Over the past five years my closest friends and I have spent our summers and winters hiking various sections of the Appalachian Trail (AT) together. The first time I set foot on the AT I dreamed of creating a unique conceptual photography book that captured what the Appalachian Trail was from my perspective. Through my imagery, I wanted to reveal the inter-connectivity between humans and nature, using the experience of a thru-hike as the subject matter of this creation.
The Appalachian Trail is responsible for helping to align many aspects of my life and who I am. This project was an opportunity to give back. My dream to create such a project on The Appalachian Trail came to life between 2012 and 2013. On March 5th 2013, after a collective effort to raise the necessary funds and get the logistics sorted, we began to walk.
Over the course of our hike, The Thru Project was met with an array of challenges. The physical and mental intensity of our hike proved to be everything I thought it would be and so much more.
Along the way, aspects of the trail that we were not aware of started revealing themselves. The adage that “the trail provides” turned in to a very visceral reality. Synchronicity and un-explainable happenings brought forth the realization that the trail itself had taken over; it revealed itself as a living thriving organism. This organism directed our work, our experience, and our relationships with each other and the people we met along the way.
Unforeseen occurrences turned our unique journey in to more of a challenge than ever imagined, and in the end these challenges would shape the story of The Thru Project.
On September 14th 2013, Joel Dallas and Jarred Douglas completed the hike and on September 19th 2013, myself- Joshua Niven completed the hike.
The Appalachian Trail is an amazing place that brings people to the woods, giving hikers an opportunity to become mentally and physically awake. Every thru hiker brings with them a unique desire to attempt to do something life changing.
The journey across this mountain range builds character, re-defines people, and reveals things that you never knew about yourself. Walking becomes a forced form of meditation. With nothing but time to think the brain will take you to the end of the world and back on a regular basis. Walking forces the brain to go within and reveal the best and worst of you. A thru hike is a unique opportunity to learn and grow from this newfound knowledge.
Within all the magic of the AT are the difficulties and challenges that go along with such an adventure. The difficulties and magic come together to create a one of a kind experience. It is an experience that words have a hard time defining. The trail changes every person who steps foot on it.
In the end, the experience of hiking the entire Appalachian Trail was an awakening adventure. Intense, beautiful and awe-inspiring, the people who encompass the AT are the glue that hold it together. Without the trail angels, hiking families, and people you meet along the way the trail would not be what it is. This is why the Appalachian Trail has been appropriately nicknamed “The Peoples Trail”.
Thank you to all who had their hands in this amazing experience!
More to come on the Thru Project’s story very soon!
- Joshua Niven
THE THRU PROJECT BLOG ARCHIVE
Below is the account of The Thru Projects 2,185.09 -mile hike across The Appalachian Trail Linked by date. Joel Dallas wrote all the blog content during 90% of the hike. The photographs presented on the blog were taken in part by Joel Dallas, Jarred Douglas, and Joshua Niven.