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リズ・トーマスのハイキング・アズ・ア・ウーマン#24 / スルーハイカーは冬に何をしているの?(後編)節約して暮らす&冬に歩くハイカー

2020.02.21
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What do thru-hikers do in the winter?

The Prodigy
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In 2018, Tyler “The Prodigy” Lau broke records by becoming one of a handful of hikers who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail all within one calendar year. I caught up with him at Outdoor Retailer this January to ask him what he does in the winter and his thoughts on winter and off-season hiking philosophy.

Although The Prodigy went to college to study environmental systems and urban planning, he was drawn to being outdoors. He worked for seven seasons building trails before first thru-hiking the PCT in 2016. In 2017, he worked a seasonal job for the Pacific Crest Trail Association as well as wildland firefighting.

Trail work and firefighting are inherently summer jobs. This kind of seasonal work schedule conflicts with when most hikers are on the trail. In order to thru-hike in the summer, The Prodigy works service jobs and side gigs, including at his friend’s Indian restaurant in Montana and working concessions at the Cirque de Soleil.

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When it comes to training, the Prodigy lives in Orange County in Southern California, so the weather and temperatures are ideal for hiking, trail running, and rock climbing in the winter. He also practices yoga.

“You have to think of what you’re willing to sacrifice” to be back on trail, he tells me. “I live at home to save money, so I don’t have much privacy,” he explains. This is one of the sacrifices he’s willing to make to afford to hike. Every expense during the winter is framed in terms of what that will mean for his trail life.

He told me he’d like a dog, but chooses not to have one to cut down on expenses and responsibilities. In the winter, he doesn’t go out much: “Beers with friends could cost as much as two meals in town on a thru-hike.”

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When asked about the post-hike blues or winter hiking depression The Prodigy says, “It’s hard when you’ve been out there, gone through these life changing experiences. You experience everything from the traumatic to the spiritual.” He describes his first day back from completing theTriple Crown as a time of just trying to processing his trip.

“Some hikers solve post-hike depression by trying to capture that feeling again. They’ll do anything to sustain that feeling.” But he says that solution doesn’t work for everyone. Just like hiking, every thru-hiker deals with winter–financially, mentally, and emotionally—differently. “It’s like Hike Your Own Hike.”

Apple Pie and Greenleaf
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Not every thru-hiker looks at winter as time to stay indoors. Arlette “Apple Pie” Laan and her husband Greenleaf know that winter is one of the last frontiers when it comes to thru-hikes. If you want to do something that has never been done before, do it in the winter. From December 2019 to January 2020, Apple Pie and Greenleaf became the first people to thru-hike the Diretissima route—a 313-mile route connecting all forty-eight of the 4000-footer peaks of the White Mountain Range in New Hampshire.

Of course, winter thru-hiking has its own challenges. Apple Pie and Greenleaf’s winter thru-hike of the Diretissima route required knowledge of winter gear and layering systems. They used skis and a sled for the flatter sections. They used snowshoes and ice traction spikes for most of the rest of the route. They carried ice axes and crampons for the first two weeks, as well for some of the steeper peaks.

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“The extra weight but also the challenge of staying warm and comfortable is what probably prevents people from attempting longer winter backpacking trips,” Apple Pie reflects. “The days are also short so you’re often starting the day hiking by headlamp and finishing the day hiking by headlamp.”
Before attempting the White Mountain Direttissima Winter Thru-hike, Apple Pie and Greenleaf practiced their winter skills and layering system on January thru-hikes of the Benton MacKaye Trail and Appalachian Trail.

What draws Apple Pie and Greenleaf to winter and spring hikes is their work schedule. For these two, the usual thru-hiker “work in the winter, hike in the summer” model is flipped.

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She explains: “My husband has his own tree service and winter is the off season for that type of work. And I have my own creative business making sock dolls and I work as a guide in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

When we started looking for hikes we could do in winter time, we would look at warmer climates and opposite seasons. Hence we’ve hiked the Arizona Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail and the Florida Trail in the US, and the Te Araroa in New Zealand and Torres Del Paine in Patagonia.” Both Apple Pie and Greenleaf are self-employed, which gives them the freedom to set their own schedule and to hike.

While winter thru-hikes aren’t for everyone, Apple Pie and Greenleaf are great examples of how people who typically work in the summer can still make a thru-hiking life work.

While there are many ways to thru-hike every year, all the hikers I interviewed have one suggestion: make sure that your family understands and supports your hikes.

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I interviewed several thru-hikers who didn’t start hiking every year until after they had aleady retired from their jobs. While it may seem like once retired, you could hike all year if you liked. But for people who started serial thru-hiking in their 60s, that isn’t the case.

Scott “Shroomer” Williams has hiked the Triple Crown, the Te Araroa in New Zealand, Camino de Santiago in Spain, Israel National Trail, and many other thru-hikes—all after he had retired from his job as a probation officer.

But he tells me that he’s able to hike so much because he balances it with family time. His wife, daughter, and numerous extended family all want to spend time with him—and he wants to spend time with them, too. He thru-hikes one year, then lets his wife choose their adventure the next year.

By trading off years between hikes, he gets to see the world in many different ways and spend plenty of time with his family.

Although different hikers take on different strategies to live a hiking lifestyle, there are several key themes that all the thru-hikers I talked to have in common:

1) Prioritize the ability to hike every year.
2) Set your own schedule by owning your own company or working seasonal jobs
3) Keep active and stay physically fit by hiking throughout the off-season

There’s no one way that hikers spend their winter. But my hope is that be reading the strategies and stories about other hikers who make a hiking life work, it will inspire others to take a chance to follow their dreams.

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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。
http://www.eathomas.com/

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