By Tyler Davis
Jacob “Yonder” Myers will be living up to his nickname when he hikes the Appalachian Trail in America – and Ireland – starting in February.
To raise money for Thorn, a nonprofit dedicated to ridding the internet of child sexual abuse, Myers is hiking the entirety of America’s Appalachian Trail before ending in Ireland.
Continuations of the Appalachian Trail exist in many countries as the International Appalachian Trail, formed in 1994. Countries with IAT walking trails include Greenland, Morocco, Portugal, France and Ireland.
Myers said he’ll be writing content for The Trek, a blog by and for outdoor enthusiasts, to document his journey and raise awareness for Thorn.
Thorn is a nonprofit founded in 2012 by actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore to stop child sexual abuse on the internet.
“When I heard Thorn was a thing and what they were doing, I knew I wanted to get onboard,” said Myers, who works at Mica’s Restaurant and Pub in Sapphire Valley. “Now that I’m doing the hike, I think I have a platform to give to them. I can’t think of a more noble cause than saving children.”
Though his hike is for a good cause, Myers has personal reasons for taking on the journey.
He said his cousin tried to hike the Appalachian Trail but had to stop in the last 50 miles after becoming hypothermic.
“I want to finish what he started, but it’s also a coming of age thing, personally,” Myers said. “For me, it’s a transitional period in my life. I’m looking forward to the challenges that come with tackling something like that.”
Myers said his current record is an 80-mile hike over four days. He predicts the nearly 2,500-mile journey will take around six and a half months.
“Adventure and thrill-seeking have always been a thing in the family,” Myers said. “I chose Ireland because of a long-time obsession with the country. I’m fond of the sound of Gaelic, and the Appalachians were settled by the Scots-Irish. The Irish section has sort of an ancestral appeal to me.”
It’s a common practice for hiking enthusiasts to choose a nickname, generally one that references a personality trait or life event.
Myers’ nickname “Yonder” comes from a conversation with his rock-climbing mentor, Mark Lassiter, a co-worker at Mica’s.
“I was closing up the bar and he was enjoying a drink after playing his set, and I said I was going to bring ‘yonder’ back,” Myers said. “For some reason, that brought him the most excitement in the world. I took on the name after I did the Foothills trail with my dad. We passed this hiker and asked her ‘How far to the campsite?’ She said, ‘Just over there.’ Three and half miles later, we finally made it. Now, for any vague amount of distance we say ‘Just over yonder.’”
No one has linked the entire International Appalachian Trail yet. Doing so would take the hiker across three continents.
Myers was excited about the prospect of such a hike.
“Oh my God, it’s a dream,” Myers said.
If you would like to contribute to Myers’ campaign, visit www.gofundme.com/f/htvqtg-a-walk-for-freedom.