Who Is Fred Jolly?
Fred is a rather unlikely A.T. thru-hiker, endeavoring this challenge at the ripe old age of 62! And while he’s an avid outdoorsman at this point in his life, that hasn’t always been the case.
The oldest of four boys, Fred was raised on a farm in Central Illinois where time outside meant farm chores. Knowing farm life wasn’t in his future, Fred joined the U.S. Navy after high school and spent six years serving his country, the last of which was on a guided missile cruiser stationed in Gaeta, Italy, on the Mediterranean Sea. There his love of travel and adventure got stoked and he took every opportunity he could to explore Europe and experience the food and culture of the other countries there. After the Navy Fred went on to college and then enjoyed a 27-year career in Finance / Banking / Wealth Management with a couple of large financial institutions in Chicago, while helping to raise a wonderful daughter, Claire.
Fred’s real interest in the outdoors was sparked in 2009 when he and his soon-to-be-wife Laura watched Ken Burns’ documentary on the national parks. Then and there they hatched a plan to travel around the U.S. to see our country’s national parks — all 59 of them! — in a motor home where they could really explore the beauty and wonder of the outdoors. Fred and Laura both retired in 2012 and started planning in earnest the trip they referred to as going “Out There” — a trip that ultimately took them some 82,000 miles around all 50 states where they visited the 59 national parks plus 126 other park units — monuments, memorials, historic sites, battlefields, seashores and the like. They hiked and biked and paddled and camped their way through nature and documented their entire two-and-a-half year journey on their website: www.jollyoutthere.com.
Throughout his life, Fred has always enjoyed taking on challenges. In 2006 when he turned 50, Fred bicycled across the United States on what is referred to as the “fast ride” with a small group of cyclists who averaged 115 miles a day and rode Pacific Ocean to Atlantic Ocean in 27 days. When Claire went off to college and Fred desired something to keep him busy, he started a masters program at the University of Chicago, and in 2011 received his Masters Degree in Liberal Arts. In 2016, to mark his sixth decade, Fred successfully hiked through the Grand Canyon — 24 miles rim-to-rim — in a single day; very respectable for a sexagenarian! Not wanting to wait until his 70th year for obvious reasons, Fred has decided that now is the time for what may be his last big physical challenge — the A.T. thru-hike. He’s chosen March 25th, his 62nd birthday to commence his hike.