“I DIDN’T FAIL” – David Horton on the Colorado Trail
David, the multi-day king, wanted to go out on a good note after a sour day on the CDT last year. He and Jonathan Basham came to Colorado to train and acclimate for three weeks; their preparation was good.
I was thus taken aback when David’s smiling face greeted me at the Grouse Gulch aid station during the HR100. He was in excellent spirits, looked good, and it was great to see him. He had called it quits after 6 days – oddly while still right on schedule for the record – but with mounting issues that clearly precluded continuation.
His blog has an excellent account, excerpted here:
“Going after the CT record might have been my most difficult multi-day attempt so far. The CT record is very TOUGH. The trail itself was tougher than I thought it would be. I averaged 40 miles per day on the PCT and AT and 45 miles per day running across America. Averaging over 54 miles per day on the CT was VERY tough. I started very day before daylight, usually around 4:00 AM and finished every day after dark. My average time on the trail was around 17 hours per day. This left very little time for anything. I was usually in bed 30 to 45 minutes after finishing each day. Each day, the last section ATE my lunch. It took everything that I had to finish each day. I never knew at night if I would be able to go again the next day.”
“Day 6 should have been an easy day but it was not. We got lost before daylight and ran 4 miles off course. Later in the day it was very hot and the dry heat started sucking the life out of me. In the middle of the days my hands started swelling, sausage fingers you say. I have had them before but NEVER as big as they got this time. In the last section of the day, I became very concerned about them and how big can they get before damage occurs. On the back of my hands, the skin stuck grossly very high. My forearms started swelling all the way up to my elbows. It was getting tighter and tighter. How big can they get?? What damage can occur?? I was also thinking about the next day as it was going to be the toughest day yet, over 60 miles with one road crossing. I knew the possibility that if I got in trouble in this section that I would put myself and my crew in a serious problem. I knew then that I must stop. Could I have run the next day? Yes. Could I have caused myself or others some serious problems? Yes.”
David’s own email to Peter Bakwin sums it up perfectly:
“Thanks for all your and Steph’s help. The CT record is very tough. The trail was harder than I thought it would be. I stayed on schedule each of the first 6 days but each day was VERY hard. I had some medical issues that I was concerned about so I pulled the plug.
“I don’t’ really know if JB will go after the record or not.
“I don’t know for sure what my future plans are.
“I failed last year on the CDT
“I don’t feel like I really failed this time.
“I feel very good about what I accomplished.
Peter noted Andrew Thompson once said:
“We tend to fail more than we succeed; that approach seems to make for the
“SPANKED” – Paul Pomeroy on the Long Trail
Paul Pomeroy reports on his Long Trail record attempt. Paul’s plan was to do the entire 270 miles carrying everything but the water he could find.
“My plan was flawed. The trail was so much harder than expected; I didn’t remember it that way. It goes straight up, then straight down, without that much running. There are ladders it’s so steep, and roots, slippery rocks … a lot of it was under water … it’s a different animal.”
“I put in 12 hours the first day, and only made 25 miles. That’s 2 mph. The last 3 hours after dark I probably made 2 miles, while falling down 8-9 times, and turning my ankles 3 times. The next day I got up at 4 am, headed right out, and after 12 hours, I had made only another 25 miles, even though I was moving well.”
“I had 4 days of food, so it was immediately clear this plan wasn’t going to work. Going fully supported means you can move much quicker without the pack, and you can change clothes and change shoes. But backpacking this means I could only average 40 mpd, which would take 7 days. So I spent my remaining two days of food hiking in a more leisurely fashion, enjoying Mt Mansfield, then left the trail. I could have re-supplied and re-started, but didn’t want to.”
“I cannot describe this as pleasant. My feet got wet 2 minutes after starting, and stayed wet the entire time. It rained a lot, but since I was enclosed in that green canopy, I couldn’t tell whether it was raining or not; it always dripped. It was too wet, too muddy, too muggy.”
Demetri Coupounas holds the unsupported record (and only known unsupported crossing) at 12d 19h 53m, August 18-31, 2004. Cavedog Kaiser, on his 2nd attempt and with full support, holds the current record at 14d 13h 15m, set in 2004. On September 7, Jonathan Basham will attempt to better that time. JB is an extremely experienced multi-day runner/hiker, and being familiar with the crux issues on the LT, intentionally is timing his push for when conditions should be dryer.
“ANDY WON!” – Andy Skurka at the Alaska Wilderness Classic
Andy Skurka, the ‘King of the Backpackers’ (and a darn good runner), embarked on a remarkable new adventure earlier this summer, hiking and paddling across Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Lots of wildlife … and we’re not talking squirrels and chipmunks …
His friend Kristin writes:
“I got a call from him and he had a great adventure (700 miles) with some really close grizzly, whale, and caribou herd encounters. He had already seen about 15 grizzly’s and most just ran away, except one. He was coming down off a fairly barren ridge with nothing but a few mountain goats around, when he heard crashing slate rock that sounded like breaking plates behind him and he turned around and a grizzly was charging him full speed. He got out his bear spray and said to himself that this might not go so well. He started yelling and the bear freaked out once it realized he was human and skidded on all fours and turned and ran away. I guess he has some video! He has also been using his packraft quite a bit (looks and weighs about as much as a little boat you would have in your swimming pool) and he was a little concerned when huge whales were breaching near his little “toy” raft while miles from shore.”
Andy made excellent use of the SPOT locater beacon, ticking it twice a day so his friends could see his whereabouts. Each time the email came with the automatic message:
“I’m safe and healthy – I’m loving it out here – usually.”
Since that 700 mile jaunt was too short, he then entered the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic Race on Sunday the 26th. A brief description of the race:
“The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic is serious. Started in 1982, it is perhaps the first true wilderness race after the one Otzi the Ice Man tried running from the guy with the bow and arrows. The race has a starting point and a finish point, somewhere in Alaska, with no required or set route. No traveling on roads. No motorized vehicles. Carry everything. Drop nothing. No food or equipment pick-ups or drops. Serious grizzly bear country, and they can run faster than you, and they are the least of the hazards. The race area changes every three or so years. Some of the winners over the years have been very innovative in route selection and techniques, as have some of the losers. Usually a 3 – 6 day race, in the summer.”
“If you have not done the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, do not brag about any extreme adventure races you have done. If you have done the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, and survived, you might not brag about things anymore.”
“Just a group of friends who like to party in two places, about 150 – 175 miles and a week apart.”
Another report today:
“I got a call from Andy this morning. He has finished the race and he won! (Actually, tied with two others who all stuck together the whole race). I think he is pretty shocked himself. He said that he slept for about 2.5 hours the entire time and he sounded in dire need of sleep. He scares me when he is that out of it. He does not remember walking the final 1.5 miles into town. There was no one at the finish line, you just sign a book. Crazy.”
“At any rate … he is safe. What will be next ?? I shudder to think.”
– Karen (mother)