, Gloucester, MA

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November 4, 2013

Lack of sight can't stop this hiker

MANCHESTER — To say that hiker Trevor Thomas has conquered his fair share of trails would be an understatement.

He’s hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Outer Banks and the Mountain to Sea trail throughout North Carolina, and he’s traversed Grayson Highlands trails in Virginia, in addition to treks in Colorado and the Great Smoky Mountains, just to name a few.

But before he went blind in 2006, Thomas thought long-distance hiking was boring; he was used to racing cars and diving out of perfectly good airplanes.

But now, in a serendipitous turn of events, Thomas has teamed up with a Boy Scouts of America troop in Manchester and created the blind ambassador program.

The goal is to help blind hikers when they need it, not hold their hand through a trail or camping trip, Thomas said during a visit with members of Troop 3 Sunday.

When a rare condition deprived him of his sight, Thomas said, his adrenaline-fueled life halted, but not for long.

”I heard you can die (long distance hiking), so I said ‘sign me up,’” Thomas said. “It just blossomed from there.”

His guide dog, Tennille ,and his guide team, called team FarSight, accompany him on some treks, but he has also hiked the Appalachian Trail alone with Tennille.

”I hiked the AT so I can get my life back,” he said.

He has faced a number of challenges. While hiking through the Southern Nantahala Wilderness in Georgia, the team had nearly gotten lost — and it was a trail on which other hikers are few and cell service spotty at best, Thomas said.

”I chose it because I wanted a trail not a lot of people were traveling,” he said. Yet, if Thomas misses a checkpoint, he tells his team to contact the U.S. Forest Service immediately to figure out how far he can travel in a given day.

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