At 82, Mary Davison has finished the Triple Crown and the American Discovery Trail!
Mary E. Davison, affectionately known on the trails as "Medicare Pastor" or the "Old Lady on the Trail," is a testament to the spirit of adventure and determination. A retired Lutheran pastor and proud grandmother of ten, Mary began her long-distance backpacking journey at the age of 60. By the time she was 76, she had achieved the remarkable feat of completing the Triple Crown, which includes the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.
On April 9, 2015, she embarked on a new journey, section hiking the American Discovery Trail. She started after spending her first night on the trail at a Riverside Campground in Milford, Ohio. Over the years, she dedicated a few weeks each spring and fall to this endeavor. Culminating on October 4, 2023, she marked the end of this incredible journey on the shores of California.
Mary's journey is a testament to her resilience, determination, and love for the outdoors. Her story serves as an inspiration to many, proving that age is just a number and passion knows no bounds. As she penned in her journal, "Life is all interesting...Life has its challenges." But for Mary, every challenge was an opportunity, and every step was a memory.
Last year, as she was approaching Palisades Tahoe, her plans were upended when the Mosquito Fire shut down the Western States Trail just as she was about to step foot on it.
Undeterred, she and her support companion, Karen "RockStar" Keller, headed east to knock out a few sections remaining of her Nevada and Utah crossing.
Last week, Mary took the final steps of her years-long journey, Hiking America on the American Discovery Trail, and penned her journal entry about the completion of her goal.
On October 4, her last day on the trail, as dawn broke, she began her day at Coast Camp (Waypoint CA1-5) at a picnic table, watching the world come alive. The silhouette of a buck against the yellowing sky, the chirping of waking birds, and the promise of a sunlit day set the tone for her final stretch. As she walked the last two miles of the beach, she was accompanied by the sounds of crashing waves and the calls of shorebirds.
"I reached the end of my walk having seen only half a dozen early beach walkers," Mary wrote. "I was happy with how the walk ended."
Throughout her hiking adventures, Mary has authored two books, "Old Lady on the Trail: Triple Crown at 76" and "Aren’t You Afraid? American Discovery Trail from Atlantic Ocean to Nebraska", with a third one in the works. Her writings are a testament to her experiences, challenges, and the joys of hiking, always ending with her signature tagline, "Life is good."
Congratulations, Medicare Pastor, on your Grand Slam completion of the American Discovery Trail. Your journey will forever be etched in the annals of hiking and American Discovery Trail history.