Dale Sanders is older than the Appalachian Trail. Sanders was born in 1925; the 2,190-mile contiguous hiking path from Georgia to Maine (marked with the famous white blazes) was officially completed in 1937. That didn’t stop Sanders from conquering his younger foe.
On October 26, the 82-year-old became the oldest person to complete the entire AT in a single year. He finished at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, on October 26, according to The Washington Post.
To avoid cold weather, he started at the trail’s Southern Terminus in Georgia this past January, headed north to roughly the halfway point at the Conservancy’s headquarters, then began his second leg at the Northern Terminus atop Mount Katahdin in Maine, finishing back in West Virginia.
Fellow hikers, most of them in their 20s according to The Post, gave sanders the trail name “Grey Beard.”
When he finished, The Post says, he danced and sipped sparkling cider.
Of course, the trip did not always go smoothly. During an infamous section called the 100-Mile Wilderness in Maine (named because it is the longest section on the trail without an opportunity to re-supply), Sanders suffered from internal bleeding and heart palpitations. Amazingly, The Post says his wife and his doctors gave him the go-ahead to continue despite the health concerns.
Sanders is not averse to taking risks, though. His badass résumé includes a record for underwater-breath-holding in 1959 and becoming the IUSA spearfishing athlete of the year in 1965.
As an octogenarian, he only took seven months to complete the AT. He told The Post that, now, he intends on going home with his wife and getting some rest.