He Hiked 2,000 Miles From Georgia To Maine, The Entire Appalachian Trail, In 153 Days

October 16, 2014

Gary Sizer has always been drawn to the outdoors. The first time he ever carried a backpack was when he joined the Marines, and he's continued to do so every chance he gets.

On May 10, 2014 the 44 year-old began his journey backpacking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, just over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine, and finished 153 days later on October 9, 2014.

This is his face before and after the hike:

man hikes Appalacian Trail

"I've wanted to do this for a very long time," Sizer said. "Once I realized that the desire wasn't going to go away, I saved up for a few years and quit my job."

This is his before and after body:

man hikes Appalacian Trail

How does one find the time between work, family, etc. to do something like that?

"Most people do this at a transitional period in their life: just after graduation, between jobs, after retirement and so on. In my case, I've had the unshakable desire to hike the AT and write a book about it for about ten years now. About five years ago, I started to take the idea seriously, so I saved up enough to take off a year and do just that. Phase One is now complete. As for the family aspect, my wife and I don't have any kids. Instead we have a lifetime of shared memories and experiences like this."

man hikes Appalacian Trail

So you just quit your job?

"It was really that simple."

man hikes Appalacian Trail

What did you do for food along the way?

"On the trail, I'd typically have:

Breakfast: Two pop tarts and an instant coffee with a Carnation Instant Breakfast mixed in.

All Day: I was continuously eating clif bars, snickers, twix, cheetos, trail mix and beef jerky. And I coated it all with peanut butter or Nutella whenever possible.

man hikes Appalacian Trail
The mighty Housatonic River / wheresthenextshelter.com

Dinner: Usually some version of the Knorr pasta side with a package of tuna and a few ounces of instant mashed potatoes mixed in to thicken the gruel. I'd pair that with a whole wheat tortilla onto which I had smeared a thick coating of cream cheese, mayonnaise, or both. Sometimes I'd eat a few ounces of Gouda or cheddar, but all that stuff's heavy.

I'd get all this stuff while in town. The AT takes you near a small town every 3-5 days, and generally I'd hitchhike to the nearest grocery store or gas station and get as much of those things as I could. If I was "zeroing" (staying in town, doing zero miles that day) I'd have the biggest, most calorie rich meals I could find. Cheeseburgers, beer, ice cream, fries, wings, pancakes... all in absurd quantities. I was burning 5000-6000 calories per day."

man hikes Appalacian Trail
Somewhere in Virginia / wheresthenextshelter.com

First sight of New York from New Jersey.

man hikes Appalacian Trail
First sight of New York from New Jersey / wheresthenextshelter.com

A journal entry along the way.

man hikes Appalacian Trail
Journal entry / wheresthenextshelter.com

Sunrise in Virginia.

man hikes Appalacian Trail
Sunrise in Virginia / wheresthenextshelter.com

It wasn't all beautiful along the way. The trail took a toll on his body, especially his feet.

man hikes Appalacian Trail

When testing the limits of your body, you need a good support system, and Sizer had just that in his wife. She met him at different locations along the way for gear replacements and surprise visits.

As he put it, "She's a keeper."

man hikes Appalacian Trail
Sizer with his best friends from the trail, Voldemort and Lemmy at the END of the journey / wheresthenextshelter.com

In addition to his online trail journal, which he claims only covers about 10% of what "happened out there", Sizer compozed a manuscript along the way which he intends to polish, edit and publish. As an added bonus, at various stages of the trip he was accompanied by a close friend and talented photographer whose works will feature prominently in the finished volume.

Be sure to check out WheresTheNextShelter.com for trail stories and more beautiful pictures.

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