The March issue of Backpacker Magazine arrived last week. Having scanned it from cover to cover, I carefully read and highlighted several great articles. I met several thru-hikers who shared some personal tips that could play an important role in my upcoming experience.
I met Cam “Swami” Honan, a 44 year-old Australian who has hiked over 50,000 miles in more than 50 countries. He has hiked the triple crown of long trails in the United States and holds the record of completing all three in a total of 236 days. What’s the Triple Crown of hiking? – the PCT, AT and CDT. To put some words with the letters (we humans love to abbreviate everything), let me quickly describe the three trails.
1) The PCT is the Pacific Crest Trail. It runs for 2,600+ miles from Mexico to Canada. The trail travels through the states of California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT passes through 7 national parks and some 25 national forests, and it ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon–Washington border to over 13,000 feet at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The halfway marker is in Chester, California (near Lassen Peak, the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Range) where the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges meet.
3) The CDT is the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail, the longest of the triple crowners. It is another trail that connects Mexico and Canada, but this one follows the Rocky Mountains. The thru-hiker would trek through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana on this challenging trail. Elevation varies from 3,900 feet in Columbus, New Mexico up to 14,270 feet in Grays Peak, Colorado!
Cam’s Top Tip: Keep your feet clean and choose the right socks.
Backpacker Magazine also introduced me to Heather “Anish” Anderson who holds the record for an unsupported (in other words she hiked the trail carrying everything she needed) thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 60 days, 17 hours and 12 minutes (over 40 miles per day). She provided practical insights into the mental challenges of endurance. I hope to blog about some of her tips soon.
Heather’s Top Tip: “Getting upset is a waste of energy, and energy is a commodity.”
A third hiker greeted in the magazine is a man that I had met before online: Matt Kirk. He holds the speed record for an unsupported hike of the AT (58 days, 9 hours, and 38 min). He shared some good tips on breaking camp and consistency on the trail.
Matt’s Top Tip: Leisurely mornings are nice but they take a huge amount of daylight – break camp early.
I am not planning on setting any kind a speed record or attempting to hike 40 mile days, but some of the advice makes sense to me – more tips from these experts in future blogs.
Info on the Triple Crown found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triple_Crown_of_Hiking