During deaf-blind awareness week, we want to highlight the story of Roger Poulin, a deaf-blind hiker from Maine who hiked the Appalachian trail. What a tremendous accomplishment! 

Each year thousands of hikers attempt to hike the trail of 2,190 miles, but only 1 out of 4 finish it. The trail goes through the Appalachian Mountain Range that crosses 14 states between Georgia and Maine. It typically takes 5 to 7 months to hike the entire length of the trail. The most popular way to do it is going northbound since the weather conditions are more favorable. However, there is nothing easy about doing the trail, the weather and the terrain can be incredibly challenging.

Roger did the trail with his hiking partner and Support Service Person (SSP), Roni Lepore. Roni is deaf and is also a deaf interpreter. Roni explained to Roger the details of the terrain and, for example, gave him recommendations on when to use his cane. They started their adventure in April 2010, going northbound, and finished it in June 2014. They hiked different segments every year. One of the hardest moments of the journey was in September of 2013, when they were unable to finish the hike to Mt. Katahdin due to strong winds. Mt. Katahdin marks the end of the trail. They were very close to finishing their hike that day! Both returned in June 2014 and hiked 5.2 miles to the top of the mount to finish the  trail. During the time it took Roger and Roni to do the trail, Roger went through 22 pairs of boots, had several accidents and his toenails fell off 4 times! There were many situations that almost made him give up, but he persevered and conquered the trail!

In the following video, watch Roger describe his journey in his own words. 

Roger says that before beginning his hike, he doubted his own abilities. While he was growing up, he was told many times that he couldn't do many things. By walking the Appalachian Trail, he learned a lot about himself. Today there are no more doubts, he can do whatever he puts his mind into doing. Roger says: "I hope I will inspire other deaf-blind adults to achieve their goals and find success." He certainly is inspiring, not just to other people with deaf-blindness, but to everyone.  



- "About Us." AT DeafBlind Dream, https://atdeafblinddream.wordpress.com/about/

- "The Adventure of a Lifetime. Thru-Hiking." Appalachian Trail Conservancy, https://appalachiantrail.org/explore/hike-the-a-t/thru-hiking/

- "Deaf blind man climbs Katahdin finishes Appalachian Trail." Bangor Daily News, April 24, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeeK-11jsnA



back to index blog news