12-Year-Old Hiking The Appalachian Trail

Unlike most kids her age, 12-year-old Reed Gjonnes won’t be spending the summer hanging around the house doing nothing. The young lady and her father Eric have traveled from their home in Oregon to the eastern U.S. where they are spending their summer hiking the Appalachian Trail, a route that runs from Maine to Georgia and stretches 2180 miles in length.

The father-daughter duo began their hike back in April at the southernmost point of the trail, which is located on Springer Mountain in Georgia. Since then they have been hiking north, covering an average of about 25 miles per day. That’s a very impressive number considering the remote and rugged terrain that the trail covers. Along the way they’ve camped under the stars, encountered a wide array of wildlife and met numerous other hikers.

The trip hasn’t been without its challenges. While passing through Pennsylvania a few weeks back, Reed tripped on the rocky ground and broke her arm. Her dad was able to create a makeshift sling using one of his shirts and the two managed to walk into a nearby town in search of a doctor. After getting a cast put on her arm and spending a couple of days resting up, they were soon back on the trail and covering more miles.

While the nearly 2200 mile long Appalachian Trail may seem daunting to most of us, it isn’t even the longest trail that Reed and Eric have walked together. Last year they spent the summer hiking the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which runs north from California’s border with Mexico, ending in British Columbia, Canada. Next year they plan to trek America’s third classic trail, the 3100-mile long Continental Divide Trail, which also runs from Canada to Mexico, passing through five western U.S. states in the process.

[Photo credit: Kitson Jazynka of the Washington Post]