Derick Lugo had never hiked or camped a day in his life. This Brooklyn-born, New York City urbanite hopped a train to Georgia, grabbed a taxi at the station, and told the cab driver to drop him off at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Then he did as he has always done — put one foot in front of the other and never looked back.

After hiking for more than 2,000 miles, he now feels invincible and plans to cross the Sahara barefoot. (Not really, but when an ambitious spirit is successful, it will strive for even greater accomplishments.)

The Unlikely Thru-Hiker is his debut memoir.


  • Sandi Pierson

    I did not want your book to end.
    I am a trail book junkie, and it’s a joy coming across one that is a can’t-put-down.
    Good job, guy!

    • Keith Boyce

      I had the same feeling about your book as Sandi. The book arrived yesterday. I read about 40% of it last night and I finished it before noon today. Was a bit upset because the book was already over….that doesn’t take away from the book….just that I felt I was on the trail with you. I’ve done a couple of section hikes and will do another section this summer, but I long to do a thru-hike and live that life for 5-6 months!! Thanks for writing it.

      • Derick Lugo

        Hey Keith, The Unlikely Thru-Hiker was originally about 400 pages, but along with my publisher, I felt it would be too long. I do have a few of the cut chapters here on my website if you are interest. I hope you eventually get to thru-hike. Happy Trails!

  • Brian Frederick

    Derick, my daughters gave me your book “The Unlikely Thru-Hiker” as a Christmas gift knowing that I enjoy all things AT. I live in South Georgia and visit the North Georgia mountains often. No pun intended…..it (your book) is “fabulous”……sorry, couldn’t help myself. Of all the words I read in your book, the last paragraph on page 109 in chapter 17 has to be the most profound of them all. I too, will be looking for the answer to your question in hopes of finding the answer you are looking for……..”Why can’t the rest of the world follow suit” ? Great job with the book.

    • Derick Lugo

      Thank you Brian! I’m glad you found ‘The Unlikely Thru-Hiker’ “Fabulous”! ;-D I really meant every word in that last paragraph from that chapter. The AT is special and it can teach the world many valuable lessons. Peace & Love! Derick aka Mr. Fabulous

  • Randy Gates

    I just finished your book which I got for a Christmas gift. I completed a thru-hike in 1989 (Nortbound 27 March to 9 September) and have a sizable collection of AT books (ok, like 165 and counting). More than any of the the ones I have read, your ability to bring the reader into your sense of place was incredible. It felt like I was hiking behind you and carrying on a tramily conversation with you the whole time. Your descriptions of other hikers leaving the trail were poignant. On my hike I was Ranger Randy and at the Nantahala Outdoor Center I met the Mystic Mint and we hiked to Pennsylvania together before a knee injury ended her hike. I didn’t think I would ever see her again and you captured those kinds of despondent feelings pretty well. Luckily M2 and I were reunited in CT for a couple of days and this year will be our 30th anniversary. I plan to attempt a 2nd thru-hike in 2023 and maybe write a book as a comparison between the two hikes. So much has changed. 19AT9 was the last year before the crazy crowds. So, thank you for the wonderful read and bringing me back on the trail, however vicariously. I couldn’t put it down.
    Ranger Randy Gates
    North Ferrisburgh, VT

    • Derick Lugo

      Hello Ranger Randy! I’m so glad you enjoyed ‘The Unlikely Thru-Hiker’. Yeah, the trail has changed a lot since your first thru-hike. I would definitely read your book about the two extremely different thru-hikes. Keep me posted, I would love to follow your journey. Thank you, Derick aka Mr. Fabulous

  • Ann Torregrossa

    Asked for your book for Christmas and I am so glad that I did. I just finished it today and shed a tear with you when you finished the AT. I did more than half the Trail in 1993 and finishing it is on my unlikely Bucket List (going to be 75 in March), so thank you for letting me experience what I haven’t done and fondly remembering what I did. It is an amazing social experience and the threat to its beauty and majesty makes me nuts about Climate Change. Hiking as Spring came will be something I will never forget, seeing that transformation. Sorry you never saw a moose, I haven’t either and had the same fascination with moose scat. Pacific Crest Trail next and another book? Hope so. All the best, Ann

    • Derick Lugo

      Hey Ann, so glad you enjoyed the ‘Unlikely Thru-Hiker’… I’m also glad that you have experienced the magic of the AT. The main reason why I wrote the book was to bring awareness to this wondrous activity. I hope you can get more of the trail done. What sections have you hiked?

      I do plan on doing the PCT. I’m thinking for my 10 year anniversary of my AT thru-hike in 2022… and yes, there will be another Mr. Fabulous story to tell.

    • Derick Lugo

      Also, thank you for reading ‘The Unlikely Thru-Hiker’! Can you do me a huge favor? May you rate and review it on Amazon? 💜 That might inspire others to hike the AT or do something that they have always wanted to do. It will also be good for my future writing projects. Thank you 🙏🏽 💜👊🏽

      If you’re on Goodreads as well… that would be so dope! 💜💜💜

    • Ann Torrgrossa

      I have done from Richmond VA to the Maine border. I am a public interest lawyer who had litigation responsibilities then . We sued the State and had depositions in Harrisburg, I got a ride there, changed my clothes, but had my dog who was hiking with met. I put on sun glasses, took my hiking pole and hiked up the stairs early to the third floor like a visually impaired person, where the deposition was going to be. I encouraged Aber to get under the table and he was so happy to have a zero day that he zoned out. Did the deposition with no one knowing better.

  • Gaspar Epstein aka La Copa

    Querido Derick,

    Soy un pibe argentino que creció en NYC. I only just heard about your book and have read all of the wonderful reviews both here and on other websites. I did the A.T. recently and my two year anniversary of looking up at the daunting staircase of Amicalola Falls is right around the corner (Valentine’s Day). I cannot think of a better way to honor said date than by buying copies both for myself and for some of my loved ones who supported me while I was out on the trail. I very much look forward to reading and sharing your book. Perhaps maybe one day we may even cross paths! ¡Gracias por compartir tu historia, Derick!


    Gaspar aka La Copa, NoBo ’18
    Harlem, NY

    • Derick Lugo

      Hola La Copa! So glad to hear from you, fellow thru-hiker & New Yorker!

      I have a chapter in the book about my climb up the daunting staircase. I think you will relate.

      If you get copies of ‘The Unlikely Thru-Hiker’ here on my website, I will sign them for you.

      Thank you for reaching out and happy trails!

      Mr. Fabulous

      • Gaspar Epstein

        Done, Mr. Fabulous! I look forward to getting more at another date as I have a big family, haha! Maybe next time I can meet you in person to save on some shipping 🙂

        Excited to receive your books! Any chance I will be able to receive them before my anniversary date (2/14), porfa? I can’t wait to read the first pages then!


        La Copa

  • Todd Lucas

    Thanks for sharing, Mr. Fabulous. I loved your story. I enjoyed your words. I felt terrible reading the part about Magic and found myself hoping that there was going to be some miraculous reunion before it was all over, even though I knew how slim the chances were in such a piece of non-fiction. Just hope you’ve recovered from that. Regardless, Thru-hiker was a great read, mainly because of how bravely you told all the gruesome little details that “manly men” would never admit to.

    Thanks again.

    • Derick Lugo

      Haha yeah, “manly men”are funny like that. Glad you enjoyed the read. I also wish there was a reunion with Magic after my thru-hike, still I’ll always remember our short time together.

      Peace & Love

  • Gaspar Epstein

    Dear Mr. Fabulous,

    I finished your book and was blown away. Thank you for sharing your story with the world. You really bring your reader into both your personal world and that of the A.T. in such an appropriately intimate manner. You speak so many truths. You speak from the heart and with a solid sense of humor as well. As a fellow thru-hiker, I felt so incredibly appreciative and honored to be able to be brought into your amazing journey. Your 4 State Challenge was wild! More importantly, you write so well about your various hiking partners and other players in your tale. You really make the reader feel as if they are there with you. Wow. You weave a great tale, sir! I will be sure to share a positive review on Amazon and am looking forward to giving out those books that you signed for my loved ones. Thank you, Mr. Fabulous!


    La Copa

    P.S. A few things that we shared that I can’t resist telling you… I had the EXACT thing happen to me weather-wise upon leaving Overhead Mountain Shelter (snow storm whipped out of nowhere with winds that were later reported at 55 MPH, yikes)! I met the Honeymoon Hikers just before the Smokies. They were out on the trail section-hiking and doing their trail angel thang. They were so incredibly kind to me and insisted that I take more than one Clif Bar from them. I also related to many of the feelings you had (especially about leaving somebody behind/being separated from them).

    P.P.S. I hope to maybe one day have you be able to speak to the kids at the school where I work. That would be amazing for the kids (and adults)!

    • Derick Lugo

      La Copa,

      I’m glad you enjoyed The Unlikely Thru-Hiker. It’s always great to hear what fellow thru-hikers think of an adventure that they have experienced as well.

      Thank you for the Amazon review!

      Yes, I would love to speak to the kids at your school. Please let me know and I will clear my schedule for it.

      Thanks again… I really appreciate your kind words.

      Peace, Love & All That Good Stuff!

  • Misty

    Mr. Fabulous,
    Wow! What an amazing book! I ordered a few hiking books from Amazon (and I’m gonna leave you a review there) and read yours first because of the cover. Finished it in a few hours because it was such a delightful read. I felt like I was on the trail with you! Your honesty and humility were very touching. I loved that you touched the trail blazes with gratitude before your hikes. The journeys people take are my favorite subject matter, like Wild, A Walk in the Woods, Into the Wild, and your journey was no exception.
    Thank you for sharing your heart-warming story about the good that is in the world.

    • Derick Lugo

      Hey Misty,
      I’m so delighted that you enjoyed my book. Thank you for you Amazon review. I really appreciate the love and support.
      Peace, Love & All That Good Stuff!
      Derick aka Mr. Fabulous

  • Shirley

    Just finished reading your book and finished in a day and half. Very proud of your accomplishment. Loved your trail name.

  • Cindy LeJeune

    Gosh, I really enjoyed this book. I finished it in 1 day because it was so interesting, I just couldn’t stop reading. The honesty, the fear, the humor, the delightful way you perceive nature, your happiness and friendliness, all of this makes your book a great read. Now everybody wants to hike with Derick!

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