Thoughts on recent JMT and PCT speed records

Gerry climbing Selden Pass during a guided JMT trip in 2011.

Gerry climbing Selden Pass during a guided JMT trip in 2011.

New Fastest Known Times (FKT’s) were recently set on both the John Muir Trail (JMT) and Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The PCT record has been especially big news within and beyond the hiking community.

On the JMT, ultra runners Hal Koerner and Mike Wolfe covered the 224-mile distance in 3 days, 12 hours, and 41 minutes, lowering Brett Maune’s time from 2009 by a mere 92 minutes.

On the PCT, Heather Anderson set a new time of 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes on August 7, a day before Josh Garrett arrived at the Canadian border 32 hours and 13 minutes faster, for a cumulative time of 59 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes. The old record of 64+ days was set by Scott Williamson in 2011.

Maune and Anderson may no longer own the overall FKT, but they still lay claim to some sub-records. Specifically, Maune’s effort was unsupported, whereby he carried all the gear and supplies he needed from start to finish; and Anderson’s effort was self-supported, whereby she resupplied along the way, thru-hiker style, without planned support. Her time also destroyed the previous women’s record. In contrast, Koerner/Wolfe and Garrett utilized the support of a crew or crews who allowed them to focus entirely on moving forward.

For all the FKT minutia, go to Peter Bakwin’s FKT website. But I want to share a few thoughts on these new records:

1. Each was an impressive effort. I appreciate seeing individuals challenge themselves mentally and physically, and I can only imagine the highs and lows that were experienced along the way. Some may not agree with or understand the “racing” of a long-distance trail, but fortunately it’s not their opinion that determines the “right” way to hike.

2. Anderson’s time is hands-down the most impressive of the three, as it’s a notable improvement over Scott’s time and a game-changer in the women’s category. Despite having support crews that could do anything short of towing them down the trail — including but not limited to restocking their food and water, swapping out their clothing and equipment, feeding them, sheltering them, and providing medical assistance — Koerner/Wolfe and Garrett lowered the FKT’s only marginally, by 1.8 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively, over times that didn’t rely on such help. It would seem that the time-savings of a supported effort should be much more substantial than this and that there is still room for significant improvement here.

3. What’s the handicap worth? At the core, these efforts boil down to a simple formula: Distance = Rate * Time. Thus, there are only two ways to go faster: (1) hike lighter, by reducing extra weight on your body and in your pack; and (2) hike more, by minimizing time not spent making forward progress.

On the JMT, the handicap between the supported and unsupported records is roughly equal to the effect on Rate of carrying extra gear and food — about 15 pounds at the start, dwindling to about 3 by the end. Consider how much time you would lose just on the climb up Whitney and over Forester Pass if you had to wear a 15-lb weight vest, never mind the remaining 215 miles. 92 minutes? Probably.

The handicap on the PCT is much more complicated. A thru-hiker’s Rate will be slower simply because they must carry more gear and supplies than a day-hiker, e.g. shelter, sleeping bag, stove, larger backpack, plus several days of food at a time. More importantly, a thru-hiker suffers huge Time penalties when they have to resupply, which may entail hitchhiking and/or waiting on a closed Post Office. If we assume that Anderson resupplied every 4 days on average and was able to get in and out in 3 hours on average, we can say that she lost about 45 hours of possible hiking time, or almost 2 days, which would have given her the record.

46 Responses to Thoughts on recent JMT and PCT speed records

  1. John B. Abela August 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

    Yeah, well said thoughts Andrew.

  2. Chris Hillier August 13, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    I couldn’t agree more. The guts and stamina that Anderson showed are beyond impressive. Good to hear one of my hiking heroes weigh in on the issue.

  3. Eric Lee August 13, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    Andy, great thoughts and I agree that while all the records are impressive physical/mental feats, Maune’s and Anderson’s are even more impressive. Having a crew for resupply is definitely a huge benefit, but one thing not to overlook is that Brett and Heather had to deal with any adversity and every little hiccup without another to tell them what to do or to hand them the answer. I respect that even more, having the faculties to do it all on your own.

    • Andrew Skurka August 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      This is a great point, but much harder to quantify so I didn’t bring it up. When people ask me about the hardest part of hiking solo, I tell them that it’s the inability to share my stress and emotions with another person in order to move beyond them — everything just builds up. During the Alaska-Yukon Expedition my mother was convinced that I was going to have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) because I was often a wreck when I called home from town once a week (or every other week).

      • Dogwood January 14, 2014 at 2:17 am #

        But yet you obviously do find ways to move beyond stress and emotions or you wouldn’t finish your hikes as a solo hiker. My question than becomes, how do you personally do it?

        I would like to know what goes on mentally, the mental coping process, your methods or techniques, for going the distance you do under the conditions you do?

        Can you be as raw as you were in the vid on your Alaskan Yukon Expedition when you were imagining yourself on a migration as the caribou have for 1000′s of yrs. That was not only a very moving experience for you but it was for me as I somehow connected to what you were relating during that awareness. I thought it was a very beautiful moment you shared.

  4. Christine M August 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    I want to point out one more thing that makes Anderson’s feat not only the most impressive feat of this season, but also almost insane.

    This is what she announced before starting:

    “I will be hiking in a traditional thru-hiker style with the added challenge of not riding in anything motorized the entire trip. This means rather than hitchhiking into larger towns for my resupply stops I will walk into and out of places that are closer to the trail and rely heavily on mail drops I prepare in advance. ”

    She is obviously more of a purist than I could ever hope to be, and I have an enormous amount of respect for that. I don’t know if she did accomplish that goal of never hitchhiking or riding in anything motorized, but I do wonder how many extra miles she wound up hiking…

    She is definitely my new biggest hero :)

    • Linda B August 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

      She did achieve her goal of not using a motorized vehicle the entire way. I met her at the Canadian border. The first time she even touched a vehicle that was not her own shoes was when we arrived in Manning Park and she got into her boyfriend, Kevin’s car.

  5. Wanderin Jack August 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Nicely put. Anderson has the “unsupported” FKT and Garrett has the “supported” FKT, fair enough. Unfortunately, the press seems bent on only discussing on team Whole Foods’ (AKA Garrett) “supported” FKT.

    • Andrew Skurka August 13, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

      Indeed it seems like the media is all over Garrett’s effort. Personally, I find the “for the animals” angle to be completely bizarre. If his trip was really only motivated by wanting to help animals, he should have spent the last 2 months of his life at an animal shelter and he should have had the WF CEO donate the $10k trip expense to PETA. I’m doubtful that any “awareness” he raises will have an actual return greater than this.

      • Candice August 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

        I totally agree that the “save the animals” angle was bizarre. I think I will hike it next year to “save the plants” eating nothing but animals. I also found it odd that people were making Heather wrong for not being totally vegan. Nice post.

        • Andrew Skurka August 13, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

          Yikes, I wonder what they’ll say about me when I harvest an elk this Fall.

      • Jana Gibson August 22, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

        Odd that you would write, in the same paragraph, that “the media are all over Garrett’s effort” and that the awareness he is raising won’t have a greater return than $10K you think should have been donated instead. Either you haven’t read/listened to the media, in which every quote from Garrett is about vegan diets and Mercy for Animals or you are pretty unfamiliar with the cost of media/publicity. The twenty-something thousand Garrett has directly raised for Mercy for Animals is nothing compared to the worth of what he has done by getting the name of that tiny, wonderful, group all over NPR, and into countless major newspapers.
        Anderson on the pain: “But this-this beautiful, crazy, epic adventure-has taught me that, no, Pain is weakness leaving the mind.”
        Garrett on the pain: “No matter what I was suffering I reminded myself that it was nothing compared to what animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses are going through.”
        While you might find it “bizarre,” how wonderful that the major media find Garrett’s message compelling.

  6. samh August 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    WILLIAMSON4EVR!

  7. Todd August 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    You could also mention that on the same day Anderson set the FKT for the PCT, Matt Kirk broke the 23 year old self-supported Appalachian Trail Thru Hike record with a hike of 58 days, 9 hr, 38 min. Jennifer Pharr Davis who has the FKT for a supported AT hike (46.5 days) was at Springer Mtn to meet him. I find these records noteworthy for that fact that the supported AT record had stood for so long and the Davis’ time is so much faster than the supported record (unlike the JMT and PCT comparison above). The comparison of average miles per day for the two trails is interesting. Kirk’s MPD is a bit lower than the PCT record pace whereas Davis’ MPD is higher than the PCT pace.

  8. Fred Uugoff August 13, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    New speed categories:

    Fastest Unsuported Known Times (FUKT’s)
    Fastest Supported Known Times (FSKT’s)

    Hooray for them all and their wonderful accomplishments! Keep the long hikes alive.

    Fred

  9. Muir is rolling over in his grave August 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    A much bigger question is whether or not corporate advertising belongs in our wilderness areas. I don’t really see how the bright yellow North Face advertisements and support crew (read: large footprint) belong in an area like this. It’s a slippery slope indeed.

  10. Luke August 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

    I think the new FKT’s are awesome (supported or not)… anything that increases exposure of the PCT and JMT means that i have more to read (and dream) about. The one thing that concerns me is that these speeds (roughly 70km per day) are only about 66 per cent more than what i would plan to do on average (42km per day?)… i’m pretty certain that these athletes are more than 66 per cent stronger and more skilled than I am! Cue segway to Skurka endorsed fitness regime ;)

  11. Donna Saufley August 13, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

    Andy, I for one am so grateful you wrote this. Your insights are spot on, and your position in our community of long-distance hikers second to none. It is absolutely true that the public at large, and the press, do not understand or care about the difference between a supported and self-supported hike. Only long-distance hikers get the difference.

    I find myself disturbed, maybe even disgusted, by how this record and the PCT are being used to further the agendas of the groups Josh was reportedly hiking for. I say reportedly because when he was here, it seemed to me that he was under a lot of pressure to break the record, not by his own personal, inner drive and desire but by the drive and desire of his wealthy financier. I actually felt sorry for Josh because there was so much expected of him, so much pressure to succeed. It seemed to me that Josh was a nice guy who was being used to achieve someone else’s goals. I wonder if this is what the future of record-breaking hiking is: talented athletes ridden hard and backed financially by some group or individual to get some kind of message out.

    The other thing that disturbed me about the whole campaign was the lack of respect that was given to a previous record holder, Scott Williamson by Team Whole Foods. It seemed that the whole focus of the mission was to put up a candidate that would beat Scott, without any understanding or respect for who Scott is, or how or why he has done what he has done. They were afraid of Scott’s scrutiny of Josh’s hike. The attitude left a bad taste in my mouth.

    And, the last nagging concern I have about Josh’s hike is this: he arrived here at mile 454.4 12 days after he started. That is an average of 38 miles per day. He left well after the sun was up. He did not sign the register. So, maybe he started whipping out 50+s after he left here, I don’t know. Maybe if you’re hiking supported you don’t have to get up at 4:30 and hike until midnight, relentlessly, every day, like the self-supported record holders did. But I can tell you this: the difference in effort I personally witnessed between self-supported and supported hikers is enormous. There is no comparison. Period.

    • Jana Gibson August 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      What an unfortunate post. Anybody who has read any of the media on Garrett knows that he was out for 24 hours on Day 3, so he was actually averaging 41 miles for the days hiked, if he arrived at mile 454 on Day 12. (Similar to Anderson.) And yes, according to everybody who came across him through Oregon and Washington — including Vittles who hiked with him for a while – he did “start whipping out” fifty plus miles per day after he finished the Sierras (where, carrying a full pack — no support up there — he averaged 40 miles per day). Hardly unusual for a PCT thru-hiker to significantly up their mileage in Oregon — exactly as Anderson did. The ten people who received his daily GPS spot signals, which were coming in at about 2am, after he had put in fifty-plus miles, aren’t quite as suspicious as you about the fact that he wasn’t always getting up at 4:30am. As for the bizarre idea of some sort of interest in, or knowledge of, Scott Williamson by Whole Foods? Whole Foods wasn’t involved in Garrett’s hike. If you read interviews with Garrett you learn that John Mackey, who happens to be the CEO of Whole Foods, who knows Garrett through hiking, personally offered to support Garrett to make sure he had vegan food on the trail. He hired one person to meet him with vegan food when she could. While of course that was helpful and Garrett is happy to admit it (though thankfully he doesn’t devote a lot precious media time getting into that debate when he has the chance to talk about factory farming) the whole “Team Whole Foods” theme is a myth — apparently created by people with an agenda. Anyway, it’s kind of you to “feel sorry for” Garrett but I just heard another NPR interview with him and he sure seems happy to be getting a message out that he is clearly passionate about.

      • Jana Gibson August 23, 2013 at 9:37 am #

        Sorry, when I wrote “unfortunate post” I was referring not to Skurka’s main article/post but specifically to Donna Saufley’s comment, which was full of all sorts of unfortunate innuendo.

      • nobody-09 August 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

        Jane,
        Perhaps you don’t know who Donna is. I didn’t see innuendo. I have the same concerns.
        The point here is that Anish was self supported and her accomplishment is unnoticed while Josh had planned support and is being promoted across the media with interviews to promote “his” agenda. That’s what this controversy is about.
        Unfortunately, Josh is being “created”. All these interviews just don’t pop up spontaneously. Anish is ignored. I am reacting to the unfairness of this publicity- separate from Garrett’s accomplishment.
        That is my agenda: to balance this unfairness and Josh’s focus away from the magnificence of the PCT and the deeply human aspect of long distance walking to some arbitrary charity cause.

        We all hike our own hike (HYOH). We also acknowledge that we don’t do it alone. The PCT is a group effort. Who keeps the trail clear? Who protects the trail? Who watches out for each other? Who trail angels? Who follows the pioneers of the trail? Who makes the ultralight gear of today?
        I don’t feel the honesty in Garrett’s interviews that I have read. They seem like publicity talking points.

        and where are your kudos for Anish?

        • Jana Gibson September 4, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

          Who Donna is or isn’t doesn’t change my reaction to her comments, which I judged on their own merits, or rather lack of them. If you didn’t see innuendo in “So, maybe he started whipping out 50+s after he left here, I don’t know” then I recommend an emergency visit to the ophthalmologist.
          My kudos for Anish? I hardly think this page is suffering for lack of them — though, as Jenn noticed, the majority of comments here certainly suffer from a lack of something.

          • Michelle September 5, 2013 at 9:47 am #

            Jana,
            It is basic math and miles done on the trail. Josh would have to do huge miles, day in and day out to make up for a 0 day on a speed record. So he would have to whip out fifty’s or close to fifty’s to make it happen! Think about it. That’s the facts. I am completely impressed with his athleticism.

  12. Shelly August 13, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    Thanks Andrew for your thoughtful post. As someone from the outside looking in as this thing unfolded, I really appreciate your perspective on the whole supported/self supported issue. Personally I’m a 15 mile a day type but I celebrate folks who can dig into someplace I don’t know about and pull off amazing feats of endurance. In the wake of recent events I have been troubled by the lack of understanding from some quarters of the vast differences between supported events vs self supported ones. Maybe it has to do with the corporate nature of this most recent record that has me feeling kind of hinky. Anyway, I appreciate your perspective and really, really celebrate Anish, who kicked some kind of ass last week.

  13. Rick Ostheimer August 14, 2013 at 6:25 am #

    I wonder whether the corporate sponsors and the individuals involved have made a large contribution to the PCTA in exchange for the publicity.

    • Jason August 16, 2013 at 8:12 am #

      The PCTA does not own the PCT and is not owed royalties, whether thru legal or emotional pressure. If anything, the PCTA owes me for taking my “permit” application (which I regret getting it) and putting my name and address on the Sierra Club mailer list. That alone created more trash that I pitched into a landfill than it created worth towards “saving the planet”.

      I think all of these accomplishments that Andrew recounted (and thanks for doing so, I had no idea they were underway) are amazing. Like everyone here, I am most inspired by the unsupported ones.

      It’s not for to dictate to any hiker or any company or any sponsor how and why they should do something. People need to stop thinking that they can spend other people’s money. Spend your own.

  14. Brad August 14, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    Lets keep in mind that these are the fastest known times. Many hikers/runners choose not to advertise their journeys.

    • blisterfree August 14, 2013 at 11:46 am #

      But these FKTs are so over-the-top that there is little chance that an “unknown faster time” is out there. The publicity and direct competition are part and parcel of what it means to be driven at this current level. Unsung hero-ism is too casual a pursuit, by comparison.

  15. Dianne August 14, 2013 at 10:26 am #

    Andrew, thanks for the recognition of Ms. Anderson’s astonishing achievement. I was fascinated by her trip, and absolutely floored by its neglect from the media. Her words and footsteps and happy-faced photos are inspiring.

    Dianne

  16. chiefWright (marquam) August 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    I think we all need to be a bit careful about quantifying who had the greater accomplishment.

    This isn’t a juried competition, and “rules”, especially for supported vs unsupported, can’t be readily verified. The PCTA states it best on their website:

    “PCTA does not officially validate, nor verify, records. They’re fraught with arguable points and are difficult to authenticate. However, we know an amazing feat when we see one. On behalf of the entire trail community, we applaud Josh and Heather and all the others who have and will continue to push themselves to new heights on our very special trail.”

    Sponsorships, motivations, hikes into town, downtime on the trail for whatever reason (Josh was out for 24 hours because of heatstroke)– every hike is an individual experience in the wilderness. And are you really sure you’re not influenced by a fetching smile with a delightful Facebook story over a rather grim looking, sponsored moral messenger? Who are we to judge?

    And about this whole competition thing. Wilderness does not play fair and square. It is not a level playing field . Unless we despoil the wilderness with judges around every corner, it will, and should, never be a place for “fair” competition.

  17. girlscout August 14, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    I think, when talking about challenges of different sorts, that it’s important to make a distinction between challenges brought on by choices made by the hiker (ie, factors which are under their control) and challenges imposed by external factors, not under the hiker’s direct control. I think mostly what’s being done here is comparing the choices that the two hikers made, and how those choices impacted the overall challenge of the hike. Whatever variations in weather and trail conditions that are faced are simply part of the natural definition of a “pct hike.” And actually, in this case, since the hikers were within a day or so of each other for the entire hike, any weather or trail condition variations would be minimal.

  18. UltraPedestrian August 14, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Andrew, Blessings.

    You are absolutely correct in pointing out that Heather Anderson’s achievement outstrips the others due to the very pure self-supported ethic of her project. However, in the final paragraph you make an erroneous supposition that unfairly belittles her feat.

    Heather covered EVERY MILE ON FOOT. Even when she had to travel off the PCT for a resupply she did not hitchhike or accept rides; she hiked or ran every inch that she traveled from when she left the Mexico border to when she arrived at the international boundary of Canada.

    This distinction alone shows that her FKT is a product of Trail Culture, rather than a marathon or racing paradigm. Thanks for giving Heather’s Journey the shine that it deserves.

  19. Wesnice August 16, 2013 at 2:31 am #

    I happened to be on the JMT when these guys cruised past in the opposite direction. They had very bright shirts on. It is hard to be impressed with a sponsored and supported record when it only beats the previous – unsupported – record by an hour and a half. Of course, doing the JMT in three days is not easy to do, so way to go guys. You could have gone faster.

    • jenn August 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

      Nice. Love to read all the negativity in these comments. Why be happy for folks’ efforts and explorations, when you can just pull them down? SO much more fun.

  20. John August 16, 2013 at 10:00 am #

    I feel like a slacker. It took me 151 days in 1983 plus some hours and minutes. I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to hike it again regardless of how long it took. My hat is off to all that complete it and I am amazed at the records….paricularly the unsupported times. Simply amazing!

  21. DaveC August 20, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Good analysis Andrew.

    For me, supported trips hold little interest or validity. Bravo Ms. Anderson.

  22. Bruce Thompson September 5, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    While Anderson’s hike was fantastically impressive, your analysis at the end, the suggestion that hiking the extra 30 miles (by her own account) would have added 45 hours is faulty. Eight or nine hours seems more accurate. As for waiting for resupply places to open: Anderson has made it clear that her whole hike was carefully mapped out to the day — she surely took store opening hours into account. And she has said she was largely able to stick to her plan. Nowhere in her extensive updates do we see any suggestion that she had any long waits at resupply points. So while it is appreciated that you want to give Anderson credit you think has been lacking in the media coverage, taking the record away from Garrett by subtracting 45 hours for Anderson’s extra 30 miles walked would not seem a good way to do that.
    Also, you overestimate the difference in pack weight by accounting for things that people going for records don’t carry. A stove? And while Anderson says she set up a tent every night, which was her choice, Garrett (though people like to pretend he had four star hotels brought to him by his single support person) slept in a bag and bivy sack as he had on his previous (unsupported) thru hike, as do many speed hikers.
    Did 30 extra miles and extra food weight add the 33 hours Garrett beat Anderson’s time by? (You have his time wrong by 45 minutes. It’s 59:08:14) Given they were both going over fifty miles a day, it is possible but unlikely. So your analysis unfairly takes a record away from Garrett that was hard-earned.
    Your analysis also takes something away from Williamson. While Anderson took four days off his time, they did not hike the same hike. Williamson flies under the radar. Due to her intense online presence, where she has thousands of followers, Anderson had more support from the public and from trail angels than has ever been seen before. Not only was she posting her whereabouts, her boyfriend posted her actual GPS signal map at least three times and he was on line answering questions as to her whereabouts so that people could bring her food. In one exchange a trail angel asked Anderson directly if they could meet up, and Anderson responded that she couldn’t make that plan because she was doing the hike unsupported, but she wrote that if the trail angel could work out when she’d be there that would awesome. That was right next to the post of her GPS signal map. The only thing missing was the “wink wink, nudge nudge.” Anderson’s page is full of photos of people bringing her food and talk of them having left ice-chests for her, and other hiking pages are full of stories of people’s journeys to meet her with food. None of this takes away from her astonishing effort, from the fact that she averaged 44 miles a day over 2 months. But if she is going to blast out stuff about how her hike can only be compared to WIlliamson’s (who she beat by many days) and not to Garrett’s, who know holds the overall speed record (she said in an interview that Williamson is currently trying to beat HER record) because she was entirely unsupported, then things like the posting of GPS signals so that trail angels could easily find her and ply her with food should be scrutinized.
    The PCTA’s Jack Haskel wrote, “PCTA does not officially validate, nor verify, records. They’re fraught with arguable points and are difficult to authenticate. However, we know an amazing feat when we see one. On behalf of the entire trail community, we applaud Josh and Heather and all the others who have and will continue to push themselves to new heights on our very special trail.”
    That seemed such a cool way to handle things. While it is understandable that people passionately following Heather’s hike (or Anish’s) were disappointed to see the overall record taken away from her so quickly and sorry to see the media focus on Garrett (who actually has the record), anybody’s attempt to change the result by adding 45 hours (or even 33 hours) for the 30 extra miles and more food carried doesn’t seem like good sportsmanship.
    We cannot know what the results would have been if Anderson had support that she had planned (as opposed to massive unplanned support) and Garrett didn’t but instead had a huge online presence and extensive trail angel support. Or if Garrett had crossed the desert, near the border, 2.5 days earlier, during the unseasonably cool temperatures that Anderson encountered, and hadn’t suffered heat stroke, which lost him 24 hours. Or a host of other factors. So, in order to be fair to all concerned, perhaps it’s best to accept the results as they are, without adding in all sorts of arbitrary and arguable rules, and without trying rework the results in favor of our favorites.

  23. Buzz September 9, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Fun stuff! Glad to see the niche of speed hiking long trails become larger and better known,
    especially including the knowledge base itself, which benefits everyone.

    An interesting subpoint: Brett Maune started the JMT not with a 15 lb pack, but carrying 27 lbs! Reversing the standard thru-hiker formula, he calculated it was faster to carry hydrated food (Hammer Gel) than lighter dehydrated food that required time to mix. I don’t know if this is efficacious or not, but Brett is a scientist, calculated everything, and at the least it adds a wonderful data point we can ponder as the days grow shorter and 2014 trip dreaming begins.

  24. Bry September 20, 2013 at 3:01 am #

    Umm, so it’s my understanding that the JMT can be completed in under 3 days?!

  25. papayeti October 20, 2013 at 10:37 am #

    Good analysis.

    I’d like to point out a couple of things:

    #1 Backpacking is not racing.
    #2 The idea of support crews is an abomination.

    • Andrew Skurka October 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

      Backpacking trips are not conventionally raced and trails are conventionally done without support crews, but there is no reason why you can’t mix it all up, unless you think there is a “right” way to backpack and complete trails. Seems like a tough argument to make.

  26. steve courtway October 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    I wonder what flyin’ brian thinks about all this.

    Hi Donna!

  27. Bill Weber December 12, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    I don’t know why we insist on having an overall speed record. Supported and unsupported through hikes are two different categories. Both can have records. Do we need an overall gold medal for the Olympics? Much of this discussion is petty.

  28. Aaron May 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Brett Maune started with a 28 pound pack.

    he figured he need (X) amount of calories per hour and brought something like 22 pounds of food to supply the needs of the engine.
    They were mostly bars as he figured if he ate 2 bars an hour, he’d be good.
    And that’s just what he did.

    You try hiking with 28 pounds and see how much that slows you down.

  29. Pablo May 27, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    I find it odd and a bit sad that people speed through the area to set records. I don’t believe the PCT should be about speed and accolades. Corporate sponsors?!? Please. They miss the point by turning it into a competition.

    Sorry just my thoughts.

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    [...] What does it mean to through-hike a long-distance trail? To many people, this is the biggest accomplishment in their lives, the most adventurous of adventures. But how much of an adventure is it when one can rely on a constant supply of free food, taking a huge part of the planning and preparation out of the hike? At what point does a through-hike go from unsupported to supported? [...]

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