Asheville native 'The Blackalachian' encourages diversity in the great outdoors

Daniel White -- also known by his trail name, The Blackalachian -- traversed the Appalachian Trail with zero hiking experience. (Photo credit: Daniel White via YouTube)

In April 2017, Asheville native Daniel White embarked on a journey that would take him across 14 states in a 6-and-a-half-month period.

Daniel -- also known by his trail name "The Blackalachian" -- hiked the Appalachian Trail with zero hiking experience. He said he needed a change after working 60 plus hours a week and being surrounded by a cloud of electronics.

"I always loved those outdoor shows. So, I put a post on Facebook, "I want to see if I can survive in the woods," and my cousin said, "Go hike the AT," Daniel recalled.

Daniel looked into it and, three months later, took his first steps along the 2,100-mile hike.

"I took a frying pan and a fishing pole even though people told me not to. I'm glad I did because I caught a lot of fish," Daniel said.

Daniel documented is journey from start to finish in YouTube videos. In one of the videos, a fellow hiker named "Savage" killed a rattlesnake, skinned it and shared rattlesnake risotto with Daniel.

"It was good," Daniel recalled.

In the videos, his physical transformation was evident, but Daniel said he also underwent an emotional change. He said he felt more connected with nature.

The journey was not easy. Some days were hot and tiring, but Daniel continued to promote a positive message of peace and love.

"It's a breath of fresh air to get your thoughts together and a have a clear mind. It's priceless," Daniel said.

Now that his journey is complete, Daniel is now promoting racial diversity along the trails.

"I want to get more people of color out there. Out of all the hikers in the AT, there was only a few people of color on the trail," Daniel said.

He says there are many reasons why he feels people of color seldom hike.

"It costs a lot of money to get outdoors and buy the gear. There is also fear of wildlife ... and then you have to worry about racism and racists on the trail. It's a legitimate fear," Daniel said.

Next month Daniel is embarking on a new journey, one that has a deeper meaning to him. He will bike the Underground Railroad Trail, which is another first for him. His bike and gear are sponsored by REI.

"I plan to stop off and make side trips Selma to Montgomery, that way we can share this history because you've got to know where you come from to go where you're going," Daniel said.

Daniel hopes his journey will inspire others and will provide him with a deep connection to his roots.

"You have to pay homage and make sure these young kids don't forget. That seemed like a good way to do it," Daniel said.

Daniel has set up a GoFundMe account for his journey in September. You can also follow his journey on The Blackalachian Facebook page.

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