TK Grad Completes Appalachian Trail Hike

Holsted, a 1993 TK graduate, said he realized he needed to find his own path in life and following the mainstream just wasn't his right fit. After high school, he attended Grand Rapids Community College for two years but soon realized college just wasn't working for him.

That didn't stop him from developing some very successful careers as a real estate appraiser and in restaurant management. Eventually, he landed in a marketing career that sent him traveling across the country for nine to 10 months out of the year.

His life on the road led him to the realization he wanted to travel as much as he could. In April 2017 he and his wife moved to  Damascus, Virginia, a tiny town of about 800 people that is located directly on the Appalachian Trail. By November he was considering hiking the trail that crosses 14 Eastern states.

April 1, 2018, Holsted left his home with a 30-35 pound backpack of belongings and began his hike north to Maine. After reaching the northern terminus at Mt. Katahdin his parents drove from Michigan to pick him up in Maine and then transported him to the southern terminus in Georgia. From there, he hiked home to Virginia.

"It was good for me because when I got home I was greeted by all my family and friends and I could just literally walk home," said Holsted who, after five months and three weeks, walked back into his home Sept. 23.

"I was surprised and amazed at what I could do. It's a challenge not just physically, but mentally. It's tough being out there alone and at night everything is so quiet and so dark and you're in this vast wilderness with nothing around you for miles," he said.

He said he was determined to complete the trail knowing that less than 25 percent of the people who start the hike ever complete it. He found many friendships along the trail and saw the good in people who were always willing to help.

His advice to others considering the challenge of the Appalachian Trail: "Go do it. There's no way to really prepare for it. You just have to do it and just be ready for the best experience of your life. It's the most magical thing I've ever done."

Holsted said he knows he will be ready to try new trails again. For now, he and his wife are enjoying a Nomadic lifestyle traveling all over the country. They sold all their belonging to make a 26-foot travel trailer their home. Currently, they are in South Padre Island making shallow fishing boats. Soon, they'll move on to Arizona and the Cliff Dwellers Resort where they'll work until fall.

"There are so many places we want to see and so much we want to do," he said. "I don't want to go back to any one place I've already been right now. I guess I've always had this kind of wandering spirit. I grew up loving to hunt and fish and camp. I've never been one for city life and just always love being outside."

Holsted said Michigan is always home and he appreciated growing up where he did. "I liked the small town and the country feeling being at TK," he said. "I'm glad I didn't go to a bigger school. I feel like everybody knew everybody and I'm still really close with some of my friends from high school."

While at TK, Holsted played soccer and tennis. He was in the marching and jazz bands and was part of the high school musical performance. "I have good memories of TK and being in high school. It was a good place - simple and safe and I made a lot of great friends."