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92-Year-Old Grandmother and Her Grandson Vow to Visit Every National Park

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The hiking community is its own subculture of determined, compassionate people who have a deep love for the beauty of the great outdoors. There is a knowing nod and a grin when one talks to another about the trails calling their name to a desired destination — like a mythical sea-siren calling to a sailor.

Many older hikers won’t hesitate to admit that being on the trails is something of a fountain of youth that keeps them spry and young at heart. And apparently, 92-year-old Joy Ryan has discovered that secret for herself because of her 41-year-old grandson, Brad Ryan.

The incredible twosome from Duncan Falls, Ohio have hiked 62 of the 63 United States national parks together. It might have been considered an overwhelming, crazy undertaking if that had actually been the original plan.


But what started out as just a fun, one-and-done long weekend back in 2015 when Brad happened to have a bit of time away from veterinary school turned into a long-term excursion.

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Brad was telling “Grandma Joy” the stories about his Appalachian Trail adventures when it occurred to him to see if she might like to join him on a hiking and camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. She was 85 at the time, so he figured it could be their last opportunity to make a precious memory together.

“You don’t assume going into that that your 85-year-old grandmother going with you on a camping trip is going to be anything less than challenging,” Brad told GMA. “That was my fault. That was my misperception of what age means and more importantly, what her spirit would allow her to do.”

“I’ve always tried to be positive in my life and it didn’t hurt to try something once,” Grandma Joy said. “I didn’t want to have to regret the next day that you didn’t do it.”

But the experience was so positive and went so well that they decided to continue exploring together. As a way to include the people back home in their national park journeys, Brad began to post their trips on Facebook and Instagram in 2019.

People on Instagram were so intrigued by the Ryan’s travels that they quickly gained 58k followers.

The final park the pair will visit is National Park of American Samoa. It’s more than 6,700 miles away from where they live in Duncan Falls.

“It’s been a grand adventure, it really has,” Grandma Joy said. “It’s really been a beautiful, beautiful time. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

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Elizabeth has been a freelance content writer for about 20 years and has enjoyed having her prose published in both the non-fiction and fiction markets. She has written a variety of different types of content, including Christian articles, healthy lifestyle, blog posts, business topics, news articles, product descriptions, and some fiction. She is also a singer-songwriter-musician. When she's not busy with writing or music, she enjoys spending time with friends or family and doing fun social activities such as hiking, swing dancing, attending concerts and other fun social activities.
Elizabeth has been a freelance content writer for about 20 years and has enjoyed having her prose published in both the non-fiction and fiction markets. She has written a variety of different types of content, including Christian articles, healthy lifestyle, blog posts, business topics, news articles, product descriptions, and some fiction. She is also a singer-songwriter-musician. When she's not busy with writing or music, she enjoys spending time with friends or family and doing fun social activities such as hiking, swing dancing, attending concerts and other fun social activities.




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