Leonard M. Adkins is about to begin his fifth thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. The Charleston, W.Va., Daily Mail has a nice profile. It’s his wife’s fourth time, and his dog’s second. He made it 900 miles on the first try before packing it in.

“I was in for a real shock,” he recalled of his first days in Georgia. The beginning and end of the trail are the most difficult to traverse, with rough trails and huge altitude changes.

“I intended on doing the whole thing. But I only did 900 miles.”

“Because I didn’t know what to expect, in lots of ways I sort of fought the trail,” he said. “It defeated me.”

The story could have ended there, but that trail stayed in Adkins’ head. He returned to Charleston and his job at the electronics store.

“March rolled around and I started to get the urge to finish what I started,” he said. He asked his boss for time off — and got five months. He began where he’d left off the year before, and this time he succeeded.

“It was like something had really changed in me and I’m not sure how to describe it,” he said. “Something had happened to me over the winter. I started thinking every day is a day hike. And I’m having fun. And the next day is another day hike.

“The next thing I knew, the trail was over with.

“It was a total difference. And from then on, I was hooked.”

Leonard’s Web site is here: He plans to hike 10 miles a day this time and spend most of 2007 taking his time along the trail.