Who is Mr Eberhart? Mr Eberhart is a 83-year-old hiker known as the “Nimblewill Nomad” has become the oldest person to complete the Appalachian Trail in the United States.
Officials confirmed that MJ “Sunny” Eberhart of Flagg Mountain, Alabama, has walked into the record books after finishing his journey in western Massachusetts.
Joining him at the finish line was Dale Sanders, who was the former record holder after completing the challenge at the age of 82 in 2017.
Mr Eberhart was toasted with champagne at journey’s end. The Appalachian Trail covers 2,193 miles from Georgia to Maine.
Mr Eberhart acknowledged that despite having tens of thousands of miles under his belt, the trail was tough going at his age, leading to quite a few falls on slippery rocks.
“I’ve a got a couple of skid marks on me, but I’m OK,” he said in a recent interview. “You’ve got to have an incredible resolve to do this.”
He walked the trail out of order, in sections, to take advantage of optimal weather, and had already completed northern sections including Maine’s Mount Katahdin.
He completed his final section in western Massachusetts, in the town of Dalton, in the same year in which five-year-old Harvey Sutton became among the youngest person to complete the feat.
Mr Sanders said he is not sad to see the record fall.
“My dear friend Nimblewill is taking my record away from me, and I’m happy for him. Records are made to be broken,” he said.
Mr Eberhart actually met Harvey, known as Little Man, on the trail. The youngster “impressed the dickens out of me,” Mr Eberhart said.
Jordan Bowman, of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, confirmed that Mr Eberhart is the oldest to finish the trail.
The walker began his wanderlust in earnest after retiring as an optometrist in Florida in 1993.
The man with flowing locks and an impressive beard actually hiked further than most who traverse the 2,193-mile trail that runs between Georgia’s Springer Mountain and Maine’s Katahdin.
He started his walk in February at his home in Flagg Mountain, Alabama, adding hundreds of extra miles to the route.
The journey represented a modest distance, relatively speaking, for a man who once trekked 4,400 miles from the Florida Keys to northern Quebec, an adventure he chronicled in a book, Ten Million Steps.
He later hiked from Newfoundland to Florida, an even greater distance. He also walked from Chicago to California on Route 66.
Mr Eberhart admitted he was feeling his age on this journey. His reflexes are not what they once were, so he tried to limit himself to eight hours of walking per day. He said he bloodied his elbow after taking a tumble in New Hampshire.
He has not lost his desire to keep moving or to seek the sense of calm that he finds on the trail in the company of the tight-knit and diverse hiking community.
Mr Eberhart’s first major hike coincided with a search for peace after lugging emotional and mental baggage that involved a divorce and losing the respect of his children, he said. He eventually found his peace, and forgiveness.
“You can seek peace. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to find it. I persevered to the point that the good Lord looked down on me and said you’re forgiven, you can be at peace,” he said recently during a break near the Maine-New Hampshire border.
“It’s a profound blessing. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
Mr Eberhart will return to his home at Flagg Mountain, the southernmost mountain topping 1,000ft in the Appalachians, where he serves as caretaker of a fire tower and cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.