daniel & kooper


One year ago I took my first step onto the Appalachian Trail...
Posted Apr 17 2011 23:37 GMT in Posterous

...and 2179 miles later I flew home.

I've been meaning to write a summary of my thru-hike since I got back about 6 months ago, but I found that I can't really do it justice with words or images.  Some have tried (read the books As Far as the Eye Can See or the A Walk in the Woods or look at these photos) but you can only truly understand once you are a few months in.  A commonality I found amongst all my fellow hikers was that we couldn't really explain it, but we felt compelled to do this.  The trail called us there.  A thru-hike may not be for everyone, but it was definitely for me.

My reasons for walking through the woods for five and a half months were varied... I wanted to challenge myself physically and technically, I wanted to clear my mind, I wanted an adventure, I wanted to know what is truly essential, I wanted to discover more about myself and this planet, I wanted to raise money for Abby and awareness of Mitochondrial Disease, and I wanted a fresh beginning... to hit the reset button on life. I achieved all this and more (like growing an epic beard).

Now that I'm back in the "real world" I feel I have a sharper focus on life.  In the six months since I returned I've changed jobs, moved into my own place, met new friends, and even implemented an idea or two.  Stripping down to the bare necessities of life gives you a greater understanding of what is truly important.  I understand the power of taking one step at a time. I know I have the patience, determination, and support to accomplish anything I dream.

I want to thank everyone for the support I received. I don't think I would have made it without: My parents who traveled thousands of miles to help me.  My friends who joined me, left comments on my site and on facebook, and donated to the Fitzpatrick family.  My fellow hikers I met along the way.  All the countless trail angels who provided food, drink, shelter, and encouragement.  And most of all, my incredible dog Kooper, who was my constant companion through it all.

I can hear the calling.  What's next?  Anyone up for Patagonia?  The PCT?  Te Araroa?

Obi-Wan & Kooper


Some stats:

We raised $5350 for Abby!

I averaged 13.3 miles per day, over 164 days (Apr 17th - Sep 27th), including 13 zero days.

I spent $4267.30 while I hiked.  This does not include buying gear before or flying back home (or loss of income from not working)

This spreadsheet shows where I was every day and where I resupplied.

A compilation of my best photos & videos.

A dump of all my (1000) photos.

Me speaking about my hike at church.

All my trail-journal posts along with a map at onahike.com (I'll have it viewable in oldest to newest post order soon)


I came across your video of your AT hike, and was transported to the trail through your photos and video footage. I am an avid hiker, but live life with a traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis---so my dreams of taking on such a feat lie in living them vicariously through folks like you.
I am partnered with a service dog, so I can also relate to the aspect of the canine-human bond, and was especially drawn to your accomplishment with your canine friend, Kooper; what a GREAT trail dog! My service dog, Nadja loves to go hiking with my daughter and I when I am blessed enough with the good health to do it, but I can't imagine taking her to the heights (literally) that you did with Kooper---wow!!
I can also relate to learning how to live simply and finding out what's really important. Although, this lesson wasn't taught to me through getting back to nature, but by losing my home with my little girl after a brutal home invasion caused us to lose our entire family/home in one horrible night. I learned that living with so much less frees you up to discover new pathways in life---ones that are usually covered up in clutter (mental and physical).
Thank you for sharing your journey with the world---and for folks like me, whose bodies can not handle the rigors of the trail, but whose spirit desire it. ;-)
God bless you and Kooper----please tell him that K-9 Nadja sends him a great, big doggie shout out ;-)
Reply by Kimberly May 15 2011 06:51 GMT
what's next?
Reply by greg Aug 26 2011 12:01 GMT
just ran across your youtube video. i too love to go hiking with my dog Tiger. lost my border collie, Sadie in may of 2011. she had developed health problems over the last 3 years of her life. we used to go mt. biking every weekend and then she just got old and sick. i tell people we both got old and fat the last 3 years she was with me (i got over 300lbs.). when she died i took a personel inventory and decided it was time to get back into shape. so i went to the shelter looking for the most obnoxious dog i could find. my plan was to save him and he would save me. june 12, 2011 was the day. that day i couldn't go 2 miles without killing myself. a year later i was down over 50lbs. and doing 10-15 mile death marches on sat and sun and 3-5 miles on week day afternoons. This year i started keeping a mileage log and Tiger and i will break 1500 miles by year end. we did a small portion of the AT in may by NOC. My son was so impressed with Tiger he rescued Koda who now has joined the hiking team. She had issues too but happy to report that in a year of rehabilitation she has completely come out of her shell and even learned to play.
i'm not a religious person but there is something spiritual about hiking in the woods with your dog. there is a bond i have with Tiger that i could never have with a human. my wife even gets jealous sometimes. since i got Tiger he has missed only one 5 mile hike due to a minor leg injury and i had to confine him to keep him in. he would have done the hike with a bum leg.
if anyone else needs motivation to get out hiking more, may i recommend a dog. any dog will do too. the shelters are full of them. it took me a few months to train Tiger but between obedience and agility classes we created a lifetime bond. i use to smoke 15-20 cigars a week and drink lots of bourbon. i still enjoy an occasional smoke and drink but lets just say the local cigar shops and liquor stores have seen a major decrease in income thanks to the Tiger Dog. when i do stop by them i usually have Tiger with me and they laugh about it and comment on the weight loss. my day used to revolve around getting done at work and heading to a bar or poker game (aka the smoke filled rooms) and now it revolves around my afternoon hikes with the dogs. every afternoon they are waiting for me to put on the hiking boots and get on the trails behind my house. if i'm not on the deck they start barking letting me know its time to go. on weekends i can't even get to the van without them jumping in because they are worried i might leave without them.
so again, if you need motivation just go rescue a dog. they never say no to a hike in the woods.
Reply by roy Nov 09 2012 16:41 GMT

Name: Webpage:
[view mobile-site]
My Progress
2178 miles
2178 *estimated based on the location of my last post
Hike for Abby