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He Hiked 2,100 Miles In 209 Days To Complete The Appalachian Trail. He's Only 5

In this July 23 family photo, 5-year-old Harvey Sutton raises his arms while hiking the Appalachian Trail with his parents, Josh and Cassie Sutton.
Josh Sutton
In this July 23 family photo, 5-year-old Harvey Sutton raises his arms while hiking the Appalachian Trail with his parents, Josh and Cassie Sutton.

Some parents may have had trouble getting their kids away from electronics and outside this summer. But for one Virginia family, this wasn't the case.

Josh and Cassie Sutton recently completed a full-length hike of the Appalachian Trail with their son, Harvey.

At just 5 years old, Harvey, who earned the nickname "Little Man" from fellow hikers, is one of the youngest people known to have completed the roughly 2,100-mile trail that stretches across 14 states.

"It started out as a joke and we decided maybe that could be our mini retirement and hike the Appalachian Trail with Harvey. We started training [him] at a young age to hike and camp and he took on to it really well," said Harvey's dad, Josh Sutton, in an interview with NPR.

He started the hike when he was only 4 years old

The Suttons covered the hike from Georgia to Maine in 209 days. Their journey began in January when Harvey was just 4 years old. He turned 5 before the family completed the hike last week in Maine.

As a family, the Suttons became used to life on the trail. They woke up every day just before 6 a.m. to pack their sleeping bags, tents and gear to begin hiking all day.

"I would do it again because I like it so much," Harvey said.

When Harvey was 2 years old, his parents began training him for hiking by going on mini walks. They slowly increased their mileage day by day — eventually gearing him up for his big adventure.

"I think a lot of people are surprised at how well he did. They're like, 'How did you get your 5-year-old to do that because my 5-year-old won't even walk half a mile without complaining?'" mom Cassie Sutton said. "Everyone is pretty amazed and astounded."

The key was keeping Harvey entertained

The Suttons said that while the adventure of the 2,100-mile hike was fun as a family, it did have its challenges — especially when it came to keeping Harvey entertained.

"We learned that he is fabulous at hiking, but as long as we're playing make-believe and pretend with him all day long, then he moves quickly and hikes a lot faster than a lot of us imagine," Josh Sutton said.

While the Suttons have plans for more hikes and family adventures ahead, the family is getting adjusted to life at home again as Harvey begins his latest adventure: kindergarten.

"Hopefully after going hiking for 10 hours a day to sitting in the classroom, he'll do OK," Josh Sutton said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.