Heidi Corey, left, her husband Marcus, right, and their three children, Abishai, Hadassah and Jesse, reach the summit of Mt. Katahdin in Maine on Aug. 23, ending their 145-day hike of the Appalachian Trail. Submitted photo

WILTON — Marcus and Heidi Corey and their three children stood on the summit of Mt. Katahdin on Aug. 23, completing their 2,190-mile hike of the Appalachian Trail. They celebrated two days later at their camp on Pease Pond in Wilton.

“We did it to unplug from our normal lives,” said Marcus, who grew up in East Wilton and graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington. A pastor, he is chaplain of the Loon Mountain Ski Ministry in Lincoln, New Hampshire.

“We host people in our home,” he said. “Since we got married, in the last 14 years, we have had about 50 people live with us. We wanted to go to the woods, spend some time away from cellphones.”

Marcus said hiking the AT was Heidi’s idea.

“I changed jobs in 2012 and was offered a sabbatical in seven years,” he said. “We had hosted AT through hikers and she said she’d like to hike it too. Every door opened.”

The family took a van and an RV to Georgia to start the hike at Springer Mountain in Georgia on April 2. Marcus’ parents, Cyndi and Ron Corey of Wilton, shuttled the family to and from locations, did laundry, restocked food and provided meals.


The five selected their trail names: Marcus’ chose Maine; Heidi’s chose Meidi, her name with an M; Abishai, 13, chose Madre; 11-year-old Hadassah’s chose Lol; and Jesse, 8, chose Destroyer.

Ron and Cyndi took trail names of Slow-Poke and No-Poke, respectively.

Lois Hamel-Corson, who worked at AT clinics through Health Reach during the hike, said the Coreys completed their hike with no illnesses or injuries.

“That’s an amazing feat,” she said.

Along the trail, the Coreys met many people and shared the stories of some.

“Every 200 miles or so we would meet up with a man whose trail name was Whistle,” Marcus said. “Whistle was celebrating his masters in quantum physics and starting his doctorate work in rational thinking. He taught the kids how to count to 31 on one hand using binary numbers, all while we walked.”


Heidi said they met a man who had just learned to walk again after being hit by a tractor-trailer truck.

“His doctors told him he might need to do a lot of walking,” Jesse said. “When he told them he was planning to walk the AT they said not that much walking!”

Heidi added, “There were so many inspiring stories on the trail. One gentleman was walking to raise funds for clean water in Africa. Another good friend from Texas was raising money for veterans.”

Abishai said, “You can walk for the fun of it, some do it to raise money.”

The Coreys were also raising money for Sole Hope, an organization working to eradicate jiggers, a parasite that attacks people’s feet.

“We didn’t want to make the hike just about ourselves,” Marcus said. “A couple of years ago my Rotary Club held a shoe party for Ugandan children suffering from jigger parasites in their feet.


“You can work hard to prepare your legs, lungs for hiking the AT. You can’t prepare your feet, he said. “We had a goal of raising $1 for every mile everyone in the family walked. The AT is 2,190 miles long so that would be about $10,950. Anyone wishing to donate can find us on Facebook or Instagram at A Mile In Their Shoes.”

Asked how the family did the AT, Heidi said she told people, “One step at a time. Doing hard things together really brings a group together in a deep bonding.”

Marcus said he underestimated that aspect of the hike.

“When we summited we took a group picture,” he said. “It got 30,000 views because so many shared it. That’s pretty cool,” he said.

“What made us mourn, sad on (Aug. 23) was leaving the people we met from all over the world,” he said. “We shared such a deep bond with them.”

The random kindness of strangers was also noted when people left bottles of Gatorade or jugs of water with a ‘Help yourself’ sign in New York.


“Watering places would be mud pits, nothing but sludge,” Abishai said.

Hadassah said, for her, getting wet was the hardest part.

“The trail was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done,” Marcus said. “At times I was dejected, really beat up from the rain, rough terrain,” he said.

“God had us in his hands,” he said, for the entire 145-day journey.

Despite the low times, he still recommends others follow in their footsteps.

“There are a lot more families starting to hike the AT,” he said. “I would encourage families to do it.”

For more information about the Coreys’ experiences, go to solehope.org/the-corey-family-hikes-the-at-video-update-2/, or https://tinyurl.com/y5f8qthy.

The family of Marcus and Heidi Corey pose after finishing their 2,190-mile hike of the Appalachian Trail on Aug. 23. In front is Jesse Corey; second row, from left, are Marcus Corey’s mother, Cyndi Corey, Heidi Corey, Abishai Corey and Hadassah Corey; back row, Marcus Corey and his father, Ron Corey. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden Buy this Photo

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.