Way back in September I told you about Samuel Gardner and his “All-In Trek.” It was around then that Samuel first announced his plans to hike the North Country Trail, Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, all back-to-back. On January 1st of this year, he set out to do just that, and now, a month and a half in, he’s started to receive a great deal of attention for his efforts.
If successful, Gardner will cover more than 12,500 miles (20,117km) on his adventure. He began his journey on the North Country Trail, which stretches 4600 miles from New York to North Dakota. At the moment, he is 45 days into that march, and when you consider that it is still deep winter in the states he’s crossing through, you begin to have an appreciation for what he has undertaken. In fact, the weather has been down right awful for him on the trail thus far, but he was well prepared for that and has made solid progress thus far.
Once he finishes off the North Country Trail, Gardner will move on to the 2650 mile (4264km) Pacific Crest Trail, which he’ll travel south to north, ending at the Canadian border. Then it’s off to the Continental Divide Trail (3100 miles/5000km) which he’ll tackle going north to south, before finally heading over to the Appalachian Trail, which is 2175 miles (3500km) in length, and will cap the expedition. The plan is to complete the journey in just one year, which means that Sam will have to average roughly 34 miles per day to achieve that goal.
National Geographic Adventure recently did a brief interview with Gardner, which you can now read on their Adventure Blog. In the interview, Sam talks about his inspirations for the trek, what weather conditions have been like so far, as well as his favorite trail foods. You can about his thoughts on those subjects, and a whole lot more, by clicking here.
You can also read daily updates on Sam’s progress on his website’s Journal section, which offers plenty of great insights into what it is like on the trail.
Good luck Sam!
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15 thoughts on “12,500 Mile ‘All-In Trek’ Is Underway”
I find this quite unsettling. Sam appears to be a very nice person, who not having anywhere near enough experience to accomplish something like this, nonetheless announced the grandiose plan, and wasn't shy about seeking publicity for it. There is no way he can do it – as expected, he's been averaging about 10 mpd – yet the blogosphere is sucking it up. A little pathetic. Meanwhile, there are probably thousands of people out there right now, doing cool interesting things, who have made no ridiculous claims as to what they supposedly are going to accomplish; they are the ones who deserve a nod. Sam needs to walk first, talk later.
So, Buzz…what are you doing that is so ambitious…other than dissing someone with ambition, dreams, and guts.
Nothing? I thought so.
Sam Gardner and his Initiative project have really stirred up the pot in the hiking community. Not coming as a surprise is that there are opinions on both sides of the trail, some of them rather hot, with critics and supporters to match. What Sam has done to make feelings run the gamut is that he has made a very personal challenge rather public and why shouldnt that rile some people up. That's what this sort of thing does. Really though, it's actually a great thing that Sam is acting on what he dreams and putting it out there for the world to watch. Though for someone in his position, wouldn't it be fair to say, let him succeeed or fail by his own merit? Sam's website and blog are very insightful into what is actually wanting to be accomplished, by first attempting this trip, as well as why it should be public. Many of Sam's critics probably speak out from a position of experience and concern though unfortunately most of them are folks who are still missing the point which supporters see clearly. When the time is taken to actually read The Initiative blog, it would be evident what this is about is striving for dreams: trying to make the "impossible" a reality. As much of a cliché as that may sound it is still relevant and what makes this inspiring. So why is this actually inspiring? Sam is a regular guy who decided to make a ridiculously awesome goal for himself. He chose a challenge in a genre he loves, made it big, and has gone for it. This is a challenge to the person who keeps saying no to their themselves and their dreams maintaining a status quo as well as being a demonstration of possibility. Depending on how you look at it, success and failure have the same common denominator: trying. If you never try, you will never fail, or succeed. This isn't about hiking firsts or media hounding- this is about a hope, a hope that what Sam is doing with his dream will inspire other people to follow their dream too even if it seems impossible. This is an example of not being afraid to risk failure in order to have a chance at success. We need this kind of example in the world: someone "regular" doing in a BIG way what he loves and sharing it with those who would dare to be inspired. If you are reading this shaking your head with dismay, smile! life is good 🙂 though maybe you are a person who spends too much time being realistic. Perhaps you should experiment with the idea that sometimes forcing the boundries of what you consider reaslistic may yeild some interesting results. Is that a possibility worth confronting? Maybe, maybe not. You decide. Only you can know what will work for you. But in the meantime, there is someone out there who setting a good example of what it is to give their dream a darn good shot. For me, that's inspiration to get up and give 'er! Thanks Sam. And thanks to all of you who find The Initiative an inspiration or even simply an interest factor in your day because I think you are the kind of folks this adventure is for. Inspiration for life!
Well said, Lou — I couldn't have written it better! I encourage folks to spend a couple of minutes a day (literally) to read his journal. Lookin' forward to hearing about your cool and interesting experiences, too, Buzz!
"Buzz" Kill. Too bad you don't have half the guts and ambition that Sam does. Also too bad you don't know Sam, because if you did, you wouldn't doubt him for a minute. Sam is getting the support and attention he deserves…because he's doing something 99% of the world wishes they had the balls to do. Who cares if he's doing 10 mpd. Go find someone else to bash.
What Sam is currently doing, is easy. Anyone can do it. It's not studly at all. Originally, Sam had made himself sound like a stud and was going to be hiking at a 34mpd pace for one year. Sam is currently not doing anything that should be considered awe-inspiring. He is merely living. Waking up when he wants too, taking long breaks during the day, taking trail magic opportunities when he shouldn't be. All these things don't exist in the style of the hike that was originally publicized. Hikers know what I'm talking about. Of course lay people don't know what I'm talking about. Because they have no experience in LDH. "There's a sucker born every minute" P.T. Barnum.
Please don't label me as a hater. I am not. Just a messenger from reality. Buzz is as well.
I reckon Sam has never put together a -5 lb. set up.
I prefer to live by the well known statement, .. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all…. The world would be better off if people kept their negative comments to themselves. Blogs like this should be strictly for positive encouragement, and Honestly if what Sam is doing right now is "easy".. why don't you get out there with a -5lb set up and show us all how it's done. Maybe you both should take a little of buzz's advice… "walk first, talk later".
"Trolls" are everywhere on the internet these days… people (usually anonymous) who spend their lives in front of a computer screen throwing out criticism in order to get attention. They are best ignored. We who have been out there doing things similar to what Sam is doing know his accomplishments are significant. Good work and godspeed, Sam! Thanks for sharing.
I'm assuming the poster "Buzz" is Buzz Burrell, trail running legend, in which case he does know what he is talking about.
That is indeed the Buzz who posted the comment, and he has plenty of experience in this arena.
Well, one thing you can say for sure about Sam is that he knows how to get the word out and spin the wheels of publicity. He is definitely putting himself out there in a big and calculated way, more so than I believe I've ever seen in the blogosphere for a long distance hike. He may have a future in marketing if the adventurist endurance athlete thing doesn't go over so well.
The publicity may raise some awareness for the NCT which as I understand it could use a lot more funds and volunteers. If this is the outcome, well that's a good thing that most peeps aren't talking about.
Buzz is right in saying "Sam needs to walk first, talk later". It appears he has talked first (in a big way), and walked later (in a little way).
To some of the detractors to what Buzz said….you'd be wrong to assume that people critical of Sam are do nothing loafers. On the contrary they are most likely LDH'ers who've done more and efface themselves of less. We are a skeptical lot when it comes to talk, and really measure the value of a journey on what is done, not said. If you've done the miles, you know what I mean.
Be that as it may….Sam seems like one solid guy. He is out there seeking his dream and if you're critical of that, you've the issues not him. However, you can be skeptical and hold him up to scrunity when you see his stated goals and are aware of his solicitation of donations (for himself, not for some non-profit trail assocation etc).
I wish him well and hope he finds satisfaction no matter the outcome.
Buzz, the blogosphere may have sucked up Samuel H. Gardner's trek (posting on the White Blaze forum he identifies himself as Samuel H. Gardner — he hasn't spent enough time on any major trails to pick up a trail name), but the major and minor gear manufacturers have all but totally ignored his pleas for sponsorship and financial support. With the exception of one backpack donated by ULA, and that was probably considered a charitable contribution rather than any kind of formal endorsement of Samuel H. Gardner's hike, the entire universe of gear manufacturers has responded by totally ignoring the All-In Trek. Ditto for virtually the entire outdoor sports media, with the exception of one recent mention in a blog way in the back of the National Geographic Web pages but, hey, everybody's desperate for content to fill their news holes.
Galen, who the heck are you to criticize Buzz? Considering his insight into what a snow job Samuel H. Gardner has perpetrated, I'd figure Buzz is somebody who knows a little something about long-distance hiking and backpacking. So where do you get off criticizing Buzz? What do you do that puts you in a position to say who he can and cannot criticize? What is your backpacking and long-distance hiking experience?
Goodness, all this criticism and hyperbolic ranting over a young guy who came up with a cool idea and decided to go for it. So he had a bit of bravado going in – isn't that standard for young people with big ideas? This is how we learn and gain experience. He's just doing what he's doing how he's doing it. That's all. I wish him well on his grand adventure.
Yeah, another Boy Scout hiker.
I too applaud the idea and the get up and go to complete it. A few years ago I decided I wanted to start walking long distances and whilst I was at it I decided that I would try to do them to raise funds for charity. That way I'd in some small way possibly make a difference to people with more difficult lives and along the way I'd see some beautiful parts of the world at an intimate distance. I have so far done 6 treks in parts of Britain over 1 – 6 days long each. I wish Sam all the best in achieving his goals. I do understand how annoying it could be for others who have completed far more challenging treks with far less shouted about them but isn't that just because he chose to put it out there and maybe they didn't? I admire the effort and organisation it takes to get a LDH up and running and the mental and physical effort it takes to continue on through to the end. My ultimate dream would be to walk from London to Melbourne. I am currently researching this as a reality in the next few years. If anyone has any tips or serious words of advice and encouragement I'd love to hear from you. Good luck Sam and well done all on efforts you've made in the past and plans for adventures in the future.
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