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76 Months, 2,184 Miles

Hayne Hipp’s email about his latest accomplishment came with the following headline: “Hipp Becomes First Member of W&L Class of 1962 to Complete Appalachian Trial.”

And the lead paragraph said: “Hayne Hipp attributes this phenomenal, six-year accomplishment primarily to the commitment to hard work he learned during his four years at Washington and Lee University.”

That’s all true enough. But to understand the magnitude of the accomplishment, some additional details are required, and a feature story in the Greenville Journal supplies plenty of those.

Hayne, an emeritus trustee of W&L and formerly CEO of Liberty Corp. in Greenville, began his 2,184-mile trek on March 6, 2007. He was 67 at the time and, as he mentioned to the Journal, “I had told too many people I was going to do it and just couldn’t back out.”

Things started well enough in Georgia until, on the second night, he slipped descending Blood Mountain and severed a quad tendon in his knee.

The injury kept him off the trail for more than a year, but it didn’t diminish his desire to conquer the A.T. As the Greenville Journal explains, he became a “section hiker,” completing the journey in multiple trips over a period of years. Most of those, he said, were four to seven days, covering eight to 22 miles.

Hayne has multiple stories to go with those multiple trips — like the time his boots caught fire and left him hiking in borrowed sandals for a short while. That’s why his trail nickname became “Reboot.” Or there was that time in Tennessee when he happened upon a female hiker sunbathing in the nude.

What he started in March 2007, he completed he finished on July 15 at 11:35 a.m. when, accompanied by his wife, Anna Kate, he connected the north from Springer Mountain sections with the south from Mount Katahdin, Maine, sections at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters in Harpers Ferry, Va.

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