Book 2

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Dustin Waite is currently residing in Denver, Colorado. He earned his BA in Geology and Marine Sciences at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

He began his professional career as a geological consultant in southern California where he remediated contaminated sites and was part of the team to help open Vista Hermosa Park, the first public park in downtown Los Angeles in over one hundred years.

Waite then pursued a career in education while working with The Greenway Foundation in Denver, earning the title of Colorado Certified Environmental Educator. He relocated to Maui where he put his passion for teaching and natural history to good use while helping design The Lahaina Heritage Museum.

After hiking almost 1,600 miles on the Appalachian Trail, a rare heart condition arose and forced him to spend time back home in Iowa.

Upon returning to the trail and completing the final six hundred miles, Waite continued to travel. He spent extended time in Mongolia, Central America, and riding his motorcycle across the United States. He did so while writing the manuscript for External, and ultimately relocated back to Denver where he currently resides.

Story of External

External is a memoir about author Dustin Waite’s journey along one of the country's most beloved long-distance hiking trails, the Appalachian Trail (AT), a 2,189-mile trek from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The journey gets derailed when Dustin contracts a life-threatening heart condition from a rare form of Lyme disease in Massachusetts. He has to find his way off the trail and a way to move forward with his life. External takes you not only through the woods, but also through the thought process of why Dustin began his journey and his decision to return to the AT after his heart recovered. 

Though the foundation of External is a story of hiking through the woods, any hiker will tell you it’s not all about mountaintops and wildlife. Dustin augments his AT journey with a secondary timeline, stories of his life leading up to his decision to live in the woods for six months. This secondary timeline is complete with tales of relationships, bouts with depression, career decisions, alcoholism, and family struggles–essentially a cocktail of life events that affect most people, and how these events created a butterfly effect guiding Dustin to decide it was finally time to hike the AT. 

The Appalachian Trail

2,193 miles (~3,500 km) long - The Longest Hiking-Only Trail In The World. Thousands every year attempt it, less than 1/4th complete the trail.

View the official interactive Appalachian Trail Map here.

From celebrating lost loved ones, to fighting addictions, to supporting activist causes, the reasons why people hike the Appalachian Trail are seemingly endless. However, one of my favorite reasons I encountered was probably the most simplistic. An older hiker, when attempting his third thru-hike, simply said, "I figured why not?"