By Shannon M. Nass, Special to the Post-Gazette
It's a journey of epic proportions and one that few have completed in its entirety. Four to six months and more than 5 million steps over rugged, mountainous terrain are required to traverse all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which spans 14 states from Maine to Georgia.
Successful end-to-end hikers, or "thru hikers," owe their experiences to six pioneers who were named June 17 to the first class of inductees to the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame in Gardners. Pa..
â€¢ Myron Avery (1899-1952) Avery is credited with building the Appalachian Trail. He communicated by letter to volunteers up and down the Atlantic seaboard in an effort to knit the various trail clubs together. He was also the first person to walk the entire trail and is responsible for the distinctive 2-inch by 6-inch white blaze marker.
â€¢ Gene Espy In 1951, Espy became the second person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. His book, "The Trail of My Life: the Gene Espy Story" (Indigo Publishing Group), has inspired many to follow in his footsteps.
â€¢ Ed Garvey (1915-1999) He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1970. His book, "Appalachian Hiker: Adventure of a Lifetime" (Appalachian Books), provided useful information for those who would follow in his footsteps. Garvey also was instrumental in securing federal funds in the late 1970s to protect the trail.
â€¢Benton MacKaye (1879-1975) MacKaye is credited with proposing the Appalachian Trail. He was responsible for assembling the first Appalachian Trail conference in Washington, D.C., in 1925 at which the conference (now the Appalachian Trail Conservancy) was established.
â€¢ Arthur Perkins (1864-1932) After MacKaye's initial inspiration in the early 1920s, work on building the trail had largely stalled by the middle of the decade. Perkins took up the cause and pushed it forward.
â€¢ Earl Shaffer (1918-2002) Shaffer's notion of a 2,000-mile continuous wilderness foot expedition was unheard of when he did it in 1948. Shaffer hiked the entire trail again in 1965, and his self-published book "Walking with Spring," was released in 1981. He walked it once more at age 79 in 1998.
"These are pioneers who richly deserve being the first inductees to the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame," Larry Luxenberg, president of the Appalachian Trail Museum Society, said in a prepared statement.
"Thousands of adventurers have since followed in their footsteps, taking journeys that have in many cases changed lives and redirected priorities."
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11198/11 ... z1SSm5iVKm