He's back at it!

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. My next big adventure will be the Israel National Trail starting in February 2017.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in this endeavor.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Speed on the AT

If you call the Appalachian Trail Conservacy and ask them what the northbound speed record is for the trail, they will tell you that they do not keep such records. That 'racing' from one end of the nearly 2,200 mile to the other isn't in the 'spirit of the trail'. Indeed, when Benton MacKaye designed the trail in 1921, he never intended it to be hiked all at once (thru-hiked). But ever since Earl Shaffer became the first to do so in 1948, people have compared how long it took them to hike it. Naturally competitive Americans started doing it faster and faster and now use websites like Fastest Known Time to keep those records. 

I was thrilled to meet Scott Jurek near the Maine/New Hampshire border as he set the record for the fastest supported northbound thru-hike at 46 days.  Currently, the woman I consider to be the greatest long distance hiker in the world, Heather 'Anish' Anderson is out here trying to set the southbound unsupported speed record. 

Even I might attempt the Four State Challenge. This is an informal challenge  to hike across four states (44 trail miles) in 24 hours. While not nearly the feat that Jurek and Anderson are up to, it's still an example of a competition or a race on the trail. For me, a southbounder, I would start in Pennsylvania, just above the border with Maryland (which also happens to be the Mason-Dixon Line). I would hike across Maryland, through West Virginia and into Virginia within 24 hours. Why would I do this? I'm a competitive American, of course!

Is all this competition good for the trail? Not everyone thinks so. The management at Baxter State Park, home of Katahdin - the northern terminus of the trail, don't want to see their park commercialized or otherwise exploited. They made that clear when the issued three big fines to Scott Jurek for stretching the rules when he reached  the summit of Katahdin. There's talk that they don't even want the AT running through Baxter State Park at all. Someday, the trail may have to be rerouted. 

I'm curious what people think about speed records on the Appalachian Trail and about me taking a shot at the Four State Challenge. I'm hoping to attempt it at the end of September. If anyone wants to join me - to hike all or part of the 44 miles with me - or just to cheer me on and maybe slack pack me - just leave a comment below. 

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