Although most people would consider a thru-hike of the nearly 2,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail the feat of a lifetime, Dr. Warren Doyle has done it an unprecedented 17 times with an 18th traverse currently in progress, and he has dedicated himself to helping others succeed in their AT endeavors.
As founder of the Appalachian Trail Institute, a training program for aspiring AT thru-hikers, Doyle stresses the significance of the mental and emotional challenges associated with this endeavor, and his five-day program helps prepare hikers to anticipate and overcome these trials during their journeys. As a result, approximately 75 percent of graduates who complete his program successfully complete the hike, compared with roughly 25 percent of all hopefuls who set out with a thru-hike in mind. Doyle planted the seeds for this program in 1975 when he led a 109-day expedition of 19 students on a successful group thru-hike of the trail. He then used this experience as the central case study for his 1981 Ph.D. in professional higher education administration from the University of Connecticut.
In addition to his thru-hiking guidance, Doyle also serves as an Appalachian educator and presents on topics ranging from regional poetry to wilderness studies to folk dance forms, and his website offers plenty of practical insight on the long-distance trail experience for those considering embarking on this journey.