More than 12,000 hikers have completed the Appalachian Trail, which stretches across 2,189 miles from Georgia to Maine. Steve Claxton ’78 of Robbinsville is among 500 of them who accomplished the feat when they were over the age of 60. Claxton is an avid outdoorsman who had long been fascinated with the idea of an adventure on the “A.T.,” as the trail is known. Growing up in Swain County in a family of four boys, he spent his childhood exploring the mountains of Western North Carolina with his brothers. “I think all those years of experience gave me an advantage on the trail,” he said. “I’ve pretty much been in the woods all of my life.” A professional outfitter, Claxton often walks at least 10 miles a day, taking visitors to the mountains on fishing and hiking trips through his business, Smoky Mountain Adventures. He was fit and prepared when he started the hike in February 2016, but found it just as physically challenging as expected. “My endurance had dwindled a little as I’ve gotten older, but I was determined and persistent. I don’t like to give up. Age has helped instill that in me,” he said. Claxton’s hike served as a fundraiser for two youth charities and attracted many donors, which was a major motivation to finish. He had a nickname, “Mustard Seed,” a Biblical reference, while hiking on the trail. Except for being trapped in his tent during a terrible storm in the White Mountains, Claxton suffered no mishaps or injuries. He finished the hike in August 2016. The six-month effort has so far raised more than $80,000 for Big/Brothers Big Sisters of Graham County and the Friends of Barnabus Foundation, which aids children in Honduras who have medical needs.