Freeman Dale Sanders, known to many by his trail name Greybeard, hasn’t let old age slow him down. At 83, Sanders has kept busy over the last few years, becoming the oldest person ever to paddle the Mississippi River at age 80 in 2016 and finishing a 2190-mile through-hike across the Appalachian Mountains last October at age 82.
“My thanks must go to family, friends and faith that God was with me every step, all 4,625,250 it took to walk the entire 2,190 mile long trail,” Sanders said.
Sanders will be passing through Crescent City in early August, returning again to the city that started his 50-year career in park and outdoor management. He started as the manager of the Endert Municipal Swimming Pool right after it was destroyed by the 1964 Tsunami and was later promoted to the City/County Parks and Recreation director in 1967.
After serving as director for two years, Sanders left to join U.S. Navy Personnel in Washington D.C. in 1969 where he continued on in the same field until retiring in 2002.
While passing through, Sanders hopes to give a motivational speech the first week of August and is still looking for interested parties to host his presentation. In recognition of how instrumental Crescent City was in kick starting his career, he hopes to only charge $1 to put on the presentation.
Though his travels have taken him far, Sanders is looking forward to returning to what he considers his hometown after retiring to a life of outdoor adventure in 2002.
During his time in Crescent City, Sanders routinely hosted spearfishing tournaments and taught skin and scuba diving courses at Endert Municipal Swimming Pool. He also cooperated the Coast Guard Water Safety & Rescue programs and as a member volunteered in the Kiwanis Club and Elks community activity programs. He looks forward to visiting familiar locations and reconnecting with old friends.
“This may be my last chance to visit the town that I still call home,” Sanders said.
Sanders has received recognition as a world class paddler and has also set several lifetime records in spearfishing, underwater breath holding, and hiking arenas. He was recipient Kayak Magazines Spirit of Adventure Award in 2016 after his exploits on the Mississippi River.
When not out and about hiking trails or rafting rivers, Sanders spends time as a motivational speaker.
He advocates for older people to stay active and pursue their dreams and aspirations, despite their age, offering his own experiences as an example.
“I feel euphoric when I’m out there on the trail or paddling,” Sanders said. “There’s just something about America, people love to see an old guy out there doing something difficult. Its so young people dominated that I get I get so much recognition and fanfare when I’m out there on the trail.”
Sanders has given many professional presentations around the country, but for his upcoming Crescent City performance, he is hoping to give back to the community for all support he received in the early years of his career.
The 30-minute talk involves a high-energy and emotional presentation showcasing the culture, gear, and living conditions experienced on the his journey across the Appalachian Trail, which spans through 14 states. A Q&A session will follow the main presentation.
“I was accepted into the subculture of the Appalachian Trail, which is dominated by people who are in their 20’s,” Sanders said. “I’m now the oldest one documented in the world and I love the fact that I now have a world record for hiking at my age.”
Sanders is now looking for his next big outdoor adventure and is considering different west coast trails like the Oregon Coast Trail from Portland down to Brookings.
To learn more about Sanders and his adventures go to greybeardadventurer.com or his personal Facebook page at www.facebook.com/fdalesanders?lst=100003233900825%3A100000597856000%3A1531771513.