Augusta man nears end of Appalachian Trail journey

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Augusta resident Troy Hodges adopted an alter ego after he left Mount Katahdin, Maine, in early July to hike the Appalachian Trail.

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Troy Hodges acknowledges that loneliness has been part of the challenge. Even though he crosses paths with fellow hikers, 90 percent of the time he has been on his own.  Special
Special
Troy Hodges acknowledges that loneliness has been part of the challenge. Even though he crosses paths with fellow hikers, 90 percent of the time he has been on his own.

As is custom for thru-hikers, he gave himself and his dog trail names. He called the dog "White Blaze," after the white markers that mark the trail. He called himself "Follow" -- the guy who follows after her. Soon, he'll leave the trail names behind.

Ten weeks and 2,100 miles after he began, Hodges crossed the Georgia/North Carolina line, 68 miles from the trail's end..

"It's kind of bittersweet. You don't want certain things to end," said Hodges, 33. "It makes you realize there are a lot of good people in the world. They take you in and feed you a hot meal."

They included Bud, who drove Hodges 10 miles from the trail to Hiawassee, Ga., so he could resupply. And "Wonderland," "Boy Wonder" and "Yogi," three trail buddies whom odges runs into now and again. And friends from back home who mail care packages every few hundred miles filled with cookies, new earplugs for his iPod, and letters (he has kept and reread every one).

Back home, Hodges' girlfriend, Emily Sims, said there was never any doubt in her mind he would finish. He already climbed Africa's Kilimanjaro, which takes hikers from desert heat to frostbite in a few days.

"It sounded awful to me ... but he's a tough nut, so he could do it," Sims said.

She thought a bigger problem for her boyfriend, whom she calls "the goofy guy who's the life of the party, would be being alone for so long.

Hodges acknowledged that loneliness has been part of the challenge. Even though he crosses paths with fellow hikers, 90 percent of the time he has been on his own.

"I guess that's where Sashi (the dog's real name) comes into play," he said.

"We're out there, and this is what it's all about. The trail is for being one with the wilderness."

Sometimes wilderness is tough. One recent night, at North Carolina's Deep Gap shelter, Hodges woke to wind gusts of 55 mph. He left his hammock and crawled into Wonderland's one-man tent. Sashi followed.

"It was a good thing too, because by morning everything was covered with ice," he said. After waking, he found that chipmunks had eaten a couple of quarts of his and Sashi's food. Along with pain, the Appalachian Trail delivered some once-in-a-lifetime rewards.

Early one morning in Maine, just two weeks into the trip, Hodges saw a moose. About 10 feet tall and weighing more than 1,000 pounds, it ran straight toward man and dog, knocking down saplings along the way. It got within 10 feet of them before veering off.

"I found out later they have bad eyesight," Hodges said. "I didn't even take out my camera when it happened. If I had, I would have missed seeing it."

Comments (9) Add comment
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gijoe7898
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gijoe7898 11/25/10 - 01:31 am
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I envy you. That hike's been

I envy you. That hike's been on my mind for years. Just can't seem to get 5-6 months ahead of everything to do it.

Good job.

Martinez
154
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Martinez 11/25/10 - 07:46 am
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Congratulations on following

Congratulations on following your dreams.

grinder48
2013
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grinder48 11/25/10 - 08:01 am
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Many people talk about doing
Unpublished

Many people talk about doing this and dream about doing it but never get off their duffs and actually DO it. Not mentioned in the article is the high percentage of people who start with intention of finishing but don't make it, making Hodges success even more special (assuming he finishes, a lot can happen in 68 miles)

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 11/25/10 - 08:49 am
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Troy is a great freind of

Troy is a great freind of mine and I am glad to see he has made it all the way. Good for you Bro.

Brad

bentman
458
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bentman 11/25/10 - 09:38 am
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Of all the people who start

Of all the people who start with the intention of doing a through-hike, only 12% finish. Good job.

dwb3080
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dwb3080 11/25/10 - 10:16 am
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Can't wait until your back in

Can't wait until your back in the Aug. to hear all about your journey. Follow your dreams and they will come true.

AJZ
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AJZ 11/25/10 - 10:56 am
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Congratulations! I hiked the

Congratulations! I hiked the AT in 1997. I love reading other people's AT adventures.

thetroll
10
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thetroll 11/25/10 - 11:52 am
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there is another resident

there is another resident from augusta that has hiked the app. trail numerous times, in his younger days, he even hiked it with his two sons , his name is perry s houck and he was the owner of augusta sporting goods on eighth street , and he was as fine and upstanding a man as you could ever meet.

thetroll
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thetroll 11/25/10 - 11:54 am
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my error i referred to perry

my error i referred to perry houck in the past tense and he is very much alive thank goodness

WiseOldMan
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WiseOldMan 11/26/10 - 12:06 am
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Your strength and persistence

Your strength and persistence are fine examples of what one can achieve. Add the Africa trek, and one has a recipe for winning in all challenges of life.(Man against Man, etc.)
A true leader, you are.
Congratulations

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