Steven Bressan, a McKean County, Pa., native turned Florida resident, has set out for the trek of a lifetime as he braves the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail in one trip.
According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, while thousands of hikers attempt the through-hike, only about one in four actually make it. A typical hiker takes five to seven months to hike the length of the trail.
Bressan, a native of Turtlepoint, Pa., initially set out on April 11 and he estimates he will finish in October.
So why would one want to put themselves through the physical strain of such a trip?
“I would say that the personal challenge of trying to set up a really incredibly big goal and doing my best to set out and achieve it as best as I could,” Bressan said. “Also, just being out in nature was a really big draw, out in the elements and enjoying nature every day.”
Bressan isn’t a stranger to longer hikes and credits his experiences with the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as part of what prepared him with the skills for his trip.
“That gave me a lot of exposure to backpacking and outdoors and leadership and survival skills,” he said. “I took three or four 10-day trips with them.”
While a lot of his time is spent alone, he does have a hiking buddy, Reuben Dreiblatt, who is generally within a couple miles of him at any given time. Bressan met Dreiblatt while in an exchange program in college. They both enjoyed hiking and spending time outdoors and 2 1/2 years later they decided to hike the Appalachian Trail together.
Bressan also said he’s met a lot of people out on the trail, sometimes up to five or 10 people a day.
“Not all of them are trying to hike the entire trail, but a pretty high percentage of them are,” he said. “Some are going for a short trip of just a couple of days.”
Bressan said the most rewarding part of the trip is getting out and seeing all the different parts of the United States. With a slower paced trip, he has the ability to take in sights and chat with people.
Thus far, the pair have hiked through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The states that are left include Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine in the North and North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia in the South.
The trek has many rewards, but also comes with challenges.
“I would say the most challenging part has been various injuries that build up and happen from time to time,” Bressan said. “I’ve sprained my ankle a couple of times on the trail — just a couple of days ago, the rocks were slippery from the rain and I fell and sprained my ankle. It’s a challenge having time to recover from the injuries and not compromise the hike.
“At times I’ve thought maybe I should stop, maybe it is too difficult or too dangerous.”
Bressan’s parents have donated a map of the trail to the S.W. Smith Memorial Public Library, and staff are marking his progress as he hikes.
Additionally, those who’d like to follow along with his adventure can do so at: