There’s a 12-year-old girl hiking the Appalachian Trail this summer with her dad — all 2,180 miles of it, from Georgia to Maine. Reed Gjonnes (pronounced John-ess) stepped onto the trail’s southernmost point in April. Since then, the Oregon girl has walked about 25 miles a day, one foot in front of the other. (Reed isn’t the youngest kid to hike the trail; two 6-year-old boys hold that title.)
By day, Reed and her dad, Eric, hike and hike and hike, making friends and encountering bears, snakes, deer and owls. They stop at post offices in towns along the way to pick up packages of supplies sent by Reed’s mom. At night, they camp in three-sided shelters along the trail or in tents that double as rain ponchos.
“Sleeping outside seems normal to me now,” says Reed, who hiked the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail last year through California, Oregon and Washington state with her dad. “You hear bugs and sometimes see deer walking around.” Sometimes they stay with friends who live near the trail.