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Rankin Ledger
www.rankinledger.com "Rankin County's community newspaper" Rankin County, Miss.

August 11, 2005

Friends welcome hiker home

Alan Lovett jumps back into normalcy

By Chris Whitaker


Friends and family joined Brandon resident Alan Lovett at his official "welcome back" reception Saturday at Buffalo Peak Outfitters in Highland Village in Jackson.

Lovett began his trek Feb. 28 in Springer Mountain, Ga., and after 135 days and more than 2,000 miles, he reached the end Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

After miles of hiking that dropped Lovett from 170 to 145 pounds, Lovett was happy to be home.

"I just wandered around the house to look at all the rooms, and then I looked in the backyard and found the dog," he said. "It was weird to be back in it."

He's been chowing down on goodies since getting home, and he's back up to 155 pounds. The diet that included things like energy bars and honey buns is something Lovett definitely doesn't want to remember, but rather the people and places he saw along the way.

"I'll never forget the people I met or the things I saw," he said. "I had a lifetime of experiences crammed into four and a half months. That will stick with me forever."

Lovett turned a year older on the trip, and he said when he finally got to the top of Mt. Katahdin, emotions took over.

"I remembered the spot called 'The Tableland' it was a flat area before the climb to the summit," Lovett said. "The whole time, it was almost like remembering all the stuff that happened to me on the trip. Right before I got to Katahdin, I was ready for it to be over."

But now when he looks back, Lovett said his trip is something that's changed his world forever.

"The way of life I had was so completely different," he said. "No one really understands what living like that really is. I'll miss it a whole lot, but coming back to civilization, now I am just happy to have a car and that I don't have to walk."

Lovett said he appreciates and enjoys the simple things of life even more than he did before. The privilege of taking showers, sleeping in a comfortable bed and just being able to go back to what would be his normal way of life, Lovett said he has realized what's important in life.

"It taught me to appreciate things a lot more," he said. "The people I met on the trail they didn't care what I looked like or how much money I had, but it was if I was a good person."

From running out of things to eat and settling for the remainders from a peanut butter jar he found on the trail, to having to sit away from customers in a restaurant because of the stench he carried, Lovett said he was in his "own little world."

"Honestly though, I'm incredibly sad," he wrote in his final journal entry after reaching Mt. Katahdin. "Living on the trail has become my life, and now it's over. I'm finished making the memories from the best time of my life, and now all that's left is to tell the stories."

Lovett said he doesn't miss things like mosquitoes biting his face, but he admits it's hard to let go of such a memorable experience.

Lovett said it took him a while to get back into the routine of taking daily showers, but he said his mom, Charlotte, made sure he knew he was back home.

"The first couple of days were challenging for us," she said. "I'd say, 'Don't you want to go take a shower,' and he'd say 'No, I don't.' He was pretty ripe, but it didn't take him long too long to go take a shower."

Alan's sister, Anna, just returned from China after being on a mission trip for almost two months, and Charlotte said it was nice to have the two of them together at home.

"It's been crazy, but it's been wonderful," she said. "We've been doing a lot of giggling and talking, and it couldn't be a happier house. We're trying to not rattle the rafters too hard."

Charlotte said Alan has feasted on meals at home, and he doesn't want to eat salad or ever want to see another energy bar.

Alan hasn't had a haircut since returning home, and he's only trimmed his beard, which was four to five inches long when he finished the trail.

Lovett has already returned to Mississippi State University to be retested to see the effects of the trip. He will also write a paper this fall on his experiences for college credit. He is receiving six credit hours from the trek.

"The tests were tough again like the first time," he said. "I ran the treadmill until I couldn't run anymore, and I had to lift weights I hadn't used my upper body in so long. Now I am eating all the time and not ever exercising. I'm just kind of laying around."

As school and other things begin to come his way, Lovett takes a lot of confidence from this accomplishment and will put it to use in his future endeavors.

"Tons of times I wanted to quit," he said. "I did something incredibly challenging, and I'll never regret doing it.

"Now I know nothing can stop me from doing other things. It's probably one of the best feelings in the world to know I did it."


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