As with all ATC programs, we have volunteers to thank for helping us get A.T. Communities off the ground and running. Many have met Bill and Sharon Van Horn on the Trail, volunteering, working with teachers and in A.T. Communities. Here is the story of their final completion of the Trail!
On a drizzling September 12, 2013, Bill and Sharon Van Horn completed their 8-year section hike journey of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Their last section about 220 miles long started in Rangeley, Maine and ended at the northern terminus Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. It included 100 miles in the Maine wilderness (no towns, no place to resupply). Some hikers elect to complete the 2, 189.5 mile AT in one calendar year and are known as thru-hikers. Others hike the trail in sections over any number of years, as long as it takes.
Bill and Sharon started backpacking in 2004 and in spring 2009 did their first long section of 110 miles from the southern terminus Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Highway 64 at Winding Stair Gap. They called this their “Walking Home” section. After that, since they are both retired, they decided to do two 300 mile sections a year and be away from home 28-30 days for each section since the US Post Office will hold mail for up to 30 days.
They timed their hikes to spring and fall and usually hiked with the thru-hikers. When they mentioned they were from Franklin, NC, hikers who came into town always had great things to say about our AT Community and especially Ronnie Haven.
Since retiring in Franklin in 2002, Bill and Sharon joined the Nantahala Hiking Club, one of the 31 AT maintaining clubs. They also joined the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) where they have held a number of volunteer positions. Sharon likes to say, “We haven’t found an ATC volunteer opportunity we don’t like.”
Bill and Sharon are happy to help anyone plan their section hike journey. They plan to present an overview of their section hikes at the library’s “Walking with Spring” program held in conjunction with Franklin’s April Fools Trail Days event in spring 2014.