— Travel n Tour

Imagination, Skittles help boy, 5, conquer Appalachian Trail

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Harvey Sutton, or “Little Man,” as he is known on the Appalachian Trail, won’t have long to bask in the glory of hiking its entire length. After all, he starts kindergarten Friday.

At 5 years old, Harvey is one of the youngest – and the latest of several youngsters in recent years – to complete the trail, after tagging along with his parents over more than 2,100 miles in 209 days.

It was hard work, but it was fun checking out frogs, lizards, and other wildlife. So was sprinkling Skittles onto peanut butter tortillas as fuel for the walk, he said.

“The rock scrambles were really fun and hard. We were not bored,” he chirped in a phone interview from Virginia, where he lives with his parents, Josh and Cassie Sutton.

His parents were so busy keeping him engaged and entertained that it distracted them from the physical pain of trudging over so many miles.

“It gave us a bond and a strength that we hadn’t realized before,” Cassie Sutton said.

Other youngsters have hiked the 2,193-mile trail that starts at Springer Mountain, Georgia and ends atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin. Some babies have even been carried in backpacks by their determined parents.

Harvey was 4 years old when he and his parents began their walk in January, and he turned 5 before the family completed the journey last week in Maine.

He’s several months younger than “Buddy Backpacker,” a boy who held the record for youngest to complete the trail in 2013, Harvey’s parents say

But the youngest of all may be Juniper Netteburg, who finished the trial at age 4, wearing a Wonder Woman costume, with her parents and three siblings on Oct. 13, 2020, said her parents, who are missionary doctors.

Her family hiked sections over months, but that still counts as long as they didn’t skip any part of the trail, said Ken Bunning, president of Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association.

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