Hiker’s long journey leads him to Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG – In March 2013, Josh Seehorn decided to see the country and raise awareness for a cause by hiking and running the American Discovery Trail from the West Coast to the East Coast.

Seehorn said his trek on the American Discovery Trail, which runs through Parkersburg, has two purposes.

“My goal is to teach about environmental education and to share my faith in Christ,” he said.

Seehoen said along the way he has spoken to school-age children, civic groups and spoken in churches.

His route goes from Point Reyes, Calif., to Cape Henlopen, Del., covering the 4,800-mile long trail.

Seehorn has partnered with the high school natural resource education competition, The North American Envirothon, a section 501c3 organization, in an effort to raise awareness and money for the competition.

Seehorn began his trip on March 21, 2013 and as of Jan. 29, he was about two days away from Parkersburg. He has traveled on foot approximately 4,200 miles.

Seehorn said Wednesday he hoped to reach Delaware in March.

“For something like this the one thing I recommend is to not set a specific end date,” Seehorn said. “I’ve had to move the end back because of things that came up, opportunities to talk with others, network, and other things in life.”

When he was a high school student Seehorn competed in the Envirothon program and went on to complete his Bachelors degree in wildlife biology and Masters degree in fisheries biology from the University of Georgia.

Today he is the vice chairman of the Georgia Envirothon and the coordinator for the 2014 North American Envirothon that will take place in Athens, Ga., from July 20-24. He said the Envirothon is facing difficult times.

“This year the Envirothon needs support from individuals and corporations,” he said. “There is a possibility of canceling for the first time in 27 years.

“Our major corporate sponsor had to reduce its annual donation and we may not have enough for this year.”

Seehorn said the Envirothon is an educational competition where high school students form teams of five and compete in areas of wildlife, forestry, soils, aquatics and a current issue, sustainable agriculture.

More information can be found at www.envirothon.org.

In 2011, he hiked the Appalachian Trail’s 2,181 miles from Maine to Georgia.

This was a direct influence for his decision to attempt the American Discovery Trail, which is a new breed of national trail.

It guides its users through big cities, small towns, forests, mountains and deserts. It is 4,800 miles of continuous multi-use trail, which makes it the first coast-to-coast non-motorized trail.

The American Discovery Trail provides trail users the opportunity to journey into the heart of all that is uniquely American, including its culture, heritage, landscape and spirit, he said.

Seehorn said the recent winter storms have slowed him down some.

“So far the weather has been pretty tricky,” he said. “It has slowed me down, so right now I’m not doing as much running. I’m hiking more now.”

Seehorn said even at a slower pace he can still cover a lot of ground.

“Earlier on the trip dehydration was one of the big struggles,” he said. “In Nevada and Utah it was hot and water was scarce; that was where I had a bad dehydration episode. Other than that I’ve had no major physical ailments.”

Along the way, Seehorn said, he and his support companion, Brittani Stanga, have spent time in people’s homes.

“We’ve met a lot of people who have been kind, no bad encounters,” he said. “Many people have been really great; we’ve met some interesting people and have stayed in interesting places.”

They stayed at a house in Utah that had been hollowed out from a rock knoll, Seehorn said.

“The owners blasted the house out of the rock for 14 years and made their home,” he said. “I camped out with a man who was a paranoid schizophrenic who had been avoiding people for nine months.”

While in Illinois he had a dental emergency.

“I had the most awful toothache from an old root canal,” he said. “We made it to a dentist who helped and referred me to an orthodontist who did a root canal and he didn’t charge anything.”

Memberships for the American Discovery Trail Society and information about HR3022 can be found at www.discoverytrail.org.