Ohio Man Plans to Hike Appalachian Trail to Raise Awareness About Mental Illness

by Madison Miller
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There’s a certain calmness and serenity when you take on a long hiking trail. In the dense wilderness, surrounded by foliage, unexpected wildlife, buzzing insects, and gorgeous views, there’s something that just makes us feel better. Now, one man from Milford, Ohio is taking the connection between hiking and mental wellness one step further with a trip to the Appalachian Trail.

He will be using the next six months to raise mental health awareness as he takes on the infamous Appalachian Trail. Matt Noonan will hike this 2,194.3-mile trail starting on March 16. This trail travels through 14 different states and follows along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian Mountain Range. It stretches from the Springer Mountain, Georgia area to the northern end in Katahdin, Maine.

According to Fox19, hiking is something that Noonan doesn’t actually do very often. Regardless, this half-a-year journey is going to be exceptionally personal for Noonan. It may also resonate with millions of other people all around the world that have sadly experienced the effects of suicide.

“Yeah, I made a decision to try to hike through the Appalachian Trail based on a buddy of mine taking his life in 2017. And I wanted a way to express my gratitude for the outdoors. Being able to go outside and even though I was feeling upset or uneasy, I could sit by the river and I could listen to the water flow and it brings serenity. It would bring calmness to me. My message is to never give up. On a bad day, [put] one foot in front of the other and if you get the opportunity to go outside, literally go outside,” Noonan said to the news outlet.

Matt Noonan Makes the Appalachian Trail a Social Voyage

Noonan is also going on this voyage by himself. He will have someone with him only the first 30 miles of the hike. He’s hoping to make some real and genuine connections along the way, too.

“Every person that I can talk to, I’m going to talk to you. Every person that I can touch, I’m gonna try to touch. If I can have one person to not be in the place where I was two years ago, I’ve done my job,” Noonan also said. He’s hoping to spread the message that even in the most remote, lonely places, you’re never truly alone. While this is a healing journey for Noonan, it may also lead to some inspiring moments for fellow hikers.

He will take on the Appalachian Trail like most hikers go about it. He’s going to shoot for 11 miles a day and increase his mileage slowly. Also, he’s going to have food shipped to various locations along the way.

Noonan also wants to share his experience on social media whenever he has any signal. You can follow along with his journey using his Facebook account. If you happen to be hiking the Appalachian Trail this spring and summer or parts of it, keep a lookout for Noonan. We have a feeling running into him could be pretty life-changing.

Outsider.com