Thru-Hiker Clara “Redfeather” Hughes

In Canada, Clara Hughes is a household name.

A legend, she won multiple Olympic medals in both Summer and Winter Games — 6 medals total. The only person ever to have won multiple medals in both.

BUT she met her husband, Peter Guzman, on the AT.

And went on to become a legendary thru-hiker.

#178 | Leonard Adkins on 20,000 Miles of Backpacking, Thru-Hiking in the 1980s, and Authoring 21 Books Backpacker Radio

In today's episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Leonard Adkins.  Leonard is a backpacking legend and author of more than twenty books, including several guide books, a book about the flora, fauna, and geology on the the Appalachian Trail, and his most title, "All About the Appalachian Trail" the first and only book for children grades 4-8.  We go in depth on Leonard's backpacking history, which includes more than 20,000 miles dating back to the early 80s.  We learn what it was like to be one of the first to hike the Pacific Northwest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and the first (alongside his wife) to hike the Allegheny Trail.  We learn some fun facts about the plants along the AT.  And we get the ultimate endorsement for this interview from Leonard himself, who says, "I enjoyed that more than I was expecting.”  We were flattered. We wrap the show with the worst all-time Christmas songs, the triple crown of baked goods, a new stupid thing of the week, and more. RTIC Outdoors: Shop at Organifi: Use code “BACKPACKER” for 20% off at Enlightened Equipment: Use code “ULTRALIGHT10” for 10% off Enlightened Equipment’s Stock Revelation Quilt or Torrid Jacket at Gossamer Gear: Use code “TAKELESSTREKMORE” for 15% off at  [divider] Interview with Leonard Adkins Leonard's Website Time stamps & Questions 00:05:15 – QOTD: What is the all-time worst Christmas song? 00:13:52 – Reminders: Hiker Meetup, Saturday December 10! 00:17:08 – Reminders: apply to blog in 2023, shop the Trek’s new shorts and hats! 00:18:34 – Introducing Leonard 00:19:19 – What’s your origin story? 00:22:56 – How popular was the trail in 1980? 00:26:18 – How was the trail or route different in 1980? 00:29:14 – Did you hike the trail to research for your books or did your books result from hiking? 00:31:55 – How much time did you spend on your first book? 00:33:33 – Tell us more about hiking the AT in 1980. 00:37:50 – If you could backpack the AT today or in the 80’s again, which would you pick? 00:40:11 – Do you remember your original backpacking gear? 00:44:29 – Tell us about the Allegheny Trail. 00:50:42 – How long do you think it would take the average thru-hiker to complete? 00:54:30 – What was the Pacific Northwest Trail like in 1983? 00:57:54 – How did you know about these trails to hike them before they were completed? 01:00:22 – How did you plan your hikes without guide books or maps? 01:03:30 – Discussion about hiking the Continental Divide Trail in 1987 01:05:26 – How many maps did you carry on the CDT and how did you get them? 01:07:37 – What does your navigation setup look like today? 01:10:05 – What shorter trail stands out from the ones we haven’t talked about yet? 01:11:54 – Would you describe your hiking experience as Type I or Type II fun? 01:12:50 – What was your most challenging day of backpacking? 01:14:58 – What percent of your time is spent hiking, researching, and writing books? 01:16:21 – If you could hike one of your international trails again, which would it be? 01:21:39 – Did you re-hike sections of the trail to write your books? 01:25:37 – What’s your favorite story about nature that’s in your books? 01:27:44 – What’s your favorite story about the animals you researched? 01:29:43 – Tell us more about your educational and professional background. 01:32:08 – What are the best overnight hikes on the AT? 01:34:06 – Are the ponies in Grayson Highlands wild or feral? 01:35:41 – Tell us about your wife getting struck by lightning. 01:40:14 – Was the pain localized to her foot? 01:42:00 – Laurie’s perspective on the story 01:42:55 – What was the inspiration for writing a book for kids? 01:45:42 – What feedback have you gotten on the book? 01:47:50 – Do you have a larger mission for writing books? 01:48:53 – Where can people follow you and get your books? SEGMENTS MG Check-In Trek Propaganda 5 Stupid Light Gear Choices That Take Ultralight Too Far by Alex Brown aka GPS Stupid Thing of the Week Triple Crown of baked goods Mail Bag 5 Star Review [divider] Check out our sound guy @paulyboyshallcross. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Support us on Patreon to get bonus content. Advertise on Backpacker Radio Follow The Trek, Chaunce, Badger, and Trail Correspondents on Instagram. Follow The Trek and Chaunce on YouTube. Follow Backpacker Radio on Tik Tok.  A super big thank you to our Chuck Norris Award winner(s) from Patreon: Andrew, Austen McDaniel, Jason Lawrence, Christopher Marshburn, Sawyer Products, Brad and Blair (Thirteen Adventures), Patrick Cianciolo, Paul Packman Sealy, Matt Soukup, Jason Snailer, Greg Mac,  Tracy “Trigger” Fawns, Mike Poisel, and Kristina Diaz. A big thank you to our Cinnamon Connection Champions from Patreon: Liz Seger, Cynthia Voth, Emily Brown, Dcnerdlet, Jeff LaFranier, Peter Ellenberg, Jacob Northrup, Peter Leven.
  1. #178 | Leonard Adkins on 20,000 Miles of Backpacking, Thru-Hiking in the 1980s, and Authoring 21 Books
  2. #177 | Elise "SOS" Ott and Josh "Kid" Gribble on Their CDT Thru-Hike and Terminus Engagement
  3. #176 | Kevin Conley on Wildland Firefighting, Mental Health, and Bike Touring from California to Florida
  4. #175 | Teresa Martinez Returns to Reflect on 10 Years of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition
  5. #174 | Nick Van Buer on Trekking 530 Miles Across the Mojave Desert

Father of the FKT – Buzz Burrell

The poster boy for Fastest Known Times is Kílian Jornet Burgada.

As I post, Kilian holds the fastest known time for the ascent and descent of MatterhornMont BlancDenali and perhaps Everest.

But it’s  Buzz Burrell who really popularized the concept, co-founding with Peter Bakwin and Jeff Schuler.

Buzz Burrell

Those three run the site on a voluntary basis.  And it’s a ton of work.

Buzz himself had been racing routes for decades. He set the FKT on the Colorado Trail in 1999.  The FKT on John Muir in 2000. 

This interview with Buzz will fill you with respect.  Buzz co-hosts his own audio show called the FKT Podcast

NEW podcast – Cicerone Hiking guidebooks

As publishers of nearly 400 outdoor travel guidebooks, Cicerone Press are a specialist team who love the outdoors and want to inspire and guide you on your next outdoor adventure.

In this episode, hosts Amy Hodkin and Hannah Stevenson introduce themselves and speak to Joe Williams about the history of Cicerone, our team of expert authors and the areas and activities covered in Cicerone guidebooks.

Whether walking, cycling, trekking, scrambling, mountain biking, running or skiing, Cicerone offers guidebooks written, edited and tested by outdoor experts.

Find out more and view our full range of guidebooks on the Cicerone website,

You can also search for @CiceronePress on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and join our Facebook community group, Cicerone Connect.

I used their Aconcagua guidebook, for example, when hiking independently to French Base Camp.

super hiker Mary Cochenour

Tune in to this week’s episode of the Out and Back podcast as Mary tells a thrilling tale about her early days as a wilderness ranger in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Hear about her first night spent alone in the wilderness and what happened months later when she discovered that a man had been following her around the backcountry. …

Mary … is the Out and Back podcast producer and a writer and editor at Gaia GPS.

When she is not in the office, Mary works as a guide for Andrew Skurka Adventures in wild places around the west, like Rocky Mountain National Park, Yosemite, and the Brooks Range in Alaska. …

Click through to listen to the story online:

Solo Backpacking with a Stalker

Andrew Skurka interview

Andrew Skurka is without question one of the most accomplished hikers in history.  A legend.

  • Alaska-Yukon Expedition (6 months, 4,700 miles),
  • Great Western Loop (7 months, 6,875 miles), and the
  • Sea-to-Sea Route (11 months, 7,775 miles).

He’s run a 2:28 marathon, as well.

The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Tips to Hit the Trail, was published by National Geographic – over 125,000 copies sold.

Today he and his team lead people to exciting destinations, teaching skills along the way: planning, gear, fitness, food, navigation, responding to emergencies, etc.

In a recent podcast interview Andrew explains why he still prefers map and compass, using electronics as a back-up.  And you have to believe him since it was sponsored by the Gaia GPS app.

Click PLAY or listen to it clicking through via Twitter.







walking the Keystone XL pipeline route

When writer Ken Ilgunas set out to walk the 1,700-mile proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline and talk to the people he met there, he expected challenging debates about climate change, energy security and national sovereignty. In researching his new book, “Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland,” he expected to experience the wisdom of the people and decipher the pipe’s symbolic meaning. He expected enlightenment.

Instead, he found a country we wish were just a caricature: an America that does not actually value debate, or enlightenment, or wisdom at all. …

LA Times review

Ilgunas is a very interesting and thoughtful writer.

He’s personally against the pipeline.

I listened to an interview on the Backpacker Radio podcast.

The Keystone Pipeline System is an oil pipeline system in Canada and the United States, commissioned in 2010 and now owned solely by TransCanada Corporation. It runs from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Texas, and also to oil tank farms and an oil pipeline distribution center in Cushing, Oklahoma. … 


… The proposed Keystone XL (sometimes abbreviated KXL, with XL standing for “export limited” Pipeline (Phase IV) would connect the Phase I-pipeline terminals in Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Nebraska by a shorter route and a larger-diameter pipe. …

The Adventure Blog has moved

Our favourite site covering adventure worldwide — including hiking — has moved to a new URL:

The new theme looks great too. Follow them on the site, Facebook or Twitter.

related – The Adventure Podcast

My Interview on Adventure Podcast #17

Kraig Becker:

The latest episode of The Adventure Podcast is now available for download.

As usual, you can grab it from Apple PodcastsGoogle PlayStitcher, and Spotify. I’ve also attached it to this blog post for those who prefer to listen directly from their browser ….

Adventure Blog – Interview with Rick McCharles of

We talked best hiking trails in the world. My essential gear. Cam Honan. And much, much more. It’s a long episode.

I’ve learned a lot about a lot over the first 18 episodes.

Adventure Podcast – Episode 2: 10 Essentials of Hiking

Dave Adlard and Kraig Becker talk gear on their new audiocast.

Dave referred to his 2003 edition of Freedom of the Hills. The Ten Essentials first appeared in print in the 1974 version of that classic.

He and Kraig added 3-4 more essentials, only briefly touching on the non-essential electronics most of us carry.

Check it out:

The Adventure Podcast – Episode 2: The 10 Essentials of Hiking


  1. Navigation. Topographic map and assorted maps in waterproof container plus a magnetic compass, optional altimeter or GPS receiver.
  2. Sun protection. Sunglasses, sunscreen for lips and skin, hat, clothing for sun protection.
  3. Insulation. Hat, gloves, jacket, extra clothing for coldest possible weather during current season.
  4. Illumination. Headlamp, flashlight, batteries. LED bulb is preferred to extend battery life.
  5. First-aid supplies, plus insect repellent.
  6. Fire. Butane lighter, matches in waterproof container.
  7. Repair kit and tools. Knives, multi-tool, scissors, pliers, screwdriver, trowel/shovel, duct tape, cable ties.
  8. Nutrition. Add extra food for one additional day (for emergency). Dry food is preferred to save weight and usually needs water.
  9. Hydration. Add extra 2 liters of water for one additional day (for emergency).
  10. Emergency shelter. Tarp, bivouac sackspace blanket, plastic tube tent, jumbo trash bags, insulated sleeping pad.

The textbook recommends supplementing the ten essentials with:


NEW – The Adventure Podcast

 I’m subscribed. 🙂

An extension to the excellent Adventure Blog online.

Kraig Becker:

… The first episode is now available to download through iTunes or can be accessed directly here.

… weekly news from the adventure world, discussing major topics of interest, talking about gear, and having interviews with interesting guests.
It is co-hosted with my friend David Adlard, who has a rich background in the world of outdoor adventure as well having competed in several Ironman events and numerous adventure races, as well as working as a mountain guide and race director himself. …
We have also set up a few social media outlets for those who would like to share feedback and learn more about the podcast. Our Facebook page can be found here and we’re active on Twitter at @adventure_pod. We can also be reached by email at …
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