What did you do last summer? It is a question many students are asked as they begin the school year. Well, 5 Year Old Harvey Sutton, also known as “Little Man” had quite a story to share with his new Kindergarten classmates this year! Over the summer, and the Spring and Winter for that matter, Harvey hiked the entire 2,190 mile Appalachian Trail (AT), along with his parents! He is one of the youngest people to ever do so. Who is “Little Man” and how did find the strength to achieve this amazing accomplishment? Let’s find out.
As Harvey’s dad shared with NPR, “It started out as a joke. We started training (him) at a young age to hike and camp and he took on to it really well.” When Harvey was just 2 years old, his parents started going on walks with him. Each day they would increase their mileage just a little. Well, these small improvements added up to an amazing accomplishment!
Harvey and his parents, who are from Virginia, started out in January where the AT begins in Georgia. All in all they hiked through 14 states in 209 days covering 2,190 miles! And Josh was only 4 years old when they started!
Each day on the trail, the family woke up at 5:30 AM to prepare for 10 hours of hiking each day. They spent most nights in their tent at different campsites that are located in the woods, along the AT.
After setting out in January, the Harvey and family finished their hike at Mt. Katahdin, the end of the trail, on August 9th, just after he turned 5 years old!
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Harvey was staying entertained each day. To start, there is a lot of wildlife along the trail including frogs, lizards, snakes, and other animals. But there is not enough wildlife to fill up 10 hours each day! So, Harvey’s parents, along with other hikers who joined them along the way, created make-believe stories and treasure hunts to get Harvey’s imagination working. They talked with Harvey about building homes, constructing space ships, and hosting a lava party. A fellow hiker hid maps, toys, and glow sticks along the trail. Some other generous hikers gave Harvey toys, like a pet rock, a race car, and a watch.
You have to eat a lot of food to make up for all the exercise each day. Harvey’s favorite snack was Skittles. He even combined these with peanut butter tortillas for energy, according to the Assoiated Press.
Amazingly, Harvey said he is ready to do the hike again! But in the meantime, as they settle into the school year, the family will do more local adventures and they are working on a movie that will be coming out about their adventure.
But the youngest of all may be Juniper Netteburg, who finished the trail at age 4, wearing a Wonder Woman costume, with her parents and three siblings on Oct. 13, 2020, said her parents, who are missionary doctors.
Check out Harvey’s unbelievable accomplishment below and then start planning your own big adventure!
- Visit the Sutton’s YouTube channel to learn more about their adventures
- Learn more about thru hiking the Appalachian Trail
- Check out some other incredible IMK stories about climbers and hikers, including Johnny Strange, the youngest person to ever climb the world’s seven highest peaks.
Topics for Discussion:
- What qualities does Harvey exhibit to be able to complete this amazing accomplishment?
- What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done? How did you do it? What did you learn about yourself?
- What would you like to do by the time you’re 18 years old?
- If you could spend your entire summer vacation on an adventure, where would you go and what would you do?
- Do you like hiking and outdoor adventure? Consider joining an organization like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or find a family hiking club thanks to the Children & Nature Network
- Get out on the Appalachian Trail (AT) or another trail near you. Here is a one favorite place on the AT for kids and families.
- Do you already have lots of access to the outdoors? Help other children who don’t by supporting organizations like the Fresh Air Fund