Day 1 in Iceland was amazing! I’m backtracking my updates because I am finally spending the night in a hostel rather than car camping. Super nice to be clean for the first time in a week but hell, not my worst stretch without a shower. First day rolling into Keflavik, my buddy Scott and I bolted to the West Fjords of Iceland, a desolate remote area with gravel roads and few sparsely populated towns. I’ll spare you dragging this on and let our daily recap video do the talking for us.
With temperatures dropping I put together a list of my absolute favorite winter backpacking gear that I’ve found over the years. Snowfall, high winds, and cold temperatures means gear has to be durable, warm, versatile, and of course as light as possible. The harsh conditions put tremendous strain on gear and the varying conditions often require very specific tools. I attempted to address several pieces of the various winter backpacking gear in this post. I’ve divided the list into super cold and mild cold (Heavy and Light) alternatives. These are relative definitions, but for a guy who took a 50 degree quilt down to sub-freezing temperatures, super cold would start at sub-zero Fahrenheit. Continue reading Winter backpacking: best gear
The most common question since I came home from my Appalachian Trail unsupported record attempt with a torn calf is “what would you have done differently?” It’s a brilliant question and one I’ve thought exhaustively about, trying to pinpoint if it was my own error that resulted in me getting injured. So I want to answer that question of exactly what I would have changed here:
Carry a rain jacket
Resupply in Salisbury, Connecticut
Later in the evening I needed to resupply in the town of Salisbury, Connecticut. A super nice older lady, Maria McCabe, hosts hikers at her place. I decided to send her a mail drop with intentions of staying the night in Salisbury but was hitting it too early in the day to stop. I called her about an hour outside of town to check and make sure my package had arrived alright. She put me on the line with another hiker who was staying with her saying she had hearing difficulties. I told the man that I was going for the unsupported record and I unfortunately wouldn’t be able to stay the night but asked if it would be okay if I reimbursed Maria for holding my package. He said that’d probably be fine, clarified that my package was there and I expressed my gratitude and said I’d be there in an hour. Continue reading Part 2: Salisbury, Connecticut, 31.4 miles
Eating a small snack before getting to bed, I saw the brightness of a headlamp approaching. I got excited, thinking it might be my friend Bo, a NOBO thru-hiker whom I had known since elementary school. And sure enough he rolled in with a jump in his step like it was midday and not nearly 10pm. He said hello to the other hiker sitting at the picnic table outside of the shelter and I recognized his voice right away.
“Bo!” I shouted out to him. Continue reading Mt. Everett, Day 22, Part 1
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
Last year on a cross-country road trip I stopped at Glacier National Park. Not knowing anything about the place I asked one of the rangers what her favorite trail was. “Honestly, they’re all amazing, but I love the Gunsight Pass traverse. But it’s impassable right now,” she responded.
“How impassable?” I asked with a cheeky grin.
An hour later, just after noon, I was packing up a day pack and grabbing my crampons and ice axe with intentions of making it from Gunsight Pass Trailhead to Lake McDonald Lodge by nightfall and hitch-hiking back. It ended up being one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve been on with this gallery to show for it: Continue reading Gunsight Pass Traverse, Glacier National Park
I got a great night’s sleep and woke up after sunrise feeling rested and ready. By now I understood that the start of each day was always rough. So it didn’t surprise me when the first few miles were dragging. With the weather clearing and temperatures rising, thick humidity permeated the air. But I’d take anything other than rain and was extremely excited for better weather. I was getting demoralized with how slow the hiking was going on such easy terrain but just continually reminded myself that it always got better. Nearly every evening I felt on top of the world, like I could keep hiking for another 20 miles. But the mornings were dreadful and I would set myself back so tremendously from slow miles in the morning that by the time I felt good it was already afternoon and I was racing to cover the distances. Continue reading Tom Leonard Shelter, Day 21, 37.5 miles
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