Kid Conquers Trail

Posted: August 24, 2021

Harvey Sutton, nicknamed “Little Man,” hiked the Appalachian Trail. He finished just in time to start kindergarten. The five year old is one of the youngest and most recent kiddos to complete the trek. Harvey and his mom and dad hiked more than 2,100 miles in 209 days!

The Appalachian Trail begins at Springer Mountain, Georgia. It ends at Katahdin, Maine. Walking that far takes months. Hiking the trail was hard work. But Harvey enjoyed it. He had fun checking out frogs, lizards, and other wildlife. He also enjoyed his energy-boosting snacks along the way. The “Little Man” says he sprinkled Skittles onto peanut butter tortillas. He also says, “The rock scrambles were really fun and hard. We were not bored.”

Harvey’s parents Josh and Cassie Sutton stayed busy keeping their son entertained as they hiked mile after mile. Harvey was four years old when his family began their long walk. He turned five before they completed the journey.

Kids can handle the challenge of the trail, says pediatrician Dr. Laura Blaisdell. It’s up to their parents to keep the hike fun, engaging, and appropriate for each child’s abilities. That’s exactly what Mr. and Mrs. Sutton did. The family slept in a tent. They woke at 5:30 a.m. and hiked all day. While they moved along, Harvey made plans to build homes, construct spaceships, and host a lava party. His imagination ran wild while he walked miles and miles of wilderness with his parents.

Karl Donus Sakas met the Suttons along the way. He recalls Harvey’s boundless energy. “He’s pretty strong and tough. So often we’d get to camp, and I’d be beaten and tired. And Little Man would say, ‘Let’s play freeze tag!’”

Mr. Sakas set up a treasure hunt. He hid maps, toys, and glow sticks on the trail for Little Man to find. Other hikers gave Harvey toys including a pet rock, Hot Wheels, and a pocket watch. When the group got to a General Store, Harvey bought a calculator to keep track of the miles. Maybe he used it to count down the days until kindergarten too!

The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them. — Psalm 104:8

Harvey Sutton raises his arms on a mountaintop in Bigelow Preserve, Maine, on July 23, 2021. (Robert Smith/AP)