First & Only Blind Person To Hike The Appalachian Trail Alone
Only Blind Hiker To Complete the A.T.
Bill Irwin continues to inspire, entertain and motivate thousands of persons today through his book Blind Courage, which was released nationally in 1992 and is now in its eleventh printing.
Bill Irwin, the first and only blind person to thru-hike in one hiking season, the entire 2100+ mile Appalachian Trail with his seeing eye dog Orient, wrote a wonderful book. He shares so much of himself that one not only gets to know Bill, but Orient as well; yet one easily senses their growth, all along the way.
To give you an idea of what he faced, here are his first few steps on the Appalachian Trail...
"He (Orient) seemed hesitant and uncertain about where we were going. Within ten yards, he had stopped at a large rock lying in the path. I kicked it with my boot to let him know I was aware of the obstacle and gave him the command "Hop-up," which means "keep going straight ahead." If he stopped for every rock on the A.T., they could expect us in Maine sometime around the turn of the century. Of course, Orient was doing exactly what he was trained to do in the city - stop whenever he encountered an obstacle more than two inches high."
Book Review from a reader:
I just finished reading "Blind Courage" for the second time. Bill Irwin's story offers a timeless story of courage, faith, and a triumphant spirit as he was the only blind" person to thru-hike the 2,000 miles Appalachian Trail from GA to ME. I write "blind" because Bill may not have the sense of eyesight, but throughout the book has great insight into persons he meets along his walk, and relates the greatest insight into his own self and his strengths and weaknesses, on a hike (he was not an experienced hiker) all possible by his perserverance and his confidence in his Seeing Eye dog, Orient. The book flows well, and reads quickly--almost too quickly as we want to hear more. This is a great story by a great man who spent his first almost 50 years in turmoil, broken relationships, and losing his eyesight, but he finds himself and encourages and uplifts others along his hike. By the way, if you have an opportunity to hear him speak, Bill Irwin is an outstanding public speaker with a great message and is a very friendly individual. In summary, read this book if you are looking for encouragement and motivation.