Appalachian Trail Histories


Bill Irwin and Blind Courage

Bill Irwin became the first blind man to thru-hike the AT without human assistance. Obviously, he went without a map or compass-- what good would they do? Bill's map and compass was his faithful seeing-eye dog, a German Shepherd named Orient. His hike took 9 months to complete. Bill had been struggling with lifelong alcoholism and smoking addiction. After kicking both reliances, he decided to hike the Appalachian Trail as a testament of his newfound freedom and as a spiritual journey dedicated to God for saving him from addiction.

Irwin wrote about his experiences in his book, "Blind Courage".

Bill Irwin died of prostate cancer on March 1, 2014, but his story is not forgotten.