Highland Green resident Rob Potvin recently passed up a chance to work on a multi-million dollar job for a journey of five million steps. On March 15, 2016, Rob departed Springer Mountain in Georgia for a solo hike of the entire Appalachian Trail. When he arrives at the peak of Mount Katahdin in Maine this September, he will have trekked alone for around 2160 miles through 14 states.
Prior to landing here in 2006, Rob and his wife Kathy traveled the country in an Airstream trailer for four years while searching for a permanent home. They had eventually narrowed their search to Santa Fe, New Mexico and Highland Green.
Rob is no stranger to U.S. geography. His career as a construction manager for a multi-national corporation brought him to Quincy, Massachusetts, Albany, Georgia, Long Beach, California, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Maniti, Puerto Rico among other places as he supervised the building of manufacturing plants. Since moving to Highland Green ten years ago, he has continued this work in between kayaking, hiking, and camping trips with Kathy, making beer at his house, and other hobbies. In 2015 he spent a year overseeing a project in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Rob was recently approached to help manage the construction of a new facility on the US west coast that would have been among the biggest of his career. He passed. “I’ve always wanted to thru-hike the entire Appalachian Trial and figured that at 67 years old it was a perfect time for me,” says Rob.
He spent a few months prior to March preparing for his expedition. He walked five or so miles a day, breaking in four new pairs of trail hiker shoes that he’ll wear out over the next six months. Most of the food he’d need, primarily of the freeze-dried variety, was purchased, packaged and labeled to be mailed to strategic spots along his route. He’s purchased a new iPhone which will serve as his camera, GPS, map, guidebook, and communication device to keep Kathy and others apprised of his whereabouts.
For the first several days, Rob will hike without his pack and tent while he works his way into peak physical shape and will meet Kathy at road crossings to camp out. He will then bear his full load for the remainder of the journey. “The goal is to average 15 miles a day in order to complete the entire trail in six months,” says Rob. “I’ll need to make it to strategic mail drops at the right times to re-supply. I’ll burn over 5,000 calories a day and since there is no way to consume that many calories, I’ll lose about 30 pounds and be at my high school weight.”
The last segment of the excursion is called the Hundred- Mile Wilderness, running between Abol Bridge just south of Baxter State Park and Monson, Maine, where he plans to arrive the first week of September. He will then ascend Mount Katahdin where he will be met at the summit by Kathy and other Highland Green friends. All told, he will have taken over five million steps.
You can follow Rob’s journey at www.trailjournals.com/westy