Operation Northbound. Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike 2018

the life of an animal is simple their only goal to survive long enough to

reproduce humans are animals too however our lives have become far more

complicated every year a few thousand people take a step back from society and

leave behind the stress and expectations of their previous lives and jobs some

take leave and won't be gone long however some won't come back at all

these few thousand people face the 6 to 1 odds and attempt to walk the 2,200

miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine through the cold wind

the rain and the heat until only a few hundred hoti soldier and these views

through Britain determination and the privilege of calling themself through

hikers my name is Matheson but out here

everyone calls me bear like the animal

this is what it was like for me to attempt an Appalachian through hike in


you can see why somebody would quit right at the stop because honey I think

I'm in the wrong way yeah obd-ii dude it was just like 500 skips like straight up

so I can see what you're equipped by I'm not gonna quit just yet

let's say there's 4,000 people gonna try to hike the Appalachian Trail this year

and they said that Neal scat which is right now is where a thousand people

quit and believe them and I looked up at this tree throughout my whole life I've

tried to move failure from the equation as much as I could people sometimes ask

me what's plan B and I always say the same thing there really is no plan B but

plan a is pretty solid and so completing my Appalachian

thru-hike was just a prime example of that

all right so the spot here super super important because three years ago in

2015 me and a couple people working at Camp

luma but me and a couple people came out here and we camping in between this tree

and this tree right here we set up two hammocks I was in the top story so I

understand I was in this exact same spot when three hikers walked past and this

is where I decided that I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail so three people

went past they were skinny it's two dudes and a chick that was skinny the

dudes had beards the woman a little bit too

their legs were super jacked they're real thin and I gave them like a huge

way it was like a it was like five o'clock in the morning and he just

looked at me and gave me the tiniest little energy-saving nod and I was like

man that's hardcore that's like damn that's how cool this

guy's gonna walk the whole thing that's at Eric and I could do that that was

three years ago in this exact same spot right now before I went to America I

spent two years at University training is an outdoor instructor and the whole

time knowing that I wanted to hike I wanted to do it through hike in 2018 so

trying to pay my way through University and save enough money for an Appalachian

through hike wasn't a super easy thing to do but with the little bit of

creativity and a fair bit of grit you can basically do it any want that did

mean I was homeless for a whole year while at uni and and then I had to live

out of a van for four and a half months eat nothing but canned chickpeas and

fruit but if that's the price I had to pay then it's a price I'd paid twice

over day three there's like a big risk of

like bear attacks and stuff that have been in this next area so because of

that you got to take a beer canister I don't have it be a kind of step up it's

possibly like a be a bonk so hopefully I'm thinking pretty positively about it

but I'm like now I hike alone I left all my friends behind so I'm just doing a

little um having a little count out of my food the next resupply was gonna be

my 137 I'm in my 37 at the moment I'm just counting out how many dinners I

have left and how long it's taking me to get here and while it looks of it I'm

gonna run out of food I still got I've only got three more

dentists for if I have small dinner tonight and it's gonna be

at least a week today sir or something like that it's gonna be more than time


most disappointing border crossing in my whole freakin life so yes for the North

Carolina border crossing was careful man I'm not saying I was expecting some guy

to be standing it like congratulating me and like to shake my hand

all right so I'm we're up here in the mountains and it just started snowing

and hailing I swear I just stopped us before the camera went on but I put on

my most waterproof outfit I got my granny gloves and rain hat but yeah

hopefully it's gots heaven again so I can prove that I'm not just like

these looks like big-time code real code but ya got a file in there collecting

firewood it's gonna be pretty cold night but I know this is the Smokies I guess

night one in the Smokies oh it's snowing but the hair on my legs is first it's

all white and crystallized yeah that's a hero my legs pretty frozen I'm kind of

enjoying it I'm having a good time this morning was pretty crazy woke up bit

earlier than normal work up at 6:00 pretty cold night and I am pull back the

tarpaulin and everything is just white everything's so white this like icicles

up in the trees and my snow all over the ground it's pretty wild

all right so I'm hiking here with crux creeks and Rock'em and still alive back

there somewhere I think it stops snowing but all that he is frozen but I kind of

like it but yeah we're coming up to the highest point on the Appalachian Trail

at 6600 feet six thousand six hundred something feet so here looking forward

to seeing absolutely nothing because of all the snow but it's okay

and as you will out of North Carolina and the Tennessee the nomadic lifestyle

wasn't just starting to feel normal it was starting to feel really good the

body was ready to get up and walk and so are we

all right so it's been a big couple of days were hiking came across the cycling

snake it's got to be like two meters long right across the track excuse me it

was pretty good and then we go into town I slept on for got tasered Oh

the Taser twice is really good fill me we got scrambled eggs and decel

what's up scrambled eggs how's it going little did I know this scruffy dude

sitting out of the bridge with me was about to pick out my best friend things

got pretty good team no it's nice thanks Pete everybody thought we were leaving

the cold weather behind us but everybody was wrong

a frozen pond my favorite

oh okay it's not that thick what is it whoa whoa it's not thick enough to walk


give us I didn't lead here before I like injured myself

and come across something fantastic even more so than my hat and it's this thing

here there's a bag it's literally the reason I chose the Appalachian Trail /

PCT pretty much once again is because they do this thing called trail magic

which is where they just put bags of like cool stuff like this dude dr.

peppers man oh it's so good so people just put bags of food along the trail

this is just drinks but man I got a friend in Baltimore it Eliza Jane

streetcars running by her door Liza Liza Jane chips some fruit item Adama I don't

know what corn nuts are but I'm sure they good you got chips ahoy lots of

good stuff and then it got told that is the best trail magic and ever gonna

experience they look like they bite in my life

is coming up with fangers people can feel those cold winds blow it Eliza Jane

all the lies and the

all the lies

mom remember when I told you when I moved dad was going to drink coach any

trouble for breakfast 9:00 a.m. Eastern morning

where those girls are also please

you that you are the shot I am a naughty MD which is amazing so people just leave

stuff out like this there's always a book so you can sign it ever injustice

like thanks enough for that so we're just going down some whoo

and then we see chilly been at the bottom it's got some like musi bars in I

haven't had breakfast yet cuz I don't have any water and some up little juice

drinks apple juice drinks so I had one of them didn't get passed place to bed

with Hammond and I'll hang on and then we see the sign for the place that was

giving away like free cheeseburgers I stayed giggling and running like a

little girl across the road so hopefully come up to the party and we're hoping I

just sit up in there otherwise we've already walked past it would break my


all the lies and then Eliza Jane hold it Eliza little eyes a J I gotcha

cat see if we can actually give up on the fridge to sleep

it's stupid steep steep so it's been pissing in here


I mean you won't want to roll over in the night but I can make this work so

here we are in that best elf camp so far scrambled eggs up here cooking some cook

it up some taters I'm having a cheese wrap pretty children's come from that

consistent noise of trucks using the engine brakes and cars going real fast

sesame and scrambled eggs and we've been weaving in and out of North Carolina and

Tennessee for ages now but we're finally leaving North Carolina for the last time

see you later North Carolina it's been a it's been a blast there it is come up to

the line

there we go Tennessee / Virginia state line three

all these are gonna line of rocks how cute is that we've come across the wild

horses of Virginia Virginia Highlands I guess we've been calling pretty

consistently for the hospital well kind of flat out because we trying to beat

everybody else over here we got a bunch of wild horses this some wild horse is

just small wild horses it's another one

how you how do you feeling there where I'm sitting here on hallowed ground I've

heard of the stories but I didn't know it was real until today this is a pool

you can eat KFC buffet now personally I feel disgusting

but I'm gonna take the bids I already hate myself but I'm gonna make the

business I can tell my daughter's club

it doesn't look superficial or anything but nothing your aunt here does

it's quarter quarter of the way the quarter of the way down I guess so

I recognize the smell of a cigarette some of the same plant

now ready

so it's meeting all mate legs here day 44 who's going alright we looked at

our food wheel ah we can skip over that next talent like we can push our food

rations so food reactions have been like real tight

and then I go and like mess up my leg girl bed so now I really need to stop

but if I stop will starve because we've got no food so apples are okay in the

morning downhillers are not so good so I really need to take a rest day but we

just can't because there's no food so there's only so much pain you can go

through and still finish the day with a smile on your face I'm getting pretty

close to that limit with this being day three and a half smoked a lot of words I

don't know what the truth

so it's been a interesting a little while to me and legs sitting on the side

of the road we came into the town Delvaux so my knees real pretty bad

we're waiting on side of the road legs dad's coming to pick us up take us back

to Baltimore neighbor we'll check out Washington DC I don't know do whatever

you do and you can't walk and then we'll come back up for a couple days and keep

going suck and my legs buggered and it's over but hopefully that's not the case

so we've taken a couple days off and then come back in carry on during the

six days we spent in scrambled eggs house we had about as much food as two

humans could possibly eat and they encrypt the future trails do you think

your food makes me hungry just looking at it during one of the rifts days we

thought we'd better get out and do something so we went into DC to have a

look around and then we check the bus times to try to figure our selves a way

back to Damascus for trailers

all right so it's been pretty rough lately we did our 12 hour bus ride back

from scrambled eggs house that was was really good

it's nothing like 12 hour bus right in the middle of a night beer now we're

walking the business into hopefully going to hitch the trail days because

you know someone that's coming by so yeah now we just got a just got to get

them on it not much of a worry but I'm a little

worried about this one to be honest

it's in pretty bad stories about other people having similar injuries because

they got so injured that they had to stop so here

hopefully I'll meet going to trial yesterday and then yeah hopefully

they'll get looked at maybe they're for free and then we'll see

so me legs here back in um Damascus Virginia daily patrol days but it's

getting pretty busy already everyone sitting up all the vendors and stuff

like that so free pack appears mess ups ship you'll go

how you feeling about the competition this year


all right so haven't done one of these four I would like probably like a week

or saying now I was gonna say things have been good but they really haven't

we went into a town my knee was pretty sore tried to do too much so we had to go

into town with zero there we went to the Mings buffet that was pretty I mean it

was an experience it was a good experience

we ate till I blacked out and he he threw up outside oh it's all part of the Mings

experience I think do we gotta go if we gotta leave I started having a third

person experience while I was sitting there it was getting out of control

yeah we're sitting and then I'm like you don't feel too good I thought I was gonna black

out at the table but we managed to get outside and then it laid out and passed

out but then yeah after that from multitude of different reasons I was

having some really tough times it was really bad, legs wasn't having a great time either

well it's sunny now so that's good yea did things lighten up or a little no I

still feel pretty bad yeah we're nearly out of Virginia so I guess that's good

news my knees still bad so that's a contributing factor but yeah I mean

things really haven't gone to much better it's a bit of a bit of a grind

lately yeah so we're coming up to Front Royal

and getting close to getting out of Virginia you know dude it might even

even you know

okay so turns out leg was way more messed up than we thought so it's been

pretty we've started trying to hike on it again it's been pretty ummm we're

not walking very fast nor walking very far and doesn't really feel like its healing

that much so we're trying to like figure out all I could trying to figure out

what I can do to sort of ease that ease the strain on my knee and I came up with

an idea and that's to get rid of both my my tent and my sleeping bag now it's two

ways to go ultralight you can either buy more lightweight versions of what you've

already got or you can just get rid of the things that you more or less don't

need so I'm getting rid of my tent my sleeping bag, and now I know what you thinking I know what ya thinking, you're sitting at home in front of your computer or on your phone and thinking your computer or when you find you're

like dude that's a stupid idea that's a pretty stupid thing to do you know like

you're so Matheson you're so dumb dude what an idiot but I will tell you this

you're absolutely right this is one of the dumbest things I've ever done and

keep in mind I let someone taser me twice in the same day so I know it's a

terrible idea but if it's if it's gonna help me get to Katahdin and finish

this hike I'm willing to do it I'm feeling pretty good I'm feeling feeling

oh yeah I mean you could use a different adjective but I'm feeling something

could just be hunger but feeling something but yea this is where legs sleeps

in the hammock I'm just an animal so I sleep on the ground like an animal but

um it's gonna be a cold night

so how'd you sleep last night Legs? "great" "warm enough?" yeah I bet I'm happy to hear it I

woke up outside in the dirt it wasn't warm enough but I I lived

that's 800 miles so you want

all right so it's I don't know it's 9:30 in the morning walking again but today

it's different because today's a day that we walk out of Virginia all right

so we're leaving Virginia for the final time or third give a quick toast so it's

my drink Virginia it's um it's appropriate relieve you on this stony

ass bumpy ass part because you know you've had your ups and downs yeah all

the tips off my poles you blistered my feet you mucked out my leg then you've

darkened my heart now I would normally say cuz things I'm trying to learn to

speak German bitch betta but seeing is that hopefully I never ever see the

state again and if I do I want you to punch me in the neck I'm gonna simply

say hang out of order all right

okay so we're we're bouncing in and out at West Virginia Virginia all the time

but we're we're still sticking to the the rule of making sure that we listen

to country roads for the entire time that we hike through West Virginia and

so I think we just crossed the line so you want to hit that my friend oh yeah

oh yeah heaven West Virginia

life is old there older than the trees younger than

growing like a breeze country road take it home

to the place I belong

so it's 750 755 it's pretty early to be listening to country roads again but

we're still zigzagging in and out of Virginia West Virginia coming up very

soon we leave Virginia for the final time and I can't wait but the only

problem with editor means we have to listen to us non-stop until we leave

West Virginia well there's only so much of our country roads you get listened to

before you you truly wish for the end but um West Virginia's already over so

it's that one Maryland and oh it's Maryland sweet it's nice I feel good

about it

it's got to be de 82 or something very special day okay gonna try and eat two

litres of ice cream it you know 9 o'clock in the morning it's only night

now so we'll be little bit later then so we're here at the fabled ice cream

challenge place a couple of paddlers nearly okay introduce yourself boys

I am Frick you guys these guys going pretty hard it's done with the first one

you got to eat one of these yeah one of those will be fixed these guys are going

for the added challenge and for some sort of large chips as well large fries

so yeah how's it going it's going great I'm about to do it okay all right so

rules of the challenge you got one hour all it do this you're gonna struggle

with this one you got one hour eight one of these and then one of those Pepsi

cups full of ice cream it's pretty much yeah

munching down that


it's not pleasant

and that you still enjoying it left the stage well they just finished the

challenge how do you feel

what do you go there this is all you get they're like pacing around your ice

cream these together get close to my crotch real ice cream real moment to

walking along here leagues behind me unfortunately did manage to be me haters

ice cream ten minutes faster but I feel fantastic

how do you feeling who's laughing now I feel good

it's good

all right

let's think China better this


the right mm

it's me every time with that one

hey Blake how's the hair cook on I highly recommend this Barbara now let me

show you let me show you my favorite part here it's been this way so if

golfers sort of like a ball being used to look and but we lived in with a bird

style here and it was so sweet a little bit further he says he got the Aussie

mullet she's gonna rock I told my which one is with the ladies so we've

certainly internet how you like it

what bubbling

all right so here we are this train track this one here you see this let's

train check it's hot it's mad at the middle this is slightly more special

than all the other train tracks because it's the mason-dixon line this cat's

America in half basically so that's pretty cool mason-dixon Maryland

Pennsylvania oh yeah that's it now we're in Pennsylvania cool okay so I'm

Pennsylvania well known for the rocks you know it's pretty hot today and we're

thoroughly enjoying it I'm getting tendonitis in my leg feels good how do

you feel about it I love it

therefore it is just goes on and the maps is elevation wise it's like this 15

miles with no water I certainly haven't got enough but I've got some all right

so as you can see we got this large open fields just here so we've been walking

through him on and off all day and hot big-time hot now lasting you know here's

sunburn right so I haven't got a Sun Hat with me and by that I mean it's deep in

my pack what I have got is my t-shirt here what we're gonna do is the old

t-shirt tip and you just chuck it over your head like you're going to put on a

normal t-shirt that would be a normal t-shirt right wrong put it over there

like that you take your sleeves there's one it smells awful in here there's the

other one and you sort of just pull it tight and tie it at the back now if

you're looking for true Sun safety you can you can urinate on it to keep your

head cool but as you can see now if I step into the Sun I'm perfectly

perfectly Sun smart and it's actually ideal for a whole variety of things

you've got um snatch and grabs at your local dairy you know gang affiliated

crimes hit and runs home intrusions general theft and aggravated robbery

that's perfect so now I'm feeling pretty good

once I rap on some Sunny's here we go absolutely son smart walking in here and

as you can see there's not a single part of my body that's going to be burnt now

alright haven't got any urine but I have got the last of my water for the next

ten or so miles so just splash a bit over that over there for whatever reason

I don't know why you do that but you can drink a little bit three switch switch


that tastes like sweat it's awesome everything's good

I made

so we're hiking along back there and crippling pain when I stopped to take

some of the the rocks out of my shoe and notice that I've completely lost the

feeling in three of my toes so taking out the inserts that are already in the

shoe chucked in some dr. Scholl's and counting on your dr. Shaw help me please

please help me

well it's been nearly 24 miles of chronic foot pain dehydration pretty

thirsty very hungry I can't even imagine or my feet look like well it's the it's

the morning off it's a summer solstice 21st in Ligue Taniya she's doing that

after a brief period of full exposure we decided to hang the the rag

here we go this is the border right here at the moment of in no-man's land

this is Pennsylvania they to be New Jersey we got nine hundred ninety five

point six miles to go pretty stoked are you ready Oh neither killing bank

the Pennsylvania mom a Niva in my life never coming back

well dude 100 miles in four days yeah

so we're here Katahdin only 500 miles away so celebrate I'm eating the most

nutritious food you can get it here on the 80 which is a Little Debbie

strawberry fruit roll of one one of these for 1500 I've wanted one of these

for about five 1,500 miles so mmm tastes like sweet sweet cholesterol problems

for the future just go 220 miles today and then I got a friend gonna pick me

and legs up and we're gonna take up two days off that's a plan I still get

restless but we haven't taken the days off for a long time now now in my life

to rest it's kind of sounds like to do nothing

not a big fan of doing nothing so if we weren't gonna be hiking

and after the broadest of all bro fists it was time to get back out there it was

500 miles to go and the miles weren't gonna hide themselves

throw your stuff dry I mean the boots are still a little bit damp but the

socks I'm good to go

all right we're coming up to the

Vermont New Hampshire border crossing it's just up here so we're about to

leave them on go into New Hampshire there it is you can barely see it the

mall in New Hampshire so pretty

all right so we're in this um at five town here we are windows windows

oh this is what we sleep in this person it's true windows windows sunset

well it's been a long time coming

beginning closer and close to the whites for a long time now knowing full well

then when we got here it's gonna be steep and it is so yeah I mean too early

in the morning and I'm climbing up the star of a steepest mountain sir

welcome to the whites

you love to feel offended all right so we're climbing out did and final 4,000

feet foot peak off today so it's been a

pretty big day

we've got Mount Washington coming up there's at the second tallest peak on

the 80 dude it's a tall peak but anyway we've heard that people are actually

going over they likely making it over we also got told that one of the guys went

up there and the wind was so strong he was throwing onto his hands and knees

which is pretty funny and in the wind picked him up and flipped them like a

pancake onto his back and like ripped them a little bit but we're gonna be

going over there and like I know two and a half hours or something so I'm

actually really excited about it

okay so it's quite cold it's quite windy it's very wet anyway so we're just

hitting out that Washington now and just as a friendly reminder

Louise and

I wanna see the world now with the worst of the weather behind

us and having completed the weights the hardest terrain on the 80 it was looking

like it was going to be a straight shot all the way to Qatar

come back again

wanna feel

cousin bear

Azir feet

let's look healthy foot - you show us the other one yeah it's disgusting that

it's all slight it's slimy touch it it's like it's still slowing

get a touch it's extremely itchy it's itchy it's painful stinks

it's disgusting from all the rain this is basically what the trail is now just

soaking wet and carries on down so feel like keeping your shoes dry we're not

gonna fix the gangrene problem today trench foot is here to stay

I wanna see

well something's made me somethings made me pretty sick could be food poisoning

but they have to be some pretty nasty food yeah but it's most likely from

drinking some contaminated water Oh

I was referenced arting to realize it was something bad but I did not know yet

just how bad

it's not good

okay so it's the second office it's also the eighth day that I've been sick have

this motto I say if you get injured or sick or you know hurt or whatever give

it three days it's not better in three days give it five it's not better in

five give it a week and it's not better in a week except there's your new normal

and carry on from that point so I guess the constant nausea and you know all

that ya know good stuff should I send you normal now but with only well it was

eight days if I was fast I'm not sure if I feel very fast but I'm

still was hoping to be on the summer the Katahdin in eight days

symptoms are usually mild and include watery malodorous diarrhea mm abdominal

cramps and distension flatulence intermittent nausea oh I've got it bad

man acute I've got a better idea usually last one two three weeks oh my goodness

treatment is antibiotic antibiotic or antibiotic see like a fourth just like

deal with that option so I'm not gonna get better and that's again bollocks you

might not for three weeks though what are we supposed to do there's no friggin

doctors out here I think I can deal with it

it's just twenty-one miles a day for eight days lucky me so it was starting

to look like I'd contracted the dreaded stomach parasite but not only did I have

G alien but I'd also contracted E coli and without medicine the next eight days

were about to be the hardest eight days of the entire Malaysian trip and so yeah

coming up to a road speaking hitch into Munson Munson is the last town on the 80

the last town before the 100-mile wilderness so we're gonna hitch in there

grab some Goods after this it's literally one final push all the way

there no place to obtain supplies it's a hundred miles do not attempt the section

unless you have a minimum of ten days supply it's difficult and should not be

underestimated so basically it's saying if you're a little bit you might have a

problem or if you've got Giada are in a bum knee you could have a problem as

well yeah don't underestimate it man don't

underestimate it man spooky stuff man 100 miles of wilderness

spooky stone

four days until I'm standing at the summit

so it's the 8th of August which means tomorrow is the last full day of hiking

and then we're climbing Katahdin oh man welcome in Katahdin now one of the most

cruel symptoms of Giardia is your inability to process foods

meaning starvation and this was certainly something that I was

experiencing but at this stage in the game it wasn't a single thing on the

suit that was going to stop it for 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine and tomorrow

dear hundred and thirty nine is the last day

it's for 45 days a day let's get started

4.1 miles to go and my whole body is buzzing my heart's all fluttery I can't

tell if it's because every hardship every day with not enough food every

night was not enough sleep all of it winding down just one single

day making my whole body go crazy dad or it's just a ditch a mental health

problems caused by the red ball I just drank all the Giardia which is have

serious impact on my on my house 23

they say trying to fuel your body of sugar Alone's like trying to warm your

house by burning up in the newspaper in your fireplace and they're probably

right but on a day like today I say let it burn

now exhausted states we pushed on onwards and upwards into the clouds and

to the cold and after a hundred and thirty nine days and looking out and

picturing that side of my head I looked up and there it was

to look back on the past four and a half months is a strange thing sue I saw so

much in a short period of time I saw boss brown forests turn slowly into a

lush green paradise I saw branches encased in ice and when

the wind blew I saw a million diamonds fall from the sky

I saw an abundance of life and I saw the forest fires burn the trees play

I saw how people's lives have been changed by the trail and I saw people

were paying the trail in any way they could I saw in the kindness of others

and it's something I'll never forget

not everybody makes it nor should they and out of the few that do all of them

and their own way are changed humbled or anew

some of the people who finish will make a radical change in their lives with a

newfound appreciation for the things that previously took for granted like a

hot shower

cold drinking water a decent meal

but for a lot of them over time this appreciation will fade and they'll

slowly return to their old jobs their old habits and eventually their own ways

of life but not me and why not Ark is this something wrong with me

what's next