Hike to Heal: An Outdoor Challenge to Support Compass

Andy Miller

Andy Miller

If you ever met Ryan Ginther -- even briefly -- you’d remember it. Ryan had a personality that was larger-than-life, a knack for telling stories, and a hearty belly laugh that made you think you're funnier than you really are. 

On December 5, 2015, Ryan's life came to a tragic end. He was killed in a car accident at just 35 years of age.

I lost my best friend of 25 years that day. I also lost a great hiking partner. Since moving to the South, Ryan and I developed a mutual affinity for hiking. We've hiked many of the popular spots together and frequently talked about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Sadly, Ryan died before we made it out on the AT.

To honor Ryan's memory, I've committed to hike all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail -- at a pace of one week per year -- through the year 2040. Ryan's with me every step of the way, as I carry a small urn of his ashes in my pack.

We've hiked 300 miles of the trail so far. In 2017, we covered 116 miles of the AT from Amicalola Falls to Winding Stair Gap. In 2018, we covered 89 more
miles, ending at Clingmans Dome on April 21. And last year we added more miles to the trek, making it north of Hot Springs, NC. This October, I'm planning to add 105 miles in the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains.

I'm proud to partner with the Four Seasons Foundation to raise funds for Camp Heart Songs, an overnight camp designed to help bereaved children connect with one another through outdoor activities and programs. It's the same camp Ryan's son, Noah, attends each year. Camp Heart Songs relies entirely on charitable contributions and I'm happy to report that the Ryan P. Ginther Memorial Hike has raised over $17,500 for the camp since 2017!

Thank you for your continued support!
Andy Miller
Andy Miller