While Heather Bolint was making her way from Maine to Georgia on the Appalachian Trail she came across an unusual fellow hiker—a rooster.
Not too long ago Bolint left her job at The Humane League where she worked on farm animal protection measures to embark on a trip of a lifetime, according to TODAY. She made plans to hike the more than 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia all while raising money for The Humane League.
Bolint began her hike at Mount Katahdin in Maine.
After hiking through seven states and enduring bad weather on Mount Washington—a sign posted on the mountain warned of the “worst weather in America”—her trip was mostly uneventful. In each state she encountered breathtaking sights and marked her accomplishments, like reaching the state line that divides New York and New Jersey with a post on Instagram.
But there was one sight she didn’t anticipate.
“I was completely incredulous when I found him,” the 31-year-old hiker told TODAY.
About a half mile from the Mason Dixon Line, Bolint came across an unusual sight.
Bolint discovered a Polish crested rooster sitting in the middle of the trail. There were no houses nearby and no people. The only thing was a rural road about 30 feet away, but there weren’t any cars.
The animal advocate was stunned. She waited awhile to see if the rooster would run off on its own or if someone would come by for it, but no one ever did and the rooster stayed put. So, the self-proclaimed “chicken whisperer” scooped him up.
She was afraid for his safety, so she took the rooster and hiked to a campsite.
Bolint then carried the rooster, who she named Eddie, 15 miles in 80 degree weather to a campsite where a fellow hiker gave the rooster some dog kibble. Bolint also gave the rooster oatmeal, apple cores, and nuts. Since it was getting late, the two took a nap in her tent.
“He settled right down when it got dark and I set up my sleeping bag next to him sleeping peacefully,” she told TODAY. “It was really funny to think that I would be waking up my rooster, instead of the other way around.”
In total Bolint hiked 42 miles to the Appalachian Trail Conservatory with the rooster.
SO THIS HAPPENED….. Yesterday I found a "Polish crested" rooster in the middle of the trail near a road with no houses. Being a chicken whisperer, I was able to scoop him up and decided the only thing to do was to start hiking with him. We were about .5mi north of the Mason Dixon line in PA. I held him in my arms and continued 15 more miles in 80 degree, humid weather until the sun began to set. A nice guy at the campsite (and fellow chicken lover) gave him some of his dog's kibble to eat. I also fed him oatmeal, nuts, and apple cores. He peacefully slept in my tent with me for two hours, then we got up at midnight to continue hiking to Harper's Ferry in the coolness of the night (and to beat the rain). We hiked 27 more miles to reach the ATC headquarters in West Virginia by noon today. The ATC staff told me "now we've seen everything", and commented that he must be the first rooster to have ever hiked the AT (42 miles and three states!). @jonathanrosenberry and I then drove him to @poplarspringsanctuary (who thankfully were able to add him to their flock), where he now has a comfortable #foreverhome. This little guy was the sweetest rooster, and totally stole my heart. He hardly ever made a peep and was quite content with just sitting in my arms or in my raincoat while we hiked. He also seemed to rather enjoy the car ride, bathroom selfies, being held by random strangers, and trail life in general. When people saw him they instantly smiled, and sparked up friendly conversation. It would have been the experience of a lifetime to hike the entire #Appalachiantrail with him, and to let him serve as an ambassador to all the chickens and roosters that most people never get to meet. But I also wanted to make sure he was happy and healthy, and living a life he wanted. I'm so grateful that I got to experience life on the trail with a rooster, and to witness the joy he brought to others. Now he will be able to live peacefully and with other chickens, surrounded by beautiful farmland, and dream of that time he once hiked the Appalachian Trail.
Around midnight, Bolint and Eddie got up to continue the 27-mile hike to the Appalachian Trail Conservatory in Harper’s Ferry,West Virginia. Officials at the conservatory were shocked and commented that Eddie must be the first rooster to ever hike 42 miles on the Appalachian Trail.
It was at the conservatory where the duo met up with Bolint’s boyfriend, who brought his car. Her boyfriend, who also works for an animal advocacy group suggested reaching out to a farm animal sanctuary.
“We rescue farm animals from many bizarre situations, but this one was definitely unique,” Terry Cummings, Poplar Spring co-founder, told TODAY.
Eddie was taken to a farm animal sanctuary where he was appropriately renamed Mason.
In a post she shared on Instagram, Bolint wrote how she enjoyed her time hiking with Eddie, and although she wished she could have continued hiking with the rooster, she knew it was in everyone’s best interest if the rooster was given to a sanctuary.
“I’m so grateful that I got to experience life on the trail with a rooster, and to witness the joy he brought to others,” she wrote. “Now he will be able to live peacefully and with other chickens, surrounded by beautiful farmland, and dream of that time he once hiked the Appalachian Trail.”