80-Year Old Twins Hike the Entire Appalachian Trail

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Hiking the entirety of the 2,190-mile long Appalachian Trail is a heck of an accomplishment for anybody. But it’s particularly impressive for Elrose Couric and Sue Hollinger, a pair of 80-year old twins who accomplished the feat earlier this year.

Of course, the sisters didn’t hike it all at once. Even among the 3,000 or so fully fit hikers who attempt a thru-hike every year, only about 25% are successful. Couric and Hollinger hiked the trail piece by piece over the course of 14 years, but their journey was no less strenuous and their accomplishment is no less impressive.

Both Couric and Hollinger are now widows, and unfortunately they didn’t see each other that often during the 30 or so years each were married because their husbands didn’t get along. But after each became a widow, they vowed to spend as much time together as possible.

Despite being in their 60s, the sisters took up hiking as a hobby and quickly took a liking to it. Together, they hiked all 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When they needed another hiking goal, they remembered the dream they had as teenagers to hike the Appalachian Trail.

In 2002, the sisters started hiking the North Carolina portion of the Appalachian Trail. Slowly but surely, they started venturing further from home to cover portions of the trail.

They would sometimes camp in the woods, although weighing only 105 lbs. it was difficult for them to carry too much gear. Other times they would spring for a hotel near the trail. Either way, the sisters always drank a glass of wine at the end of every day of hiking.

There were plenty of challenges, frightening moments, and even some injuries along the way, but in July they completed the journey, hiking the final few miles with family members by their side.

“How did we celebrate? I think we just rested. We were so exhausted,” Hollinger said, adding that their love of the woods and the support they got from each other is what allowed them to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

“It doesn’t matter how or when or why. Both of us were so lucky. We couldn’t have done it without each other.”