Mount Katahdin, Maine —(Map)
Harvey Sutton spent nearly seven months hiking with his parents, walking the thousands of miles that make up the complete Appalachian Trail. Harvey, or “Little Man”, was just 4 years old when he started, and celebrated his 5th birthday on the trail.
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,193 mile (3,530 kilometer) hiking trail that runs through the forests of the Appalachian Mountains, from Georgia to Maine. The trail, which many people call simply the “AT”, passes through 14 states in all.*
Hiking the Appalachian Trail is tough. The people who hike it must carry everything they need with them, including tents, sleeping bags, and other supplies, along with food and water.
The path goes up and down through the Appalachian Mountains. The amount of up and down on the trail is about the same as climbing up and down Mount Everest (the world’s tallest mountain) 16 times.
Because hiking the AT is so difficult, only one out of every four hikers completes all the sections of the trail. But that didn’t stop Harvey Sutton and his family from tackling the AT, even though he was only 4 years old when they began their hike.
Harvey’s parents, Josh and Cassie Sutton, have been hiking with Harvey since he was two years old. They prepared him for hiking the AT by starting out with lots of shorter walks and hikes.
It took Harvey and his family 209 days – about seven months – to complete the entire AT.
Every day the family would wake up around 5:30 in the morning. They would have breakfast and pack up their tent and sleeping bags before setting off through the woods. In general, the family hiked about 10 miles (16 kilometers) a day before stopping to set up camp again.
During his days on the AT, Harvey liked to use his imagination. This helped him walk more quickly and have fun while he hiked. He played games with his mom and dad and other hikers. Harvey says he enjoyed playing the “cell phone game” where you pretend you are different people.
Harvey and his family made friends with other hikers on the trail. Along the way, Harvey earned the trail name (nickname) of “Little Man”.
Lessons Harvey learned while hiking the Appalachian Trail:
• “Don’t fight a bear!”
• “And don’t mess with rattlesnakes.”
• “Also, dams make electricity.”
Karl Donus Sakas hiked with the Suttons through seven states. He helped make the hike fun for Harvey by creating a treasure hunt for him to complete.
But Harvey also enjoyed the sometimes hard work of hiking. “My favorite part was the rock scrambles,” he says, “Because they were so fun and hard.”
Mr. Sakas says Harvey didn’t seem to get tired. When other hikers were worn out at the end of the day, Harvey was still eager for a game of freeze tag.
Completing the AT taught Harvey and his parents how to work as a team and how to take on challenges together. Harvey’s mom says that because of the experience, “We’re closer than ever before.”
Harvey has now turned 5 and has started kindergarten. But at some point in the future, he says, “I want to hike the AT again!”
Did You Know…?
Even though Harvey is one of the youngest people to hike the Appalachian Trail, he’s not the youngest. Juniper Netteberg hiked the AT with her family in 2020. She was 4 years old and hiked in a Wonder Woman costume.
* The Appalachian Trail runs through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
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