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Blind Hiker Battles Hardships on Appalachian Trail, Updates Facebook

Blind hiker on trail
On March 5th, Mike Hanson set off to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. What makes Hanson's attempt to tackle all 2,174 miles of the longest hiking trail on the East Coast extraordinary is that he is almost completely blind. As we mentioned when we originally reported the story, he isn't using a guide or even a seeing eye dog. Instead, he's relying on a GPS unit with text-to-speech capabilities on a Nokia smartphone (specifically the N82) to make sure he stays on track.

Before leaving, Hanson promised to post updates via Facebook and on his blog at when possible. But, as should be expected, walking through the wilderness does not provide many opportunities to get online. Since departing, Mike's Hike has seen only three, very brief updates, one of which was to apologize for not updating sooner. But the lack of updates does not indicate trouble or failure -- far from it. According to the last post, Hanson passed through Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on June 4th; which means our visually impaired adventurer is almost halfway done. The physical half-way point lies several miles further north in Pennsylvania, but, because the trail passes directly through Harpers Ferry and is home to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters, it is considered the "psychological" mid-point.

We do know, thanks to updates on Mike's Facebook page, that the beginning of his journey was met with unusually severe cold spells and even blizzards, slowing his early progress. But, thanks to his determination, his GPS and, we're sure, a little bit of help from other hikers, he's gotten almost 1,000 miles of the trail under his belt.

We have e-mailed Mike with some questions about his experience and his struggles with funding (as he was far short of his goal at the beginning of the journey), but we are currently waiting to hear back. That, of course, should come as little surprise. We wish Mike continued luck on his journey, and hopefully we'll have some more information to pass along soon. For more on Mike's journey, check out the video below:

Tags: AppalachianTrail, blind, blindhiker, facebook, gps, hiking, MikeHanson, nokia, NokiaN82, top