Long Distance Hiking Masters

(photo from left: Estero, Don’t Panic, Papa Smurf, Soft Walker, Turbo, Unknown)

↑ To hear the interview hit play on the bar above

Have you ever had the urge to leave it all behind and go long-distance hiking?

Living for months out on the trail and getting reconnected with nature is a dream come true for many people.

Although a long-distance hike itself can be physically and emotionally challenging, figuring out how to find the time and money to go on this type of adventure is not as hard as you think.

In the summer of 2013, en route from Taos, NM to Boulder, Co. I pit stopped in Salida, CO. A small, and disgustingly charming mountain town.

Salida (pronounce Sa-Lie-Dah) packs gorgeous Colorado scenery and an in-town whitewater course. This gem of a place lacks pretension and maintains a somewhat gritty, off the beaten path feel. Needless to say, on a beautiful summer day, it’s hard to resist.

Enjoy Salida Wall Art

Which is why it was an easy decision to spend the night at the Simple Lodge & Hostel, crack a Dale’s Pale Ale and relax.

What I didn’t know at the time was that the hostel was packed with a small group of some of the most accomplished hikers in the country.

Enter Estero, Soft Walker, Don’t Panic, Turbo and Papa Smurf, five hikers who were on a break from hiking the Continental Divide Trail from Mexico to Canada and spending the night.

As if this weren’t enough, most of them had also completed the ‘Triple Crown’, which means they have already hiked the 3 main long-distance hikes in the USA, a combined 8000+ miles of trail walking!

To put this accomplishment in perspective, it’s been said that fewer people have completed the triple crown than have gone to outer space.

Salida is located just off of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and this group of thru-hikers were taking a rest day in town.

Thankfully, they agreed to a group interview to share their expertise on long-distance hiking.

You may have to crank up the sound as the interview was recorded in the backyard of the hostel which was not optimal sound-wise, but trust me, the knowledge of tens of thousands of trail miles packed into this podcast is well worth a listen.

In this session you’ll learn:
  • How to structure your life to accommodate the thru-hiking lifestyle. (Hint: this essential advice go work for any experience-driven lifestyle choice)
  • How much a 4-6 month hike will cost and specific ideas on how to raise the funds so you can start your quest
  • Long-distance hiking subculture, social life in the wilderness, trail names, trail angels, zero-days and other terms to know
  • The one piece of equipment that can save your life
  • How to put your career on the side and make hiking the priority instead of the other way around
  • The two best ‘shorter’ long hikes to take if you have limited time but want a real thru-hiking experience
  • How to minimize your life for the trail
  • What a ‘shakedown hike’ is and why you should consider doing at least one

Resources

Whiteblaze  (Resource for the Appalachian Trail)
Appalachian Trail Conservancy (AT resource)
Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCT resource)
Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDT resource)
Long Trail Vermont
John Muir Trail
Trail Life by Ray Jardines
SPOT Gen3 Satellite GPS Messenger

Other recommended reads

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (a story about a solo female journey on the PCT, highly recommended)

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

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