Bend Area residents Eddie Starcher and Jennifer Agosti are currently hiking the Appalachian Trail in efforts to raise awareness and money for charities back home.
The couple set out on May 1 in Harpers Ferry, the portion of the trail in West Virginia, and headed north to Maine. Starcher said they hope to be at the northern most point on Mount Katahdin, Maine, by the end of August. After reaching that point, Starcher and Agosti will be heading back south on their way to Springer Mountain, Georgia.
Starcher and Agosti are updating their followers on Facebook weekly with their experience, location and photos. They are also asking for people to consider making donations to local charities while they hike the trail.
Starcher and Agosti have selected four charities: Pleasant Valley Hospital Cancer Equipment Fund, local churches, WV Suicide Prevention, and Izzy’s Walk, which supports a West Virginia family with a child battling cancer.
“These charities go a long way and they help a lot of people,” Starcher said.
At the conclusion of their hike, 100 percent of donations will be split between the four charities.
Donations can be made to the local City National Bank by mail or in person with funds given to the Starcher/Agosti Charity Fund Savings Account.
Starcher said they choose the Appalachian Trail for many reasons.
“It’s the Superbowl of trails,” Starcher said. “The trail of all trails. It’s one of the most popular trails, one of the hardest and it’s on our end of the country.”
Starcher and Agosti both said there are mental and physical complications to hiking the trail for months without a break. Agosti said it has been mentally hard to be away from family and their children, which is why she remembers the people who will benefit from the charities and even carries a picture of Izzy with her.
Currently, Starcher said they are averaging 12-14 miles per day and hope to reach up to 15-20 miles per day. Starcher said at the beginning, the couple had an average of hiking seven miles per day.
Starcher added they had to gain their “trail legs” in the first 500 miles — including injuries, blisters, strained and sore muscles. He explained the injuries usually “slow up” after the 500 miles and they will be able to hike further distances.
As of Wednesday, the couple has hiked 457 miles through the Appalachian Trail and are in Connecticut.
So far during their adventure, Starcher and Agosti have encountered some rocky trails, had a visit from a black bear in their camp in New Jersey and came across rattlesnakes.
Starcher and Agosti will be on the trail at least until the beginning of November.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.