Hike is almost half over for Lexington man celebrating recovery

bfortune@herald-leader.comJuly 2, 2012 

Christian Torp, is about 930 miles into his quest to hike the entire 2,184 miles of the Appalachian Trail this year.

Christian Torp, the Lexington man celebrating his recovery from a traumatic brain injury by attempting to hike the Appalachian Trail in one uninterrupted journey, is about halfway through his trip.

Reached on his cellphone in Luray, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley on Monday, Torp was shopping for bagels, apples, candy and olive oil to replenish his supplies.

"Things are going real well. It's a whole lot more work than I thought it would be," he said.

Since starting March 14 on Springer Mountain in Georgia, the southernmost point of the trail, Torp has hiked 930 miles, not quite halfway on the approximately 2,184-mile route. But it was a journey to get to that starting point.

In June 2003, while a University of Kentucky law student, Torp crashed his motorcycle, cracking his skull in four places. The neurological damage impaired his short-term memory and ability to organize thoughts, damaged his speech and caused the permanent loss of the use of his right arm. After extensive rehabilitation, he went on to law school and now has a private practice in Lexington. But hiking the trail has always been a dream, and after his accident it became a way to celebrate his recovery.

Torp, 31, said he is hiking 13 to 15 miles a day. " Some people do 25 miles with no problem. The most I've done in a day is 20 miles, but I'm a pokey walker," he said. He usually gets going about 8:30 a.m. and hikes 12 hours carrying a pack weighing slightly more than 50 pounds. Breakfast is a bagel or some trail mix. For dinner he heats water on his field stove and prepares quinoa or couscous.

Asked whether he ever gets bored just walking, Torp said, "No, I've been pleasantly surprised. I haven't been bored in the least. It's more work than running a law firm. I'm busy from sunup to sundown."

Torp planned to hike to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine, the northernmost trail head, before the park closes Oct. 15. Because the going has been slower than he anticipated, Torp thinks he might have to do a flip-flop. That's where he catches a bus to Baxter State Park and starts hiking south to the point where he left off.

He's seen three black bears, one just the other morning. When Torp awoke, he saw a bear eating trail mix from his food pack. But he wasn't fazed. "Unlike grizzlies, black bears are extremely sheepish. Unless you do something real stupid, they run away," he said.

You can follow Torp at his blog: Appalachianvoyage.wordpress.com.

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010.

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