Local man hikes full length of Appalachian Trail

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:58

Warwick — A portion of the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trail winds its way from Pine Island into New Jersey, back to Warwick, to the top of Mount Peter, past Greenwood Lake, and northeast into Harriman State Park. Growing up with the trail in his back yard inspired Mateo Prendergast to hike its entire length, from Springer mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. More than three million people hike portions of the trail each year. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 1,392 people set out from Springer Mountain in Georgia in 2005 intending to hike the entire route. For various reasons, only a few hundred hikers will finish. Since the trail opened in 1937, only about 8,500 people have walked the full route. Prendergast is one of them. A 2000 graduate of Warwick Valley High School and 2004 graduate in computer engineering from SUNY Buffalo, he worked for a year before taking this spring and summer off to hike the trial. Some days he walked up to 25 miles, but he often took weeks off at a time to visit with friends and family as he wound his way along the trail. His father Jim Prendergast smiled with pride recently and said, “Who knew all those weekend hikes would lead to this?”