Those that know former Ozark Countian Dylan Funk probably received’t be shocked to study that he’s at present on a grand journey, spending 5 months this summer season mountain climbing from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Path.
Funk, identified for his extensive smile, distinctive hair and easy-going character, grew up in Thornfield and graduated from Gainesville Excessive College in 2014.
For the final two years he and fiancé Alicia Wright have been residing in an RV, touring the nation doing seasonal work at numerous campgrounds alongside the way in which.
Discovering a love for the backcountry – and an curiosity within the AT
Whereas working and residing in Jackson, Wyoming final summer season, Funk discovered a brand new love for mountain climbing the backcountry of Grand Teton Nationwide Park, situated close to the place he and Alicia had been staying.
“I did some day-hikes and needed to be on the market for days. Thus my love of backpacking started,” Funk mentioned, explaining that backpacking refers to a sort of path mountain climbing by which a hiker carries all the things in a pack to camp, eat and survive alongside the path for a number of days.
“My coworker Mike was very into the Appalachian Path and informed me all about it,” Funk mentioned. “I started doing analysis on the path in my free time and was hooked. I had been within the west for nearly a 12 months and had by no means been on the east facet of the nation aside from a three-day journey to New York Metropolis.”
Funk mentioned he figured one of the simplest ways to go to the jap United States could be to hike Appalachian Path by way of the 14 states that makes up the path.
“…all 2,200 miles of it,” he mentioned.
Starting the path
As a result of his work was seasonal, Funk mentioned the logistics of being gone from a job and different life commitments wasn’t as tough for him as it’s for others who tackle the path. The most important problem was saving up sufficient cash for meals, lodging, gear and different wanted objects throughout the 5 months he’d be mountain climbing.
He moved again to Ozark County final winter and labored for his dad Shane Funk at his development firm by way of early spring in preparation for the journey.
“He’s been an enormous supporter of me out right here,” Funk mentioned.
With sufficient funds and all of the plans made, Funk traveled to Georgia able to tackle the problem in April.
“I started my hike on the strategy path at Amicalola Falls State Park [in Georgia] on April 5, about eight miles from the path starting at Springer Mountain in Georgia,” he defined.
He’s at present in New Jersey, previous the 1,300-mile mark.
He’ll hike your entire 2,200 miles, concluding on the northern terminus at Mount Katahdin in Maine probably someday in mid- to late-September.
“At first, the hike felt the identical as beginning a brand new faculty. Everybody has new sneakers and new backpacks. Some of us appear to know the way all the things ought to work, and others undoubtedly had no thought what they had been doing,” he mentioned. “I used to be within the beginner class, however I spent a variety of time making ready and utilizing my gear earlier than beginning the path. Now that we have been out right here for months, we’re all extra seasoned. The issues that had been new at first are actually our on a regular basis lives.”
These mountain climbing the Appalachian Path and different long-distance through hikes typically have a path identify bestowed on them by one other hiker, which serves as a kind of nickname. Many hikers use their path identify for everything of the hike, shedding their actual identify throughout that point.
It wasn’t lengthy after Funk started the tail that he was given his path identify.
“I’ve a behavior of strolling round barefoot and climbing bushes and shelters. So when somebody urged Tarzan, I gladly accepted,” he mentioned.
Challenges and rewards
Funk says he’s endured nearly any climate an individual might think about whereas mountain climbing the path. “Intense chilly, snow, driving rain, intense warmth, bugs, loopy humidity, bushes across the path breaking from wind, lighting putting throughout me – and a few good climate too.”
He says he’s realized simply to remain open minded to nature and adapt to no matter situations current themselves on the time.
“Fortunately I used to be ready for any chilly climate occasions early on and have not handled warmth exhaustion. So, I have been fairly good…so far as not dying from hypothermia or dehydration,” he mentioned, laughing.
Some bodily challenges have pushed Funk out of his consolation zone, together with a nasty bout with tendonitis that lasted greater than per week, an Achilles tendon harm that price him three days of restoration time and an contaminated toe that left him off-trail for 5 days when he was mountain climbing close to Fontana Dam in North Carolina.
“My complete foot swelled, and I might barely stroll,” he mentioned.
Total Funk says he’s been shocked by simply how rugged the path has been.
“It is uncommon to get a flat part. It is largely been up and down, a number of rocks and roots. It’s important to bear in mind always that one unhealthy fall, particularly on one thing tremendous steep, can finish your complete through hike,” he mentioned.
Whereas these situations have pushed him bodily, he says he’s additionally felt a psychological pressure at instances.
“I’ve had bouts with loneliness on the journey. I cope with nervousness and despair loads in my life, and it has been no completely different on path. However being on the market has taught me simply how robust and resilient I can really be. I’ve discovered new ranges of power in me that I did not know I had,” he mentioned.
He’s additionally discovered the help of different hikers who’re additionally finishing the Appalachian Path this summer season.
“I began the path alone, however I’ve discovered an entire neighborhood out right here.”
Encourages others to take the leap
The expertise has actually given Funk a perspective about trendy society and the comforts that come together with it.
“We’ve so many luxuries in our day by day lives: operating water, indoor plumbing, entry to all forms of meals and automobiles… I am going to by no means take a look at these issues the identical once more. I believe everybody ought to do two to 3 weeks of backpacking of their life, simply in order that they see what we actually have.”
Whereas Funk admits that this expertise is life-changing, he says he needs individuals to know that he’s not distinctive. He encourages anybody who desires of finishing an analogous journey to take the leap.
“…I’m not reaching my dream as a result of I’ve something additional going for me. I’m not particular. I am only a man that purchased an costly backpack.”