Hikers travel the Great Eastern Trail

By: Rebekah Pewitt Email
By: Rebekah Pewitt Email

WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Two hikers are attempting to hike the entire Great Eastern Trail, which begins in Alabama and ends in New York.

It connects with many locals trails in the area and we met the couple Wednesday while coming off of the Pine Mountain Trail.

Bart Houck and Joanna Swanson, walk anywhere between 6 to 8 hours a day.

“We usually aren't on the trail before 9:00a.m., but when it's warmer we'll get out a little earlier. And then we walk,” said Swanson.

They have come nearly 500 miles, since they started the Great Eastern Trail in Alabama, and they plan keep going until it ends in New York.

But by the end of each day they're ready for a little food and rest.

“This time of year it's awesome to go backpacking because you can bring anything you want nothing's going to go bad. You've got a refrigerator 24/7,” said Swanson.

The freezing temperatures keep everything else cold as well.

“Here's my hat that I usually wear but it froze solid so I didn't wear it today,” said Swanson.

If they brave the cold long enough to finish the trail, Bart and Joanna will be the first to ever fully complete it.

However, that means they’ve had to figure it out as they hike.

Because the Great Eastern Trail is somewhat new, they say they've done quite a bit of road hiking in order to connect parts of the trail.

They are sometimes even forced to walk onto people's personal property.

“The private property can be an issue. We wind up going a few more miles than we want to sometimes to get to a safe place to camp,” said Swanson.

Yet, the extra steps have brought them that much closer to the nearly 1,000 miles left to walk.

The length of the entire trail is estimated to be nearly 1,800 miles long.

“It's a trail that's been in the works for a long time, and I think that in this stage of the game I feel pretty confident we're going to finish it all,” said Houck.

The hikers will stay in Whitesburg for a day or two to restock on food and other necessities.

They expect to finish the trail sometime in June.

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