Hiking the Appalachian Trail alone from start to finish is an accomplishment in itself; imagine hiking the entire 2,175 miles blind. Sound impossible? Not for long distance hiker Trevor Thomas. Thomas became the first blind person to complete an unassisted, solo end-to-end thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail (AT) from Springer Mountain, GA to Katahdin, ME in 2008. But he didn’t stop there. Thomas has hiked more than 18,000 miles in the past 7 years, and he most recently hiked the entire Colorado Trail (CT).
But let’s stop for a minute; how’d Thomas become a long distance hiker? An adrenaline junkie ever since he was young, Thomas grew up downhill skiing and later pursued other high-risk activities like skydiving and racing Porsches. But that all came to a halt when Thomas was diagnosed with a rare, incurable eye disorder that stole his eyesight within 8 months. Suddenly, at the age of 35, Thomas found himself having to learn how to survive and make a living as a blind man. Although he understandably struggled to come to terms with his new reality, Thomas ultimately decided not to let his blindness define him, and on a friend’s recommendation, he started long distance hiking.
Thomas decided to hike the AT because it’s the best-marked and most-traveled trail in the U.S., so with the help of his outfitter, Thomas began preparing for his trip. After a year of research and preparation, he set out on the trail, relying on his training and the occasional help from other hikers. He completed the trail with a newfound purpose: to educate people about blindness and being blind. He set out to hike more trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail, and along the way, he founded Team FarSight, an organization dedicated to challenging society’s misconceptions about the abilities of the blind and visually impaired.
We met Thomas last year as he was gearing up for his CT hike and outfitted him with some Revo sunglasses. Although he can’t detect light, Thomas’ eyes are still susceptible to UV damage, especially at high altitudes and in the snow, so he needs a high-performance polarized lens with 100% UV protection. Thomas’ Revo sunglasses are one of his “most important pieces of gear,” and in addition to UV protection, the polycarbonate shatterproof lenses protect his eyes from tree limbs and other debris on the trail.
We extend a huge congrats to Thomas for completing an end-to-end thru-hike of the CT, and we look forward to being a part of his next adventure. You can follow him on Facebook, and learn more about his journey on his website.