PC Seniors Kennedy Brooks and Hannah Sawyer are doing an unthinkable challenge: Hiking the Full Appalachian Trail


Mitchell Mercer, Staff Writer

Challenges can be a part of people’s day-to-day cycle throughout life. They can be fun and unique, like trying to set a Guinness World Record or running a 40-yard dash in under 5 seconds. Others can be extremely difficult, like recovering from an injury suffered from a sports activity or trying to prepare a 20 page essay for an English class.

But two PC seniors plan to take on a remarkable challenge.

Upon graduation, seniors Kennedy Brooks and Hannah Sawyer plan on hiking the full Appalachian Trail. The trail, which is 2,175 miles long, runs from Georgia to Maine and is the longest marked trail in the United States. It covers 14 states, and there are four main sections of the trail: the Southern Mountains, the Virginia Highlands, the Mid-Atlantic Lowlands and the New England sections.

Even though it may sound easy to some, there are challenges to hiking the Appalachian.

2,000 people attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail each year, but only a quarter of them manage to hike the full route. Due to the length of the Appalachian, hikers will walk around 15 miles a day, which can take up to 6 months in general to complete the trail. Other challenges hikers face occur from the natural world, including black bears, ticks, venomous snakes, and if you’re unlucky, bad weather.

But to Sawyer, she’s all in for the challenge.

“I feel as if I have the absolute obligation to myself to take on this challenge and push myself harder than ever before. The Appalachian Trail is not purely a physical feat, in fact it is mostly a mental challenge: every single setback could feel ten times worse than it actually is if you treat it as such,” Sawyer states. “Yet, from what I have read, it can also teach you how wonderful the simplicities in life can be.”

Sawyer said that she got the idea of doing the full Appalachian Trail while studying abroad in Spain, in which she was reminded not only of Spain’s mountains, but mountains back in the United States.

“I had been struggling with what the future immediately following graduation would hold, as to whether or not I would be applying for graduate schools or continuing internships in marine biology to further explore my career path. My friends and I had joked around previously about hiking the trail together, and suddenly those memories came back to me. I threw the idea out to Kennedy, and she was as eager as I was to commit to it.”

As for preparing for the hike, Sawyer knows it will be a lot of work preparing for the 2,175 mile trail.

“So far, we have mainly been gear-prepping and planning the logistics: since you have to carry all of your gear with you, it is very necessary for you to portion your weight for each item. Freeze-dried foods are a must, and everything that we will be carrying is light-weight.” 

Sawyer and Brooks will have to purchase boots in advance and worn in so that they can switch them out at mile 700, “Feet are the number one priority on the trail since they literally carry you from Amicalola Falls in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.”

Sawyer and Brooks were planning to start their hike mid-May, but because of the pandemic, plan to hike in February of 2021.

Even though hiking the Appalachian Trail will require a lot of preparation, effort and mental toughness, Sawyer is excited for the opportunity.

“I am looking forward to being in nature, without the distractions that are so constantly present in the modern world and hope to appreciate every detail in life that I have previously taken for granted. After all, now is the best time to drop everything and traverse the wilderness for five months, right? No kids, no mortgage, no job to quit? Sounds like quite the dream to me.”