Trek across America is a punishing test of stamina

Richard Fletcher with his girlfriend Sarah Wooller

Richard Fletcher with his girlfriend Sarah Wooller Buy this photo

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

TACKLING mountains, boggy swamps and farmland, only one in four people who attempt the 2,160-mile long Appalachian Trail manage to complete it.

Richard Fletcher, 35, from Standlake near Witney, is 1,800 miles into his journey in which he aims to be one of the few who finish the route across the United States.

He has already raised £500 for Cancer Research, after quitting his job as a designer at Williams F1 to begin the adventure in April.

He chose the charity as he knows people who have been affected by the condition.

Mr Fletcher, who hopes to be home by mid-August, said during his trek: “I just wanted to do something a bit different really.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, both physically and mentally.

“There’s bears and wild boar in the woods and I’ve been walking in up to 30C heat.

“I’ve walked through ice and snow when the sun has been shining at the same time, which is a bit weird.”

A former Wood Green School pupil, Mr Fletcher previously climbed Mount Snowdon and Ben Nevis but said he was not used to walking up to 22 miles a day while carrying a 35kg backpack.

He said he has met people along the way who he has walked with but many have already dropped out.

The Oxford Times:

A trail marker

Mr Fletcher, who trained by going on long walks, including along the Thames path and in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, said: “It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster because the trail goes up and down all the time.

“The tent has become my home and I’ve lost a lot of weight, even though there wasn’t much of me anyway.”

His girlfriend Sarah Wooller, 34, has stayed at home throughout his trek but he pre-arranged surprise presents including bouquets, jewellery and vouchers for guitar lessons to be delivered throughout his trip before he left.

Miss Wooller, a teacher at Kidlington’s Gosford Hill School, said: “It’s very romantic of him and I can’t wait for him to come back.

The Oxford Times:

The Appalachian Trail

“It was quite traumatic before he went but I was the one telling him he should go because you only live once.

“He’s found it quite hard and his knees have been aching a lot but I have no doubt he has the drive to do it. 

“Rich isn’t the kind of person who won’t give up if he puts his mind to it.”

Follow Mr Fletcher’s progress via his blog

Make a donation

MARKING THE WAY

  • THE Appalachian Trail is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world, measuring about 2,160 miles in length
  • The trail goes through 14 US states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine
  • It goes along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian mountain range, from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the trail’s northern terminus at Katahdin, Maine
  • Between two and three million people visit the trail every year but less than 2,000 people attempt to complete it
  • According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, an organisation including 31 groups that maintain the route, only one in four people manage to finish the trail.

Our top stories:

 

Comments (1)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:17pm Thu 10 Jul 14

sidetrack says...

Hello, just to say the link to Rich's donation page is incorrect. It should be https://www.justgivi
ng.com/fletchliveson
thetrail

Many thanks for your support.

PLEASE.. Help me get people to donate a £1 to Cancer Research so Rich raises a £1 for every mile he's walked. If everyone donates just a £1 via the site or texting 'ATRF78 £1' to 70070 he'll reach this goal.
Hello, just to say the link to Rich's donation page is incorrect. It should be https://www.justgivi ng.com/fletchliveson thetrail Many thanks for your support. PLEASE.. Help me get people to donate a £1 to Cancer Research so Rich raises a £1 for every mile he's walked. If everyone donates just a £1 via the site or texting 'ATRF78 £1' to 70070 he'll reach this goal. sidetrack
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree