It began as a childhood dream, and turned into a lifetime goal. "He pointed that way and he said if you walk south you can end up in Springer Mountain in Georgia, if you walk that way, you can end up in Katahdin in Maine."
During a trip with his father as a child, Cooperstown resident Hank Nicols first learned of the Appalachian Trail, and was so impressed with its grandeur, that he decided one day he'd hike the whole trail. And hike it he did.
"Every single day I thought of a multitude of reasons why I shouldn't stay on the trail. And every day I came up with one more reason why I should stay on the trail," says Nicols
Through below freezing weather, with and without hiking partners, and even, with bears. It took six months to hike all the way from Georgia to Maine.
"I had been living this every day, 24/7, for six months now and now I was finally at the top and I could see forever...Every place you can see around you is down. You are the highest thing in the world--and that's the way it felt."
Nicols has always had a great appreciation and love for the outdoors. But it wasn't just about being in nature, he says, that brought him to the Appalachian Trail.
"The Appalachian Trail has hundreds of people on it and I was in the wilderness but I got to be by myself, it was a great time for introspection...We were each taking our own trails, our own path, but everybody was looking for that discovery--It was the discovery about yourself."
And what do you need to hike the trail, or rather, accomplish any goal in life?
"People should live life with the heart of a Viking, and the faith of a child."
This was one of the biggest lessons learned on his journey. During his travels, he kept an online journal, and with 55,000 hits, he felt it was only natural to write a book, "The Heart of A Viking And The Faith Of A Child," which will be available on Amazon.com, within the next week.