As told in his book, Keep Going, Don began a relationship with the Appalachian Trail over 40 years ago, when he and his friend, Erich Caron, who later hitchhiked with him as well, undertook a hike on the AT in 1970 that they hoped would take them from Maryland to Maine. Although their plans did not come to full fruition, they still hiked over 300 miles, from Maryland to New York, over the course of three weeks. After a 40-year-hiatus, Don began hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail in 2011 when his neighbor, Ted Gregory, invited him to take up backpacking again. They started a series of spring and fall weekend trips that have now taken them 607 miles together over 6 years. Don's has accumulated over 1,400 total miles toward his goal of section-hiking the entire AT.
In addition, Don undertook other sections of the AT with gusto in 2012 when three of his four children undertook AT thru-hikes. McCamie (trail name: Flash) and Alexandra (trail name: Scarlet) started north from Springer Mountain on April 5, 2011. Within a few days, Scarlet decided not to continue her thru-hike, but Flash hiked over 800 miles before having to leave the trail for podiatry school. In the same year, John (trail name: Silverback) and his girlfriend, Alexis, started south from Harper's Ferry and hiked the length of the AT in Virginia — over 500 miles — before college came calling.
Motivated by his children, Don began hiking the AT in Virginia through Shenandoah National Park and along Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, "staging" himself by parking his car, then thumbing a ride to a starting point, then hiking to his car. That day-hiking methodology, which permitted him to snag over 200 miles in 2011, (and also in homage to his teenage travels by thumb), earned him an apt trail name: Hitchhiker.
Don began writing a series of articles for the Frederick News-Post, which he dubbed "Middle-Age on the Appalachian Trail," and which detailed Don and Ted's annual adventures.
In 2015, Don and Ted's section-hiking took a big jump when they decided to head to Maine and take on the challenge of the 100-Mile Wilderness. Their planning proved impeccable, and they emerged some 10 days later having tackled the 100-Mile Wilderness successfully, then climbed Mt. Katahdin, the AT's northern terminus.