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Going for a long walk takes on a new meaning…

Photo of Samuel H Gardner

Samuel H Gardner will trek four thru hikes, that's over 12,500 miles! Photo by Greg Maino.

Walking a long distance hike is undoubtedly something that many of us hikers wish they had the time and stamina to take on. In the United Kingdom trails like the Pennine Way, the West Highland Way and Pembrokeshire Coast Path typically take between one and three weeks, depending upon how many miles you want to walk each day. To walk from Land’s End to John o’Groats you are talking the best part of two months hiking, which is a pretty big commitment.

Over in the United States they like to do things bigger, thru hikes like the famous Appalachian Trail take on average six months to complete. At 2178 miles that’s a lot of walking. For one man, though, that is not far enough. Samuel H Gardner intends to walk over 12,500 miles in a single trek along the four longest thru hiking trails in the USA.

Interview with Samuel H Gardner

To find out more about this hiking project called “The All-In Trek”, we asked Samuel Gardner to tell us about himself, his plans and reasons for taking on this long distance walking challenge…

CheapTents.com: What inspired you to get into outdoor pursuits and long distance walking?

Samuel Gardner: My obsession for being outside was started by my parents. They introduced me to the outdoors from day one by raising us kids in the North woods on the shore of Lake Superior. Here we started backpacking as soon as we learned to walk. I simply just got hooked on being outside. I cannot thank them enough for that.

I have been exposed to several great mentors both in my family and by authors who have lived their dreams. They have shown me by example that you have to go after dreams to make them happen. So thats what I am doing.

CheapTents.com: What has been your biggest achievement in outdoor pursuits?

Samuel Gardner: I don’t have a “biggest” but a collection of learning experiences that have shaped and stretched my comfort zones. Some of which include living in a snow-cave, becoming an Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts of America, being a member of the U.S. National Junior Champion Pistol Team, being an wildlife tracker on a wolf predation research project, learning carpentry, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forestry and years of backpacking.

Running up a steep hill

Samuel training on Ripley ski hill. Photo by Greg Maino.

CheapTents.com: What is your biggest weakness?

Samuel Gardner: I am an unknown person in the public eye and I am about to attempt to do something “big”. The nay-sayer criticism is difficult to not take personally. It is something I am learning to deal with. I aim to use it as a backup source of inspiration during the hard times of the trek.

CheapTents.com: What do you find most difficult about training?

Samuel Gardner: The pulled IT band injury in my right leg earlier this year. It is under control now. But it took a while to work through. I had to learn some new stretches, deep massages and use pressure point rollers for months to get it to feel good again.

CheapTents.com: On January 1st of 2011, you will set out on a 12,500+ mile “All-In Trek”. What will this involve?

Samuel Gardner: The All-In Trek includes hiking end-to-end and back-to-back the four longest trails in the U.S. This involves starting the trek on snowshoes on January 1st on the North Country Trail Westbound, then the Pacific Crest Trail Northbound, then the Continental Divide Trail Southbound and finally hiking the Appalachian Trail Southbound. It is my intention to hike the 12,500+ miles continuously in one trip. It is my goal is to finish in one calendar year. However, the four trails have never been hiked back-to-back before so the “journey” is more important to me then the speed record. Simply, I intend on walking quickly to avoid most of the deep snow in the mountains.

Map showing North Country Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail

The All-In Trek of the four longest thru hikes in the USA: 12,500+ miles!

CheapTents.com: Why are you setting yourself this challenge?

Samuel Gardner: First, I believe the All-In Trek is the next step in long distance backpacking so I’m going to do my best to prove it by doing it myself.

Second, I want to experience first hand the adventure of it, the difficulties and the satisfaction, the personal growth and the people interactions, the freedom and the beauty of all the places that I have yet to see.

Third, I want to prove by example how it is possible to pursue our greatest dreams no matter how seemingly impossible they may appear. I hope to motivate others to do the same, whatever their dreams may be. Whether it is to become an artist, doctor, athlete, parent, teacher, carpenter, adventurer or any other healthy life style of living with intent.

CheapTents.com: How many pairs of walking boots do you think you will go through on the All-In trek?

Samuel Gardner: I am counting on using approximately 22 pairs of shoes throughout the trek.

CheapTents.com: You spent six months spent living outdoors in a snow cave. What made you choose to do this?

Samuel Gardner: It was a personal test I created to see if I had some of the basic skills to do “bigger” adventures in the future. It was part of building a personal check-list of outdoor skills that I wanted to complete before I attempted treks such as the “All-In Trek”. Turned out, it worked. I’m really glad I did it.

CheapTents.com: What were the main challenges involved and how did you overcome them?

Samuel Gardner: The location was a beaver pond located 5 miles out of town from the University where I went to school. I started camping in November in a tent on the banks of the pond. Once the snow got deep and the pond froze, I moved camp out to the island in the middle. I built a snow-cave next to a large boulder and moved in. It was much more comfortable than the tent.

The snow cave where Samuel lived.

Samuel spent six months living in this snow cave.

Some of the hardest parts were thin ice, getting the flu and my truck motor blowing up. I fell through the ice in the fall months. I learned to be good at climbing out of the holes in the ice. I remedied the situation by spreading logs out on the ice to walk on to spread out my weight. It worked well.

I became sick with the stomach flu in the middle of the endeavour. I lost 36 pounds in 6 days. It took a over a month and a half to get well again. This part wasn’t fun but I got through it. I am glad I experienced the hardship. I learned from it and won’t forget it.

In February, my truck broke so I had to use cross country skis to to get to class. It was about an hour ski each way. People talking when I started showing up in ski boots. It made for good exercise and conversation. Overall, it was a great experience.

CheapTents.com: Where would you like to be in 5 years time? Main Ambitions?

Samuel Gardner: I want to continue pursuing my goals of adventure, personal growth and inspiration. I want to take my experiences to schools and tell the stories to the kids. Show them that it is possible to follow our dreams no matter how seemingly impossible they appear to be or what the nay-sayers think. I believe that kids and most adults don’t hear enough positive stories and I aim to help fix that.

CheapTents.com: What are your favorite bits of gear, and why?

Samuel Gardner: My favorite piece of gear is my Circuit backpack from Ultra Light Adventure Equipment in Logan, Utah. It is a 36oz pack that can carry 35lbs of gear comfortably. Its simple and gets the job done well. It was designed with excellent craftsmanship.

CheapTents.com: Any people or sponsors that you would like thank?

Samuel Gardner: I want to thank my family and friends for supporting me 100 percent. I wouldn’t be who am I today without them in my life. Thank you. I’d also like to thank my sponsors; U.L.A. Equipment and Bucky Beach for helping me pursue this dream.

CheapTents.com: Anything else you would like to say?

Samuel Gardner: I want to invite everyone to check out my website: www.theinitiativesite.com and introduce yourself by emailing me at samuel@theinitiativesite.com with any questions, comments or advice. Please feel free to follow my progress and get involved! See you out there!

CheapTents.com:

Thanks Samuel for taking the time to answer our questions. Good luck with the All-In Trek!

If you enjoyed reading this interview then you will definitely enjoy reading our interview with Abe Clark who has completed a solo run across run America or Mikael Strandberg, the legendary explorer who has trekked across East Africa and Siberia.

If you’re thinking of taking on a long distance hike, Trailspace has a useful four part guide to planning a thru hike, which is worth a read. Don’t forget your spare walking boots!

Share Your Adventures!

You don’t have to trek 12,500 miles to have a great adventure! We’d enjoy hearing from anyone who has taken on a walking challenge or hiked a long distance trail. Where did you go? What were the highlights? How did you overcome difficult parts of your journey? Can you give Samuel any advice to prepare him for his epic journey? Simply leave a comment!

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  • Buzz

    Best of luck to him. A quick check of his Bio indicates that will be required.

    I am not sure about what seems to be a flurry of grandiose projects undertaken by relatively inexperienced people. Would it not be worthy for this person to simply hike the AT once, like thousands of other people have found it worthwhile to do? And if that went well, the CDT? After thus honing his abilities, to then attempt what no one has tried before?

    Check out Andrew Skurka. He has paid his dues, gradually and methodically developing his experience and skillset. His Alaska Yukon Expedition was the end of a long road of growing and understanding; he would have done it without telling anyone; it was the natural culmination of a lifetime of learning.

    It seems publicity, fueled by grandiosity, is now becoming an essential part of the would-be adventurer’s toolkit.

  • http://www.cheaptents.com Daniel

    Thanks for your comments Buzz.

    Andrew Skurka’s website has details of all his hikes and travels, including his recent long distance expedition around Alaska. Andrew’s comments about his experience of The Appalachian Trail back up the need for experience:

    “It was my first thru-hike, and really my first serious backpacking experience, so the learning curve was steep: I started with 50-pounds of stuff — including 2-months worth of white gas, a trowel, an 8-lb Mountainsmith pack, 3 short-sleeve shirts, and a bunch of other unnecessary crap.

    “Interestingly, I faired far worse in the first month than I would if I did it again today with just 5 pounds of gear. That is the difference of being experienced and inexperienced in the backcountry — thankfully, much due to the AT, I’m the former and no longer the latter.”

    Whilst there is clearly a genuine need for first hand experience, a lot of useful advice is available about things like what gear and food to take on these particular thru trails. Navigation skills can be learned on shorter trips and expeditions into the back country. One difficulty that must be hard to overcome on a long distance hike or expedition is settling into the repetitive daily routine once the initial excitement has worn off.

    Andrew Skurka was the first person to walk the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop, averaging 33 miles per day for 208 straight days. Samuel will have to average 34 miles per day to accomplish the All-In trek in one year. That is certainly a tough pace, but based on Andrew’s achievement it does not seem impossible.

    It is not really surprising that there is a need for adventurers to seek publicity. Expeditions cost money, whether that be needed for equipment, transport, permits, food or supporting family during the long absence. People who are not lucky enough to be in a position to fund themselves are likely to seek sponsorship. Not many sponsors are prepared to donate outdoor equipment or provide funding without any return on their investment. To get that return the expedition needs to be publicised.

    There is some helpful advice on Andrew Skurka’s website about getting sponsorship, one point of which is:

    “Develop great relationships with your sponsors. Keep them regularly updated on your achievements, PR hits, outreach efforts, and anything else that provides them with value. Invest time and effort in your sponsorship because that will yield greater returns in the long run, both for you and the sponsor.”

  • Buzz

    Good points all. Andrew has emphasized to me the value of his learning experiences numerous times. And the value of sponsors.

    Again, Samuel does seem like a nice guy, and I was not being sarcastic when I wished him the best of luck.

    The heart of my Comment was probably this: I hope people continue to find treasure in the everyday experience. Everything doesn’t have to be bigger and better. And the time-tested tradition of gradual learning has honor in it as well.

  • http://www.AndrewSkurka.com Andrew Skurka

    A few comments:

    – I agree with Buzz that Samuel would benefit from doing at least one long-distance hike before he attempted this one. He’s fortunate in that there’s already a lot of information out there about gear and technique, so he doesn’t have to invent the wheel like Brian Robinson et al. had to. But, it’s one thing to know the information, and it’s another to know how to apply it and to tailor it to your specific situation — and that can only take place during a thru-hike.

    – Hiking 34 miles a day is not that hard. Hiking 34 miles everyday for 12 months is very hard. The key is being efficient with all routines tasks (breaking camp, cooking dinner, resupplying, etc.) and putting in long days. This is where a previous hike can really help — you become efficient and you develop deep strength that allows your body to put in 14-16 hr days continuously.

    – Hiking 34 miles per day in the peak summer with abundant daylight is easy. Hiking 34 miles per day with 10 hours of daylight, on snowshoes, is really, really hard. Sure, you can try to make up the miles when the conditions are better, but that will be really tough to do.

    – I disagree strongly with Samuel that his trip is the next step in long-distance backpacking. His trip is marginally different than what’s been done in the past — it’s all on-trail, it’s fast, it’s light, it’s far. Ho-hum. The marginal increases in speed and length he’s proposing don’t impress me that much — I don’t think he’s going to learn much that we don’t know already. It’s fine if Samuel wants to acquire the knowledge on his own, but he shouldn’t think he’s inventing a new wheel.

    I’m not one to say that someone can or cannot do something, but Samuel definitely has his work cut out for him.

  • http://www.theinitiativesite.com Samuel Gardner

    Thanks for the input. Although I have yet to complete a traditional thru hike, I do have experience in backpacking and living outside. I believe that it is from these experiences that I have obtained the building blocks to start this journey and have learned the ability to adapt which will help me complete it.. I too anticipate a steep learning curve. Actually, I count on it…What is a journey without learning?

    It is not like I read a bunch of blogs and decided to one-up everyone else or thru-hike using equipment lists found online. I have the experience to plan and achieve this. I already know I could do a single trail thru hike because I have spent multiple months continuously living out of pack in summer and winter months. Im doing this for the challenge of it. What is wrong with that?

    Also, like I said in the interview, the emphasis isn’t on finishing in a year, or doing the next great thing in backpacking… it’s about the journey, its about getting out and trying… thinking big and doing it regardless of your situation. It’s about following through on what your heart tells you and not letting anything stand in your way.

    I have the ability to do this. There is only one way to prove it and that it is to do it. I am going to do my darn best and find out where it takes me.

    Andrew- I disagree with you and believe that it is the next step in long distance backpacking. Due to the fact that if completed it will be the longest continuous trek to date. The guys who currently hold the record hikes, Matt Hazley, Justin Lichter, Brian Robinson have given their support of what I am trying to do. If you know of something longer, please fill me in. I would love to learn about it.

    Buzz- Its public because people are interested in it… You are reading and writing about it. And Daniel’s answers were correct. I simply cannot afford this trip on my own. I was laid off from the job that was supposed to fund it entirely. I have since picked up odd job construction work and sold literately everything I own. Including my truck, surfboards, road bike, mountain bike, climbing gear, old backpacking gear, cloths, snowboard, books, scuba gear, tv and the list goes on. I even pawned what I could not sell and scrapped my mineral collection at the junkyard. Simply, it is all gone. The only thing left for additional funding is more construction work and more sponsorship. I am willing do to both because that is what its going to take to go on this trip.

    I won’t be commenting further on this thread again because I have lots of preparation to do. That said. Thanks for following and please contact me with anymore questions or concerns via my email: samuel@theinitiativesite.com.

    Sincerely

    -Samuel H Gardner

  • matthew hazley

    quote: his trip is marginly different than whats been done in the past.its far, its fast, its light, its on trails ho hum.the marginal increases in speed and length hes proposing doesnt impress me that much.

    sorry andrew but these comments are totally uncalled for.

    it would be exactly like chris townsend calling your AYE trip ho hum because hes been there done that 20 years ago. youve come along and gone futher faster lighter ho hum.

    no hes not reinventing the wheel but then niether is piecing together several trails in one thru hike which 1000’s of people have hiked before.

    i also fail to see what wheel flyin brian had to invent on his hike. light wieght backpacking was well publicised in 2001 by the likes of ray jardine. further faster etc ho hum

    so what if your not impressed with the speed and distance of his trip. there are 100’s of people who have far surpassed anything that you have achieved in the world of back packing through to exploration.

    having negetive comments posted is not nice to read about yourself in the public domain and i am sorry that i have done that to you but with someone of your experience of this kind of trip sam would really benefit from your positive input.

  • http://www.theinitiativesite.com Samuel Gardner

    Very well said Matthew. Thank you.

  • http://www.AndrewSkurka.com Andrew Skurka

    I fear this conversation is going down the road that many internet conversations do, which is why I tend to avoid them. I’m sure if we were all to ever meet it’d be like a happy reunion among old friends. My comments probably didn’t help the congeniality in this case but I hope they’re not misinterpreted as me being unsupportive of Samuel or believing it’s an impossible trip.

    Samuel first contacted me last January and we had a few exchanges since then. I think his intentions are good and he’s approaching it the right way (i.e., journey over destination). A lot of the controversy that he’s been swept into is externally created — he just wants to do the trip, and it’s everybody else that wants to talk about it.

    I admire anybody ambitious and bold enough to take on a challenge like this, but I’m a pragmatist and offer my thoughts/advice when it’s sought or when I think it can help. I maintain the first 3 points in my first post: (1) Samuel would have a better chance of success if he had thru-hiking experience; (2) he’ll need to become really efficient in routine tasks to maintain a consistently fast pace; and (3) he’ll need to somehow overcome the slow winter months during some other point in the trip. I think it’d be tough to make a counter-argument to any of these points. Samuel also needs also to be super motivated, to start the trip in great shape, etc., but I’m assuming that’s obvious to him and everyone else already.

    I probably could have avoided the personal opinions re the prominence of this trip versus others. That’s a bad pissing contest to start. But no doubt you’re seeing some raw feelings: following my Great Western Loop trip I didn’t feel sufficiently challenged by trying to go even further, faster, or lighter, so instead I found new challenges in off-trail travel, skiing, packrafting and running. I think other uber long-distance hikers (e.g. Brian, Justin, the Onion) went through a similar process. So it sounds weird to me when someone says that they’re pushing the boundaries of long-distance hiking by going back to what *I* perceive as a tired theme.

    Of course, Samuel’s been very clear that he’s doing this for *himself*, and that *he* wants to learn what *he* can from it, so the comparing of past and future trips is actually an irrelevant issue if this is truly the case. We just should all stop discussing it and wish Samuel well on his journey.

  • Buzz

    Andrew’s post above is extremely fair, well reasoned, and well written; it wraps up the situation very well.

    While Samuel’s experience is minimal/moderate, his attitude is great, which is probably most important: he’s just going to do what he can, have a good time, and learn a lot. That’s all we ever do.

    He unfortunately ruffled the feathers by saying, “…the All-In Trek is the next thing in long distance backpacking…”. Without that sentence, everyone would be saying, “Good luck”, even as they harbored their doubts as to the m/p/d goals, but since that statement is a comparison to others, it invites others to do the same.

    The All-In is a terrific idea, very worthwhile, but the pioneers of thru-hiking really did continue to push the envelop in other directions. Flyin’ Brian set the course record at Barkley, a race of legendarily heinous off-trail thrashing, after 3-years of trying, and then just last month trained all year for then raced a road Half-Marathon!

    And of course, Andrew’s AYE is on another level entirely … I once rode my bike from Nepal to Tibet, and I think of that as an enjoyable stroll in the park compared with one week in the Alaskan bush. Andrew wasn’t just the first person to circumnavigate Alaska, he was the first person to even consider it possible. (The Triple Crown of Backpacking was talked about and attempted years prior to Brian achieving it).

    My guess is Samuel didn’t intend to throw down the gauntlet with his “…the next thing…” comment, it wasn’t real important to him, and he’s going to have a very worthwhile trip without comparing his to anyone else’s. Again, best of luck!

  • matthew hazley

    this IS the next big thing in backpacking.

    but it may not be the next big thing for trauma and likes to challenge themselves with, as with all great adventurers and thrill seekers the next ‘fix’ has to be a bigger and better challenge. that i agree. heck there are lots of challenges i would like to try, like swimming the atlantic or circumnavigate the globe in triathlon style, reach both poles in the same year etc.

    just because people have moved on to bigger personal challenges doesnt mean the book is closed for people pushing the boundaries from where they have left off.

    of course andrews alaska trip is another level, its not just backpacking.

    my point is people who have moved on to bigger personal challenges should not look back at people pushing the boundaries of their previous achievments with the whole so what attitude and of it being a tired theme.

    when ussain bolt broke the 100m world record was that a tired theme or did he push the boundaries of his sport to a new level

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Seth-Barham/1008496761 Seth Barham

    I don’t know if you realize this or not, but if you develop an online personality for yourself, you are inviting both praise and criticism from all parties from all over the world. You can’t pick and choose, and you best be prepared for the worst (if you can’t take the heat then don’t play with fire). The worst being mindless insults with no substance whatsoever behind them. Andrew’s and Buzz’s comments are far from this. They are offering well-formed, grammatically correct, constructive criticism and insight. If I were Sam, I would be on the edge of my seat listening to everything Andrew has to say. There are few better teachers in the backpacking world. And now, after following his journal, it seems he should have definitely been all-ears. Despite nitpicking everything that he has done wrong to date, what he should have done in preparation, and his PayPal button, I will end with this:nnEveryone should follow their dreams. I’m glad Sam has taken the initiative to do so (no pun intended). But if Steve Vai is offering you a free guitar lesson, if Stephen King wants to critique your work, if Andrew Skurka wants to give you backpacking advice, for the love of all that is good and holy, LISTEN! If someone is offering you the tools to make your dream more attainable, don’t shrug them off as if you know better. You will end up with your foot in your mouth, your posterior won’t be able to cash the check, and yes, the naysayers will definitely be back with I-told-you-sos that will make shooting fish in a barrel seem humane. Now Sam is seeing the difference between talking the talk and walking the walk, and it looks like he should have done them in a different order. nnSam, my prayers are with you, I hope you have the time of your life, and I hope you can see through the alleged negativity and find valuable advice in the “naysayers'” comments. It’s there. Nothing would make me happier for you than you making me put my own foot in my mouth. Hike on.nn-Seth

  • 4eyedbuzzard

    IT’S ALL OVER except for the crawling back to Michigan with his tail between his legs part. The GPS has been turned off for 5 days (the “support team” says it’s an accident and he didn’t know. Riiight. Sure.). He’s taken 2+ zeros in motels. Now he’s walking “half days” (what were those other ones?) and today he’s yellow blazing to another motel with a bad calf and achilles tendon. The “support team” has taken down ALL comments and won’t be taking any more as they claim it’s too hard to moderate them. Funny, I’ve been watching it closely and there weren’t that many comments. Hmm, or is it that poor Sam doesn’t like and can’t handle the 15 minutes of fame he so desperately sought?nn4eyed

  • Lou

    Sam has brought The Initiative to NY State. After some challenges at the start, he has kept up the step, and is now hiking the marked portions of the NTC. Bravo!

  • Anonymous

    @Lou, We’re really glad to hear that things are picking up for Sam we are aware he hasn’t had the best of starts to The Initiative but it looks like things are improving for him. nnFor anyone who doesn’t know if you visit http://www.theinitiativesite.com/ you can learn all about his route and keep upto date with what is happening each day by clicking on “journal”

  • 4eyedbuzzard

    Come-on, get real. He’s gone maybe 130 miles in two weeks. Record attempt? What record? Biggest amount of BS ever regarding a hike attempt? At his current pace he’ll summit Springer on :::drumroll::: June 7, 2014. This thing has already become a farce – if it wasn’t from day one.

  • XCskiNYC

    Sam is disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst. On White Blaze, facing criticism over his lack of LD hiking experience, he listed the following as his number one qualification for doing the Four-Trail hike: “(1) I lived in a snow-cave on an island in the middle of a beaver pond for 6 months while skiing 5 miles to M.T.U. for school.” Yet in the above interview he says: “In February, my truck broke so I had to use cross country skis to to get to class.” Since his camping out started in November, that means he commuted by truck for four out of the six months and only used xc skis when forced to do so.nnSam’s support team pal Matt Abbotts is just as bad. In the same White Blaze thread, Matt jumps in and says: “He is no stranger to long days. We have gone on a lot of weekend and weeklong trips where we average 40-45 miles per day and have done quite a few day hikes over 50 miles.” So how is it that Sam broke down just a few days into his hike?nnIf you look back through Sam’s tweets, you’ll see that on 24 November 2010 he made the following post at Tweet Deck: “Dialing in the gear for a 2 weekish training trek in MN next week. Just got done with a run. Bit sore today but happy. Pond sauna tonight!” Unfortunately, this two-week shakedown hike never happened. Here’s what did apparently happen, as he registered via txt 5 December 2010: “Short weekend trip. 50 miles in 2.5 days.” Going all the way back through his tweets and txt’s, there’s no mention of either a solo hike, or a hike with Matt, of weekend of weeklong trips averaging over 40 miles per day.nnI actually feel bad for Sam that he never did any proper shakedown hikes. But that wouldn’t be his style. He’s all about stunts. Quick, impressive, pseudo-achievements that take very little commitment of time or energy. He surfs in Lake Superior in the Winter. He rides his mountain bike down a ski slope.nnUnfortunately, it looks like he treated the the so-called All-In Trek as just another stunt, “the next big thing in hiking.” His very fancy statement of purpose said the hike was all about “sharing” and “inspiring.” But by the fourth day of the hike he doesn’t bother posting a journal entry. By the fifth day he posts an entry, but, despite the high-quality Garmin GPS he’s carrying, he gives no mileage stats. He also gives no mention of the road he’s on or the town where he “got a motel room this morning.” According to NOAA, the lowest overnight temperature Sam has encountered is in the high teens and mostly it’s mid to high 20’s [20°F ~ -7°C]. He say’s he’s “freezing his ass off” despite having a Montbell bag with almost two pounds of 650 fill-power down (the bag is rated to zero degrees).nnBy the 9th day Matt turned off the comments. He said it was because he couldn’t keep up with the volume of comments coming in. However, he didn’t just stop new comments. He erased every single comment posted right from Day One of the hike.nnAt this point, Sam ended any claim to his trip being “unassisted” when he traveled 30 miles in the passenger seat of an automobile to deliver himself to a motel in Rome, NY where he too another three zero days.nnBut wait, that wasn’t enough. On the 14th day he journaled: “Big and exciting news! Today I have a trekking partner!.” Sam added: “I am super excited to be able to share my dream adventure with a friend who appreciates the experience as much as I do. Honestly, couldnu2019t ask for more than that. Iu2019ll gladly trade up the u201csolou201d status any day for such a bigger and more worthwhile experience.”nnWell Sam, maybe you could have argued that the 30-mile car ride was out of medical necessity. But now you’ve got somebody with whom you can share your gear weight. After all, tent can be divided up. One stove can serve for two people. Etc. There’s now no way to argue that your hike is “unassisted.” nnIt was pretty clear that you weren’t comfortable with your own company Sam: Day 5: “Never cried this much in my life. The amount of crap goingnthrough my head is incredible.” So you’ve made yourself more comfortable by adding the hiking partner, both physically, in being able to divvy up much of the gear load, and mentally in that you’ll no longer have the discomfort of being alone with your own thoughts. The only problem is, even if you do now complete all four of the trails, hte accomplishment is not likely to be very well respected.

  • XCskiNYC

    Sam has his Google Latitude Tracker zoomed out so that the map covers New York State plus parts of Canada, PA, VT, MA, and CT. This makes it impossible to see exactly where, and how much, he is moving each day. About a week ago he was claiming daily mileages of 7 to 10 miles, moving on a virtually flat trail. Giving out a “Bravo” for that kind of effort really cheapens the word “Bravo,” whether or not the miniscule mileage is on the actual NCT or not (since he gives very few geographical details and has thus far shown only a a single image of an NCT blaze, it’s not clear how anybody really knows if the few miles he does each day are on the NCT or not.. In any case, for the past few days he hasn’t given out any daily mileage figures at all.

  • Lou

    Comments like yours always make me laugh, because the tone usually belies the naivetu00e8 of the writer. Experience in winter hiking will be evident in understanding the challanges involved. Once you, dear poster, strap on a pair of snowshoes, throw on a pack and go spend a couple of nights in the wilds, in sub-zero temps, come back and share how things went for you. It would be pretty enlightening reading, I imagine and chances are, you will be able to breathe better, have less stress, have a grip on any depresssion, and frankly have a good story to share,as well as have some respect for folks who put up big challanges fo them selves. So get off your big horsies and go get some fresh air, folks!nnn

  • Foureyedbuzzard

    @Lou,nXCskiNYC, I, and others aren’t the ones with the fancy “All-In Trek” website claiming we are going to hike 34 mpd and asking for donations and sponsors, and talking about post hike “inspirational lectures” and such in our “media kits”. I’ve snowshoed and winter hiked enough to know the challenges. That said, I’m twice Sam’s age + and wouldn’t be struggling as much as he is. In the last 10 days he and Jake have gone maybe 60 miles. ’nuff said. The only real naivity here is those who think this is remotely a serious undertaking anymore. These boys are just out doing a little winter hiking and camping at this point. It would take him over 4 years to finish at the current pace.

  • Parm

    Squeaky….great to see you’re still alive and out there. For those of you that don’t know, Matthew set some real milestones hiking the triple crown in perhaps the worst possible weather conditions imaginable. Cheers to you for that, and cheers to you for being so humble in your accomplishments. nnParm-we met in ’03 north of Pearisburg Va and I had great fun reading your notes in the shelters northbound and learning of your triple crown a bit later.nn

  • YouTube

    Here is a link to a youtube video with Samuel and I believe his brother talking about the upcoming hike:nnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmUoFaWlBO0nnAlmost comes across as a commercial.

  • Elmo

    The “initiative” is over, anybody surprised that he didn’t make it out of one state?nnPer his journal he says he will start again in a years time. Anybody think that will really happen and if it does that he will make any progress to his stated goal? nnOr was this just an attention seeking lad way out of league?nn

  • 4eyedbuzzard

    No surprise. Like you said, just another attention seeking personality in the current craze of the reality show of life. The hike isn’t possible except perhaps by an elite few, and even then the odds would be stacked incredibly against them. The weather windows for the various trails are a big issue, as are the physical and psychological demands of hiking at that pace for a year. I’d bet against anyone achieving it (and give odds) – even Skurka or Trauma or some other PROVEN hardcore hiker.nn”We now return control of your browser to you, until next year at this same time when the Control voice will take you to The Outer Limits.” 🙂

  • Sam Thomas

    I’ve only just found out about this young man’s challenge, and was not at all surprised to find out he had failed. In 2009 i attempted to cross Canada completely unsupported and failed due to visa issues (although, if i’m honest i don’t think i could have made it anyway). My journey was to cover around 4500 miles and to take about 8 or 9 months and i made it from Vancouver to Wawa (NE lake Superior) in 6 months. So to find out someone was trying to cover 3 times that in just a year made me question his sanity. Whether or not he has started training for next year- this trip is not possible! The only way to achieve that distance in 1 year is to have a support vehicle. If he reads this my advice is to take more time and enjoy your surroundings- i found myself missing out on so much because i was in a hurry- don’t make that same mistake. But if you insist and want some advice, I now organise adventure holidays for a living. <>

  • Pissedoffreader

    Ridiculous – kid has never done a long distance trail before. Talk about talking a lot and never backing it up. I’m sure Skurka or some of those crazy guys have seen this by now and are laughing themselves silly.

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