Northern Kentucky man prepares to conquer bucket list goal
MELBOURNE, Ky. (WXIX) - There may be snow on the ground in some parts of the Tri-State and a chill in the air, but one Northern Kentucky man is about a month away from conquering the Appalachian Trail.
About 20,000 people are on record for hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. This year, Gene Perry hopes to add his name to that list.
Perry is just a few weeks away from starting his six-month journey of hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. That’s 2,194.3 miles in total.
He will take a six-month leave from his full-time job to work in a different kind of way.
“I am going to treat hiking as my job,” explains Perry. “I will set a time to wake up, get started and have my lunch meal, expect to be home or wherever it is I am sleeping that day at a given time.”
Perry grew up in Northern Kentucky and often traveled to Red River Gorge to explore the trails there.
At the age of 20, he joined the military and was based in Washington State where he also explored hiking.
“Throughout my 20 years in the military, I had the opportunity to hike in Europe, and Central America, portions of the US, even sections of the Appalachian Trail,” remembers Perry. “So really most of my adult life, I took on the bucket list item of hiking the Appalachian Trail.”
About 18 months ago, Perry decided to start training for his trek on the Appalachian Trail.
In addition to hiking and walking the hilliest routes he can find in Northern Kentucky, he hired a personal trainer at Town and Country Sports and Health Club in Wilder.
He hopes all of that preparation will be enough when he starts the trek at the end of February.
“My biggest fear: ticks. Ticks in the summer months. A tick bite or Lyme Disease can end a trail hike just like that,” explained Perry. “So that’s my biggest fear and something I will be aware of. My biggest anxiety really at this point is: have I prepared enough at home?”
Perry will be hiking alone most of the time packing all of his food, water, tent, and other supplies in this backpack.
He plans to hike 15 miles a day or eight to 10 hours with at least two breaks for eating, resting, and stretching.
Perry’s advice to others is to not just set a goal but make time to reach that goal. No matter how big or intimidating it may be.
“I told myself, ‘someday I will hike the Appalachian Trail.’ Five years ago, I told myself, ‘someday I’m gonna do that,’” Perry recalls. “So when it comes to a goal, ‘someday’ is an excuse we start to give ourselves to keep pushing our goals further down the road. So I would just say for anyone else trying to pursue this type of goal or any goal, just commit. Find a day; the timing will never be perfect. But find the timing when it’s right.”
Perry is set to begin hiking on Feb. 26.
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