Walsh acknowledged that it usually takes a hiker about five months to complete the 2,000-plus mile feat, but being a teacher, husband and father — he knew that was not possible for him.
“I started with my kids in north Georgia with day hikes and hiking a trail,” he said. “And a park ranger suggested we do these four service dirt roads that go through the forest up there. So we started walking the trail.”
Walsh added after a couple of years his kids grew tired, but he continued walking the trail in sections and decided after a couple of years to try and complete it.
The Appalachian Trail makes its way from Springer Mountain, Ga. up to Mount Kathadin, Maine.
Physical fitness was not anything new to the Brookhaven resident, who teaches health and weight training at Dunwoody High School.
“I’ve always tried to take care of my body and that was a good way of doing it,” he said. “And I like the solitude in the woods. When you’re out in the woods you just hike — it’s a good time to relax and get away from the stress of every day.”
Walsh took on the trail in sections, doing a couple hundred miles at a time during the summer breaks. And the next year he would go to where he left off and hike a couple hundred more miles until the trail was completed. He would take trains, planes, automobiles, buses and shuttles to get to the trail heads each year.
Walsh did not take any courses in preparation, adding that he figured out everything as he went along, making sure to stuff his pack with ample food, clothing, shelter and water.
“I would tell somebody that’s interested they might be like me, they might not have time to hike the entire trail, there are a lot of books they can read on local trails,” he said.
While Walsh was proud of his accomplishment, he added if he knew it would take that long to do, he might not have done it.
“That was a goal,” he said. “I’m a person who likes to set goals for themselves so it’s important to me to put goals out and causes me to focus on something so my energy is spent on that.”
While he is sad this goal is complete, Walsh has set his eyes on a new feat — riding a bike across the U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.