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AT Speed Record Attempt
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Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
To Each His Own on 08/07/2008 15:21:51 MDT Print View

I guess you could look at it another way. He'll see way more of the AT than anyone else in a shorter amount of time.

Richard Matthews
(food) - F

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: AT Speed Record Attempt on 08/07/2008 16:17:54 MDT Print View

When the record is publicized it invites comparison to other hike times. There are many ways to discourage the comparison. You can avoid the competive aspects by changing the subject. Instead of giving your time tell the truth "Speed was not a consideration". Or "I enjoyed blue blazing too much to worry about time".

When a record is established it involuntarily draws people into a competion. Good, Bad or Ugly - it is the way of the world.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
If YOU Have to Compare -- Then Don't Blame Others on 08/07/2008 19:03:09 MDT Print View

Brett wrote: "Again, it's mostly a subconscious thing, but it does come to bear upon aspiring thru-hikers, who may come to hold their aspirations in lower esteem than otherwise. Whereas a 5 month thru-hike was once a pinnacle of personal achievement.. increasingly it may feel like something to compare with something else - something farther, faster, higher - because those comparisons have now been actively drawn".

Unless I am missing something... If a person's sense of enjoyment or accomplishment or even self worth is going to be that dependent on others -- then all I can say is "grow up, boy -- see and experience the world for YOURSELF"!

If other people's speed is bothersome, then are we also going to complain about their size because by comparing, we feel that too is diminishing our own experience, enjoyment, and accomplishment? Makes no sense to me.

Edited by ben2world on 08/07/2008 19:17:37 MDT.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: If YOU Have to Compare -- Then Don't Blame Others on 08/07/2008 19:18:25 MDT Print View

Ain't the speed, Ben. It's the shameless, public self-advancement that leaves its lasting mark - not on the individual - but on the trail experience. I can't explain it better 'n that to those who haven't yet gone out and experienced thru-hiking for themselves.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: If YOU Have to Compare -- Then Don't Blame Others on 08/07/2008 19:24:45 MDT Print View


I think the perceived shamelessness, public self-advancement, etc. permeate through all aspects of our society. The trail is not going to be any different.

Be it cars, homes, incomes -- or speed -- comparisons diminish the self worth / sense of accomplishment of those who are competitive -- or insecure. Just saying in general -- definitely not meaning you or anyone else specifically.

Edited by ben2world on 08/07/2008 19:34:06 MDT.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: If YOU Have to Compare -- Then Don't Blame Others on 08/07/2008 19:36:41 MDT Print View

"The trail is not going to be any different..."

And that's the rub, ain't it? That's what the idealists among us might rail against. I've done my part for today. Onward.

Edited by blister-free on 08/07/2008 19:40:30 MDT.

Glenn Dixon
(dixonge) - F

Locale: North Texas
Re: AT Speed Record Attempt on 08/07/2008 19:38:06 MDT Print View

While I truly appreciate speed records in some areas (rock climbing, running, paddling across the ocean, etc.) somehow the trail record seems off. I guess if you've already done the trail before I have less of a problem with it. I just hate seeing anyone rush by nature, whether it is in a car or on a trail, and not be able to fully appreciate it.

To be consistent, I have a problem with those who schedule their hiking so tightly that they go ultralight simply to squeeze in more miles per day. Same lack of appreciation. But then, I enjoy stopping for photos and observing things more than some, and birding. Hard to shoot wildlife if you don't stop now and then.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: AT Speed Record Attempt/CT in 5 days myself... on 08/07/2008 19:52:03 MDT Print View

I just rode the Colorado Trail in 5 days and 6 hours (on a rigid singlespeed). It was an awesome experience to cover almost 550 miles that fast. Would I do it again on bike or foot more slowly? Sure. Did I miss some during the dark hours? Sure. Did I still end up with hundreds of pictures and see miles upon miles of beautiful sights? You bet.

There is room for everyone out on the trail. If you're not interested in this guy doing the AT at a record pace, just don't watch. That seems pretty simple to me.

BTW all the thru hikers I met and chatted with on the trail were really psyched by us "racers" doing it so fast and they liked getting to meet us all.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Re: If YOU Have to Compare -- Then Don't Blame Others on 08/07/2008 20:00:26 MDT Print View

Maybe you should first criticize the other 300 million Americans that aren't going to hike a single mile this year before heaping too much criticism on this guy. Besides, who is to say that he doesn't also do more "slow paced" miles than you do?

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Weirdly controversial on 08/07/2008 22:13:42 MDT Print View

If the various online hiking/backpacking forums are any indication, the subject of record attempts is a controversial subject for all the reasons already discussed.

I'd like to point out the Scott Williamson, the first person to yo-yo (Mexico-Canada-Mexico) the Pacific Crest Trail, is among the nicest, most humble human beings you ever will meet. He's deeply committed to the PCT and very respectful of the trail experience. He's hiked it more than a half-dozen times. And he's going for a record this year.

During his discussion of his yo-yo attempt, he had a PowerPoint presentation. Chalked full of amazing photos, maybe none made quite the impression as this rather pedestrian photograph of a car camp, replete with camp chairs, Coleman cooler, a roaring fire, and a small, compact television. Scott recounted how the trail had passed by an edge of a lake with a car campground, and how he struck up a conversation with a camping couple. They invited him to sit for a few minutes and Scott would up spending the entire afternoon with them, watching old episodes of "Sanford and Son" on the television. HYOH indeed.

Scott was a very nice guy and seemed genuinely interested in inspiring others to try long-distance hiking, whether it be 20 miles, 200, or 2600.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
AT Speed Record on 08/08/2008 03:19:01 MDT Print View

I can't understand why some folks are getting wound up about this. If the hype and publicity helps him to make enough money to hike/run full-time, then good for him i say.
Here in Scotland a popular trail called The West Highland Way, has a race over it's 95 mile length every June. The winner will finish in around 15 hours. Some hikers take 7 days. So what? As long as each individual is enjoying what they do, and causing no harm to others or the trail.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
AT Speed Record Attempt/CT in 5 days myself... on 08/08/2008 09:57:10 MDT Print View

Hi Christopher,

How did you ride your bike through the different Wilderness Areas on the CT?

Did you by-pass them?


Chad Miller

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Re: If YOU Have to Compare -- Then Don't Blame Others on 08/08/2008 10:00:03 MDT Print View

Brett wrote:

"Ain't the speed, Ben. It's the shameless, public self-advancement that leaves its lasting mark - not on the individual - but on the trail experience. I can't explain it better 'n that to those who haven't yet gone out and experienced thru-hiking for themselves."

orry Brett, I have done and still do through hikes and I completely disagree with your statement. Just because someone promotes their long distance hike dose not mean they have affected the trial experience.

In all your ‘long distance’ hikes how many people have you told about your experiences? Has your telling of your experiences affected your or anyone else’s hike in any way other than passing on the joy of hiking and possible tips to enhance that enjoyment? If you think that because people know how fast someone else has done a section of trial it will degrade their personal experience then you sir are a shallow, egotistical man.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: AT Speed Record Attempt/CT in 5 days myself... on 08/08/2008 10:26:54 MDT Print View

There are mandatory detours for the wilderness Bill. I'll probably make a separate post about the trip but I thought it was somewhat relevant experience to this. You learn just as much going fast as going slow, sometimes it's just different stuff.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
AT Speed Record vs Selflessness on 08/08/2008 11:17:51 MDT Print View

Chad -

1) The airy insinuations against my character is gittin old and ain't in the spirit (or user guidelines) of this forum.

2) If we all would spend more time in stewardship of the trail and the trail experience, in the care and protection of the resource, and in offering freely of ourselves the many lessons the trail can teach, we might find that we have little time left for idle promotion of self as the natural world comes to promote herself through us.

Edited by blister-free on 08/08/2008 11:19:01 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
An Altogether Different Mentality on 08/08/2008 12:04:21 MDT Print View


You seem drawn to a particular philosophy of where humans fit in the world. People venturing into the wilds should "drink in" the beauty and power of Nature -- and this requires slowing down and a certain "quieting" of the mind. In contrast, you seem dismayed by what you see as folks who are so into their own quest or self-challenge -- that they merely use Nature as a backdrop to attain their rush! Am I hitting it?

If you look at most all Chinese / Eastern nature or scenery paintings -- almost always, the mountains are extensive, and people and houses are drawn inconspicuously tiny -- a very definite and deliberate show of perspective and proportion between Nature and humans.

In contrast, looking at Western scenery paintings where humans are included -- they and their settlements are often drawn much larger -- sometimes so dominating that Nature forms a mere background. It is often the "human spirit" that is the main focus.

I think it's perfectly OK to prefer one philosphy over another. However, if I were ever to post that the Eastern philosophy of viewing nature is the correct one -- then I too will be inviting attacks for treating something that's inherently subjective as if it were the objective truth (which it isn't). And that's what I am seeing here. Not a single person is questioning your way of hiking -- but there is unanimous disagreement to the way you have put down other people's sensibilities.

It's a big world out there. Go and enjoy it in whatever way you prefer. Remember -- the instance you feel that your enjoyment or satisfaction is diminished by somebody else's experience -- that feeling of inadequacy is just your own ego being bruised. And as I touched on above, when that happens, the problem lies squarely with you -- with your ego -- and nobody else.

Edited by ben2world on 08/08/2008 12:16:17 MDT.

Blue _
(lrmblue) - MLife

Locale: Northeast (New England)
Re: Re: AT Speed Record Attempt/CT in 5 days myself... on 08/08/2008 12:54:00 MDT Print View

I look forward to reading the post on your trip, Christopher and I think your observation that one “learn[s] just as much going fast as going slow, sometimes it's just different stuff” is undoubtedly true. In my own case, after many years, sometimes a trick of the light or a scent (or some such thing) will recall sensations and thoughts that came to me when I once did a lot of cross-country running —when I remember those runs, I realize they inspired new insights into both myself and the landscape I was passing through, insights that now seem almost visionary—I would be much poorer without these memories. Likewise, someone who takes a marathon car trip across the continent experiences a very different version of the United States than someone on a leisurely road trip: the most fortunate, perhaps, are those who have seen both versions of the US. As I wrote in an earlier post, I think speed-hikers live in a “different dimension” than someone who loiters, as I do—and I respect the value and validity of their experience. However, I just can’t find much reason to value Karl’s AT attempt at the exaggerated level his promotional material proposes it should be. In the hospital where I work part-time (clerical, not medical) I see people who are probably enduring far greater physical pain, stress and suffering for longer periods than Karl will have to endure in his 47 day campaign to “rule the AT”. In fact, I believe that there are people all around us who deserve more attention and admiration than Karl--people who quietly carry on doing the difficult, performing the near impossible, enduring the barely endurable, because they have to, or because it’s the “right thing,” or maybe for personal reasons that must remain private. I sincerely hope that Karl finds something of significant personal value during his hike—but whatever it might be, well, that will be his private journey. I wish him the best of luck, even though I believe he may be carrying a broken compass.

Edited by lrmblue on 08/08/2008 13:02:00 MDT.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: An Altogether Different Mentality on 08/08/2008 13:31:54 MDT Print View

My point of view is absolutely subjective, duly acknowledged. Call me a critic and nothing more. But my criticism is based on close observation of the long distance hiking culture I've been deeply immersed in for over a decade - of the society, if you will. By providing and receiving criticism, we attempt to engage on matters of mutual importance to the society to which we belong, to apprise where we've been, where we now are, and where we desire to be. The speed hiking phenomenon is simply one of myriad issues, large and small, that affect the society; it's fundamentally the society's business to voice its opinions about them. Whether this should be ongoing in this particular forum, though, is a matter of some debate.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: AT Speed Record Attempt on 08/08/2008 13:54:27 MDT Print View

Randall posted, "... or stopping to camp 4 miles from the trailhead to play with all the latest gadgets you just bought at REI."

Hey! That guy sounds like me! What's wrong with taking my toys when I go out to play? :-) Come to think of it, my toys probably add up to some of you folk's base weight!

Anyway, this whole discussion brings to mind the Mt. Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire. I have both hiked and driven to the top of Mt. Washington. When you drive, they give you a CD or tape to play in your car that tells about the history of the autoroad. It was built in the 1800's long before cars came along, as a carriage trail. But, almost immediately, it drew people from all over the US attempting to break some kind of record on the road, including the fastest to walk backwards to the top!

This to me illustrates something in human nature that just has to create a challenge out of anything. In this fellow Karl's case, it happens to be hiking the AT. Now for me, I am tickled pink to be able to hike to the top of Mt. Washington and not have to go back down in an ambulance. But, if it weren't for those who see breaking records as a challenge that must be faced, we probably wouldn't be watching the Olympics on TV right now!

Even though I'm slow-poke, I enjoy meeting people of all types out on the trail. I recall a solo trail runner once who stopped to ask me directions. It was a cool, wet fall day in New England. I was wearing waterproof shoes, longjohns and a poncho, he was wearing sneakers, running shorts and a tee shirt, covered with mud from the trail. All the while he was talking to me, he was running-in-place. After he left, I had to sit down and rest because he made me tired. :-) But, I enjoyed our talk.

Another time, while I was huffing and puffing up a pile of boulders someone had labeled as a trail, a dozen college age "kids" came bounding down the trail like gazelles. A couple of minutes later, another group of a dozen gazelles came bounding by, asking if I had seen their mates. I answered, "You betcha, they went that-a-way. By the way, where are you from?" They answered that they were the Dartmouth College trail running team. I gotta admit, for a moment there, I was jealous. Could of had something to do with the fact that I had at least 35 years on them.

To tell the truth, I mentally remember my hikes as much by the people I meet on them as much as by the scenery that I encounter. That's true whether they go flying past with a wave and a shout or it's other slow-pokes that I sit down with and brew a cup of tea.

Blue _
(lrmblue) - MLife

Locale: Northeast (New England)
Re re: AT Speed Record Attempt--Olympics? on 08/08/2008 15:16:48 MDT Print View

Michael Wrote: “we probably wouldn't be watching the Olympics on TV right now!”

Ouch . . . I didn’t realize the Olympics had started already. But it gets even worse, a while back my wife and I donated our television to a local library. I feel like a cultural deadbeat sometimes.

Michael, is you avatar a photo from the White Mountains? It looks so much like some of the ledging on the side of Mt. Whiteface that it makes me sick with longing. Obligations have kept my wife and me close to home all summer—usually we are hiking up in the Passaconaway area for a week or so at this time of year. Sigh.

Edited by lrmblue on 08/08/2008 19:16:47 MDT.