May 11, 2016

Dave Roberts Blazes His Own Trail

It started with a dream.

Dave Roberts ’68 is standing at the gates of Heaven. St. Peter demands, “Why didn’t you take advantage of what they had to offer down there?”

When he woke up, Dave decided the question was a good one.

He quit his job in 2002, at the age of 58, to join the Peace Corps. He followed that up with three years of sailing. Then he started zigzagging across America.

Eschewing all forms of motorized transportation, he hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT for short) from Georgia to Maine, biked from Maine to Florida, hiked the Florida Trail, biked from Florida to Minnesota and paddled down the Mississippi River.

Now he’s rambling across Texas.

As a practicing Quaker and Guilford alumnus, Dave is no stranger to silence, which serves him well on the road. He credits Guilford for the way he approaches challenges, thinks outside the box and takes a broad perspective over a long time frame.

“I’m always looking for newness,” he says. “Things I’ve never seen, places I’ve never been, people I’ve never met. Don’t find that so much at home. I’m still not ready to go home yet. The AT was such an awesome experience I just wanted it to continue forever.”

It’s a common practice among AT hikers to adopt a trail name for the journey. Dave originally intended to name a sailboat Elusive because he liked the idea of slipping into an anchorage on a whim and leaving without notice.

After making up his mind that his sailing days are behind him, Dave settled on Elusive as his trail name. It fits.

Before starting his 3,000-mile trek across Texas, he had already hiked 3,794 miles, biked 5,303 miles and paddled 2,082 miles on his grand adventure.

Dave aims to be the first person older than 70 to complete the Triple Crown of hiking — the Appalachian, the Continental Divide and the Pacific Crest trails.

Alumni Features