My Appalachian Trail unsupported record attempt this summer lasted little over three weeks, during which I covered over a third of the trail. But while the trip itself passed by in a flash (not to me-every step felt like an eternity), the planning beforehand took months. I plotted out dozens of spreadsheets of gear and Appalachian Trail resupply and depended heavily on the Thru-hiker’s Companion and the Data Book, trying to hone in on exactly what I needed to accomplish my goal. It was exhausting work that no one should ever attempt to manage on top of the curriculum of a first year med student. Continue reading Appalachian Trail resupply: unsupported record attempt
This summer I attempted to break Matt Kirk‘s Appalachian Trail unsupported thru-hike record. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the hike due to a torn calf in Connecticut but I am wiser because of the trip and better prepared to attempt it again in the next few years. Below is my gear list for the trip, which I don’t think is too absurd to say is the lightest and smallest pack anyone has ever attempted a thru-hike with. At only 3.5 pounds for the base weight, I used a 10 liter running vest pack instead of the traditional massive backpacks most hikers use. And if I were to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Of course I sacrificed some comfort in camp but it enabled me to hike faster and further than I ever could with a heavier pack. I hope you enjoy checking out my gear choices. If you have any questions about why I chose something or how I liked it, feel free to comment below. And if you like this post and want to keep updated on others like it, please consider subscribing! Continue reading Gear list: Appalachian Trail thru-hike record attempt
I woke up before it was light, a first for me on this trip with the super long days of Maine just before the solstice. The other guy who had been asleep in the shelter when I arrived didn’t even budge as I packed up. I imagine he was exhausted because he hadn’t risen to say hello last night when I showed up after dark. I envied his ability to sleep through the torrential rain and me unpacking and packing but imagined it may come back to haunt him with some late night wildlife encounters. Continue reading Little Bigelow Lean-to, Day 5, 36.4 miles
It took two trains, two buses, two cars, and one plane to get me to Millinocket but I had made it. By tomorrow morning I would be beginning my Appalachian Trail unsupported record attempt. I had a wonderful stay at the AT Lodge for the night and ate a big breakfast the next morning. We were in the van, on the way to Baxter State Park, in the pouring rain. It would hopefully be my last ride in a vehicle for nearly two months. The unsupported record requires no assistance from vehicles. I must walk to all my resupplies.
The muddy roads jostled us four as we talked about our upcoming trips. Two other hikers, a couple from Tennessee, intended on section hiking down through New Hampshire, certainly the hardest but also the most stunning section of trail. Ole Man, the owner of the Lodge and former thru-hiker, told stories of others who had attempted the record who had stayed with him. He told me about a young guy whose record was ended from being assaulted in his sleep and knocked unconscious and having his boots stolen. Fantastic. As the roads worsened, my anxiety rose. Not because of the fear of assault, but because of concern over my preparation. I knew I was ready, ready as I’d ever be, having meticulously planned out every detail. But the trail is a hairy place and will throw unexpected challenges at even the most experienced of adventurers. Nothing was certain.
I was heading deep into the heart of rugged Maine with only 3.5 pounds of gear, and the weather was going to test it all right out the gate. Continue reading Rainbow Stream Lean-to, Day 1, 30.1 miles
Scott Jurek just began his attempt on taking down the supported Appalachian Trail record and I’m excited of the possibility of seeing both records fall in one year. I’m fascinated by what he is doing and have infinite respect for the man. I want to clarify some of the questions I’ve been asked and exactly why I chose to go unsupported. The unsupported record is an entirely different game than supported. For me it is infinitely more appealing to go for the unsupported record but I can fully appreciate and admire the supported record. I’ve been in awe at what Jen Pharr Davis accomplished out there and would be thrilled to see Scott Jurek do it even faster. I think it takes two different types of people to break each record, which is why no single person holds both records for any of the long trails in the United States. Continue reading Unsupported versus supported thru-hike
Yesterday I had my first day of a two week stretch of training out in the western Virginia woods. On my drive to Blacksburg, Virginia, I stopped in Montebello to do The Priest hike, one of the longest climbs on the entire trail. It was a beautiful cooler day and it’s great to be back out in some shaded woods after training through the winter in the leafless forests of Shenandoah National Park. I met some awesome thru-hikers, Koz from South Carolina hiking for his second attempt, Patterns and her canine companion The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and her other hiking friend Scarecrow. I gladly let them help themselves to the snacks, drinks, and candy I housed in my car and it felt great to have the opportunity to do so. I told them I would be hiking south in a few weeks and may see them again. It certainly would be nice to see a familiar face out there.
Asics Top Impact Shorts
I’m super stoked about some new pieces of ultralight backpacking gear I got in the last few days. At 2.19 ounces, the Asics Top Impact shorts were the biggest drop from my gear weight in months. They’re incredibly comfortable but with their minimalist design, tend to be a little revealing. So far they’re the lightest shorts I could find and weigh in at little more than a Snickers bar. I guess I’ll just have to get used to all the ladies checking out my sexy white thighs. Continue reading Final ultralight backpacking gear modifications
I’ve begun the process of packaging up resupplies to for my Appalachian Trail mail drops. Made a mess of my apartment in the process and logistically kind of a nightmare but hopefully it pays off and saves time off the trail. Throwing in some Ensure shakes, pudding cups, and fruit cups for a little snack at the mail drop. If you can think of other happy food I should put in there, let me know!
Tomorrow I’m heading out to hike Old Rag and around the area for some training. I noticed on my spring break trip that my coordination and footwork was lacking, especially on the downhills. After growing up on trails, to hesitate on downhills and stumble on rocky terrain was pretty disappointing. No amount of running in Norfolk and treadmill hiking can prepare me for the variety of terrain that I will encounter on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve tried to make it out to the mountains often but school does a decent job keeping me close to my books. But after a biochemistry exam this morning, I’m taking the opportunity to hit some big miles out in Shenandoah National Park for the next couple days. Continue reading Old Rag reflections
What an epic trip. The goal was to hike the AT/BMT north loop in four days. Unfortunately I had one slow day and had to leave the trail early to get back to studying. But I managed 138 miles in 3 days, 6 hours and can’t be disappointed with what I learned and accomplished. 42 miles on the first day, 32, 44, then 20 out to the road on Wednesday. I wanted to travel further, faster, and more efficiently than I ever have and I think I accomplished that. Going into the woods with only 7.8 pounds (3.5lb base weight), I managed to sleep decently comfortably through the three nights I was out there despite low temps in the high twenties. I learned a lot about my gear and my body, notably that on the second day when I was moving slow, there was absolutely nothing I could do to press my stubborn legs to move faster. And then on Tuesday I learned about my body’s resilience and easily cruised to a 44 mile day. The next morning I woke up again feeling fresh but unfortunately, with a looming immunology exam this upcoming week, had to abandon my adventure and return to the stressed studying I so desperately had needed a break from. Continue reading Appalachian Trail self-supported thru-hike