PAINTED POST, N.Y. (WENY) -- Nearly seven months after he set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, Chris Dieringer has finally returned home.
He began that hike back in April, hoping to raise awareness and funds for CASA--an organization that advocates for abused and neglected children in family court It's also one Dieringer spent over two years with as a volunteer and advocate.
"I got to know and interact with a number of children and they're really special kids," says Dieringer. "I felt this was something I could do and even raise awareness for CASA as an organization. So I was very grateful for the opportunity and to be able to finish it. A lot of people don't finish it for a number of reasons, so I was very lucky."
Dieringer hiked between 15 and 18 miles each day before finally ending in Georgia.
He says there were times he may have second-guessed his abilities-- aspects like snow, rain, and even rough terrain. But there were also others moments far-outweighing that doubt.
"The mornings were very quiet," says Dieringer. "Beautiful sunshine--you don't even feel the pack on your back. It was something very special."
It was also something he wasn't entirely facing alone.
Dieringer was able to speak to his family almost every week. But on the trail, he says there was always a sense of commradery amongst hikers.
"You're all facing the same things," says Dieringer. "Talking about the weather a lot, what you'd like to eat when you get into town, perhaps. So you develop a fairly close bond with people very quickly, and you might hike with them for several weeks, so it was pretty neat."
As for the funds, the hike raised just over $6000 for CASA.
"I would do it again," says Dieringer. "But maybe a little differently--a different direction. There's so much to see you can't possibly get to it all in one go around."