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Podcast: Francis Tapon is Set to Complete a Backpacking First - a CDT Yo-Yo

Making a living doing what he loves; Francis finds comfort with just 5 pounds of gear.

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by Carol Crooker | 2007-09-12 02:00:00-06

Part 1

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Part 2

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Podcast: Francis Tapon is Set to Complete a Backpacking First - a CDT Yo-Yo

Francis Tapon is an interesting guy. He has a degree in Religion and an MBA. As he puts it, "...I am well prepared to start a church and make lots of money off of it." Instead, he co-founded a successful Silicon Valley business and did technical work until 2006. Tired of being a techie, he turned his passions for writing and adventure travel into an avocation. After completing the Appalachian Trail (AT), he wrote a book, Hike Your Own Hike, 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America. He used the proceeds to finance his thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2006. He plans more books and will continue to donate nearly half the profits to the Triple Crown of US long distance trails - the PCT, AT and CDT. This year Francis is attempting to be the first person to yo-yo (hike south to north, then turn around and hike north to south) the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).

Part 1 - Five Pounds of Gear: When I talked with Francis in August, he had completed his northbound CDT journey and was heading back south from Canada. We talk about his 5-pound gear list. (A preliminary version is listed here; he has since reduced the weight of his journalism gear significantly.) His list is unusual in its sparseness. Andrew Skurka is carrying a base weight of about 8 pounds on his Great Western Loop hike and Justin Lichter carried about 10 pounds during his 10,000 miles of thru-hiking last year. Francis explains how he sleeps comfortably on a quarter-inch pad (or half-inch in cold weather) and how spinnaker and cuben fiber gear hold up over a thru-hike.

Part 2 - Working for a Living: Francis talks about making a living backpacking and philosophizes about life as he is wont to do.

More information about Francis is available on his website.


Citation

"Podcast: Francis Tapon is Set to Complete a Backpacking First - a CDT Yo-Yo," by Carol Crooker. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/podcast_090407_francis_tapon_cdt_yo-yo.html, 2007-09-12 02:00:00-06.

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Podcast: Francis Tapon is Set to Complete a Backpacking First - a CDT Yo-yo
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Podcast: Francis Tapon is Set to Complete a Backpacking First - a CDT Yo-yo on 09/04/2007 20:25:08 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Podcast: Francis Tapon is Set to Complete a Backpacking First - a CDT Yo-yo

Jon Rhoderick
(hotrhoddudeguy) - F - M

Locale: New England
Re: Podcast: Francis Tapon is Set to Complete a Backpacking First - a CDT Yo-yo on 09/04/2007 22:49:37 MDT Print View

That was really interesting. I'm not going to give anything away, but good work cutting down the denouement of the podcast. Now all you have to do is cut down a little bit of the 2 minute introduction and then you'll really get people hooked.

Remember we're minimalists here!

david plantenga
(dplant) - F
Kitchen? on 09/05/2007 07:37:27 MDT Print View

I read with great interest Francis Tapon's intro and 1'st chapter of his book. Took a look at his gear list and noticed it didn't list a kitchen other than a spoon, matches, and a fire starting esbit tablet.

Looks like a pretty "rough" 16 weeks without a hot cooked meal to me. No tea/coffee?

So, Francis and/or Ann, got cup and pot?

For me, I'd have left the multi-task phone at home and packed a 600 and cozy bowl. Might even gone "heavy" and packed a beercan alky/esbit stove?

I'm sure curious about their menu ...

Thanks
dp

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
About the food... on 09/05/2007 11:04:30 MDT Print View

I noticed the same thing. Other than the bars in his shoulder straps, I didn't hear any mention of food or water strategies.

NOTE: Normally I can't make it thru the first minute or so of any of these podcast (they are so S__L__O__W and boring), but for some reason I listened to the whole thing. Not sure why, but I did.

Edited by tlbj6142 on 09/05/2007 11:07:20 MDT.

Eric West
(Pacer) - F

Locale: New River Valley / SW Virginia
Speeding Up Podcasts on 09/05/2007 19:35:14 MDT Print View

Tony,

You can speed up the playback of the podcasts if you use Apple Quicktime (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/) or transcription software like Express Scribe (http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/). The audio should still be intelligible at 1.5x speed or so if you find the original playback to be too slow.

Eric

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Speeding Up Podcasts on 09/05/2007 20:17:47 MDT Print View

I believe you can do the same thing if you use Sound Recorder in Windows. You can also use Audacity (free for d/l and use) to speed up the playback if you so desire. Plus its Linux compatible, though I suspect I'm the only person here too worried about that.
Anyway, I don't think the problem was that the actual speed of the recording was too slow, but rather the pace of the Q/A or discussion. I find that I space out a little in podcasts if something of great interest isn't being discussed. Then again I space out a lot of the time.

Adam

Francis Tapon
(ftapon) - MLife

Locale: Earth
My CDT Yo-Yo Diet on 09/09/2007 19:56:05 MDT Print View

Thank you for listening to the podcast!

I have never taken a cup on any of my backpacking trips. I always eat straight out of the pot.

Normally I take a Titanium pot (like I did on the PCT and AT). However, on the CDT I did not take pot. Yes, that means that I wouldn't be cooking. Yes, for 7 months I never cooked a meal!

I thought I would miss cooking and go nuts. Therefore, I was surprised by how well I got used to not having cooked food. I rarely think about food on the trail or fantasize about pizza, pasta, or warm soup. I'm not sure why, but perhaps I'm just not that picky.

I remind myself of dogs. Most dogs get fed the same food every day of their lives. However, whenever meal time comes, they get extremely excited and wag their tails vigorously.

My cook-less diet is FAR more varied that their monotonous diet. So if they can do it, I figure I can do it on my more varied diet.

What do I eat? Here's what's typical:

BREAKFAST:

- Bob's Red Mill dry soy milk + water + Bob's Red Mill Granola + Bob's Red Mill Protein Powder + dried fruit

- Bob's Red Mill Couscous + Bob's Red Mill Textured Vegi Protein (TVP) + vegi powder (for flavor) + water (let soak overnight or just 10 mins and it's ready to eat)

I usually eat this breakfast as I'm packing up.

SNACKS REST OF DAY:

- MealPack.com energy bars :)

- GORP

- Dried Fruit

- Whole wheat bread (or tortillas) + soy cheese + tomatoes + avocado

- Baked tofu with bread to make a sandwich (hard to find this in most towns)

- Crackers

- Gummy bears (helps when you're thirsty and gives quick energy)

- Pretzels or soy chips

- A little junk food (like Poptarts or Oreos)

- Fresh fruit and vegetables whenever possible (I'll eat spinach, brocoli, carrots, green peppers, grapes, plums, apricots, etc...) Although all this weighs a lot, I eat it early in the journey to get the nutrition and to lower the pack weight quickly.

It's hard to believe, but I have yet to eat a Snickers bar (or any candy bar on the CDT)!

I feel my diet is pretty varied (compared to a dog). I'm vegetarian, so soy products and nuts give me most of my protein. I'm surprised that I don't miss other types of food, but that's just the way it works.

I don't drink tea or coffee in the real world, so I definitely don't miss it on the trail.

Although my diet seems austere, like most things, we get used to it. Humans adapt to new conditions very easily. I encourage you to experiment and backpack without cooked food. Chances are you'll miss the warm food, but you might also be a psycho-mutant and feel happy without it. ;)

Happy trails,

Francis Tapon
http://FrancisTapon.com (or CDTyoyo.com)

Francis Tapon
(ftapon) - MLife

Locale: Earth
Backpacks and Shoes on 09/09/2007 20:01:33 MDT Print View

I forgot to mention a few things on this podcast.

- I recommend that most backpackers use the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus backpack. It's sturdy, light, and has huge capacity.

- If you're a lightweight nutcase, then consider the Silnylon G5 from Gossamer. That's my favorite pack. However, if you're doing a thru-hike, buy two (unless you like to sew). They're cheap enough that two G5s are cheaper than most backpacks.

- Go with Gossamer's spinnaker packs (the Whisper or G5 Spinnaker version) only if you're doing short hikes (under a month). They're too fragile for thru-hikes. Although Maiu did the PCT with me using a Whisper, it barely made it (see pics at the end of our journey at www.francistapon.com/pct)

- The Inov-8 shoes I wear don't break down in any major way. It's just the general wear and tear, causing the support to slowly degrade. I'm surprised that they last as long as they do.

Happy trails,

Francis
www.FrancisTapon.com

Kenneth Knight
(kenknight) - MLife

Locale: SE Michigan
Re: Speeding Up Podcasts on 09/12/2007 23:51:34 MDT Print View

Their are many tools to speed up podcast presentation. Some will even strip out intros that are consistent lengths (sorry can't put my finger on what that one is right now). Here is a useful thread to check for both Mac and PC users who listen to podcast on their desktop/laptop machines via iTunes here .

If you want to rip them to an iPod say you can do that at higher speeds too but modifying the scripts in the thread I cited and having QUickTime Player epxort a higher speed mp3 file. I'll leave that as an excersize for the reader.

** Ken **

Edited by kenknight on 09/13/2007 01:49:23 MDT.

Leon Nelson
(LeonNelson) - F

Locale: Northern CA
PLEASE! A followup interview of Francis at the completion of his CDT yo-yo! on 10/19/2007 11:58:50 MDT Print View

I thoroughly enjoyed Carol Crooker's interview of Francis and REALLY ENCOURAGE Carol to catch Francis, again, for a followup chat! He's due to complete his epic trip - first to yo-yo the CDT - on October 31 in Columbus, NM. Of particular interest will be to hear of the changes Francis made to his CDT gear list, posted on his site http://www.francistapon.com/cdt/gear.htm. Also worth noting: With Christmas fast-approaching, Francis's book HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE would make a great gift - his writing style is very entertaining and his Seven Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America have a message for all!!! More on the book - and how to order it - can be found at http://www.francistapon.com/

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Another Francis podcast on 10/19/2007 12:42:47 MDT Print View

I am hoping to get another interview with Francis but not on gear. Part 1 of this podcast talks about his gear changes from the list posted on his website.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Francis Tapon - CDT Yo-yo" on 10/19/2007 13:11:13 MDT Print View

Who's going to finish first, Francis or The Onion?

http://www.francistapon.com/cdt/index.htm

- or -

http://garrettheonion.blogspot.com/

As of October 12th The Onion was in Cuba, NM which by road is about 350 miles from the border. I would guess that these two are both quite close to one another.

Leon Nelson
(LeonNelson) - F

Locale: Northern CA
Mr. Magoo and The Onion - Both SOON to complete CDT yo-yo! on 10/19/2007 17:38:27 MDT Print View

As of Oct 6, Francis Tapon (aka Mr. Magoo) was in Cuba, NM. That puts him about SIX days ahead of The Onion, who was in Cuba on the 12th. Do you suppose we'll have a photo-finish between these two awesome gents?

Leon Nelson
(LeonNelson) - F

Locale: Northern CA
Francis expects to complete CDT Yo-Yo October 23! on 10/21/2007 22:40:39 MDT Print View

THIS JUST IN FROM FRANCIS...
---------
OCT 21, 7:59PDT - My CDT Yo-Yo will be successfully completed in 48 hours. I am in Deming, New Mexico, and I expect to arrive at the Mexican border on the morning of Wednesday, October 24th (near Columbus, NM). More details will follow in a few days.
---------
Go, Francis!

Leon Nelson
(LeonNelson) - F

Locale: Northern CA
Mr. Magoo first to complete CDT Yo-Yo Hike! on 10/24/2007 22:09:05 MDT Print View

THIS JUST IN - AT 4:22 PM PDT, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 24 - FROM FRANCIS:
--------

Leon: I just walked into Columbus, NM and I have 3 miles to go.

I'm just one hour from finishing.

Gotta walk,

FT
--------

Congratulations, Francis!

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
CDT YO YO Francis Tapon on 11/06/2007 10:51:23 MST Print View

I hope BPL does an after trip podcast with Francis after he has time to reflect on his hike. He has a lot of insights and unique perspectives on our wilderness areas and SUL long distance foot travel .


Any plans in the work for another podcast?