Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 55
Given that little Ellie Quirin took her first actual
steps on the trail, it's a pretty certain thing that
this Virginia girl will be the youngest ever to
complete the Maine-to-Georgia path, which she
covered with her mom and dad.
by Carrie Cousins
about the time this magazine
arrives in mailboxes and appears on
newsstands, an Appalachian Trail
"first" is on schedule to take place.
Ellie Quirin, along with parents
Derrick and Bekah, is due to complete
what will be the first baby thru-hike
of the Great Trail.
The family, entering Virginia as we
go to press, is projected to arrive at
McAfee Knob near Roanoke in midOctober. Their home is in nearby Blue
And that completion of the 2,185mile journey won't be the only first for
Ellie. Along the trail there were others.
Along with that status as the
youngest person to travel the
distance of the A.T.
The journey began on March 21,
and has been packed with not only
firsts but also plenty of adventure.
"It's been an amazing experience,"
says Bekah Quirin. "Getting through
Maine and New Hampshire was like
being on top of the world. There
were tears in my eyes, I was so
happy. The rocky terrain and mostly
exposed area without tree cover was
slow, and is often noted as one of
the the toughest parts of the trail.
"But some incredible views made
up for it," she says.
And along the trail in Maine is
where Ellie took her first steps.
"She took her first steps literally
on the trail. That was pretty cool,"
Ellie also has a couple of signature
trail moves, including a fist-bump
or high five to connect with other
hikers. Because of the flip-flop route
the Quirins took-from Virginia to
Georgia and now walking Maine
back to Virginia-they've had second
encounters with other thru-hikers.
"Some people saw us down
south," Bekah says, noting that
Ellie greets these friends with the
T h e A p p a l a c h i a n Tr a i l
Conservancy expects more than
2,600 hikers to complete the hike
this year. The organization tracks
the number and starting points of
hikers on the trail each year and
confirms that Ellie will likely be
the youngest to finish the trail. The
most famous example of another
child on the trail is Christian
Thomas, aka Buddy Backpacker,
who hiked the A.T. with his family
at age 5 in 2013.
Ellie will be a few miles short of
a complete hike; Baxter State Park
regulations don't allow anyone
under age 6 above the treeline and
the Quirins respected the rule as
they reached Mount Katahdin,
the northernmost point on the
trail. (Thomas was granted special
permission to summit the peak.)
And while a seven-month hike
with an infant might seem a little
crazy at first, it makes sense for
this outdoors-loving family. They
recently left South Carolina to move
back home to Roanoke, creating
perfect timing for a few months
on the trail.
Ellie is young enough to help
them pack light. Bekah Quirin has
carried her most of the way and Derrick
is carrying other supplies, noting that
ellie has one Too
It's common for Appalachian Trail
thru-hikers to take on trail names.
Some hikers are self-named while
others provide insight about the
One of the
the trek was
that it was
time for her
to climb in.
person that might almost seem
obvious. Hikers may (or may not)
know other hikers by anything
more than these nicknames. Many
of the notations from the Quirins
along the way have referenced
Appalachian Trail friends by their
The Quirins have their own and
refer to Ellie as "Roo."
* Sherpa -- Derrick
* Kanga -- Bekah
* Roo -- Ellie
November/December 2017 55