Sunday, November 29, 2015

This is the story of Paul Goransson's (AKA TARman)  Thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail between October 20, 2014 and September, 26 2015.  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy ( defines a Thru-hike as follows: "A thru-hiker is a hiker or backpacker who has completed or is attempting to walk the entire Appalachian Trail in a 12-month period (not necessarily a calendar year)."  I have held this as a life-goal for around 40 years.   In particular, after my wife Helen and I bicycled across the USA in 1981, I felt certain that Thru-hiking the AT was something she and I would share before long.  Life, of course, intervened with careers and two children all forcing postponement of this goal.   Between my twenties and mid-fifties, I had managed to fit in over 100 marathons, many ultramarathons including the Leadville 100 trail run, 6 Ironman triathlons and had a mountaineering resume that included many peaks between 15,000-20,000 feet on 5 different continents. By the time life was opening up the free time for a AT Thru-hike in my late fifties, I developed crippling arthritis in my right ankle (caused by a motor scooter accident in Corfu, Greece on 5/1/2008) which brought my decades-long endurance running and triathlon career to a halt.  On December 4, 2013, I had an artificial ankle installed.

 This procedure is called a TAR - 'Total Ankle Replacement'.  Hence, my trail name, TARman.  At 60 years of age, I started my hike by hiking  the section from the Shenandoah in Northern Virginia to mid-Pennsylvania between October 20,2014 and October 30, 2014 and then hiked a number of sections of the AT in New Hampshire during November and December.   I then began heading north from Springer Mountain in Georgia on March 9, 2015.  Despite being retired, I have a busy life running two companies from my board seat on each and managing my 131 acre beef and hay farm in Eliot, Maine (  This latter activity would not be possible if it were not for the faithful support of our farm caretaker Bill Curtis, and my wife Helen.   Helen always hoped to do the AT with me, but waiting until your life provides the time for such an endeavor carries the risk of your body losing its ability for this kind of grueling day-in and day-out hiking with a heavy pack.  So, I have ended up in this situation of solo hiking the trail in bursts of a day, a week or 3 weeks, always in pursuit of the goal of finishing the whole trail in less than a year. I frequently returned to my farm in Maine for R&R and to catch up on my responsibilities there.  I hiked fairly fast, averaging over 20 miles per day on a full day of hiking.   If you wish to ask me any questions you can email me at Thank you for your interest in following my hike!