FKT: Jeff Garmire - Long Trail (VT) - 2019-07-24

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
5d 23h 48m 0s

Jeff's trip report:

Instagram:  "I started the Long Trail Speed record today at 5:59am ET because I just couldn’t wait until 6. 
Getting to the trail - I flew into Burlington after close to 24 hours of travel time because of delayed flights and missed connections. The first task in town was to buy food at the store for my entire hike. It being an unsupported attempt, I have to carry everything I will need for the entire route. I bought everything minus a few items I didn’t like the selection of and then walked past university of Vermont and through downtown Burlington. I got a view of lake Champlain and met up with Cyclops (trail name) at the local gear exchange. He gave me a ride to his home and his fiancé, Mcgloober showed up shortly thereafter. We went to a brewery for dinner and I crashed after a sleepless night prior. I slept in, my body still not knowing sure which time zone it was in, showers, rechecked my pack and then went to the trailhead with Mcgloober and Cyclops. We stopped and had Maple Creamees with maple sprinkles on the way. It was amazing ice cream. They dropped me at the Journeys End Trailhead. I walked to the shelter, bearing a heavy pack and then continued on to check out the northern terminus. Finally I walked back to the shelter and went to bed early, ready for the start of an adventure."

Day 1 (7/18):  Jeff made it across the Lamoille River before taking a few hours break, 49.3 miles. "Day one Long Trail FKT – 48.1 miles I started hiking at 5:59 AM from the terminus. Then the climbing began almost immediately. It was straight up Jay Peak and I quickly had 5,000’ of gain already. My pack was too heavy and I was drenched in sweat. I ate ravenously to get the pack weight down to a manageable level for the steep climbs. The strategy may come back to hurt me in a few days, but it was necessary to move how I wanted to. The climbing was relentless and it was never flat. My pace suffered and it was never what I expected it, but I kept charging. I tried to run the downhills and on one of them I slammed my head into a tree crossing the trail at just above eye level. It could have been worse than the cut I ended up with. The humidity was intense, but nothing compared to Alabama in May which I kept drawing on. My body held up good today and I charged deep into the night. Day one is a hard one mentally because it is real difficult to focus on the present compared to being overwhelmed by the future. I finished the day with about 16k of gain and some tired legs after a late night push. I don’t know how this FKT will turn out, but I made it through Day 1."

Day 2 (7/19):  To a bit north of US-2, about 86 miles total. "Day 2 long trail fkt - 35.6 miles- I got up well before the sun and went to put on my shoes but I couldn’t. Leg cramps seized up the appendages every time I reached down. I got them on with the help of a log and finally started moving. I felt ok, but the morning was tame. When the climbing started I was spent. My head, heart and legs and lungs were not on the same page. I felt awful. My lungs were hit with asthma, my head was filled with negativity and I wondered if I would find enjoyment in this adventure. I slowly trudged through the mental BS, up and over Mt Mansfield and down the other side. Then downward negative spiral was too much and I laid down in the middle of the trail, pack still on to collect myself. I was able to salvage the day, but it did not turn out like I had hoped. It was a tough one with over 12k’ in gain."

Day 3 (7/20):  "Day 3 Long Trail FKT- 33 miles - It began with the climb up Camels Back. Even with the tame day yesterday, my legs were not there. Physically I was slow and sluggish. Mentally it was frustrating. My muscles just did not have the same power I had been accustomed to the last few week. After this realization, the rest of the day it began to sink in that this would be a mental battle. A chance for me to do something more cognitively exhausting than I have before. I slowly meandered my way over tough Rocky Mountains with names from Ethan Allen to Abraham and Lincoln. It poured rain late and fog moved in, making the hiking difficult, and the day ended with many fewer miles than i had hoped, but also something more important than miles. It was time to lead the charge mentally, to will my body forward. I am covered in mud and have a nasty scab on my forehead from a tree a couple days ago. It should be an interesting next few days."

Day 4 (7/21):  About 167 miles total. "Day 4 Long Trail FKT - 48 miles - in the first few minutes of the day I rolled my ankle in the dark as hard as I ever have. The injury caused me to fall and break the tip off my trekking pole. I couldn’t survey the damage or it would swell, so I began to move, and move fast. I figuratively grabbed my poop trowel and dug deep. This goal would take lots of pain and sacrifice, and I would try to give it.It rained most the morning over Mt Grant and Roosevelt. It was warm, so I powered through the weather shirtless, trying to stay ahead of 50 mile per day pace. In the back of my mind I did know I had eclipsed my buffer and drastically cut my sleep each night if I needed more time. I spent the day decorating my pain cave, a dwelling I will be stuck in for over 2 days. I was thinking about why this hard push has been harder than previous ones (Arizona Trail, Zion double traverse, Nolan’s 14) and I think the extended nature of the unsupported attempt and my unfamiliarity with the route. This causes me to have very few small goals within the greater and I think have made me feel lost in the sea of unknown in these first few days. Oh and it’s real hard because my pack was so damn heavy for the most difficult section. Maybe a bit over 11k’ in gain for the day."

Day 5 (7/22):  "Day 5 Long Trail FKT - 58 miles (I didn’t sleep) -It took a good hour and two Advil to loosen up my swollen ankle enough to move at a good pace. It was frustrating to see time tick by while I slowly hobbled, but I knew I had to be patient and the joint would improve. I crossed Route two and almost immediately saw a mother black bear and a cub. It’s my first exciting wildlife! With the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail being the same footpath for the last 100 miles of the long trail, I started seeing AT hikers and lots of them. Then it started to rain and a dense fog rolled in. The rain turned to a downpour. It slowed me down and everything turned to mud. It was the worst case scenario. My headlight couldn’t cut through the fog and I was slow. I decided to forego sleep and trudge through the night. It was a night of mental toughness and perseverance. Now my mind is foggy with exhaustion, and I’m seeing things that aren’t there, but this will be a great push if I can close it out!"

Day 6 (7/23):  At 10:30am Jeff reached the summit of Stratton Mtn, with 40.7 miles to go!

DONE:  "5 days 23 hours and 48 minutes was what it took to complete the Long Trail to set the unsupported speed record. This trail tore me up. Carrying everything I would need from the Canadian border, the first 150 miles were much too rugged to comfortably negotiate with a heavy pack. Mansfield and Camels Hump destroyed me on top of the see-sawing terrain between them. The temperature hit the mid 90s, the trail was never flat, and it was always covered in rocks, making the surface difficult to travel over quickly. The stage was set here, and on the second half of the trail I was behind and fighting for my goals (Prior to the start I wanted to break 6 days). I pulled off a day in the high 40s, but I needed more, or I needed to adjust my expectations. The next day I committed completely and hiked through the night despite a downpour and hellacious mud. I came out the other side a different man, covered in mud and painted with determination. In the morning my pace was slower, my vision bounced, as if I was on a pogo stick, because of sleep deprivation, but I was still moving. With about 50 miles left, breaking 6 days was still within reach, it just meant I would have to forego more sleep and further immerse myself into the fantasy world of hallucinations created by a sleepless mind. I went for it and hiked until midnight before my mind was at war against reality. I couldn’t keep seeing transforming shadows and imaginary moving objects, so I took a nap. My phone was on the verge of dying and I was scared I wouldn’t get up, but alas I rose. I shivered despite the warm evening, my body wasn’t working right anymore. But I had only 12 miles left and covered it in a modified ultramarathon shuffle. My feet were in immense pain and my legs had nothing left. I finished the trail at the Vermont/Massachusetts border at 5:47am, meaning I had achieved my own arbitrary goal by 12 minutes. It’s amazing the lengths you will go to achieve a goal set ahead of time. I came into this FKT attempt over trained and under rested, this was obvious by day 2. But I also came in with a mind so set in stone and against failure that my sluggish body had to follow its lead. The strong mind won!"

Note:  Jeff used a SPOT tracker during the hike.  He also posted some tracks to Strava, with the following notes:

Long trail tracking: 
I used my watch as a supplement for my spot data for verification. I tracked and recorded as much as possible, but was limited by battery power I was able to dedicate to recharging my watch. Here’s what I recorded. Spot data covers most the rest. 
Day 1: nothing, data got recorded over because of limited watch storage 
Day 2: nearly full day 
Day 3: 2 parts to cover the majority of the day, had to recharge and sync between recording sessions 
Day 4: full day 
Day 5: recorded mid morning to mid evening when battery ran low 
Day 6: the final morning, I didn’t record anything as both power banks were dead and my watch was below 10%