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[cdt-l] More on Brian.
With Thanks to Mrs. Gorp.
By MARTIN GRIFFITH
.c The Associated Press
BANNOCK PASS, Idaho (AP) - Darkness was falling in the Bitterroots, but Brian
Robinson couldn't stop walking.
He had been hiking virtually nonstop since sunrise - 30 miles and 13 hours
ago. And he still wanted to cover two more miles before making camp on this
remote gap on the Continental Divide.
It was another daunting day on the trail for Robinson, who was pushing the
limits of endurance on the final legs of an unprecedented 7,400-mile,
22-state trek involving hiking's so-called ``Triple Crown.''
``I'm walking from dawn to dusk every day, seven days a week,'' he said.
By Oct. 23, Robinson hoped to become the first person to hike, in a single
calendar year, all three premier 2,000-mile-plus national scenic trails in
the United States: the Appalachian in the East, Continental Divide in the
Rockies and Pacific Crest in the West.
>From the Continental Divide somewhere in Colorado, the man known to friends
as Flyin' Brian flew east to complete the trek's final leg at Mount Katahdin
in Maine, the Appalachian's northern end.
``I'm having a blast,'' Robinson said on the August walk to Bannock Pass on
the Idaho-Montana border. ``But it's hard - really, really hard. You always
have moments of doubt.''
He has coped with hip-deep snow and single-digit temperatures on the
Appalachian Trail, 100-degree heat and thick mosquitoes on the Pacific Crest,
and loneliness and countless steep climbs along the Continental Divide.
On Sept. 27, with the Continental Divide behind him, Robinson was relieved,
but still looking ahead.
``I just have to keep moving as fast as I can,'' he said. ``Things can still
go wrong, but my chances are very, very good right now.''
In all, the trek involves more than 1 million feet of climbs.
Since taking his first steps Jan. 1 at the Appalachian's southern end,
Robinson has tramped as many as 41 miles in a day and averaged 30 miles a
day. From Gorham, N.H., he had about 300 miles to go to make history.
``Brian has defied the odds. This is the greatest feat of endurance on any of
the trails,'' said Jeffrey Schaffer of Napa, Calif., author of Pacific Crest
``I think it's comparable to trying to climb the highest peaks on all seven
continents in a single year,'' added Karen Berger of Bronxville, N.Y., author
of ``Hiking the Triple Crown.''
``I've quit saying what can and can't be done on the trails,'' she said.
``Humans are amazing.''
Only two dozen people, including Berger, have achieved hiking's Triple Crown
in their lifetimes. In 1999, two men became the first to hike two of the
trails in a single year: the Appalachian and Pacific Crest.
Only a major snowstorm or injury appear to stand in the way of success for
Robinson, who already has worn out six pairs of running shoes.
``Going in, I thought Mother Nature was going (to slow him down),'' Schaffer
said. ``I don't know what he's done to placate the gods, but I think he's
going to do it. ... If he finishes it, I expect to see his face on a box of
Robinson, a 40-year-old from San Jose, Calif., suffered some setbacks early
on, but has enjoyed considerable luck in the past few months with mostly dry
weather and snow-free trails.
His troubles included a six-week case of Bell's palsy that paralyzed the left
side of his face, and heavy snow in New England that forced him off the
2,168-mile Appalachian Trail in April.
After abandoning the Appalachian Trail, he walked the New Mexico section of
the Continental Divide Trail before traversing the entire 2,645-mile Pacific
Crest in only 84 days and six hours.
He pushed south into Colorado, completing the final 300 miles of the
Continental Divide Trail Sept. 27 at Chama, N.M.
Because there's no fixed route for much of the Continental Divide Trail,
hikes of it generally range from 2,600 to 3,100 miles. Robinson followed
route variations that took him 2,588 miles.
Then he headed east to walk the final 590 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
Despite a 2 1/2 mph average pace, Robinson insists he's not faster than other
hikers. He just puts in longer days and takes fewer days off.
``I don't stop for lunch or breakfast, and I eat all food, including snacks,
on the go,'' the affable, soft-spoken backpacker said. ``I'm walking the
He came up with the idea for the trek in 1998, a year after he hiked the
entire Pacific Crest Trail, his first such journey. He saved $10,000 to
finance the undertaking after working 17 years as a systems engineer for
Tandem Computers of Cupertino, Calif., now Compaq.
``I'm goal-oriented and I wanted a challenge. I saw it as my Mount Everest,''
Incredibly, the 6-foot-1, 155-pound hiker hasn't lost a single pound. That's
because he eats a whopping 6,000 calories a day - almost triple the average
daily intake - fueling himself with peanut butter, Snickers bars and ramen
``Physically, the hike is getting easier,'' he said. ``But the main challenge
is mental. I wake up at dawn and sometimes I'm tired and don't feel like
``But you can't kick yourself out of bed if it's not fun. I'm seeing all the
best country in the 48 lower states. What could be more amazing than that?''
He acknowledges the negatives of such a demanding schedule, though.
``I sometimes feel like I'm in a bus,'' he said. ``I have to look and go,
look and go.''
Some hikers have criticized Robinson's trek, saying the trails were designed
to be escapes from modern life's fast pace, not race courses.
Robinson said he hopes he doesn't spur an increase in competitive speed
hiking. Instead, he hopes the trek helps raise public awareness and support
for the trails, which need funding.
``You see incredible beauty beyond description out here and these trails need
all the help they can get,'' he said. ``There are definitely reasons not to
hike fast on these trails.''
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