Aug 6, 2008 at 9:34 pm #1230520
Is anyone else watching this guy? He's trying to do a SOBO hike of the AT in 47 days. His site is tracking his daily progress. It's at: http://www.whereskarl.com/Aug 6, 2008 at 10:23 pm #1446071
@erothman2Locale: Pacific NW
I'm sorry to be a party pooper, but I just don't see the point of these trips, and they offend something I haven't yet put my finger on in me. I know, I know, "Hike your own hike," but hell's bells! If you're not going to look around, EVER, just look at your chronometer and your GPS and walk walk walk walk walk walk walk
then just stay the hell home and go around the track! You're not experiencing nature, appreciating ANYTHING about being there, how could you? Every stream, every rise, everything is an obstacle to your goal.
To get out away from work and the city and stoplights and sirens and alarm clocks and to just follow the tick tock tick tock for 47 days….
just my opinion, of course.Aug 6, 2008 at 10:43 pm #1446075Aug 6, 2008 at 11:03 pm #1446076
.Aug 6, 2008 at 11:48 pm #1446077
Come on guys, if you were going to do something you are passionate about, that WOULD be able to have the ability to be "marketable," wouldn't you do it and make a little money while you where at it.
If I had a passion like running the AT, I would try to live my passion and make a living at the same time. You really think there's something wrong with that?Aug 7, 2008 at 3:08 am #1446089
@leadfootLocale: Middle Virginia
I don't see how different it is than folks riding bikes across America in the fastest time possible. Some get sponsors, some don't. I say good for him! Someone will be next to beat his time. Besides, if he's running, isn't that considered trail running? Is that so bad? I find it fun.Aug 7, 2008 at 6:25 am #1446097
This was brought up a couple days ago in the other activities forum.
I find it odd that nobody really complained about the JMT speed record attempts last year or this year, but now that someone wants to do the AT, some are hoping the hikers/runners will break their legs…Aug 7, 2008 at 6:52 am #1446102
@jkrew81Locale: White Mtns
It is somthing interesting to peak at while you are at work and nothing more.Aug 7, 2008 at 8:35 am #1446115
@erothman2Locale: Pacific NW
Let me be clear since I started the rant, I did not know this guy was hiking for dollars and was not picking on him specifically. I was reacting to the whole notion of speed hiking and other similar things that use the backcountry as something to get through rather than something to be in.
JMT, AT, I don't care. Though to speed hike with blinders on at night or whatever on a trail named after JOHN MUIR- well, that's the height of disrespect. I think he'd definitely agree with me about speed-hiking. :-)Aug 7, 2008 at 9:02 am #1446125
If anyone would appreciate that individuals experience nature differently it would have been John Mur.
Just because someone likes to hike faster than you and write about it doesn’t mean they are being disrespectful or not properly experiencing nature.
As far as someone having an issue with this particular hiker writing about his experiences, well you all are contributing members to various online forums dealing with backpacking. You write about hiking almost every day.
I think some of you people are just a bit too tightly bound if you have ethical issues with someone walking fast. Yes you have an ethical issue with this if you think walking fast is disrespectful.
ChadAug 7, 2008 at 10:08 am #1446144
Chad has a point. Different strokes for different folks.
I'll admit though that I sometimes feel "disdain" towards speed hikers. But I try to remind myself that there are countless different ways to enjoy life… So HYOH is a pretty good mantra after all.Aug 7, 2008 at 10:24 am #1446149
@mad777Locale: South Florida
Well, if I were the one hiking, I'd be approaching it the same way Elizabeth is advocating; stopping to smell the roses.
I once hiked to the bottom of Grand Canyon and back in one day and amazingly, it took me the same amount of time on the descent as on the ascent! I realized that this was due to the fact that I stopped every 10' to take a picture and ogle at the scenery on the way down but, I ran out of memory on my camera as I approached the river. With no pictures to take, and the fact that I retraced the same trail on the return, my times were equal.
But, if someone wanted to break a speed record on that same trip, and do it at night to avoid the mule trains, :-) more power to them!Aug 7, 2008 at 11:03 am #1446158
I'm a strong believer in Hike Your Own Hike. At the same time, I feel that the speed record phenomenon – while of human nature – has a unique capacity to depreciate the experiences of other long distance users who share the trail corridor, mostly in ways that are intangible yet real, and on some level for certain users are difficult to fully surmount.
This sense of depreciation, over time, also extends to the trail corridor itself, not in any physical sense, but by somehow reducing the stature and mystique of the long trail in proportion to the self-aggrandizement the phenomenon derives from it. Setting and promoting speed records, far from its naive beginnings, now presents itself as something of a business model, something antithetical to the traditional intent of the long distance trail. A historical truth is now in harm's way: the ability of the humble long path through the woods, by appearing to be infinite, insurmountable, unknowable, to stir the souls of average folks to achieve something extraordinary. This newfound competition for the title of "most extraordinary" has the capacity to leave the traditional majority who wish only to compete introspectively with a diminished sense of purpose and accomplishment. And "just getting over it" is not as simple a directive as it may seem.
I don't wish to heap all the trouble onto the speed record camp, since the information age surely plays its role as well, as does perhaps the natural evolution of the long trails experience, still unfolding. I do, however, like to believe that the problem, as it exacerbates, will be self-correcting over time, as those who find themselves repelled by the "new reality" seek personally meaningful experiences elsewhere in nature than on the neo-superhighways of the long-distance hiking world. I also like entertaining the notion that munificence may one day replace ego as the catalyst to finding self-worth through achievement in nature.Aug 7, 2008 at 11:17 am #1446163
Wow. I run, walk and do every thing in between speed wise on trails and I have never felt like my speed had any impact on my appreciation of my surroundings nor that of those on the trail with me. If you want solitude go somewhere without other people. If you accept the fact that there will be other people on the trail with you, also allow for them to enjoy the trail at their own speed. Running or fast packing a trail has it's own rewards. I may not glimpse every bug nor petal on the route but I will see more of the big picturet in a short period of time while challenging myself physically. I don't complain about how slow some of you seem to be going and the ganging up on fast hikers I am reading here is frankly a bit nauseating.Aug 7, 2008 at 12:19 pm #1446176
Well Brett I believe in your long, multi syllable ramblings you missed one important aspect of hiking a long trail; personal enjoyment.
It is rather hypocritical of you to look with distain at someone’s hiking speed and determine that they are ”somehow reducing the stature and mystique of the long trail in proportion to the self-aggrandizement the phenomenon derives from it” If someone gains enjoyment hiking fast, so be it. It is rather egotistical of you to think that only your way of hiking is the only way to enjoy the trial.
You go on to say that:
“A historical truth is now in harm's way: the ability of the humble long path through the woods, by appearing to be infinite, insurmountable, unknowable, to stir the souls of average folks to achieve something extraordinary.”
Again how self centered dose one need to be to think that there is only one way to view the experience of a long distance trail? Is it possible to fathom that the man running the AT is doing so to test his personal limits, stir his soul, and achieve something extraordinary for him? It is possible that heading our for a three month hike doesn’t give him the same level of enjoyment, sense of accomplishment, and inner reward as trying to run the trail?
I dare say that you Brett are in danger of becoming a backpacking bigot.Aug 7, 2008 at 12:34 pm #1446180
Brett and Chad:
Reading your posts reveals something that probably all of us know all along: there is no single way of hiking (or anything else) that is superior in all respect.
I actually agree with Brett that a hiker on a whirlwind will miss out on a lot. But really, the same can be said of the slow hiker who has to snap a picture at every corner — sure he'll see and feel a lot, but he will also miss out on the "rush" that comes with speed and breaking records.
Maybe one way is to vary one's hike. Speeders might want to take it slow on some hikes. And slow walkers might want to speed things up and turn a hobby into a sport once in a while — to experience it differently.
So in lieu of attacks and counterattacks — I say just HYOH, and maybe vary it a bit from one to the next — unless a hiker just happens to like being in his rut. Nothing wrong with that either, of course.Aug 7, 2008 at 1:02 pm #1446186
Exactly.Aug 7, 2008 at 1:11 pm #1446187
A backpacking bigot…
Chad, my friend, I put out the disclaimer in the very first sentence of that overrought, multi-syllabic rambling that I'm a firm believer in HYOH. What I'm attempting to get at in what follows that disclaimer isn't a matter of personal opinion, but a phenomenon that I, along with others in the long-distance hiking community, may be in a unique position to understand and comment on. This is something that has little to do with how fast or slow one actually hikes – the individual style of hiking is irrelevant. Rather, it's the promotional nature of so many of these record-setting thru-hike attempts that matters to the discussion. In the internet age, this sort of thing increasingly permeates the long-distance trail culture and fundamentally changes it. The more "ultra" the promoted experience, the more "minute" the traditional thru-hike appears by comparison. Again, it's mostly a subconscious thing, but it does come to bear upon aspiring thru-hikers, who may come to hold their aspirations in lower esteem than otherwise. Whereas a 5 month thru-hike was once a pinnacle of personal achievement, something that could catapult the everyman into an exclusive and heady realm of near magic, if you will, increasingly it may feel like something to compare with something else – something farther, faster, higher – because those comparisons have now been actively drawn.
Again I'll reiterate, the speed record phenom may be just one symptom of the problem, for those who see a problem. I suspect we could replace "problem" with "evolution" and call it inevitable. So let's do that instead, and see where evolution leads us. I'm only intending to report what I've seen and what I now see.Aug 7, 2008 at 1:28 pm #1446191
While I would I never seek to break any speed trail records, I respect this persons right and privilege to do so in the vain of HYOH. It seems pretty obvious to me that the trip is not about enjoying the wilderness per se, but in challenging one’s self, both physically and mentally. What I find most ironic, is that the people criticizing this person for doing so, are most likely being criticized themselves for being “ultra lighters” by all the backpackers still carrying the 60lb pack and stopping to camp at that first spot 5 miles from the trailhead. It’s no different, someone does it different, more extreme then us, so we criticize. I say, just get out there and enjoy, whatever that means to you, race, no race, or stopping to camp 4 miles from the trailhead to play with all the latest gadgets you just bought at REI.Aug 7, 2008 at 1:47 pm #1446194
@lrmblueLocale: Northeast (New England)
“On August 5, 2008, uber ultra-runner Karl Meltzer will set off on the biggest race of his life. His challenge: to run the entire length of the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail in less than 47 days. Definitely daunting. Absolutely grueling. Probably insane. But when he does it, he’ll rule the AT as the guy who conquered it, all of it, the fastest on two feet. This is going to be Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Clock—and it’s going to be good”
My goodness, I almost didn’t check this thread since these kinds of speed record attempts hold almost no interest for me. Personally, I ramble and wander (my mother called it dawdling)—and I am always happy to step to one side of the trail to let the speedsters by, heck, they’re here and gone in the blink of an eye and I am once again alone—it’s as if we inhabit two different dimensions. And I like my way as much as they like their own way—cool.
Still—Karl Meltzer will “rule the AT as the guy who conquered it all, all of it”? What a load of hyperbolic silliness. Granny Gatewood might have had a suitable response for this “uber ultra-runner,” but I think he left me behind long ago. “Probably insane”? Perhaps 'maniacal' would be a better word choice (since his PR brought up the issue). In any case, I know I won’t be building any palaces or setting up any thrones for him on either Katahdin or Springer. Long live the King!
BTW: When we happen to cross paths and linger together for a moment I find speed hikers as interesting and sensitive as most other people I meet on the trail. I would like to hope that if I ever meet Karl we, too, would find some common ground. I just hope that if we ever meet he has left the hype behind—way too much baggage to carry IMHO. Peace.Aug 7, 2008 at 2:21 pm #1446198
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I guess you could look at it another way. He'll see way more of the AT than anyone else in a shorter amount of time.Aug 7, 2008 at 3:17 pm #1446210
@foodLocale: Colorado Rockies
When the record is publicized it invites comparison to other hike times. There are many ways to discourage the comparison. You can avoid the competive aspects by changing the subject. Instead of giving your time tell the truth "Speed was not a consideration". Or "I enjoyed blue blazing too much to worry about time".
When a record is established it involuntarily draws people into a competion. Good, Bad or Ugly – it is the way of the world.Aug 7, 2008 at 6:03 pm #1446236
Brett wrote: "Again, it's mostly a subconscious thing, but it does come to bear upon aspiring thru-hikers, who may come to hold their aspirations in lower esteem than otherwise. Whereas a 5 month thru-hike was once a pinnacle of personal achievement.. increasingly it may feel like something to compare with something else – something farther, faster, higher – because those comparisons have now been actively drawn".
Unless I am missing something… If a person's sense of enjoyment or accomplishment or even self worth is going to be that dependent on others — then all I can say is "grow up, boy — see and experience the world for YOURSELF"!
If other people's speed is bothersome, then are we also going to complain about their size because by comparing, we feel that too is diminishing our own experience, enjoyment, and accomplishment? Makes no sense to me.Aug 7, 2008 at 6:18 pm #1446239
Ain't the speed, Ben. It's the shameless, public self-advancement that leaves its lasting mark – not on the individual – but on the trail experience. I can't explain it better 'n that to those who haven't yet gone out and experienced thru-hiking for themselves.Aug 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm #1446240
I think the perceived shamelessness, public self-advancement, etc. permeate through all aspects of our society. The trail is not going to be any different.
Be it cars, homes, incomes — or speed — comparisons diminish the self worth / sense of accomplishment of those who are competitive — or insecure. Just saying in general — definitely not meaning you or anyone else specifically.
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