One major hike down, two to go for West Virginia resident Tyler Bedick.
The triple crown of United States hiking is when someone hikes the tree major long-distance trails in the country — the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.
Bedick, a 23-year-old chemist at Mylan Pharmaceuticals, conquered the Appalachian Trail this year, covering the 2,180-plus mile trail in 139 days, so about 4 1/2 months. He said he plans to eventually hike the other two to complete the triple crown.
He also seemed to personify the hiker’s edict in hiking his own hike.
In fact, that’s how he gained his trail name “Ghost.”
Bedick said when he was early in North Carolina, the name was given to him because of how he hiked.
“It was because I hiked quickly and also quietly and would often accidentally sneak up on slower hikers and scare them when asking to pass,” he said.
Hitting the trail
Bedick’s interest in the Appalachian Trail seems to have grown from backpacking experience he had during his time in the Boy Scouts. From there, he said, he began planning his own trips with friends.
Another inspiration came from reading Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk in the Woods.” That, Bedick said, could have spurred the idea of hiking the AT.
“The concept of being in the woods and covering such a long distance on foot really appealed to me,” he said.
Alas, he didn’t have a lot of long-distance hiking experience.
He said the longest hiking trips he had taken were 7-10 days. Some of his trips included New Mexico, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Laurel Highlands Trail, a 70-mile jaunt in Pennsylvania.
With the interest for the bigger hikes, Bedick set out for the Appalachian Trail.
“Feeling confident in your backcountry skills and also being generally physically fit prepared me for it well,” he said. “I saw lots of people out the first week who had no idea what they were getting themselves into. Because of my experience from scouting and my trips when I was younger, I feel that I was probably more prepared than a significant number of the starters.”
The trail isn’t all cakes and candy, however. There are good things and bad things about thru-hiking, Bedick said.
On the positive side, one gets to meet some amazing people. Also, he noted, it’s a good time to think about your life, gain a better sense of self-sufficiency and see some incredible things in nature. The negatives include being away from family and friends for a long time.
He also said it can be mentally and physically draining, especially toward the end.
The Appalachian Trail Experience
Bedick’s average day was quite simple, he said.
“Wake up, eat, walk, eat, walk and stop at a shelter or wherever when its nearing dark,” he said. “Eat and go to bed. Repeat the next day.
“It can become extremely monotonous for some people,” he continued. “Others enjoy the ‘job’ of walking the trail.”
As with the trail — there are highs and lows.
One of the best moments Bedick had was hiking through the White Mountains in New Hampshire. He said it was a great trail with amazing views.
“The experience of doing work for stay at the huts was fantastic as well,” Bedick said. “The Whites were extremely challenging, but also very, very rewarding.”
As for lows?
“I cant think of any particularly horrible moments, but I found myself extremely exhausted and worn out by the time I made it to Maine,” he said. “The deer flies and horse flies were horrendous and the lack of trail maintenance was very draining.”
But as great as the White Mountains were, he said he’d love to be able to re-do that section.
“I would re-do the White Mountains because when I passed through there I had broken my camera and couldn’t take any photos,” he said. “My photos from the trail were great but I missed so many fantastic photo opportunities there.”
There were also fun times, of course. Being out in the woods for that long has to work up your sense of humor. And though some of the things were a “you had to be there” sort of moment, Bedick had his share of laughs, he said.
He was hiking in Maine with a guy with the trail name “Teddy,” as in “Teddy Bear.” The two were both mentally and physically drained.
“I think just from having hiked more than 2,000 miles for four months straight, we were possibly getting a little delusional,” he said.
As mentioned before, Bedick said the deer flies were awful and two or three were circling both of their heads for about six hours straight. That, of course, was making the duo go a bit nutty.
So where did the conversation turn? About the black flies, of course.
At this point, being a bit delusional as Bedick noted, the two started figuring the flies were their personal trainers to motivate them to continue walking and then about how they don’t have the money to afford three trainers at once.
“We were adding our own ‘insults’ that the flies were yelling at us,” he said. “We were basically trail crazy at this point and were laughing hysterically.”
As Bedick remembers his jaunt from Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, he said he was happy with the way he hiked.
“I really feel happy with the pace that I hiked and the stops that I made along the way,” he said. “I am happy with the locations I chose to pass and the locations I stopped at. I also hiked with several groups, off and on, and am happy with the friendships I made along the way.”
The look back also helped unfold the best day on the trail. He said it was either going over Mount Washington and the Presidential Range in the White Mountains on an amazingly beautiful day. Or, he said, in Virginia when he went over Dragon’s Tooth, McAffee Knob and Tinker Cliffs.
He also learned a bit about himself on this journey.
“The main thing I learned was that I don’t have to settle in to the ‘conventional’ lifestyle in whatever order,” he said.
Instead, he stopped grad school and got a decent paying job with plans to save up for future adventures such as the PCT and CDT.
“I also hope to climb some significant mountains in the future,” he said, adding that Mount Denali and some other West Coast mountains are on his radar.
As to the future hikers of the Appalachian Trail?
“Hike the trail how you want to hike it,” Bedick said. “Do not cater the way you hike it to anyone else. I saw so many people out there hiking the trail in different ways and so many ways would work. Hike whatever way works for you.”
Here are some quick-hitting tidbits from Nadeau’s thru-hike.
- How many pair of shoes did you go through? He started with a pair of Salomon Quest 4D GTX boots and used those until Pearisburg, Va.; He then switched to Lafuma Trail Runners until New York and there he got a pair of Solomon trail runners, which lasted until Gorham, NH. He then switched back to his boots until the end. So one pair of boots and two trail runners.
- What happened in days following the hike? He ate at some of his favorite food places, reunited with friends, visited some bars and found a job.
- Best trail town? Hanover, NH. “It really felt like a clean town and there were some amazing amenities there,” he said. “Two solid outfitters; a senior center, which had an amazing shower and great laundry services for pretty cheap; lots of good places to eat and good coffee places as well. I also got to relax and watch a movie. Camping was allowed on the outskirts of the town near a soccer field for free.”
- Worst trail town? Bland, Va., and Glasgow, Va. “I’m not sure that either of them are ‘true’ trail towns,” he said. “Bland, in particular, offered a hiker shuttle into town to resupply at a gas station that was touted as a grocery store.” The price of the shuttle? $15.
- Would he do the Appalachian Trail again? “It’s unlikely,” he said. “I think I would only do it again if I were to hike it with a girlfriend, or wife. Or with my kids, assuming I have any.”
- October 16: Win an autographed copy of Bill Walker’s book about his Appalachian Trail hike
- October 17: Preview
- October 19: Emily Harper
- October 22: Chris Nadeau
- Today: Tyler Bedick
- October 26: Bill Walker
- October 28: Wrap and contest winner announced
Reminder! Contest going on! I am holding a contest this week for an autographed copy of Bill Walker’s book “Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail”. It runs from October16- to 12:01 a.m. Oct. 28. You can see all the details on the contest page. Enter for your chance to win!
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