Leading the Pack

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It appears that I am currently leading the pack of north bound (NOBO) thru-hikers. I don’t know how because I am super slow.
I knew there was a guy with the trail name Optimus Prime who was doing the Calendar Year Triple Crown. I have not met him yet even though we spent the same night at Hostel Around the Bend. (I arrived late and slept late while he left early the next morning.) I stayed at another hostel and saw Optimus Prime has signed the guest register a few days prior. Dang it!
The owner was in communication with Optimus Prime, and relayed that Optimus said I could do 20-mile days through the Smokys if I just allowed extra time on account of all the snow. Apparently Optimus doesn’t know how slow I am. :⁠-⁠)
As I’m exiting Great Smoky National Park, I pass south bound (SOBO) Da Vinci and Timber, both of whom tell me that I’m the first NOBO thru-hiker they’ve seen. What? Must have just missed Optimus as he zeroed or blew past a shelter.
Days later when I got to Laughing Heart Hostel in Hot Springs, NC, I met Ice Bear again. He said via Point7 that he heard Optimus Prime injured his achilles in the Smokys. Down for 6-8 weeks. What? After he tells me to push 20s in the Smokys, he injuries himself there? Glad that I didn’t follow his advice (read: couldn’t follow his advice because I’m too slow). I’ll tell you about my adventures through the Smokys in my next post. Stay tuned readers!
Laughing Heart gave me a free night as the first NOBO thru-hiker. At the diner in town, the waitress took my photo as their first NOBO thru-hiker. Two days later, I met Slug on the trail who also said I was the first NOBO thru-hiker he’s seen.
So it appears that I am leading the pack. This is just sad. I am so ridiculously slow. Like 1 mph slow. If I concentrate and push hard, I do maybe 1.5 mph. Keep in mind that to do the Calendar Year Triple Crown, you have to average 22 miles per day every day for a year. I’m already behind because I’m slow, only a few times have completed 20+ mile days by hiking literally all night, and have already taken numerous “zero days” where I hiked zero miles because I was in town resupplying and recouping. Yet somehow I’m the leader.
At this pace, it’s not even possible for me to complete the Triple Crown in year. And if I’m the leader, no one is going to complete the Calendar Year Triple Crown either (unless they’re starting at a different point or starting later knowing they have a much faster pace than me).
Leading the Pack

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10 Responses

  1. This is an awesome feat to even attempt Bennett! Remember to stay true to yourself and your ultimate goal – but not the timeline! Be safe and persevere at your pace and enjoy 😊 Concentrate not on the race, but on the journey.

    “The point of goals isn’t to achieve them. The point is who you become on the way to them.” Henry David Thoreau

  2. That’s so Awesome!!! I truly respect all y’all that start early each year! We hiked 274.1 (Springer to Hot Springs) last year and it was tough starting late February! Looking forward to following your journey!!
    Whiskers (Hiking With Whiskers)

  3. Good luck! Just stayed at Laughing Heart a couple of weeks ago for the Southern Ruck and met Timber as he passed through. My hiking partner and I are starting NOBO 3/04 from Damascus so you’ll probably pass is at some point.

  4. Best wishes to you! I’ll be starting my thru at the end of March. By then, you’ll be in the White Mountains!

  5. Amazing, Bennett! I think it’s really smart to listen to your body be in tune with your environment, so you can achieve the long term goal. You’re crushing it!

  6. Truly amazing and look forward to watching your journey!! Stay safe and keep moving forward!!!

  7. You’re going to get so, so much faster! Just give it time and the speed will naturally follow. Congrats on taking the lead!

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