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Why im walking across America for the third time

February 06, 2019 3 min read

Why im walking across America for the third time

by ioMerino Outsider Paul 

"When I’m talking with someone about my long hikes across America the first question people usually ask is "Why"? I asked that very same question when I first heard about the Appalachian Trail. Why would someone want to spend six months in the woods hiking two thousand plus miles?

My first experience on the Appalachian Trail came in 2010 whilst working in up state New York. I was guiding a group of kids on a two night hike that intersected with the Appalachian Trail. Growing up in a suburban neighbourhood outside of London meant I wasn’t used to the vast amount of open forest around me. Our group met a few people out Thru-Hiking the entire Trail. After chatting to these bearded adventurer's I added the Appalachian Trail (AT) to my bucket list.

Fast forward to March of 2015 and It’s the night before I set off from the southern terminus of the AT. I would be leaving from Springer Mountain in Georgia heading north to finish at Katahdin in Maine. Nervous and excited I had no idea what an amazing adventure the trip would be. I completed the 2189 mile Appalachian Trail in six months and ten days. I was a changed person, never to be the same again. I’d met lifelong friends, pushed myself harder than I ever thought possible and eaten enough Snickers bars to make me nauseous. Never would I attempt such a thing again…


Finishing the Appalachian Trail in 2015

Until two years later. Friends from the AT hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2016 and I’d followed their journeys' enviously through social media. I was happy with my decision to have not hiked in 2016 but the beauty of the PCT was clear. Their stories from the trail made me yearn for the Hiker Trash life.

2017 was the year those same friends would set out on the Continental Divide Trail to attempt the Triple Crown of Hiking. Completing these three long distance hikes in the USA is a feat less than 300 people have achieved and I wanted to be part of the adventure. I saved up the money, bought the ticket and took the ride.

The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) completely reinvigorated my love of the great outdoors. The AT for all it’s charm is not known for it’s epic scenery but the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is jaw dropping.

The CDT held a very different set of challenges from what I experienced on the AT. Although I’d done my research I was still pushed to my limits. Dealing with extreme exposure to the desert sun one day and then crossing deep snow over high mountain passes the next. The catchphrase of the CDT is “embrace the brutality” and we certainly did do that.

Embrace the Brutality on the CDT

Despite its challenges the CDT gave me, what I truly want from the outdoors. Epic scenery, untamed wilderness and a chance to prove myself and push my comfort zones. I changed. Again.

Seeing my friends finish their Triple Crowns’ at the CDT terminus on the Mexican Border was inspiring. I knew it was a matter of time until I would be ready to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail. To claim my own Triple Crown. To have walked over 7000 miles through some of the remotest parts of North America.

The end of the CDT

That time is approaching. In 2020 I’ll be stepping back into my hiking shoes to tackle the PCT and hike once again across America from Mexico to Canada.

The simplicity of purpose is one of the major factors that makes long-distance hiking addictive. To awaken inside your tent after hard earn rest and peak out at the wild world. To eat a humble breakfast and pack all the things you need inside a small backpack. To start walking early and finish walking late. To be exactly where you are in that moment in time.

It all comes back to that question. Why am I going to walk across America for the third time? If that answer isn’t clear to you now then it never will be.

There are a lot of keys to success on a long hike like this. A big smile, a little luck and remembering that even the hard times pass. Good gear also plays a major factor and in 2020 I’ll be rocking some of my favourite ioMerino clothing out on the trail. To see how I’m preparing and read more about my adventures come say hi on my website  www.pieonthetrail.com


Follow Paul on Instagram to find out what he gets up to next.