Many Americans look forward to retirement as a time to pursue new hobbies and old passions, but 82 year-old hiker Dale Sanders is using retirement to break records. On October 26, 2017, Sanders became the oldest person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. He joined Windows to the Wild host Willem Lange in August as he trekked through New Hampshire.
Sanders started hiking in Georgia in March of 2017 and conditions were often cold, snowy and windy. “Cold and I don’t get along,” he laughs.
He adopted the motto “never quit on a bad day,” a slogan he says “likely helped me finish the hike.” As he settled into the rhythm of life on a long trail, he grew to love it. Sanders told Willem Lange, “Sometimes I actually feel as if the trail is part of me, I’m one with the trail. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Viewers can learn more about Dale Sanders and his adventures on the Appalachian Trail on an all-new episode of Windows to the Wild, airing January 17 at 7:30 pm on New Hampshire PBS.
Known to his fellow AT hikers as “Greybeard,” Sanders shot hundreds of videos for social media. Many of the videos, which are part of the upcoming episode of Windows to the Wild include friends he met on the trail, from cowboy-camping millennials to trail angels and even a baby who traveled the AT on the backs of her hiking parents. “It was a very euphoric moment for me,” he says of the meeting. “Being there with that baby, the oldest AT hiker and the youngest.”
Windows to the Wild producer Steve Giordani says the most interesting part of the journey may be that Sanders endeavored to do it at all. He points out that Sanders is two years older than the trail itself. “The majority of AT hikers are in their twenties. That an octogenarian would take on this feat and complete it in seven months is remarkable.?
Sanders hopes his journey will inspire others to be more active, especially other senior citizens. “I challenge older folks out there who might have aspirations to hike the AT to do so and break my age record. Records are made to be broken.” Not content to rest on his laurels, Sanders is already preparing for his next adventure, biking from Angle, Minnesota to Key West, Florida.
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