Thursday, 20 April 2017 06:16

The hike of 2,000 miles continues for 81-year-old

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With an iron resolve and a smile on his bearded face, Dale Sanders continues his 2,000-mile hike of the Appalachian Trail.


Sanders is the 81-year-old we met in the January 2017 edition of Your Life is Now. I called him recently and he updated me on his journey from Georgia to Maine.
He was in North Carolina and his voice sounded energetic and strong, but he’d faced a lot of snow and below-freezing temperatures. In fact, the weather he described was worse than what Canadians were experiencing on the Prairies the same day he and I spoke. I was altogether pleased the weather in Canada was nicer than in the American South. That doesn’t happen often, as I gleefully mentioned to Dale. 
The reason for the difference was elevation. Sanders is in the Great Smoky Mountains and at the time of our conversation was approaching Clingman’s Dome, which at 6,000 feet or 2,000 metres is not only the highest point in the Great Smokies it’s also the highest point on the Appalachian Trail. For comparison, it’s like Sanders is in the Cypress Hills with its temperamental spring weather, only 2,000 feet higher.
Another similarity to the Cypress Hills he faces daily is the abundance of rocks on the hiking trail. Smooth, slippery and often hiding under a blanket of snow, the stones are one of Sanders’ concerns because he could fall and hurt himself. By scanning the tracks of other hikers, he’s seen a lot of evidence of where people have fallen. To prevent mishaps, he hikes with two poles for the added stability.
“It’s like having four legs on the ground,” he explained.
Despite the weather and treacherous hiking conditions, Sanders sees between 20 and 40 other hikers a day. He estimates five per cent are middle aged, 10 per cent are retired and the rest are in their twenties. If he completes the journey, he will be the oldest person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
Sanders is also known as the Grey Beard Adventurer. He claims his long, white hair and ‘Santa Claus’ style facial hair are required for travel in the snowy mountains.
“If I get a hair cut, I’ll freeze,” Dale insisted.
One aspect of the arduous hike he’s enjoying the most is exploring small towns and villages along the way. The log buildings in the forested communities as well as local culture are of particular interest to him.
The Grey Beard Adventurer has made it to Tennessee and figures he’ll finish the journey in Maine this fall. We’ll check in with him now and then. In the meantime, you can see where he is, thanks to a tracking beacon he carries that sends his location to his website, which is www.greybeardadventurer.com.
Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. For more information, phone 306-661-8975 or visit www.canoetoneworleans.com.

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Dominique Liboiron

Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing.