75-year-old North Myrtle Beach man hikes entire Appalachian Trail

Updated: Sep. 4, 2017 at 10:20 PM EDT
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A North Myrtle Beach man returned home from a 2,100 mile hike Monday afternoon.

75-year-old Tom Young says he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. His trip started March 22.

Family and friends greeted him at the airport.

A natural question a lot of people might have is "Why?" Young says he wanted to see if he could do it because he loves a good challenge.

"The moniker that I've always used in my career – I was 31 years in the military. Retired as a full Colonel – is 'Be all you can be,' and I thought going out on the trail was a way to demonstrate at the age of 75, you can be all you can be still," Young said.

He says the trip was full of ups and downs.

"I had a lot of injuries," Young said. "I was struck with lightning. I had shin splints. I fell and broke open my eye. I probably fell 50 times on the trail. Very difficult trail of rocks, roots and rain."

Young says he trained for about a year for the hike because he's not a hiker.

He also admits he kept the trip a secret from his wife Jane at first.

"I was in the military intelligence business in the Army," Young said. "We used to plan a lot of covert operations. And actually the planning of this was a little covert. I didn't tell her right off the bat I was going to do this."

Jane says she's excited to have her husband back after five months.

"I'm elated, relieved and extremely happy it's over," she said.

She says she didn't want him to go on the trip at first.

"The moment I found out about it what was going through my head? To be honest, I wanted to choke him," she joked. "I thought, 'You are crazy. I've had enough of this. You're 74, you're going to be 75. You don't need to be doing this. And I don't want to be alone again.'"

But after the long hike, she says she's glad he was able to achieve his goal.

"I'm proud of him," she said. "I'm very excited that he was able to start at one point and go all the way through. My hat goes off to him."

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