I just finished rereading my Appalachian Trail blog from start to finish since coming off the trail in October 2011. It is a difficult read for me. A real emotional roller-coaster. The experience changed my life permanently. I have since completed the big brother of the AT, the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT was incredible but the AT was my first.
The AT is where I became a hiker. It’s where I became Spork. It changed my perspective on literally everything. It allowed me to understand who I am. The AT was studied, planned, and read about. The PCT just happened. I was supposed to move to New York City 4 weeks prior to deciding to hike. Things fell through and within a day I decided to hike the PCT. I met and hiked with Chimp on the AT. He already had the PCT hike planned. I called him and asked if he was interested in a hiking partner and it was on.
My mind went back to the AT and to the times I said if I could do this all over what I would do differently. It was time to make the step from amateur to semi-pro. I cruised the internet for days reading reviews and looking at gear specs, all the while keeping a running count of pack weight down to the ounce. I dropped some cash on some new gear that I knew would take me from Mexico to Canada. Again, I thought I had it all figured out. This time I had 2,181 miles of experience under my belt. The lessons learned would alter my approach, my gear, and my resolve.
Day 1 of the PCT. I was hot and out of hiking shape. My feet already had some raging blisters forming on the balls of both feet. My pack felt like it weighed 50 lbs. It was more than likely somewhere in the low 30s. We hiked 23 miles our first day in 100 degree heat. Chimp and I must have said 10 times that day, “Why in the hell are we doing this again?” The days continued to be trying for the first week and a half. I had a bum knee that would completely go out when going downhill. I fell on my face multiple times. It was frustrating and demoralizing. This is where my AT experience saved me. Sometimes things hurt. Sometimes you can barely move without excruciating pain, but you keep moving North. The only option. In time my body responded. It started to heal and become strong. It is a strength that you will develop nowhere else. It is a strength of the spirit. This is the point where the pain vanishes and the adventure begins. This is the point where the adrenaline and focus override all else. All of the great memories, feelings, and experiences that were gained from the AT came rushing back to me. I was back and happy. I was hiking again.
4 and a half months later, for the second time in a year, I was standing at the Northern Terminus of one of the worlds longest trails. A big difference between the AT and the PCT was that when I was done with the AT I was ready to go home. I was beat up. When I hit the border of Canada I was not done. I wanted and needed more. By the end of the PCT I was a well oiled machine. Something happened that I am seeking again. I had traveled 279 miles in my final 9 days. Waking up before the sun and setting up camp with moments to spare before the sun gently set behind some of the most beautiful landscapes my eyes have witnessed.
This, naturally, is where the CDT comes in. The Triple Crown of hiking is when you have completed all 3 of America’s long trails. It is a title that under 200 people in history have completed. I have this desire to hike this coming April that compares to nothing I have ever felt. I have goosebumps at this very moment. I think about it every day. I have seen a lot of places but come on, Mexico to Canada through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana… This is going to be rad! You have the San Juans, the highest concentration of 14,000’ peaks in North America, two states with grizzly bears, Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Glacier National Park. This one is going to be WILD! This one scares me a bit and I couldn’t be happier about it.
I am very excited about the new blog. We are launching this new website to tie all of my hiking experiences together. I am going to have sections on gear, food, and planning. I want to try to explain long distance hiking in a manner that is inviting and approachable. I also want to create a resource to inspire.
This new site has literally thousand of pictures and videos from the AT and PCT. They will give you the opportunity to witness the trails first hand. There are downloads of the text from both hiking blogs to read. There will be a new live blog for CDT prep and progress.
Anyone can complete a long distance hike if they want it bad enough. I have seen 10 year olds and 80 year olds finish both the AT and PCT. I have seen people from every walk of life, with as many different stories accomplish amazing things. I truly believe that the world would be a much better place if people had a closer relationship with the natural world. I invite all to follow and share in this Triple Crown attempt and if nothing else I hope this may inspire you get out and see this beautiful land that surrounds us. Life is short and we only get one shot.


  1. Jory Zollinger says:

    I met Spork today on the trail in Kilgore Idaho up by Aldous lake never met him or anything but what a story my crew and I shared our food and water with him good luck buddy what an amazing adventure

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