Peter J. Barr
Peter Barr was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. His family moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, when he was seven. His parents fostered his love of the mountains by taking the family on day trips all over western North Carolina, usually to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Barr learned about the Appalachian Trail after reading a sign in the parking lot at Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains and was intrigued by the 2,000-mile footpath leading from Georgia to Maine. After his return home, Barr went to the public library and checked out every book on hiking and camping he could find. Soon, he built a hiking trail in the backyard behind his home.
While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Barr began pursuing the Congressional Award Gold Medal, given to young Americans who complete extensive projects in four different fields of personal development. In addition to fitness and public service, the award required a four-day self-planned outdoor expedition. Barr planned to hike 70 miles in five days on the Appalachian Trail through Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a college friend. According to Barr, they did everything wrong, carrying 60-pound backpacks, tennis shoes, all-cotton clothes, and a cooking stove they didn’t know how to use and approaching the hike with a false sense of physical conditioning and chips on their shoulders. They thought of turning back several times but completed the trip as scheduled. Barr still aspires to hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety someday.
During his college years, Barr worked as an assistant leader for Carolina Adventures, the campus outdoor club. The club led WAFFYS (Wilderness Adventures for First Year Students), a week-long hiking and camping trip, for incoming freshmen as an optional addition to the college orientation program.
He later completed the “South Beyond 6000” program, climbing the 40 peaks in the Southeast over 6,000 feet. He joined the Carolina Mountain Club and presently sits on its Challenge Committee.
In addition to hiking, his hobbies include “peakbagging” and “county high pointing.” He is one of only three people to have completed the “Southeastern Highest 100” and “North Carolina Highest 100.” He has also summited every southeastern peak over 5,000 feet and reached the highest point of 80 North Carolina counties. His next goal, hiking all 900 miles of trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is nearly complete.
Barr has visited every fire tower in North Carolina and is the director of the NC chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association. He is working to initiate multiple restoration projects for lookout towers in the western part of the state and to maintain and improve their access for hikers.
Barr currently works as an organic extractions analyst at a laboratory in Charlotte. Hiking North Carolina’s Lookout Towers is his first book.