Thru hiking the Appalachian Trail changes the way you look at people. Strangers quickly become life long friends after sharing a few days of typical AT trials together. While hiking, you learn that the heart of humanity is still a kind and compassionate thing. And when you are done, you feel as if you’ve lost a family you may never be able to recoup again. It’s a heart sickening feeling to be separated from the brothers and sisters you’ve made on the trail but modern technology makes it simple to reconnect. But what about when you don’t know a hiker’s real name? What if you never exchanged numbers? Sometimes it feels as if these friends have been lost back into the world forever. Thankfully, one hiker has found a fix to that.
Every year, 2013 thru hiker Odie sets out to produce a yearbook of all the hikers he can possibly capture a photograph of in one season! It is a feat that requires incredible patience, strategy and hard work to complete. “This truly is my passion. I believe hikers are empowered people and I believe while they are on trail, they discuss big things,” Odie says. And I believe it to be true! Your thru hiking companions are the sort of friends you can call up any time, on the fly and be back at the same place you last saw them on trail. They are an infinite resource of couches to crash on, cities to visit, hiking partners to explore new places with and adventure partners to plan big with. The ability to get back in contact with them after the trail is invaluable.
As Odie puts it, “The pictures and memories are fun and amazing, sure, but it’s the directory that is never sold or shared that truly matters. This is how hikers find their family after their hike.” Flipping thru the Hiker Yearbook is a trip down memory lane for any hiker who thru hiked the year Odie made one. But more importantly is the ability to hunt down and reconnect to the wonderful faces depicted in the book.
This year, Odie is looking for funding to take the Hiker Yearbook to the next level and establish it as a yearly tradition on the Appalachian Trail. He has a Kickstarter dedicated to the furthering of his project. Check out this video for more about the Hiker Yearbook.
Odie and his gang will be at Trail Days in Damascus, the Flip Flop Festival in Harper’s Ferry and at 11 other hiker festivals along the AT this year. They will be traveling in a yellow bus, doling out as much trail magic as they can and snapping photos! If you want to insure that your photo makes it into the 2016 Hiker Yearbook, send a photo of yourself with you trail name and real name to email@example.com. You can even send summit photos and group shots. Odie and his gang will make sense of the madness and produce a beautiful final product that every thru hiker can cherish!