Junior walks, writes about statewide trip

Many students go on remarkable journeys by car, plane or boat. Junior Anna Albright decided to tackle one on foot.

In 2014, Albright, then a sophomore in high school, trekked for 35 days with her father across the state of Tennessee. Last month, she published a book chronicling her adventure, titled “542 Miles: A Journey Across Tennessee.”

Albright originates from Bellevue, a neighborhood in Nashville. She said during spring 2014, she was thinking of something to do over the summer.

Albright said she got inspiration from “Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations,” a book that discusses what teenagers can accomplish by going beyond cultural limitations.

“After reading that, then it kind of challenged me as like, ‘I want to come up with something really hard and have this big role to do,’” she said.

Albright said her father immediately wanted to join her upon learning of her plans.

The two packed cooling towels, pepper spray, sunscreen, sunglasses, three days of clothes and toiletries before departing May 31, 2014, from Memphis.

After arriving in Nashville after walking 12 days, they took a break for around two weeks before finishing the rest of the trip to the border of North Carolina in July.

Albright said throughout the trip, they stayed at hotels and with friends.

“Sometimes, we called churches, and they would ask people that were members of the church if we could stay with them, so some we didn’t know at all,” she said.

Albright said one of her favorite memories of the trip was staying on a house boat in Sparta.

She said they walked around 16 to 18 miles a day, with 24 being their longest distance.

Some other major locations they passed through were Knoxville and Chickasaw State Park.

Albright said they ate at a lot of gas stations.

“Some days, you may think something’s only 10 minutes down the road, but, when you’re walking, it would take the whole day to get there,” she said.

Along the way, the two encountered police officers, dogs and concerned drivers. However, they never got into any trouble.

“My dad was really good about calling places ahead and really helping me plan it out,” Albright said.

She said during the trip, she kept up with her encounters in a journal, which would form the basis of her book.

“I hope that people read (the book) and decide that they can get out and do stuff and that, just because something’s hard, doesn’t mean they can’t do it,” Albright said.

Sophomore Savannah Moses said hearing about her friend’s adventure did not surprise her because of Albright’s adventurous spirit.

“Anna is a unique college student,” she said. “She doesn’t like to go do the normal party scene most college students do. She likes to go on spontaneous road trips to new places, try new foods and experience new cultures.”

James Green, interim chair for the department of health, physical education and recreation, said after finding out about Albright’s publication, he felt both surprised and proud.

“Anna is truly making the most of not only her education, but also life in general,” he said. “And, she’s doing so without the least hint of arrogance. Many would be very high strung about such an accomplishment, but Anna is not. She’s expressed that she’s extremely grateful to have had the chance.”

Albright said the journey not only allowed her to see more of her home state, but also made her realize the possibilities people can achieve if they work hard enough.

Green said he hopes Albright’s book will inspire people the same way “Do Hard Things” inspired her.

“I believe this book can encourage others to get out there and have some crazy awesome adventures,” Moses said. “We only live once, and we shouldn’t spend our time in just one area.”

Albright said people have sent her emails about children wanting to follow her example and plan a similar activity.

Her book is available for purchase on amazon.com.