After decades of dreaming, an Eau Claire man turned ambition into a reality.
It's a feat almost 2,200 miles long. Thousands of people venture, but few finish. For eight months Ron Buckley's daylight was defined by his feet hitting the trail, and by night his back on the path.
"There's areas that are just beyond belief as far as the beauty, and the vistas, you get up to the top of some of these mountains and you can see for miles and miles and miles," Buckley said. "You just sleep on the ground, there is shelters. It's like a lean-to and the front of it is usually open. There's also camping spots around the shelter that you could camp at."
March through November, Buckley devoted day and night to a journey first dreamed up 50 years ago.
"I talked to my girlfriend and she said that would be a good idea to do that someday, to hike the Appalachian Trail, and that was in 1968. Since then I married my girlfriend, she's my wife, and now I've hiked the Appalachian trail," Buckley said.
He became 1 of only 28 people to ever complete the Appalachian Trail Thru-hike over the age of 70. A Thru-hike is when one completes the entire 2,189.1 miles at once.
The moment of reaching the summit, Buckley said is one he will never forget.
"You work so hard for eight months to get here, and there it is, the sign in front of you, and it's 2,189.1 miles, and you finally made it," he said. "When I started my hike on March 4 I didn't know if I'd be able to walk 2,189 miles, but when you get there all of a sudden you begin to realize, I did this, there are not a lot of people that do that."
His adventure proved no matter how many days are behind you, the ones ahead still have a trail worth trekking.
"It was a dream started in 1968 and now it's come full circle," Buckley said. "It's been a wonderful, wonderful ride."
Buckley said he could not have done it without the support of his family. His 12-year-old grandson has type 1 diabetes, Buckley said he will donate a quarter to help end juvenile diabetes for every mile he hiked.