Appalachian Trail

Lilly Knoepp

During a pandemic, an 83-year-old man is attempting to become the oldest person to complete the over 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail. BPR spoke with him as he made his way through Western North Carolina:  

It's spring in Franklin. That means that the town is full of hikers making their way up the Appalachian Trail.

After hours at a downtown bakery, a group of locals and hikers are wolfing down spaghetti and meatballs. Among them is a well-known bearded figure in the hiking community.

“I’m Sunny Eberhart. My trail name is Nimblewill Nomad.”

A 2018 survey of Appalachian Trail thru-hikers shows 95 percent of them are white.   The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is partnering with nonprofits and outdoor groups to get more people of color outside and on the trails. 

Lilly Knoepp

Following the murder of a hiker last month, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has redesigned safety features on its website. Here’s the latest:


The conservancy website now features call buttons for 911 and the park service. Additionally an incident report form can now be sent as an email - instead of having to be mailed in as a pdf.


Franklin-hostel owner Colin Gooder says these new safety measures are a welcome change.


An increase in bear encounters has prompted  the U.S. Forest Service to consider clamping down on food storage rules for campers in parts of Western North Carolina. BPR's Helen Chickering has details.