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First Blind Hiker to Trek Entire Appalachian Trail Dies of Cancer

Sebec, Maine — Bill Irwin, the first blind hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail without assistance, has died in Maine at the age of 73.

A posting on Irwin’s website says he died of prostate cancer on March 1, the anniversary of the start of his historic 1990 journey.

In November 1990, Irwin arrived at a campground in Millinocket, Maine, with his sole companion, his guide dog Orient. After nine months and 2,167 miles, he became the first blind person to make the solo hike from Georgia to Maine. At the time, he said he felt “an indescribable feeling of gratitude” and credited his faith for carrying him along the trail.

A memorial service was held Saturday in Bangor. Irwin is survived by his wife, Debra, and four children.