Harvey Sutton, also known as “Little Man” on the Appalachian Trail will soon be able to enjoy the thrill of hiking its entire length. He starts kindergarten Friday, after all.
Harvey, 5 years old, is the youngest and latest child to finish the trail. He tagged along with his parents for more than 2,100 miles over 209 days.
Although it was exhausting, it was enjoyable to see frogs and other wildlife. He said that he enjoyed adding Skittles to peanut butter tortillas to fuel the walk.
“The rock scrambles are really hard and fun. He said that he was not bored in a telephone interview from Virginia, where his parents Josh and Cassie Sutton live.
His parents kept him so busy that they were able to distract from the physical pain caused by trudging so many miles.
Cassie Sutton stated, “It gave me a bond and strength that I hadn’t known before.”
Others have hiked the 2,193-mile (3.530 km) trail, which starts at Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends at Mount Katahdin in Maine. Parents have carried their babies in backpacks, some even carrying them with them.
Harvey was four years old when his parents started their walk in January. Harvey turned five before they completed their journey in Maine last week.
Harvey’s parents claim that he is several months younger than Buddy Backpacker, a boy who holds the record for the youngest person to complete the trail.
Juniper Netteburg may be the youngest, as she completed the trail at the age of 4, in a Wonder Woman costume. She was accompanied by her parents and three other siblings.
According to Ken Bunning, president, Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, although her family walked sections for a few months, it still counts so long as they didn’t skip any section.
Although it may seem extreme to a child, a pediatrician sees no harm.
According to Dr. Laura Blaisdell (a pediatrician and medical advisor to the American Camp Association), kids are capable of handling the experience as long their parents maintain their emotional and social development and allow them to scale the climb to their abilities.
Harvey’s hike was made possible by his parents who decided to retire from their Lynchburg, Virginia real estate job. Harvey had been with his parents since he was 2 years old, so the Appalachian Trail made perfect sense.
After a snowstorm in Smoky Mountains, it was mostly easy sailing. They had to travel more than 30 miles (48 km) back to safety. It took them 2 1/2 days.
The family grew to be used to sleeping in a tent and waking up at 5:30 every morning and hiking the rest of the day. Josh Sutton stated that there was simplicity in the routine and camaraderie among other “thru hikers”, which kept it from becoming boring.
Karl Donus Sakas (also known as Sugar Man), was a hiker who accompanied Harvey from Pennsylvania to Maine. He said Harvey had unbridled energy.
He’s strong and tough. We’d often get to camp, and I would be tired and beat. Little Man would then say, “Let’s play freezer tag!”
Parents said that their biggest challenge was keeping their son’s imagination active. Sakas stated that Harvey had plans to build houses, spaceships, and host a party over hours and miles of hiking.
Sakas assisted by setting up a treasure trail with glow sticks, hidden toys, and faux maps over several days in New Jersey.
Other thru-hikers gave Little Man toys including Hot Wheels, a pet rock and a pocket watch. The boy purchased a calculator at Dollar General to track his miles.
Cassie Sutton stated that the hike demonstrated the strength of teamwork, and strengthened their relationship. She said, “We are closer than ever before.”
The hike was completed on Aug. 9, atop Mount Katahdin. It’s now time for Little Man to go to kindergarten and his parents to get back to work.
Harvey’s accomplishment earned him praises from Dale “Greybeard” Sanders, another legend in hiking, who was the oldest person to have hiked the trail at age 82 in 2017.
It’s going to forever change his life and that of his parents. Although the kid had to go through some difficulties, don’t we all have to? Sanders, now 86 years old, said that hardships can make us stronger.” “That kid is going smile all through life.”