WESTBROOK — Pacific Adame is hiking to the beat of his own drum.
The Westbrook High School senior has big plans following his graduation, none of which involve a typical post-grad path. Adame will be hiking the entire Appalachian Trail by himself.
“Whenever I ask people what they’re doing after high school everyone says the same thing,” he said. “I wanted to be the one to do something different. And after 12 years of school I wanted something different.”
Adame, 18, is one of 160 Westbrook High School seniors graduating this year. The ceremony will be held at Merrill Auditorium in Portland on Saturday, June 10, from 6-8 p.m.
Growing up in Westbrook, Adame, son of Penelope Simonds and Abel Adame, said he spent much of his time outdoors, and he has always enjoyed hiking and camping. His decision to hike the A.T. came about because he wanted “to do something new and exciting.” In general, that’s how he tries to live his life.
“Being different from what people normally do is what I like,” he said.
There is still quite a bit of time for Adame to prepare for his trip, as he won’t be starting until April 2018. He said he couldn’t start this year without missing the end of high school and if he started in June he’d be hiking into the winter, which he doesn’t want to do.
At 2,200 miles, the A.T. is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Hiking the entire trail takes five to seven months depending on where a person starts.
Adame will start the hike at its southernmost point of Springer Mountain in Georgia and will take the northbound trail to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Getting to Georgia will require Adame to have a different kind of adventure entirely – a three-day road trip with his mom.
His mother has always been his favorite hiking partner and she wanted to see him off, Adame said. Doing the actual hike alone is important, though.
“I think being alone for that long will help me learn about myself,” he said. “It brings out who you are and you learn how to handle certain situations.”
Adame said he’s always tried to “push myself a little further,” but he knows being an A.T. thru-hiker will come with many difficulties.
“The biggest challenge will be mentally,” he said. “Physically will be tough, too, but it will be manageable. Being alone in the woods for five months will be tough.”
Despite the grueling nature of hiking the A.T., Adame said he thinks it will be worth the struggle.
“It’s a lifetime story I’ll have, saying I hiked 2,000 miles,” he said, “and I like camping and being outdoors.”
Adame has already started researching tips and advice on how to make it successfully through the trail. Throughout the next year he’ll do more research on what to pack and how to plan the logistics of the trip. He’ll also study maps and hike consistently this summer to practice.
If there’s anything Adame will take away from his time in the Westbrook School District to use on the trail, it will be patience and perseverance.
“With 12 years of school you keep doing the same thing every day and with the trail you just have to go day by day,” he said.
Building physical endurance before he leaves is also a focus for Adame. He currently works for a moving company and will continue to do so until he leaves so he can build his strength.
Being strong, both physically and mentally, will also prepare Adame for his plans once he returns from his trip. He said he wants to enlist in the U.S. Navy.
For Adame, life isn’t about following the path laid out by society. He said he plans to have a life full of experiences that make him happy and that hiking the Appalachian Trail is just the start.
“I feel like it will help me when I look back on my life and think about what I’ve done,” he said. “I won’t be that person who wishes they did something. I’ll have done it.”
Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.
Westbrook High School senior Pacific Adame, who will be graduating June 10, will be hiking the Appalachian Trail after receiving his diploma.
Westbrook High School
Top 10 graduates
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Westbrook’s Top 10 graduates, page XX.