Tri-State man continues hiking Appalachian Trail to raise mental health awareness

Tri-State man continues hiking Appalachian Trail to raise mental health awareness
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 4:41 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A man’s months-long hike across the entire Appalachian Trail to raise awareness for mental health is continuing.

In March, FOX19 NOW introduced you to Matt Noonan.

He left the Tri-State in mid-March and has already made it from Georgia to Tennessee. That’s a total of 250 miles of the 2,194-mile trail.

“From a truck driver to a hiker, I wasn’t a hiker at all, so it was pretty slow going,” remembers Noonan. “I was doing five miles for a little bit then moved up to seven to eight mile days. And now we can pretty consistently hit 10s.”

The former truck driver has lost about 50 pounds so far on his way to spreading awareness about mental health illnesses. Noonan says being outside in nature helps keep his mental and physical health in top shape.

“It’s been going really good,” Noonan continues, “I’ve been getting my message out and how important mental health is and just the therapeutic property of getting outdoors. And people are starting to really grasp onto it. And the movement too of never giving up on a bad day.”

Noonan says the support from people that he calls mind menders in his life is what keeps him moving each day.

“Keep pushing, never give up on a bad day,” Noonan adds, “It’s one foot in front of the other. It’s just walking and we’ve walked pretty far. We’ve made it 250 miles so just never ever give up on that bad day.”

Noonan has also learned to cook on the trail, calling himself the Gordon Ramsey of the woods. He makes Pad Thai using Ramen Noodles, peanut butter, and sliced almonds.

“For like $3, you have ‘in the wood Pad Thai’ It is so good,” said Noonan.

And of course, he has run into some wildlife including a very large black bear.

You can follow Noonan on his journey at Eyes Opened Outdoors.

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