リズ・トーマスのハイキング・アズ・ア・ウーマン#23 / ALDHA-West Gathering 〜ハイキング・コミュニティのビッグイベント〜 (後編)


ALDHA-West Gathering

Heather “Anish” Anderson spoke about her Calendar Year Triple Crown, but more importantly, about the role that the hiking community has played in her life. The Gathering is a place to make friends with like-minded people who also live to hike. Even if you never actually spend time on trail with someone, people you meet at the Gathering understand what it is like to live a trail-centered life.

Anish, like many hikers, has experienced post-hike depression. “It’s hard to go from sleeping on the ground and living life as a primal experience to synthesize back into our society and culture.” Although Anish has held Fastest Known Times (FKTs) on the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Arizona Trail, her story resonates with every hiker. All thru-hikers, she says, have to “figure out how to take what you’ve just experienced and make it part of your life and not feel completely overwhelmed.”


The Gathering is positioned to be a place where hikers can “come in their trail shirt” and meet with like-minded people. At the Gathering, Anish says, “I’ve got this community of people that not only likes to do the thing I like to do but also understands this range of emotions I go through before during and after a hike.” Her talk explored the emotions of a thru-hike and the how hiker friends help the transition back to “real society” easier. Several audience members teared up while hearing her story.

Anish has hiked the Triple Crown three times. That means she has hiked the Appalachian Trail three times, the Pacific Crest three times, and Continental Divide Trail three times. She says, “I’m going to talk about all three sets of the Triple Crown and how they were different. But also how they were similar and how all of us as hikers here have more similarities than we have differences.” Although told from the perspective of someone with a lot of experience and trail miles, the experience of thru-hiking has similarities for every hiker.



Mary Taloff and Loren Steinberg are not the typical Camino de Santiago pilgrims. For more than a thousand years, the 500-mile long Camino has been a Christian pilgrimage, as well as a popular distance hiking route. But Mary and Loren experienced the trail differently than most of 300,000 of hikers who visit the route annually. Both women hiked the trail in wheelchairs.


Mary first learned about the Camino from her friend Anne “Kimchi” Hildebrand, who had thru-hiked the PCT and CDT. Anne had watched a documentary called “I’ll Push You” about two best friends who thru-hiked the Camino together, one of whom uses a wheelchair. Anne emailed Mary a link to the story and said, “We should do this.”

At first, Mary thought it was a joke. But Anne was serious. Mary had never done any distance hiking before. But Anne spoke Spanish and started putting together resources. Mary, Loren (who also is a wheelchair user), Kimchi, and their friend Bethany set off as a group of four to hike the Camino together.

Mary and Loren’s trip on the Camino was a tale of the love within the hiking community. “We have a lot of friends and fans that helped us like raise the money to go. We couldn’t have even gone without like that community support.”

It seems obvious, but the Camino is not set up for wheelchair users. Even the train to their starting terminus didn’t have a way to secure wheelchairs. Taxis to get to trailheads weren’t equipped for wheelchair users, either. Anne was the only one of the four hikers who spoke Spanish and had to communicate the need for wheelchair accessible options for her group.


The Camino is rocky, hilly, and difficult to navigate with a wheelchair. “On our first day, we were not in any way prepared for what that day would be like,” Mary says. The trail was rocky and went over a river.

But locals, other pilgrims, and Kimchi and Bethany, were always there to help them out. “We got to this creek and the guy at the hostel we stayed at the first night said , ‘I’ll meet you there and help you.’” The group of four hikers was skeptical. But the man actually showed up and helped them get across the creek.”

“We had to go down this crazy hill with all these giant boulders and rocks and we’re basically carrying the chairs down this hill,” Mary described. Loren used a power chair, which weighed 300 pounds. “We had six people helping us get down this hill. It took two hours to get half a mile.”

Anne says, “The Camino was a lot harder than we expected it to be. There were multiple points where we didn’t think we would make it, where we thought we’d have to go back to the train station” or give up.

Their trip was made more difficult logistically because Loren’s powerchair had bad batteries. The group’s hiking hours were reduced each day because they would need to charge the wheelchair’s batteries at cafes.


The Camino is a pilgrimage, so it seems fitting that Mary, Loren, Anne, and Bethany’s hike would be filled with miracles. Mary says,”It was one thing after another where we said, ‘that shouldn’t have worked.’ The whole trip, we thought, ‘this should not be working,” yet it always did. It was a community effort. We had so much support from people who didn’t even know us.”

The Saturday evening Triple Crown Awards dinner is the big event of the Gathering. Family members and friends will join to see hikers who have finished the Triple Crown receive their plaques. The theme of the dinner this year was “Black & White” and hikers dressed up for the occasion. Some dressed in tuxes and ball gowns while others wore white Tyvek suits or their black puffy jacket.


The ceremony starts with the Martin D. Papendick Award, named after the first man to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It is given each year to the Trail Angel of the Year. In 2019, the recipient was Carole “Ravensong” Burkhardt, who hosts Pacific Crest Trail and Pacific Northwest Trail hikers at her home in Mazama, Washington, near the PCT northern terminus. Ravensong was the first woman to thru-hike the PCT and also was an ALDHA-West Board member. She has given so much back to the community and ALDHA-West was thrilled to honor her with the award.

For the Triple Crown Awards, ALDHA-West produces a video highlighting each award winner. It includes photos from their hike, the years they hiked, and a childhood photo. Before the ceremony, the hikers have their photo taken with their Triple Crown plaque by a professional photographer. During the ceremony, each hiker comes to the stage, is given their plaque, a crown, and a Triple Crown hat and gives a short speech.

While ALDHA-West does many events throughout the year, the Triple Crown Award Dinner still is the one that moves me the most. The ceremony feels like a cross between high school graduation and the Oscars. It’s not uncommon for hikers in the audience as well as the new Triple Crowners themselves to shed a tear.


As hikers transition from trail life to their working life, the Gathering is a reminder of the fellowship and fun within the hiking community. I look forward to reconnecting with the long-distance hiking community after the New Year. Congratulations to the Class of 2019 Triple Crowners. I can’t wait to meet the 2020 class of aspiring thru-hikers at ALDHA-West’s educational events in the spring.


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Liz Thomas

Liz Thomas

2011年にアパラチアン・トレイルを女性の最速タイムで踏破した記録(当時)を持っていることで知られている。彼女はトリプルクラウンを達成しただけでなく、米国に15以上あるトレイルでのスルーハイクを経験し、今まで15,000マイル以上ものトレイルを歩いてきた。また、彼女はその経験をロング・ディスタンス・ハイキングのコミュ二ティに還元することにも熱心で、American Long Distance Hiking Assosication-West(ALDHA-West)のバイスプレジデンドも務めている。彼女がハイキングを本格的に始める前は、イエ-ル大学の森林環境学部で環境科学の修士課程を修了し、彼女が手がけた、ロング・ディスタンス・ハイキング・トレイルとその保護およびコミュニティに関するリサーチは、名誉あるDoris Duke Conservation Fellowshipの賞を受けた。スポンサーはAltra, Gossamer Gear, Probar, Vermont Darn Tough socks, Mountain Laurel Designs, Sawyer filters, Montbellで、アンバサダーとして活躍している。