Pitzer Spotlights

2007-2008 Spotlight Archives

Hiking Strong: From Georgia to Maine, Adam Hanbury-Brown '10 Completes the Appalachian Trail

Adam Hanbury-Brown '10 on the summit of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire
Adam Hanbury-Brown '10 on the summit of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire
Adam in south-eastern New York State
Adam in south-eastern New York State

Sophomore Adam Hanbury-Brown has a newly acquired appreciation of life's creature comforts—a warm bed, a dry change of clothes.

“I'll never look at a full refrigerator without a profound sense of awe again,” he said.

It has been two months since Hanbury-Brown finished hiking the Appalachian Trail, and he is still experiencing culture shock. One of the United States' most formidable hiking trails, the AT runs 2,175 miles from Georgia to the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine.

“On the trail I learned the importance of not wasting anything like food or water. Now, being back in Greenwich, Connecticut, it is sometimes as if I am speaking a different language from everyone else—like we're in two different worlds,” he said.

Hanbury-Brown hiked non-stop from February through June with his high school soccer teammate, Phil Gnaedig. Throughout the journey they encountered storms whose lightening bolts lit-up the sky “like strobe-lights” and other “crystal clear days whose spectacular views will be embedded in [his] mind forever.”

Despite swarms of mosquitoes, gnawing hunger and constant muscle aches, Hanbury-Brown attributes much of his resolve to finish to the friendship he and Gnaedig forged on the trail.

“It's the solitary hikers who are most likely to drop-out,” Hanbury-Brown said. “They just always looked so sad. Even bringing a dog helps a lot of people.”

Just like the constantly changing landscape, throughout their trek Hanbury-Brown and Gnaedig's conversation fluctuated between the intellectual and the inane.

“I speak Spanish and Phil speaks German, so we gave each other language lessons along the way,” Hanbury-Brown said. “But that was only when walking downhill. Uphill, we talked mainly about soccer games and food because we were always so hungry and tired.”

Though he has yet to declare a major at Pitzer College, Hanbury-Brown is leaning towards Environmental Science. On the trip his true passion for ecology emerged, solidifying his ambition to pursue a career in environmental research or law.

“I got a huge kick out of looking at the different trees that grow in the South—some of which I had never seen before,” he said. “And as we hiked north into Connecticut I started to see the trees that were familiar, and it was like coming home. I love the diversity in the American environment.”

Also in keeping with the Pitzer's core values, Hanbury-Brown added a social responsibility component to his excursion.

“Phil and I made it into a walk-a-thon for Running Strong for American Indian Youth,” he said. “It's a really great organization that helps ensure that children living on Native American reservations have food, water and other basic needs met.”

Such basic needs, whose importance Hanbury-Brown will never again take for granted.

—Liz Hedrick '09

To learn more about Adam's adventure,visit his blog at http://adamandphil.blogspot.com.