Christian Torp leaves on a Greyhound bus Monday morning, heading to Georgia. About 24 hours later, he will be on Springer Mountain, the southernmost starting point of the Appalachian Trail, where he will begin to hike the 2,180 miles of the trail.
Torp's plan is to walk the entire Appalachian Trail in one uninterrupted journey. He is doing it by himself.
Hiking the trail in one journey is a mammoth undertaking for able-bodied hikers. Each year, thousands attempt it, but only one in four successfully complete the trip, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
The goal will be a particular challenge for Torp. In June 2003, while a University of Kentucky law student, Torp crashed his motorcycle near campus. He was not wearing a helmet. The impact cracked his skull in four places, and he suffered traumatic brain injury.
Never miss a local story.
After three weeks in a coma at the UK hospital, Torp was transferred to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital for months of therapy.
The neurological damage impaired his short-term memory and his ability to organize thoughts, damaged his speech and caused the permanent loss of the use of his right arm, which hangs limp by his side. But he can grip with his right hand.
Torp has made a remarkable recovery, friends and family say.
But "hiking the Appalachian Trail is a huge goal," said Nancy Nickerson, outpatient speech therapist at Cardinal Hill, who worked with Torp to develop strategies to help him cope with his memory loss.
"That said, one of his personality traits is determination. An attitude of 'I can do it,'" Nickerson said.
Most people would have changed careers after an injury as severe as what Torp suffered, Nickerson said. "We made a game plan and, little by little, he went back to law school and eked it out. And by golly, he finished."
Torp, 31, has an old-fashioned general law practice. He works out of his house at 328 Ohio Street.
Hiking the trail is something he has wanted to do since he was a child, living in Norwich, Vt., where the trail comes right down Main Street. "All the time we'd see people hiking through town, carrying their packs," he said.
He kept "talking and talking about it until one day I said, 'Why don't you do it,'" said his wife, Tanya, 37, community engagement coordinator for United Way of the Bluegrass. "He thought I wouldn't let him do it," she said, chuckling.
"She's been supportive," Torp said.
Tanya's main concerns are possible run-ins that Torp might have with ticks, snakes and bears. Also, he will have to cross several streams and one lake where the water might be waist deep. "How are you going to hold your pack overhead and walk through a lake?" she asked.
''When I'm between a rock and a hard place, when I have no choice, I'll just do what I have to do," Torp said. "I'm not going to overthink things in advance."
Tanya insisted that her husband take a global positioning device so she can follow him and know that he continues to move.
But will his memory impairment pose real dangers? Might he get turned around and get lost? "I'm taking 18 maps of the trail. And I can read a compass," he said.
The couple began preparing for his trip months ago, when they sold their second car to save money. To get in physical shape, Torp walks wherever he needs to go downtown. As part of his training regimen, he carries a backpack loaded with 41 pounds of books.
They joined the High Street YMCA. Three days a week, Torp runs a 5K (3.1 miles).
Friends have lent camping equipment; Torp has bought items. Still, the hike will cost about $6,000. Family and friends have donated money to help cover his expenses.
Torp will keep a diary. When he goes off the trail at designated points to buy food, he will mail his notes to Tanya, who will post them on the couple's blog site, Thetorps.wordpress.com.
Looking back at his life since the accident, Torp said, "On the whole, the accident worked out for the best. I wasn't always an easy person to get along with. I was an atheist. Today I'm more loving, more concerned about other people. And I'm a card-carrying member of the Christian faith."
Of his hike, Torp said, "God holds all the cards. Whatever is supposed to happen will happen."
To make a donation to help Torp defray expenses, send a contribution to Christian Torp, P.O. Box 861, Lexington, Ky. 40588. Or call Tanya Torp at (859) 684-8729.