BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) -Six hundred miles into his trip, Todd Murphy had to get off the Appalachian Trail to fix a crucial piece of equipment – his prosthetic foot.

But Todd Murphy, 34, who lost his lower legs due to a birth defect, didn’t let it stop him, continuing on his 2,175-mile journey from Maine to Georgia, at 12 to 19 miles a day.

Accompanied by his girlfriend, the Plant City, Fla., prosthetic technician – who was fitted with two artificial legs after being born with malformed feet – credits his family for helping instill perseverance.

“My parents didn’t hold me back,” he said. “If I wanted to jump out of a tree, if I wanted to ride BMX bikes and go off ramps, they didn’t hold me back from anything.”

Including the Appalachian Trail, which is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, said Laurie Potteiger, a spokewoman for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

Murphy is proof of that.

“It gives you hope that if someone like that can tackle those challenges, it has meaning in your own life,” she said.

Murphy, a chronic asthmatic, started planning for the trip a year ago. He hiked, watched documentaries, talked to his doctor and prosthetist and had a set of lightweight artificial legs with rigid ankles and stiff feet built just for the trip.

He hit the trail June 3, struggling through rocky terrain in Maine and the White Mountains of New Hampshire, sometimes thinking he’d have to quit.

“But then I thought “If I can get through the Whites, if I can just get through New Hampshire,’ I said, “I can make it the rest of the way,”‘ he said. A few days into the trip, the components in his artificial leg broke. He had to hike down and call his prosthetist, who sent replacements to a post office, which took a few days. Then it was back on the trail. It took him two hours to go one mile in Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, and he suffered a bloody face and black eye in a fall at another point on the trek.

In Hanover, N.H., he decided to jettison his fleece clothing and tent in order to lighten his load. Now, he’s only carrying 30 pounds. Then there was the time he hiked 1.8 miles out of the way, eventually turning around and retracing his steps.

“It was incredibly steep. By the time I got to the hut, I was exhausted. I had fallen down, gotten scraped up. I was crying, my legs were giving out. I was dehydrated, what a mess.”

His ultimate destination: Springer Mountain, in Georgia. He has promised his 10-year-old son he’ll be back to his Plant City, Fla., home by Thanksgiving.

Until then, he’s keeping a log of his adventures on www.trailjournals.com.

“I do know that when I get home, I’m going to take some time off and let my legs relax and get used to be home again and get off that hiker’s schedule,” he said.


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