Tales from the Trail: The Sutton Family

Tales from the trail come from all kinds of unlikely sources. Friends, colleagues, folks met on the trail, and even social media are all teeming with opportunities to hear about adventures had, lessons learned, and more.

One of 2021’s favorite tales from the trail comes from the Sutton family. Josh and Cassie Sutton are parents to 5-year-old Little Man, also known as Harvey, and have set out on an 8-month journey. The Suttons seek to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. The Sutton family is documenting their adventure on their YouTube channel and Josh’s Instagram feed.

While hiking the entire A.T. is a serious feat, doing so with a 5-year-old comes with extra challenges. Completing the journey will make Little Man the youngest person to ever finish the 2,200-mile trail.

Setting Out with the Suttons

Josh and Cassie Sutton of Lynchburg, Virginia, decided to put their busy real estate careers on pause in 2021. The family is spending 8 months hiking the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail with their 5-year-old son Harvey, best known to followers as “Little Man.” They set out on the trail on January 12, 2021, from the starting point in Springer Mountain, Georgia, and plan to end their journey at Mount Katahdin in Maine in August 2021.

The family’s journey is drawing a lot of attention from outdoors people around the world. Josh’s Instagram account, @livesutton, has more than 2,400 followers, and the family’s YouTube channel has more than 6,000 subscribers. They have even spoken to the media about their adventure.

“We’re very privileged that we are able to do this,” Josh told WSET, an ABC affiliate station in Lynchburg. “I know we’ve been saving for years so that we could do this, and to be able to take time together as a family, we’re very blessed.”

The Suttons are traveling light. They started out with just 5 days worth of food in their packs. They are taking shuttles into town and staying at hostels when they need to replenish supplies. 

Challenges Along the Trail

The January weather in Georgia can be quite chilly, especially in the mountains. This means snow was on the ground when the Suttons embarked on their journey. However, cool conditions haven’t been the only challenges along the trail.

Little Man is only 5-years-old. Even though he’s on the adventure of a lifetime and checking off an adult bucket list accomplishment, he still comes with the trials and triumphs of a preschooler.  Josh shared a photo and story on his Instagram grid on Jan. 18, 2021, that documented just that.

“Little Man had little little meltdown,” Josh posted. “We quickly realized he was hangry and pulled out our umbrella to block the snow and wind. A few crackers later and he was happily dancing down to Neel’s Gap for a well deserved pizza.”

As you can see, the family is enjoying both adventure and a few creature comforts as they traverse the trail.

Documenting it All 

Following the Suttons on their adventure is a true treat. The videos Josh and Cassie share on their YouTube channel are heartwarming; photos posted on Instagram are breathtaking. The family is taking great strides to document their journey. Comments left by viewers and fans are kind and encouraging, and showcase the benefits of belonging to the outdoors community.

You can follow the Sutton family’s progress as they travel. According to Josh’s Feb. 12, 2021 post, the family was taking in summit views at Max Patch in North Carolina. By April 2021, the family had made it to Virginia. They were halfway to Maine by May 1. A post from the last week of May celebrated hiking 1,000 miles. And by June 4, 2021, the family was conquering Connecticut. 

The family’s strong social media presence makes it easy to follow along and enjoy the adventure practically in real-time.

Breaking Records One Mile at a Time

Little Man isn’t the only kiddo to triumph over the A.T. Then 15-year-old Neva “Chipmunk” Warren, of Florida, became the youngest Appalachian Trail thru-hiker on October 22, 2013. It took Neva 6 months and 22 days to complete the 2,200-mile challenge.

And believe it or not, the teen had no prior hiking experience before she set out on the trail. She got the idea to try the A.T. when on a simple, 3-mile hike in Georgia. 

The journey from Georgia to Maine wasn’t easy for Neva. She dealt with blisters, rolled ankles, and even the common Virginia Blues.

Little Man will beat Neva’s record when he completes the A.T. with his parents in August. He will likely end his trek on the trail right before the school year starts and he becomes a kindergartner. 

Overall, the Sutton family is doing more than breaking records. They are making memories to last a lifetime and instilling a powerful love of the outdoors in Little Man.

Get the Gear for Your Own Tales from the Trail

Do you share a sense of adventure with the Sutton family? Get the gear you need to document your own tales from the trail with BivWack Outdoors. Check out our selection of rugged, trail-tested gear and start charting the course for your next hike.