive, it wouldn’t be the first time, nor the longest trail, the outdoorsman has ever completed. The AP stated prior to his latest feat, the Nimblewill Nomad hiked tens of hundreds of miles.

One of his major hikes included a 4,400-mile trek from the Florida Keys to Northern Quebec. He then detailed the adventure in a book called, “Ten Million Steps.” Following this, Eberhart hiked an even farther distance from Newfoundland to Florida, and later, from Chicago to California along Route 66.

Needless to say, the elderly hiker has prior experience. But where did this drive come from?

The outdoorsman shared his treks began after carrying a load of mental and emotional baggage following divorce and his children’s loss of respect. He stated, “You can seek peace. That doesn’t mean you’re going to find it.”

However, fortunately, Eberhart said, “I persevered to the point that the good Lord looked down on me and said you’re forgiven, you can be at peace.”

Eberhart completed his trek across the Appalachian Trail in Dalton, Massachusetts. He now plans to return to his AL home atop Flagg Mountain, the southernmost peak in the Appalachians reaching more than 1,000 feet in elevation.