Norman Smith, owner of Norman’s Deluxe Barbershop and Shave Parlor, recently completed a hike of the Appalachian Trail. According to Smith, he thought the idea of hiking the trail sounded “cool.”
“I can’t really recall when that was, but it’s always been one of those “I’d like to do that someday” kind of things,” Smith said. “Back in November, I went on a solo hike on a section of the trail in Pennsylvania where I hurt my legs hiking too fast. I began to worry that my legs might be starting to go bad and if I did not do this soon, I may never be able to do it.”
Born and raised in Milford, Smith also worked at Baltimore Air Coil for 20 years and has owned the barbershop for the past six years. He and his wife, Megan, have four children.
“I started the trail at Amicoloia Falls State Park in Georgia,” Smith said. “There is an 8-mile approach trail from there to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT. I completed the trail at its northern terminus on Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine.”
This was the longest hike Smith had ever taken. Prior to this, he had never hiked more than two nights and three days with an average range of 30 miles. He began hiking about 18 years ago on a family vacation In Acadia National Park in Maine. He only did day hikes up until about three years ago when he and his family began backpacking. Shoes were one of the biggest challenges he had on his hike.
“Some wore out, some hurt my feet, but overall, it was a challenge to find the right footwear,” Smith said. “Shoes I liked didn’t last very long and shoes that promised to be more durable hurt my feet. Getting enough calories was a challenge as well. You just can’t carry enough food. I lost over 20 pounds, returning home very thin for a man who is 6’2” at 151 pounds. Finally, the weather in New England was a challenge. The hiking gets harder as you head north. This was compounded this year with nearly non-stop rain. My feet were wet from Vermont to Baxter State Park in Maine. Days were cut short due to storms and other days were just miserable because of the rain and mud.”
The highlights of the trip were the epic views Smith saw along the trail.
“Just lots of beautiful scenery,” Smith said. “But, for, me it was the people I got to meet and spend time with along the way.”
If he hiked the trail again, there are things Smith would do differently.
“I did this hike fast. My goal was 120 days. That’s about four months to accomplish something that most people take five to six months to do. I am happy that I hiked the way I hiked,” Smith said. “That being said, if I did it again, I would want to do it with my wife and take a full six months to do it. It’s a different kind of hike. My hike was more of an athletic endeavor. If I ever do it again, it would be to really enjoy the trail and the hiking culture.”
Smith thanked his wife for her support in his goal.
“Without her love and support, I could never have made this journey,” Smith said. “She stayed home, worked a full time job, took care of the kids, went to school and still had enough in the tank for me when I needed moral support. I just can’t thank her enough.”
Smith took a family vacation after his hike and posted on social media that his barbershop will reopen in early September.
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