By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — It’s a mountainous task, but Tom Bever is up for the challenge.
The Londonderry man is planning the hike of a lifetime to raise awareness for those needing help with family issues, parenting skills, juvenile issues and mental health.
Bever takes to the Appalachian Trail next month to support The Upper Room family resource center in Derry.
The Appalachian Trail is approximately 2,168 miles long and runs from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Bever will begin his hike March 13 and hopes to complete his journey by Aug. 1.
He wants to raise upward of $10,000 for The Upper Room.
Bever, 24, began hiking with family members when he was 3 years old, heading up the 4,300-foot Mount Osceola in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He kept up pretty well, he said.
That early hike nurtured a love of the mountains. He said he couldn’t wait to do more as he got older, including someday tackling the Appalachian Trail.
“I continued to hike New Hampshire mountains and check them off my list,” he said. “One time, when I was little , we were were hiking on part of the Appalachian Trail in Vermont and I told (my aunt) I was going to hike the whole trail. I’ve stuck to my goal and finally have the chance to experience it.”
Bever forged many strong relationships with friends who loved the mountains as much as he did. He joined an outdoor club in high school. At Plymouth University, he had the opportunity to hike in the state’s North Country.
He has hiked extensively — glaciers in Alaska, the Grand Tetons, an active volcano in New Zealand.
“I plan on hiking 20 miles a day, some days more, some days less,” he said.
It’s a trip of a lifetime and Bever said he is excited.
“The reason I decided to do it now is because last summer, I thought to myself, I just want to hike every summit I can see to see what’s over it or what’s next,” he said. “Hiking the Appalachian Trail will give me the satisfaction of that goal.”
Bever said nothing compares.
“It’s absolutely awesome,” he said. “I have a lot of friends who are urbanized and never set foot in the woods. I love telling people what I’m planning on doing, and I even have friends who have bet on me backing out. To prove them wrong gives me that much more motivation. Any journey like this also shows people how much dedication and will I have as a person.”
Bever said his life course could change once this journey ends.
“I recently came to the realization that after the Appalachian Trail I’m going to need to find work in the mountains as it would be tough to go back to an 8 to 5 sales job in an office.”
People can donate to Bever’s hike through urteachers.org or by sending checks made out to “The Upper Room” directly to him at 17 Premier Drive, Londonderry, 03053.