As 19-year-old Alan Lovett will tell you, he's only got about
700 more miles left to hike.
That's 700 out of a total of about 2,100 miles, the length of the
Appalachian Trail, which the Castlewoods resident and Mississippi
State University student set out to hike in March.
"I know it sounds crazy to say that," Lovett said.
"But I've come 1400 miles so far, so 700 isn't that big of a
In Connecticut now, the MSU sophomore began his hike in Georgia, and
intends to see it through all the way to trail's end in Maine, which
he expects to arrive at on July 20.
The Rankin County News first wrote about Lovett the week he
started his trek, but with about two-thirds of it behind him now, he
is coming along faster than he originally expected.
But it hasn't been an easy trip to make. Not only has the
weather been cooler than usual, but he hiked his entire first month
"The first day, I was like, 'It's snowing. Cool, I like
this.' By the end of that day, I was like, 'Man, I really hate
snow,'" Lovett said in a phone call from Connecticut,
where he met up with his father, Dale Lovett, and plans to take a
couple of days off the trail to do some sight seeing.
"I had never done any serious snow hiking before, but I've done
He went one stretch where his water did not thaw out for three
days. And though the snow he went through in the Great Smokey
Mountain National Park was one of the most difficult parts of the
trip, it was also one of the most memorable.
"When you get to the top of a 6,000 foot mountain and look
down, and everything you see is covered with snow, it's one of the
most beautiful things in the world," he said.
When the winter snow left, it was followed closely by spring
showers. Lovett said he hikes through a thunderstorm almost
And of course, there is the problem of bathing while on the
trail. As in, hikers don't really get to while they're on it.
At first, Lovett was able to grab a shower in towns he came through,
about every 10 days, but the last shower he took was his first in
nearly three weeks.
"I'm not gonna lie to you, I don't smell good," he said
with a laugh. "I was talking to one other hiker I met on
the trail who said it will take about two weeks to smell good again.
"A shower will get one layer of dirt off but it won't make you
But that's all right for now. The people he meets on the trail
are hikers too, and at this time of year, there are enough so that
he's almost never alone.
For a while, he and several other hikers had a running game of
ultimate frisbee going on.
When he makes his way to a town, he looks for the biggest meal he
can find, and then promptly heads to his hotel bed.
"It's awesome to just go face-first on a bed and then watch
ESPN until I can't keep my eyes open," he said.
At night, he writes in his spiral notebooks, keeping up with the
work he is going to have to do when he gets back, which will
get him credits in MSU's honors and kinesiology departments.
His dad set up a website, www.justlovett.com
for friends and family to track his progress. His mother,
Charlotte Lovett, has been tracking his progress herself every
"I feel kind of like mission control," she said.
"I track everything. That's Mom's job."
Both his mother and father will be driving up to meet him in Maine,
and wait for his arrival there.
At this point, with three months behind and two more ahead, Alan
said it will be just as much a lifestyle change to come back as it
was to start hiking the trail.
"I know for sure I'm going to miss the trail. One day
I'll be sitting in an office or a classroom and look back and think
that I miss even the worst day on the trail," he said.
"It's turned out to be amazing. It's nice when you get
something right every now and then."