On August 27, 2023 a small group gathered to present Will French, aka Enlightened Rogue, with a framed poster of the International Appalachian Trail in recognition of his completion of a portion of the trail in each of the 23 sections of the trail. He was the second person to hit 2,000 miles on the trail (he hiked 2,160) and the first person ever to complete a section in each state, country, province, or region of the trail!
Attending were Dick Anderson, Don Hudson, and Amy Barker of the Maine Chapter as well as Will’s family; “Frankie” and Poppy his grandchildren, and Tarah his daughter. Frankie and Poppy have joined him on many of his adventures. Also in attendance was Tim “Long Distance Man (LDM)” Anderson, a long-time hiking partner and friend of Will’s.
Will was kind enough to share a few of his photo albums from each section. He brought three and said he had many more at home! He also brought photos of the flags of each section that he had taken while hiking. Will said that he did much of his planning on an iPad mini during the long, dark New England winters. He also did the entire hike without a cell phone!
After hearing some of his stories of his adventures, Dick and Don presented him with a framed map of the International Appalachian Trail to recognize his accomplishment. Will is now working on a presentation of his 15-year journey which he will hopefully present at our Annual Meeting in 2024!
Will finished his IAT journey this past summer in the Faroe Islands and the Isle of Man, as he describes in his own words below.
My International Appalachian Trail adventure began unknowingly in the spring of 2009. I answered an ad from Tom who was looking for a hiking partner in Scotland. Why not?! 15 years later I have completed my International Appalachian Trail hike.
My goal was to put my boots in all of the 26 regions that the IAT is located, in total 2,160 miles. This was the mileage of the Appalachian Trail in 1998, the year I completed my AT thru hike.
This past winter, I planned the final hike to the Isle of Man in the Faroe Islands. Joining me were two grandkids; “Frankie,” age 17 and Poppy, age 11. I searched for trail information online as well as flights, lodging, local transportation and other details.
The trip was planned for June 18 to July 4, we flew to Edinburgh and spent two days visiting the city before flying to the Isle of Man. The next morning, we began on a six-day hike on a rail trail to Peel on the West Coast. We found the “Way of the Gull” coastal path, which we would follow for 55 miles. Our lodging included a church bunkhouse, guest houses and hostels.
We commuted to the trail most days with local buses and vintage steam trains. This trail offered good coastal views, sea cliffs, rocky beaches, good and bad weather, many sheep and some road walks. We had a good hike back to Edinburgh before flying to the Faroe Islands the next day.
We arrived in Tórshavn, the capital city and arrived at our college dorm and summer hostel. We rented a car to reach the scattered trails for the next three full days of hiking. The weather here is often cold, cloudy and windy. We started with a long drive to the north coast on the island of Streymoy and hiked over a high pass between two very small villages.
The first day was a nice long walk and only a few hours of rain. The next day we hiked out of Tórshavn and hiked with coastal views to another small village with Middle Ages history. Its church was built in 1111 and continues to welcome worshipers.
Later that day, we drove to the island of Vágar and hiked to sea cliffs and a coastal waterfall. Lastly, we traveled to the north coast of Eysturoy. To get there we drove through the only undersea tunnel with a roundabout. We had overcast weather as we started to climb the highest mountain in the islands. As we reached the summit, the clouds lifted and offered good views of the surrounding coast.
Slættaratindur is my Katahdin of the International Appalachian Trail. The opportunity to hike the trail with family, good friends and many strangers was quality time and the fellowship experienced in many countries is a wonderful memory. Thanks to Dick Anderson for such a crazy idea.