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The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it?
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Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: Re: No real chance on 01/14/2011 01:15:35 MST Print View

The mental piece is important, of course. But some individuals definitely have the mental capability to do it.

With Sam's trip, I think it's more of a physical barrier. During my Great Western Loop trip I averaged 33 miles per day for 208 days, including 8 days off (5 for a funeral). I don't think I could have gone much faster. Other hikers have found a similar upper limit. I have a hard time imagine how Sam can crank out the miles he needs to, given his lack of hiking experience and of hiking fitness. Right now he seems okay doing half-days and taking zero's, but I hope he realizes that the PCT, CDT, and AT all have black-out dates for when they can be safely hiked.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: No real chance on 01/14/2011 01:26:48 MST Print View

I worked for the boat shop that built the dory that Pat Quninnell rowed from San Francisco to Hawaii in the early 1970's. It took him three tries: the first two tries were due to rowing partners freaking out and turning around 500 miles out. He finally did it SOLO. He was tough as old boot leather :)

This kid might need a couple tries. The New England weather is NOT working for him this year.

Edited by dwambaugh on 01/14/2011 01:27:27 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
"The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it?" on 01/14/2011 02:09:28 MST Print View

This year has been good so far in New York. Not a lot of snow, no bad storms, and no cold weather. It is building, though. The next week, or two will really tell. He should be flying down if he can. He was hitch hiking into Rome to get his snow shoes. (I cannot believe he sent them down to Rome, what a mistake.)

There is NO official NCT through the ADK's. From Boonville to Rome, yes. But, he skipped that section. Rome has lots of motels, there used to be an old SAC base there. Now he is comming down rt46. Still only doing 10mi per day, though.

Anyway, that section, down to the Finger Lakes Trail should be fairly easy. It is well used by snowmobiles and X-country skiers. Supposed to finally start getting a bit cold, though. . .looking at single digits at night. Some snow in Rome, but they usually average ~70in. They have less than 24" so far.

Anyway, he made a lot of mistakes in gear and in trail selection. His route is not anything close to the NCT from what I have read. Now he is on it. He has gear and he simply has to go. I wish him well. If he gets down near Cortland, I can help if he needs it. He is learning...hiking in the ADK's in winter is NOT like living in a snow cave. Nor is road hiking, tough on your feet and legs. Can he do it?? Probably not without a lot of cheating (hitch hiking.) 'Corse, he never said that would NOT be allowed. Ha ha... The weather is working with him, that is for sure...

Misfit Mystic

Locale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
Re: No real chance on 01/14/2011 02:10:46 MST Print View

I have seen Sam make the point several times that his extensive outdoor experience is the basis for his ability to complete this hike. I've even seen him make the comment that "I know I can complete one thru-hike because I've lived six months out of a backpack in summer and winter" in response to his lack of long-distance hiking experience. I think he is discovering the difference between living outdoors and hiking fast everyday.

As has been stated, his plan requires him to cover ~34 miles per day for 365 consecutive days. This would exceed Andrew's pace on the Great Western Loop, as he himself staed. However, look at Andrew's prior experience; not just the extensive long-distance resume, but the ultras as well. Second at Leadville on your first 100 is not only amazing, but also indicative of an individual with a superior physiology in terms of long distance/long interval endurance. Planning to match this pace with no real prior experience is bold in the least.

I'm really pulling for the guy, but with such a tough start, and with his seeming lack of fitness and planning, I'm kinda worried about him. He has much more difficult conditions ahead. He has added a tent and another sleeping bag, so he won't freeze, but I wonder what his pack weight is now? This would seem to compound the fitness issues he's having, will slow him further, and will cause flotation issues when he runs into deeper snow.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: "You guys are a lot nicer than the folks over at WhiteBlaze" on 01/14/2011 03:22:32 MST Print View

We are also better looking, posses more charm and wit, and make lighter stoves.

Edited by dirk9827 on 01/14/2011 03:25:30 MST.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: No real chance on 01/14/2011 03:56:39 MST Print View

Ya gott'a give him his due...he IS learning... He can easily average 37mi per day, can't he?

Ryan Linn

Locale: Maine!
Re: Re: "You guys are a lot nicer than the folks over at WhiteBlaze" on 01/14/2011 04:40:34 MST Print View

I'm tempted to look at the thread over on whiteblaze, but it's not hard to resist. The general forums over there can be more hostile than any place I've seen on the internet, which is saying a lot, considering how insane those internets can be.

Hopefully whatever is going on at Whiteblaze and the current difficulties he's having don't dissuade him from trying this sort of thing in the future. With real training and preparation, I don't see why this trip wouldn't be more feasible. Although it's always a long shot, but that's why we enjoy hearing about it, right? :)

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
naysayers on 01/14/2011 05:24:57 MST Print View

there will always be people who say it cant be done ... too hard, too dangerous, impossible, etc ... until someone goes out and does it

will he do it? .. i have no idea ... but k2 has been climbed, weve landed on the moon, weve been to both poles, theres usain bolt, etc ...

history belong to those who dare ....

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: "You guys are a lot nicer than the folks over at WhiteBlaze" on 01/14/2011 05:38:30 MST Print View

Yes, without a longish period of training and more real experience he is doing great. As they say, "Learn by doing" ...not the easiest, but he is doing OK, so far.
As long as he keeps on hikin', he will get it done. Mentally, he just has to get into the zone and go. If he can maintain 20mi per day or more between now and the end of the NCT, he CAN do it. I am pulling for him. As long as he doesn't get sick or hurt himself. A "long shot"? Sure...

He can do it...Oooohhhmmmmm.....he can do it.....Oooohhhmmmmm....

Whiteblaze?? No, I don't bother....

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: naysayers on 01/14/2011 09:30:19 MST Print View

> there will always be people who say it cant be done ... too hard, too dangerous, impossible, etc ... until someone goes out and does it

You're absolutely right. But there's a huge difference between someone who has the "ingredients" to do it and someone who does not. Sir Edmond Hilary, Ursain Bolt, and Roald Amundsen all had the right stuff -- the skills, the physical ability, the mental capacity, and the resources. They were realistic in their goals -- they just had to put everything together, and have luck on their side.

Jury is still out whether Sam has the ingredients. Thus far, I'll give him the resources, maybe the mental capacity -- I think he's a pretty tough kid.

It must be considered that there are black-out dates on the PCT, CDT, and AT. The PCT is doable April-ish to mid-October. Ditto for the CDT. Both trails this year are going to be in tough shape early-season because of all the snowfall. On the AT, I would want to be south of NH's White Mountains by early-November at the latest. On that trail, you don't have issue of avalanches and unconsolidated early snow -- instead, it's just downright miserable conditions, cold and wet and windy and slushy snow.

patrick walsh
(apbt1976) - F
Gotta admit on 01/14/2011 10:12:17 MST Print View

So far it does not seem this guy is doing so good. For his sake i think maybe staying off-line would be the best thing he could do. People will always be critical as it is at the forefront of the humans nature to nit pick and just otherwise be jerks!!!

Although this guy set a lofty goal that would be hard for anyone even the most qualified athlete to achieve i gotta say it is the journey not the destination in life that brings the most joy in my experience. At least this guy got off his ass and tried while others watch speculate and are critical!!! It is the hardships and failures of the journey that we learn the most from thus being why we remember them the most. It is also these lessons learnt that help us to achieve and set obtainable goals in the future. I know i have forgot many of the good times but i always seem to remember the bad or tough times as this is where i have learnt the most valuable life lessons.

I was a Professional Cyclist for a few years, i was an amateur for many more years than i was a professional. It was the dream and goal of being "PRO" that drove me to train and sacrifice conventional life to obtain this goal. The funny thing was when i turned "Pro" it was nothing like i thought it would be and i did not enjoy much of anything about it. It was hard to accept and get my head around that i had enjoyed being an amateur much more than a "PRO". It was also the pursuit of being "Pro" that drove me to enjoy being an Amateur so much!! In the end although i didn't end up enjoying what i had worked so hard to obtain, i had enjoyed every minute of getting there and nothing was lost at all and a ton was gained!

Everyone has different reasons for what they do and why. Normally "life" and the process of our pursuits expose the true reasons we did something vrs. why we thought we where doing something. I wish people could learn to be more supportive and less critical of each other!!! My hats off to this guy, if he really wants to make this happen imop he will. Maybe not this time but next time?

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Re: The Initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it? on 01/14/2011 10:17:46 MST Print View

It seems that things may have just gotten better for Sam. I friend is joining him today and will be hiking with him.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Re: The Initiative on 01/14/2011 15:57:15 MST Print View

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

I guess the huge personal challenge is the biggest thing. When you genuinely aren't sure if you can complete something, it really becomes interesting. This huge undertaking will really reveal his personal limits to himself.

The only thing about this trip that is less appealing is that it's all on trail, so the route is less interesting. I love on trail trips, but off trail routes are the ultimate. Trips like Skurka's AYE route are really interesting because you don't really know what's coming and you have to be able to deal with anything. You're constantly needing to make good decisions.

On this note, I'm planning a solo 'Trip to the Ocean', hopefully for this spring. I'm working on coming up with a route from where I live (Whistler, BC) due west to the Pacific Ocean. The actual distance isn't that far (~90 miles), but it's entirely wild territory (no roads or trails, grizzlies, numerous mountains etc). If nothing else, this trip won't be boring.

Edited by dandydan on 01/14/2011 16:02:02 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Will he do it? on 01/14/2011 18:02:30 MST Print View

Original Goal of the "All-In Trek"
"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”. This involves solo hiking the four longest hiking trails in the United States, back-to-back continuously without any time off. It is my goal to complete this trek in one calendar year."

Will he do it? It depends on our definition of it. If you use his original goal then he has already "failed." Specifically:
1) He has already backed off his original goal of a year.
2) He is having someone join him which violates his solo.
3) It would appear from his journals that he skipped a section and hitched instead. No mention of going back to pick up the section. Could have misunderstood however.

I actually don't view this attempt as all that serious of an attempt given the mistakes that have been made to date such as not finding the starting point. An expedition of this magnitude should have a bit more planning and certainly more expedition specific training. The road walking shouldn't have been a struggle given the number of miles of the first "trail" that is road. And the cold weather should have been expected and handled easily.

BUT having said all that I will applaud him for attempting to push himself to the limits. And while he may have technically failed by his own overstated goals he may greatly succeed by establishing new physical, mental or emotional limits for himself. He may also learn what to do or not do for another attempt of fufilling his original goal. Good luck to him in his adventure and stay safe. If he continues on the PCT I should see him zooming by me!

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: No real chance on 01/14/2011 22:12:07 MST Print View

We need "Flyin" Brian Robinson to chime in on this as he has done the triple crown 7401 miles in 10 months and 26 days. Don't think he would have been able to do another 4400 miles in 65 days?

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Will he do it? on 01/15/2011 04:50:40 MST Print View

Yes, from his journal entries, he went down rt 8 through Forestport, into Rome. The NCT route firms up in Boonville, then down rt 46 through the Gorge Rd (Lansing Kill.)It follows an older X-country ski trail to the Mohawk River and Rome. There are several proposed routes through the ADK's. I lean to the Northern Routes myself, but nothing firm. He apparently did not do the Booneville-Rome section, though I posted on his site how to get to Boonville from about where he was at the time (Morehouse.)

Anyway, he has lost the so called records he was shooting for. On the scale of what he is doing, I can pretty much ignore that. Others will have problems with it, I guess. So there is really nothing he can really accomplish here except a super long distance hike. But, like I say, it will be worth it just as a training excersize if nothing else. Looks like he is having fun...that's great!

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: "The initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it?" on 01/15/2011 04:57:58 MST Print View

...I will applaud him for attempting to push himself to the limits. And while he may have technically failed by his own overstated goals he may greatly succeed by establishing new physical, mental or emotional limits for himself.

Greg, well stated...There is a lot to be learned from the experience, far more to be gained than lost. I appreciate the emphasis on the positive. The only way to escape failure in life is never to attempt much of anything. Perhaps he's overestimated his own physical abilities or underestimated the sheer scope of the adventure, in either case, I think in some respects it's one of those situations where Sam "didn't know that he didn't know."

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: "The initiative...12,500 miles, one year, will he do it?" on 01/15/2011 09:51:51 MST Print View

The journey is the reward.
--- Chinese proverb

Val C
(GooseBumps) - F
Mark Twight on Failure on 01/15/2011 11:16:30 MST Print View

Mark has posted other writings under the "knowledge" link at the top of the page. I re-read them frequently as I train for my first olympic-style weightlifting competition at 47 yrs of age. I've taken the positive comments posted in this thread to heart also, to remind myself it's about the journey, self-knowledge, dedication to training, having patience with my nervous system, and getting more familiar with "failure" and the unknown.

As other people have said before, I love this place. :o) Thanks.

Len B
(4eyedbuzzard) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: No real chance on 01/15/2011 16:17:09 MST Print View

The weather in the Daks and central NY has been MUCH better than normal for hiking. Temps and wind have been particularly forgiving for this time of year. Given the weather, he needed to be putting down 40+ mpd on the road to Pixley Falls, because he isn't going to make 34 mpd on snowshoes in the hills of western NY. He's developed acute tendinitis in either one or both Achilles tendons. That is most likely due to a lack of pre-hike training / conditioning. And that's going to be a difficult if not impossible injury to walk off now. A few days rest probably won't be enough, and the problem will likely reappear once he starts putting strain on the tendon(s) again.

As others also note, he's pretty arrogant about his ability to pull this off given that he obviously has no actual LD hiking experience. Kind of like somebody who has jogged a couple of times around the block in their neighborhood saying they're going to win the NY marathon this year.

This "trek" seems to be all about fancy websites, promotion, donations, and talk, with no more actual hiking than, as AS noted, an AT trail newbie would do. That, more than anything else, is why he's getting ripped by a lot of people, including me (I confess), at WB. It would be nice to see people display a bit of humility rather than being unabashed braggarts. People who go public with grandiose dreams should have the ability to deliver, or at minimum have the ability to POSSIBLY deliver, even though such an attempt would have the odds against it for the very best in the world. Sam doesn't have the ability. And yes, he is paying the price for his arrogance and total disregard for humility regarding his ability. The "naysayers" are the only people analyzing this trek from a factual basis. Many don't like that. Many feel nothing negative should ever be said. The problem with that is, as in this case, it ignores reality and silences the truth.