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The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it?
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will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it? on 01/06/2011 14:49:07 MST Print View

Found this link over on whiteblaze and thought I would share this:

I was a bit unsure of posting this in the 'general lightweight backpacking discussion' section...his base weight is over 30lbs! Winter, but still...

maybe someone should gift him a subscription =)

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it? on 01/06/2011 15:07:15 MST Print View

It'll be less than 12,500 miles. He's thinking that the CDT is 3100 miles, but it's more likely around 2,700...

He doesn't seem to be that knowledgeable or experienced. Day five was his first major breakdown... his blog

"On January 1st of 2011, I will set out on a 12,500+ mile “All-In Trek” to establish a new record of unassisted ultra-light long-distance backpacking. It will be the first ever, attempt of the “All-In Trek”. "

Is it really a "record" if you're doing something of your own invention?

Regardless, should be an interesting hike for him.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Re: The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it? on 01/06/2011 15:45:49 MST Print View

"He doesn't seem to be that knowledgeable or experienced. Day five was his first major breakdown..."

His plan does have a bright side. By the time he hits the PCT he will have accomplished a route equal in length to Skurka's latest adventure, he will be in shape and efficient..... Good thing, because he will then have to equal the feat of Brian Robinson and hike the triple crown. Pretty ambitious goal for someone who doesn't appear to have much long distance hiking experience.

Matt F
(matt_f) - MLife
Re: The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it? on 01/06/2011 16:32:53 MST Print View

For what its worth, the 30+ pound weight listed on his gear list (for winter) is actually the full skin-out weight including snowshoes, boots, trekkings poles, clothing worn etc. Not too bad for a non-BPL type in winter, particularly if it keeps him comfortable.

I wish him luck....


Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
tough pace on 01/06/2011 16:39:35 MST Print View

I ran his proposed numbers, and 12,500 / 365 = 35ish. that's a pretty steep pace considering he's on snowshoes (for now), and has to maintain it daily for a year through all weather conditions in some adverse terrains.

If he pulls it off though, he's got my admiration.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it? on 01/06/2011 18:00:12 MST Print View

>>maybe someone should gift him a subscription =)<<

At approximately 35 miles per day and 365 consecutive days, when would he have time to read or post on the BPL site?

Walking, eating, collecting water, sleeping and the occasional bushwacks to answer the call wouldn't leave much time or opportunity for anything else. ;-)

Life is too short to race through it!

Party On,


Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Re: The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it? on 01/06/2011 18:10:08 MST Print View


I did some research on this trail. If you look at the trail map (See link) the first part of this trail is still "proposed" and looks to be a lot of road walk. From the map it looks like the trail is more paper than trail in the Eastern part or the first part he is hiking.

North Country Trail Map

I read the first few days of his Journal and it reads like he is not having much fun. He also writes like the road walk was a bit of a surprise. It says he is cold and his water bottles are frozen or something like that. He also talks about Logging Trucks coming close to him as he is walking the road. That would rule out riding a bike for the road walk part.

His gear and clothing weight of 30 or so pounds, if it was all low temperature stuff and really light might be Ok but I don't think he has the really light gear one of us might be carrying.

It will be interesting reading his Journal as he progresses.

Edited by bfornshell on 01/06/2011 18:13:11 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: tough pace on 01/06/2011 18:29:21 MST Print View

Yeah, he probably won't make that pace, nor keep it. He has guts.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it? on 01/06/2011 18:34:39 MST Print View

His list shows some good stuff and he is really doing an expedition in North America in the dead of Winter, so the insulation he is carrying is well justified, IMHO. I know we could pick a couple pounds off him, but he's not loaded up with a lot of heavy junk.

He needs a different sleeping pad for the winter-- that Neo Air is getting him. Gotta peel those Nalgenes off him and get some plain water bottles... 6.9oz gaiters and a 2.5oz toothbrush....he should use his headlamp for a safety flasher....10oz on the journal...

He should start up a PayPal account. I'd kick in $20...
He does:

ULA Circuit 37.13
OMM chest pouch 3.64
Sea-to-Summit stuff sack 8 1.18
sea-to-Summit stuff sack 4 liter (2x) 1.81
sea-to-Summit stuff sack 2 liter (2x) 1.56
Garbage bag 0.353
Therm-o-rest Neo Air sleeping pad 12.61
Montbell Super Spiral Down 0 Deg sleeping bag 49.01
Fleece pillow case (homemade) w/2 liter Platypus 3.213
Black Diamond Spotlight bivy sack (4 Ti stakes) 21.40
Arc’teryx Alpha SL pullover rain jacket 11.63
Montbell down parka (800 fill) 8.48
Montbell down pants (800 fill) 6.42
Craft ski jacket 13.50
Swix ski pants 10.33
Wool knit hat (Mother made) 1.86
Pistil wool hat 2.74
Icebreaker t-shirt 150 wt merino wool 5.25
Smartwool long sleeve 150 wt 6.38
Patagonia long sleeve shirt 5.57
Smartwool long sleeve 1/4 zip merino wool 9.41
Icebreaker boxer briefs 150 wt merino wool 2.22
Icebreaker leggings 260 wt merino wool 9.99
Icebreaker Trekker socks merino wool (2x) 8.13
Smartwool liner socks merino wool (2x) 3.11
Vasque Breeze Low GTX shoes 37.63
Sierra Designs down booties 8.68
Outdoor Research Gators 6.94
Outdoor Research Latitudes mittens 8.54
Black Diamond fleece gloves 6.43
Pearl Izumi running gloves 0.91
Toothbrush 2.53
Floss, toothpaste, toothbrush 1.92
Nail clippers 0.44
Lip balm 0.37
Wet Wipes 2.53
Burt’s Bees hand salve 1.62
Toilet paper 0.71
Foot powder 1.80
Multi vitamin 2.28
Glucosamine 2.49
Wire 0.43
Zip ties (3) 0.36
Shock cord (1.5mm) 0.35
Snowshoe spare parts 0.21
Duck tape 0.98
First aide kit 0.69
Needle & thread kit 0.42
Iphone wall charger 2.29
Iphone 4 phone 4.94
Headphones 0.44
Mophie battery pack 2.98
Canon G11 13.73
Camera batteries, memory cards, charger 7.92
Compass 2.32
Garmin e-trex GPS 5.19
Maps 5.75
Space pen 0.67
Black Diamond Spot Headlamp 3.10
Smith sunglasses (Polarized) 1.17
Journal 10.16
LED safety flasher 2.96
Pot Cozy (homemade) 0.97
MSR Ti Titan Kettle 4.40
Snow Peak Ti 300 cup 1.95
Buck pocket knife 3.92
REI Ti spork 0.63
Potstand (homemade) 0.95
Evernew Ti alcohol stove 1.28
Windscreen 1.63
Aquamira water treatment 3.15
Wide mouth nalgene 1liter (2x) 12.71
M.S.R. Lightning Ascent Snowshoes 30” 71.11
Leki trekking poles w/ snow baskets 16.21
Total (oz)= 508.72
Total (lbs)= 31.80

Edited by dwambaugh on 01/06/2011 18:39:57 MST.

will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
Re: The Initiative on 01/06/2011 18:54:27 MST Print View

It seems he has some time off, for his online journal, stopping to eat at places, etc that he could do a bit of reading on bpl.

Dale, to continue your nit-picking...

Toothbrush 2.53
Floss, toothpaste, toothbrush 1.92

What? I am either missing something, or he is very concerned about dental health.

all aside, I am envious of him in many ways. the time and resources, the guts to start something like this, and the experience and stories he will have, the places he will see, regardless of his pace, finishing date, or if he finishes.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

All In Hike on 01/06/2011 19:41:00 MST Print View

Neat goal. This kind of goal calls to me. He does seem a little under-prepared (ie. you should know that the first 100 miles of trail doesn't exist before you arrive to hike it) but he seems to have resolve and ambition and those two things can go a really long way. If I he can make in through the first two months or so without falling way off the pace then he'll have a chance.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: The Initiative on 01/07/2011 00:26:23 MST Print View

Hey, my hat off to anyone with such an audacious plan. That is one heck of a pace, Dan is correct, he can't afford to have slow times early because he sure didn't leave too much room to "make up miles" at the end of the trip.

Dan, what appeals to you about this type of trip as opposed to other "more manageable" adventures?


Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: The Initiative on 01/07/2011 05:03:25 MST Print View

I can relate with Dan. This kind of trip appeals to me in that it's something completely insane. Four long distance trails back to back? That's just nuts. When I first heard of it my first reaction was "he's not going to make it." Then after a while my take on it changed to "even if he doesn't make it, it's a fun idea."

A friend showed me this blog post yesterday, in which Andrew Skurka comments on the trip (check the comments at the bottom). Interesting take there, too. Skurka has a point that it's not a completely revolutionary idea, but I still think it's an admirable goal.

On the other hand, I gave up the delusion of averaging 34-mile days long ago. I'll take one trail at a time, thank you very much. Good luck to Sam, and if the goal eludes him, hopefully he can at least find enjoyment in the parts he does complete.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
Thanks BPL on 01/07/2011 05:56:42 MST Print View

Poor guy's been subject to much "bashing" lately. My admiration to the BPL community for being the supportive group that you are. It's all about the effort.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
live on 01/07/2011 06:10:47 MST Print View

live your dream ... youll never know if you can or not until you try

6 months in a snow cave? ... not even polar bears spend that long in one go inside ...

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Ryan, I completely agree on 01/08/2011 00:49:48 MST Print View

I think it just goes to show you people often have very different reason to go hiking. My wife loves the lush forest, I prefer hiking the crestline. I spent a little time helping a rather inexperienced backpacker prepare for the PCT trip...he averaged about 30 miles per day on the trail, which blew me away. He wasn't super light, just one of those hikers with an amazing average pace...

So I guess therein lies the rub...but whatever this intrepid adventurer does, the guy thinks big, and there is nothing wrong with that. I do wonder if such a trip could be enjoyable? I felt the PCT was always about going miles when all I wanted to do was stop, sit atop some rock and admire the view for the remainder of the day. I can't imagine hiking without the promise of a few low mileage and zero mile days, and more importantly, finding a great lake by mid-afternoon and calling it a day.

I agree with Ike, people here are supportive of such feats. Like Ryan, however, "I'll take one trail at a time, thank you very much."


Edited by dirk9827 on 01/08/2011 05:05:10 MST.

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Ryan, I completely agree on 01/08/2011 08:47:12 MST Print View

Yeah, while I was on the PCT, as well as the AT, I realized that through-hikes are not the ideal situation if you're someone who really likes to slow down and see everything an area has to offer. Especially on the PCT, where there's a serious time crunch with the seasons. You always end up hurrying to some extent when you know you've got to get to Washington before heavy snowfall, or to Maine before Baxter Park closes, or so on. I figure the PCT and AT are good ways to get a big overview of a lot of areas. I'll be coming back to a bunch of places near the AT and PCT in the future for shorter trips and more scenery.

As for if that kind of trip could be enjoyable, that's another "different strokes for different folks" kind of thing. I'm sure Skurka enjoys his kinds of trips, but if I tried them I don't think I'd have a good time (30+ miles a day would break me). Then again, a lot of people probably wouldn't like my kind of trips, either because I hike too hard or not hard enough, depending on who you ask. The trick is to make sure you don't take someone else's itinerary and say "yeah, I can do that" when you really can't. Once you get into that trap, the trick is to know when to change your plan. I do that way too often, but eventually I've learned to change my plans and swallow my pride... at least a little bit :)

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
No real chance on 01/08/2011 16:09:45 MST Print View

It's mathematically possible for the handful of Skurka-type people to pull off a hike like this: 12,500 miles in one year. It can be popular to say anything is possible, but every single one of us has limitations. I know for a fact I couldn't complete this hike because I have enough experience to know I'm a good hiker and tough mentally but not fast enough physically to be a world class hiker. Not even close. Being a world class hiker is what something like this takes: rare athletic abilities suited to thru-hiking, and enough physical and mental toughness to capitalize on those natural abilities.

That guy has done some impressive things. But he had planned to do the hike with no time off and he's already taken two days off and now he's doing half days. You can't start out way behind the curve in physical fitness and experience when there's no built in margins to begin with. I think he's likely already given up the idea of a 1-year hike.

He might possibly finish all four trails in succession, but there is a vast gulf between the possibility and probability of that happening, too. If he can keep moving along without getting hurt it's possible to pull it off sometime in 2012, still a huge accomplishment if he did that.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: No real chance on 01/13/2011 23:03:03 MST Print View

I've been watching Sam's trek. I've been skeptical since the start and offered Sam my thoughts when he asked. But I'm sure many were skeptical of some of my trips so I thought it was good that he put himself out there anyway.

BTW, you guys are a lot nicer than the folks over at WhiteBlaze -- they've really ripped him apart.

Sam is off to a very slow start, which is partly expected and partly a surprise. Winter travel in upstate NY is not fast -- there's enough snow to warrant slowshoes, I mean snowshoes, and the days are short. But his days-off (4 already I think, after 12 days), his low-mileage days despite full days on roads, and his apparent lack of prep (Was surprised by the NCT's road miles, is improperly equippped for winter camping, etc.) are all worrisome signs.

To have a legitimate shot at pulling this trip off, he needed to hit the ground running, and instead he sounds only slightly better than the average AT thru-hiker newbie. It's really difficult to make up for lost time, when your average pace leaves is about the max that elite hikers have been able to maintain. I'd be interested in knowing how many miles Scott Williamson hiked in the first 12 days of his PCT speed record hike a few years ago -- I'm betting over 40 miles per day. On my Alaska-Yukon trip I skied 315 miles in the first 12 days, or 26 miles per day. Sure, on skis, but the weather there made upstate NY look like Palm Beach.

I've run some numbers and I don't see how Sam manages to finish 3 trails, never mind 4, unless things pick up substantially, which they very well might. The NCT is about 4400 miles, according to my figures from the Sea-to-Sea Route. When Matt Hazley ("Squeaky") did the Triple Crown in 2006, he started the PCT on May 3. To be in Campo on a comparable date, Sam needs to do about 35 miles per day. Yikes! Let's assume he can average 25 miles per day, which is more reasonable. That puts him in Campo in late-June. SoCal in late-June -- well, I guess it'll be a welcome break from upstate NY in January! Squeaky finished the PCT and the CDT by mid-October. If Sam continues to run a 1.5 months behind Squeaky (I can't imagine how he could make up time on Squeaky's blazing pace), that in theory would make for a late-November finish. He'll struggle to get through Colorado (and some of the NM's higher areas), especially if there are some early Pineapple Express storms. Assuming he finds a way through, then you're looking at starting the AT in late-November. By that time of year, most of the AT in NH, ME, VT, and western MA is pretty awful, if not impassable. If he can get into CT, the rest of the AT is hikeable year-round, but that's a big if.

Edited by askurka on 01/13/2011 23:05:50 MST.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: No real chance on 01/14/2011 00:58:35 MST Print View

I think his real problem is going to be mental. Most people cannot go for long periods by themselves. They need company.

Andy, your thoughts on this?