The Long Trail in Vermont runs 273 miles from the MA/VT border to Canada, along the spine of the Green Mountains. Built by the Green Mountain Club in 1910-1930, it is extremely rugged, steep and rocky.
The Long Trail has a long history of speed record attempts, as is detailed in part on at David Horton's site. Here's a brief synopsis of successful men's (supported) records:
- Sam Swisher-McClure, 6d6h50m, 1997
- Courtney Campbell, 5d14h55m, July 1998
- David Horton, 4d22h54m, June 1999
- Ed Kostak, 4d15h18m, 2000
- "Cave Dog" Ted Keizer, 4d13h15m, June 2004
- Jonathan Basham, 4d12h46m, Sept. 7-11, 2009
There have been fewer reported women's FKTs:
- Jennifer Pharr-Davis, 7d15h40m (self-supported), August 2007
- Nikki Kimball, 5d7h42m (supported), August 2012
Cave Dog's successful 2004 record bid followed an unsuccessful attempt the previous year. Cave Dog's website details his many amazing hiking records.
Champion ultrarunner Nikki Kimball set the women's (supported) FKT of 5d7h42m on Aug. 13-18, 2012. A well-produced, 55-min. film was made of Kimball's run, titled Finding Traction, which is available for streaming on Netflix. It gives a good idea of the nature of the trail, with plenty of GoPro footage shot by Kimball's pacers and crew.
As far as I know, Demetri "Coup" Coupounas, the founder of GoLite, was the first person to hike the Long Trail entirely unsupported, that is with no resupply of any kind (except for collecting ambient water). Coup hiked the trail in 12d19h53m, August 18-31, 2004. His trip was part of the "Triple Gem" of backpacking -- the John Muir Trail, Long Trail and Colorado Trail -- each of which he completed unsupported. GoLite's press release on the Triple Gem is archived here. The "Triple Gem" project also served as promotion for GoLite. Coup had these comments:
Enjoying an alpine style thru-hike of a trail as long as the Long Trail wasn’t even thinkable a decade ago. Now with 1 ¼ pound packs, 1 pound shelters, 1 ¼ pound sleeping bags, ¾ pound waterproof-breathable parkas and the like, it’s totally achievable. Actually, the load I started with was less than what I used to carry for a weekend before my wife Kim and I founded GoLite.
Coup's record was smashed by Travis Wildeboer of Winter Park, Colorado, who hiked the LT without support of any kind in 6d17h25m, Sept. 7-13, 2010. His very detailed report is here.
The Long Trail has also seen some fast self-supported trips. Self-supported means that you don't carry everything you need from the start, but you don't have dedicated, pre-arranged people helping you. You might put out stashes of supplies for yourself prior to the trip, or you might just use what's out there, such as stores, begging from other trail users, etc. Jennifer Pharr-Davis holds the fastest time for a self-supported trip on the Long Trail, 7d15h40m, in August 2007. Prior to Kimball, this was also the overall fastest time for a female. The following is taken from www.trainharder.com:
Pharr, of Hendersonville, North Carolina, completed the Appalachian Trail in 2005 and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2006, but yearned to thru-hike a substantial trail in a sustained push. 'I wanted to immerse myself in the trail and give it my all,' says Pharr. 'Nothing could have taught me more as pushing my limits on the Long Trail.' Pharr’s unsupported journey began each day at 5 or 6 a.m. She averaged 30 miles daily, hiking until 8 or 9 p.m., snacking all day. She had mailed three shipments of food to towns along the trail to restock her food supply. Pharr’s 10-pound pack contained food and clothing, but no tent, as she slept under the stars, and when weather looked threatening, stayed in Green Mountain Club huts.
After blitzing through 45 miles the first day, Pharr awoke on the second morning to a swollen knee and ankle and later that day, suffered a bee sting on the same leg. Mildly allergic, she endured a painful and swollen leg for two days, icing it in streams wherever possible, doubting her ability to continue. But day four was a turning point. 'I had physically overcome a great deal of pain and was now ready for the challenges ahead,' she says.
After graduating from Alabama’s Samford University three-and-a-half years ago, Pharr works seasonally for six months at a North Carolinian summer camp for girls and then travels and hikes the remainder of the year. She took up ultrarunning shortly before her Long Trail attempt, running Virginia’s 2006 Promise Land 50K in 7:00:19 and the 2007 Holiday Lake 50K in 5:34:14. After her record-breaking hike, she also completed Lynchburg’s Mountain Masochist 50-miler in 9:41:21.
'I know that hiking strong, fast and smart can teach you specific lessons, and [being really fit] is a gift that will not always be available to me,' says Pharr. 'So I want to take advantage of it while I can.'
Pharr’s Long Trail sojourn profoundly changed her. 'I am not the same person that I had been at the start,' she says. 'Endurance hiking had taught me to unburden myself from physical gear and emotional ties that slowed me down in the past, and in turn focus on what is positive in my life.'
Prior to Pharr-Davis, the self-supported Long Trail record holder was probably Dr. Warren Doyle, who, in 1978, covered the distance in 8d13h25m.
The Long Trail: Where even the downhills are uphill. - Alicia Hudelson
While no LT records have been broken since 2012, there have been numerous attempts, as documented on our old Proboards website. This seems to be an indication of just how serious these FKTs are!
Headed out on Monday morning to start an attempt for the Unsorted record.
I will be starting at the MA/VT border around 5 or 6 am, headed north bound.
I'll be starting an attempt for the supported FKT on the Long Trail Thursday morning (7/26) ~5am heading SOBO. I'll be carrying a SPOT Gen3 and tracking will be sent here:
On Wednesday 8/8/18 around 4a I will start an unsupported, southbound attempt on the Long Trail. Reception limited updates on Instagram @avermily.
-Andy Vermilyea, Castleton VT
This week I am starting a Southbound thru-hike of the Long Trail with the intention of lowering the Unsupported FKT of 6d 17h 25m, set by Travis Wildeboer.
I will start with all supplies necessary to complete the hike and use only what I bring with the exception of publicly available water. I will also finish with all the supplies I start with with the exception of consumables (food, fuel, and toilet paper). I will also be unaccompanied and unassisted, and any deviation from these intentions will be documented as such.
I will time the attempt with a wristwatch, and verify the attempt with SPOT gps tracking, the link to which has been provided to board administrators. I will also write a detailed report of the attempt and provide it to this community for scrutiny and/or laughs.
Thanks to those who've come before for providing the information and inspiration to go for it!
Headed back at it again for the unsupported attempt.
Starting this evening I will be heading southbound from the Northern terminus. Periodic updates will be available through Instagram @Lance_therunner
I know the trail well at this point. Now it's time to bring it all together.
Admin Note: Looks like Lance pulled off the trail at 120 miles: "Making that call that's getting oh so old at this point. Almost to Lincoln gap where I'm gonna end this journey. Due to the really poor sleep I got the last two nights I have really low confidence in getting the southern 150 miles done in 3 days."
Tomorrow, August 31, 2018, around midday I will begin my northbound, (minimally) supported, Long Trail thru hike. I will be resupplied twice at road crossings but will otherwise be unsupported. I don't expect to challenge for the supported FKT, or even Travis Wildeboer's unsupported FKT, but I only have 13 days off from work so it will be a relatively speedy attempt. I do not have a GPS tracker but I will report back with my overall time if I finish the whole trail. Thanks to everyone here at Fastest Known Time for the inspiration!
-Nat Woodward (struggling_along)
At 2:00 pm on Thursday Aug 30 (Day 7), I decided to abort the run. Starting Tuesday at 4am, I began my final push to the end, hiking 105 miles through two nights, only stopping for short naps and to elevate my feet. Harsh mountain storms through night 6 depleted me as I tried to keep pace through 5 foot visibility. At Stratton summit I had 11.5 hours to cover 40 miles, but, even after a morning rebound, trail conditions had deteriorated to slick rocks and slippery mud. My food bag was nearly empty, my feet were raw, and I was rotating between two pairs of wet socks. At Story Spring Shelter with 35 miles to go and 7.5 hours until cutoff, I knew the record was out of reach. My intention from the beginning was not to thru hike the trail, but to challenge the FKT. In this spirit, while coming up short on the attempt is a hard pill to swallow, the appropriate choice was clear to me even in a sleep deprived daze.
There will be a full write up coming soon, but thanks for joining me on this trip. I’d also like to thank the AT/LT hikers who encouraged me and bolstered me, especially in the final days, including White Bread, Food Truck, and Carrot Top. I hope your journeys are fulfilling as well.
And also a shout out to Travis’ unbelievable effort, which continues to push us all beyond our limits.
No FKT for me. However, following up on my post from 8/30/18 I completed a (minimally) supported Northbound thru-hike of the Long Trail in Vermont. I started at the Southern Terminus (MA-VT border) on 8/31/2018 at 10:40 AM and completed the trail at the Northern Terminus (Canadian border) on 9/12/2018 at 11:35 PM. Total time on trail was 12 days, 12 hours, 55 minutes. I was resupplied in person with gear swaps twice (VT Route 103, and East Duxbury Road). I could have shaved a little time off as I had a resupply fiasco where I forgot to grab a fuel canister at the Route 103 resupply and had to back track over 2 miles. I could have slept a little less and with better gear choices and better planning I could have probably done the hike unsupported however I cannot conceive of a scenario in which I could have posed a serious challenge to Travis Wildeboer's unsupported FKT of 6d 17h 25m, let alone challenge the supported FKT held by Jonathan Basham. Therefore, 12 days, 12 hours, and 55 minutes will likely stand as my personal best for this trail.
Name: Nat Woodward
Trail Name: struggling along