Michael Dunford

Finalist - Michael Dunford

What date are you planning to begin your thru-hike?

March 15. 2019

Are you planning to hike northbound, southbound, or complete a flip flop?


What is your motivation for wanting to complete the hike?

I fell in love with hiking while hiking in new Zealand last year. I have met many hikers since i live in Pearisburg and the trail passes thru. I have heard many stories from them as I have given them rides and work on my small farm that intrigued me. I never thought I could do it but after hiking over 600 miles in new Zealand and hearing and meeting many hikers I know I have what it takes. After returning from New Zealand in the spring I did a section hike of 188 miles and decided right then I was going to become a thru hiker in 2019. When I made the section hike I was having some emotional issues and the trail basically saved me in the end. Individuals who have never hiked or been lost inside and found themselves again during a long hike would never understand this but those of us who have experienced it know the feeling. I would truly like to be considered for this sponsorship. I'm sure there are individuals with better stories but I'm a determined person and come hell or high water will finish the trail next yr and promise the sponsorship will not be wasted.

How do you expect this hike will change your life?

I expect this hike will show me there's more to life than 9-5 each day. I'm retired now and have given all my past time to military and company.

Describe your backpacking experience. How long have you been doing it? What's the longest trip you've done?

My experience consists of military hiking which I hated. After 20 yrs of not hiking I discovered how much more enjoyable it is when equipment properly and doing it at your own pace. I hiked over 600 miles last yr in new Zealand and then 188 miles on a section hike of the AT in April of 2018.

What else should we know about you?

I'm a 44 yr old single dad of 2 adopted boys. I have over come many challenges in life and proved that I can do anything I put my mind and heart to. I was told I would never make it in the military and proved everyone wrong and was a highly successful and decorated soldier during my 6 yrs of service. I retired from the automotive industry at an early age and have raised dairy goats since. I was told I couldn't be a single foster parent and proved them wrong. I foster 12 kids and adopted 2 of them. I was told I wouldn't be able to travel for 5 months. New Zealand and Australia much less the amount of hiking i was doing but once again proved them wrong. I returned home and continued my hiking doing a section hike of 188 miles in 10 days in crappy weather with an injured knee. What you accomplish in life is up to you and failure is based on will power and determination to overcome the curve balls and naysayers in life.