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A Walk for Sunshine: A 2,160 mile expedition for charity on the Appalachian Trail    by Jeff Alt order for
Walk for Sunshine
by Jeff Alt
Order:  USA  Can
Dreams Shared, 2007 (2000)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

For anyone who has ever dreamed of walking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in one go a thru-hike A Walk for Sunshine would be must reading. Jeff Alt planned to hike the whole 2,160 miles to raise awareness and money for the Sunshine Home in Maumee, Ohio, where his brother Aaron - who suffers from cerebral palsy and mental retardation - is cared for. The walk took a hundred and forty-seven days, averaging seventeen miles a day.

Alt writes of his experiences, his fellow hikers, the shelters scattered throughout the trail, and his encounters with various wild animals who populate the Appalachians. His food consumption was prodigious - he burnt up to six thousand calories a day. He lost thirty pounds a tough but rewarding way to alter your body weight. An average of 2,500 hikers attempt to hike the trail each season with only two to three hundred actually succeeding. Backpacks weigh anywhere from thirty to seventy-five pounds and extra supplies are picked up in towns along the way. At age thirty, Earl Shaffer became the first person to walk the trail from end to end in 1948. He walked it for the last time in 1998 at eighty years old!

The trail spans fourteen states, covering 2,174 miles from Georgia to Maine. Dedicated volunteers maintain it. Apart from the $16,000 Alt raised for equipment for the Sunshine Home, he found a new strength of character. His determination and true grit carried him toward his goal while also allowing him to enjoy the whole experience. He found that his sense of humor was a very important factor to keep his mind on putting each foot before the other. When he discovered that he had put his arch supports in the wrong boots left in the right and right in the left he saw the humor even though he had to doctor blisters. He also found a new use for duct tape.

Walking in the rain for days or even weeks at a time only strengthened his resolve and made him appreciate the days when mists and rain didn't block his view of some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States. He continued to raise money for the home and has to date of this publication contributed $120,000 to purchase equipment to make the excellent care its residents receive up-to-date with modern technology. A Walk for Sunshine is a book well worth reading even if your trail hiking is in an armchair before a blazing fire. Jeff Alt has proven himself an inspiration to many.

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