Bill Irwin on Wednsday completed his Appalachian Trail journey that began eight months ago, making him the first blind person to hike the entire 2,167 miles.
About 60 people greeted him as he reached the end of the Georgia-to-Maine trail at Katahdin Stream campground Wednesday morning, an official in remote Baxter State Park said.Irwin was joined by about 20 friends and reporters for the final 2.4-mile leg of the journey, although he planned to walk the last few hundred yards alone, said park secretary Jean Howes.
Irwin completed his trek under sunny skies with temperatures in the upper 30s, said Howes.
In recent days, Irwin had hiked in snow and sleet, but Wednesday he got what Carolyn Starling, a close friend, called "prayed-to-order weather."
"It's such a fitting end," she said.
The Burlington, N.C., resident was accompanied by his guide dog Orient during the epic journey.
Irwin spent Tuesday completing difficult sections of the trail that he had missed previously, said Starling, who hiked with him for part of the day Monday. She has served as Irwin's spokeswoman during his eight-month journey from Georgia.
Irwin, a 50-year-old recovering alcoholic who lost his sight to an eye disease when he was 28, decided to attempt the feat as an affirmation of faith. Sponsors helped pay his expenses.
A party was planned in Irwin's honor at a lodge Wednesday night, said Starling. Eighteen fellow members of Irwin's church traveled to Maine by bus last weekend from Burlington, N.C., to celebrate Irwin's achievement, she said.