The other day I was surfing the internet looking for any new and interesting outdoor blogs, and came across a website called Trail Journals. Actually I landed on Earl Shaffer's 1965 Appalachian Trail Journal.
Shaffer is best known for being the first person to complete the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in 1948 - taking him 124 days. Interestingly, the Appalachian Trail Conference thought his claim of hiking the entire Georgia-to-Maine trail was fraudulent. Eventually the ATC came around on his claim. His trek had the effect of raising public awareness of the trail, especially after he published a memoir of his experiences; Walking With Spring.
In 1965 Shaffer became the first person to thru-hike the trail in both directions. On this occasion, at the age of 46, he completed his southbound hike in just 99 days. Earl kept a daily journal during this hike which Trail Journals has re-produced in electronic format, and is the first time it's ever appeared in print.
Shaffer would go on to hike the A.T. on a third occasion. In 1998, at the age of 79, he completed the trail on the 50th anniversary of his first thru-hike. This hike made him the oldest person, at that time, to ever thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (that record has since been broken). The story of this journey is told in the book, "The Appalachian Trail, Calling Me Back to the Hills."
For more information on the rich life of Earl Shaffer you can click here.