Matthew Lukens

Occupation: Episcopal priest

Home: Birmingham, Ala.

Age: 30

“I grew up doing Scouts and so hiking’s been in my life for a while. A friend and I were supposed to do the trail—we went to college in Virginia and the trail comes pretty close to where we went to college. We were gonna go the day after graduation. But then a job fell into my lap. And everything in my career for the last eight years I can trace to that job, so I don’t regret it, but I spent that whole summer at a desk thinking, ‘In another life I was outdoors right now.’ Last February, I looked around at my life and thought, ‘I have the time and the money to do the trail. Not many opportunities like this are gonna come up again.’ I’d already done the planning. It was amazing just the first five days how happy being out in the woods with a pack makes me. I just love it out here. I’m probably taking a little bit of time to kind of evaluate what my next steps might be professionally, but that’s kind of ancillary to just being here.”