Warwick grad completes 2,175-mile Appalachian Trial journey

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:58

Warwick - Growing up with the Appalachian Trail in your back yard is enough to inspire a young person to hike the entire 2,175 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Or so was the case with Mateo Prendergast, a 2000 graduate of Warwick Valley High School. He grew up experiencing the trail as it winds its way from Pine Island into New Jersey, then back into Warwick to the top of Mount Peter past Greenwood Lake and northeast into Harriman State Park. After completing his undergraduate studies in computer engineering in 2004 at SUNY Buffalo and working for a year, Prendergast took the spring and summer off to hike the trial. Although on many days he walked up to 25 miles, he took weeks off at a time to visit with friends and family as he made his way along the Appalachian Trail. 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. Only a few hundred hikers will finish. Since the Appalachian Trail opened in 1937, only about 8,500 people have walked the full route. Prendergast started on April 1 and finished on Sunday, Oct. 9, after enduring the rain and cold that swept into the Northeast region that weekend. “I had seven awesome days in Maine,” Prendergast said. “The weather and foliage were beautiful but I was unprepared for the bad weather at the summit of Katahdin - the last day was brutal.” As Prendergast was making his way home to Warwick, his father, Jim, noted: “Who knew all those weekend hikes would lead to this.”