Many seniors are happy to just lead moderately active lives. But not 84 year old Dale Sanders. “Greybeard” (the trail name Sanders uses) successfully completed one of the world’s most iconic hiking trails after a seven month long trek when he was 82. The Appalachian Trail is no picnic. With a distance of 2,190 miles of terrain, this would be an incredible feat for someone of any age. But at Dale’s age, it’s completely remarkable. Yet breaking the record for the oldest person to hike The Appalachian Trail was not his first adventurous accomplishment.
This article from Outside Online describes the journey it took for Dale to complete this impressive goal. All in all, Dale spent over seven months in the year 2017 on the trails. He began in January of that year. However, his journey almost came to an end when he began bleeding internally in late July. He had just begun hiking the part of the trail known as Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness. He was frightened for his life, so he returned home to Tennessee to be treated for ruptured hemorrhoids.
After ten days away from the trail, he began to lose confidence. He almost gave up. But then his neighbor encouraged him to return and finish the trail. And that’s what he did. Dale admits he probably fell 25 to 30 times during the hike on the rugged, slick parts of New Hampshire. At one point, he even slipped and landed so hard on his hip that he wasn’t sure he would make it to safety by nighttime. Still, neither his bleeding or injured hip kept him from reaching his goal.
This trek is arguably his most impressive record. Yet it’s not the first. In 2015, he became the oldest person to paddle the 2,300 mile Mississippi River. And he planned to paddle the entire Missouri River. Furthermore, he plans to do these 3,800 miles in a single person canoe.
Dale jokes that it’s hard to be humble after all these major accomplishments. But he is extremely thankful for the support and encouragement he has received throughout these adventures. “It’s a really euphoric experience”, he tells people.