About 80% of the 4,000 or so who start an Appalachian Trail thru-hike each year don’t finish. Brian Davidson of Orlean was one of the determined 20% who accomplished the 2,194.3-mile journey, overcoming a broken foot and bonding with an inspiring group of comrades along the way.
The 2010 Fauquier High grad took an uncommon route before finishing on Nov. 27. His meandering seven-month “flip-flop” hike saw him head both north and south and finish in the middle in Hartford, Tenn.
Davidson, 30, started out the conventional way on April 15 in Springer Mountain, Ga., walking north through early May before a stress fracture on the third metatarsal of his left foot stopped him in Tennessee. He came home to Fauquier County to get his injury diagnosed.
After a few weeks home resting and babying his foot in a protective boot, he returned, skipping ahead some 740 miles north to eventually reunite with his “trail family,” an international cast of 12 similar-minded 20- and 30-somethings he’d connected with in the early days. The pack regrouped near the New York border.
“I think I’m an introvert, I did not expect to be part of a family,” said Davidson. “That was my favorite part of the trail. It made me realize how much I can…