A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Jeff Alt to share stories about Appalachian Trail journey, sign book ‘A Walk for Sunshine’ Dec. 6

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By Don Owen
NKyTribune reporter

As snow and ice covered the ground, with sub-zero temperatures approaching quickly, Jeff Alt encountered nature’s chilling wrath as he continued a 2,160-mile walk on the Appalachian Trail.

Winter had arrived, and the elements don’t hold back — not even for a gentleman who was conducting a walk from Georgia to Maine for charity. But the Cincinnati native never had second thoughts on whether to continue the harrowing hike.

“I walked and lived in the woods in sub-zero temperatures,” said Alt, who was constantly buoyed by the knowledge that his walk was dedicated to his brother who has cerebral palsy and lives at Sunshine Communities. “I faced sleet, snow, and frigid weather for nearly a month. It’s easy to walk in the woods on a sunny day with views in every direction.”

Jeff Alt hiked from Georgia to Maine.

Local book enthusiasts can now join Alt as he takes them along every step of his 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail adventure that is filled with humorous, frightening, and inspirational stories that include bears, bugs, blisters, captivating characters, skunk bed mates, and hilarious food cravings. It is chronicled in a new 20th anniversary edition of his award-winning book, A Walk for Sunshine: A 2,160-mile expedition for charity on the Appalachian Trail. (9/9/17; $15.95; ISBN: 9780825308499, Beaufort Books, N.Y.).

Alt will be at Joseph Beth Book Sellers, 2692 Madison Road in Cincinnati, on Dec. 6 beginning at 7 p.m. He will share stories and slides about his Appalachian Trail journey and also sign the anniversary edition of A Walk for Sunshine.

Alt’s adventure inspired the Sunshine 5k, Walk, Run and Roll, which just celebrated its 20th annual event and has raised over $500,000 for people with developmental disabilities.

Rain, snow, and freezing temperatures did not halt his journey, which began in Georgia and ended in Maine. The trek covered 14 states and estimated five million steps.

Alt says he discovered optimistic thinking helps an individual overcome adversity in terrible weather conditions. And he isn’t talking about shoveling snow to clear a driveway, or scraping ice off a car windshield.

Jeff Alt

Alt encountered ice on the path he walked, and troublesome snow drifts as well. But he never gave in. He instead began focusing on the positives each day provided, even though many people might tend to overlook such moments.

“Going inside when it rains isn’t an option for someone who’s walking from Georgia to Maine,” Alt said. “I found that by celebrating something each day, I was able to move beyond the horrible weather. On the trail, I would celebrate a hot cup of coffee, or a meal that I’d anticipated as I walked all day in the rain.

“I fell down a lot, and I would lay there and eat a Snickers bar and celebrate before getting back up. I learned to appreciate the simple fact that I was able to take time out of my life to go after a goal. By celebrating, I’m still able to navigate difficult situations.”

The adversity he faced during the hike taught Alt several lessons about appreciating the positives in life in a world consumed by negative thinkers.

“Back in the real world, I find something to celebrate each day, and often it’s the simplest of things,” he said. “They’re easy to spot when I’m in the right mindset. I celebrate my great wife. I celebrate my daughter’s beautiful smile. I still celebrate a hot cup of coffee in the morning. I celebrate at least one accomplishment before leaving work each day.

“If nothing else, I celebrate the fact that I’m alive and healthy. Life is much more enjoyable when you’re celebrating, instead of worrying and stressing.”

Alt, who lost 30 pounds while hiking the Appalachian Trail for 147 days, lives in Cincinnati with his wife and two children. He is a speaker, award-winning author, outdoor recreation expert, and accomplished adventurer. Alt’s books and keynotes inspire staffs and individuals to increase productivity, enhance creativity, achieve life balance, and go distances beyond what they ever thought possible.

A Walk For Sunshine cover

As you walk along with Alt for 147 days, you experience the success of turning dreams into goals and achieving them. Alt shares powerful life lessons from his journey that can benefit you.

Some of Alt’s Life Lessons from the Trail touch on:

• The powerful aspect of humor.
• How celebrating the simple things helps you overcome tough situations.
• A renewed belief in human kindness.
• The positive mental & physical effects a walk in nature can have on you.
• The importance of getting your children outdoors.

Alt’s ‘Life Lessons from the Trail’ also includes the powerful impact nature can have on problem solving/creativity skills. This lesson from Alt’s journey is now backed up by new research that shows exposure to nature can increase creativity and problem-solving ability by 50 percent.

The 20th anniversary edition of A Walk for Sunshine: a 2,160-mile Expedition for Charity on the Appalachian Trail ($15.95; ISBN: 978-0825308499; 285 pages; paperback; 15 photos; Maps; Published Sept. 9, 2017 by Beaufort Books, New York, N.Y) includes a foreword by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, practical advice to plan your own hiking adventure, and an afterword by Sunshine Communities. The book includes Alt’s Life Lessons from the trail epilogue. A percentage of book sales will be donated to Sunshine Communities. Available wherever books are sold. For more information visit www.jeffalt.com.

Contact Don Owen at don@nkytrib.com

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One Comment

  1. Betty says:

    Read the book many years ago and some of Jeff Alt’s life lessons remain with me. Should be required reading for everyone! Survival skills have never been more important. Loved the book and I may have to revisit!

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