I am Justin "Trauma" Lichter, Trauma being my trail name. I have hiked over 35,000 miles, equal to nearly one and a half times around the Earth. My most recent adventure was the first winter thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail /r/PacificCrestTrail. I am here to talk about the hike, the PCT, or just ultrahiking and backpacking in general. Let's get people hiking safely, confidently, and enjoyably!

Article on my most recent adventure. www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/opinion/nicholas-kristof-you-think-your-winter-was-rough.html and a few questions I answered for my backpack sponsor Granite Gear http://granitegearnews.blogspot.com/2015/03/five-questions-with-justin-trauma.html

To read about my other adventures, or just more about me, visit my website www.justinlichter.com or feel to free to visit me on Facebook and follow me www.facebook.com/justin.lichter.5

Proof: http://imgur.com/YxtN60t

I will be on AMA from 1pm – 2pm EST answering questions, and then I am off to prep for my next adventure!

Comments: 110 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

VarsityPhysicist15 karma

What is "professional thru-hiking"?

JustinLichter-Trauma17 karma

Thru-hiking is a long distance, endurance sport where you are trying to hike a long trail in one season. I think the professional term is not a great choice of words but since I get most of my equipment for free and field test equipment for outdoor companies, I guess this can be considered "professional"........or since I have done a lot of hiking people might be using the term "pro" as it is used in slang.

TheHiLifez2 karma

If one was interested in this and the outdoors and had experience with the long term backpacking what would be the best avenue for pursuing sponsorship?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

I think he biggest mistake people make is that they are trying to get sponsored just to get free equipment. I would not wan free equipment if it wasn't what I wanted to be using. Also the sponsorship has to be good for the manufacturer or else it's not worth their while. I like to help with field testing, feedback, photos, and product development. Other people like to help with marketing and on the front end side of things. Keep this in mind if you approach companies. They will be looking for something in return since it's a two way street.

ForgottenPassword313 karma

Why is your trail name Trauma?

somewhereonariver1 karma

I second this question

flagcaptured2 karma

Aye. If I met a man who earned the name Trauma on the trails, I would hike as quickly as I could in the opposite direction.

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

I got dubbed Trauma by some friends that I was hiking with on my first backpacking trip since I had a couple of "traumatic" experiences in the first couple of weeks. Really they were nothing major though :-)

rotatingturd10 karma

Congratulations on completing the Pacific Crest trail, bro, what an incredible ahcievement. I have a few questions to ask:

  1. What would be your one standout memory from your hike?

  2. You mentioned that you are going to be leavinf for your next adventure soon, what is that going to be?

  3. You are gone for extended periods of time, do you still keep in touch with your friends/family and what did your family make of your choice to be a modern day explorer?

Thanks for doing this AMA and good luck with your next adventure.

JustinLichter-Trauma10 karma

Thanks! It's hard to pick one stand out memory from the hike, but I think the most amazing thing that happened on this trip was how supportive the trail community was. We would get messages from complete strangers that when we got to a town they would like to give us a warm place to stay and a hot meal. It was amazing having that in a lot of towns since we went over 1750 miles on the trail without seeing anybody. -- I'm not sure what the next adventure will be. The next adventure for now is heading back to work to save up for the next fun adventure :-) --- I call friends and family from town during resupplies to stay connected. I think at first my family was hesitant about the hikes that I have done, but they have learned to expect it and not doubt the decision and trust my experience for where I am headed and what I am attempting.

useyourfeet9 karma

How closely did both of you follow the actual trail? What sections did you divert from it?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

We followed the trail pretty closely. In some places when it was buried with a lot of snow it was almost impossible to follow the trail exactly. In the High Sierra we purposely deviated form the trail a little in order to do a more scenic section and stay higher. We did a section of the Sierra High Route from Mono Creek to reconnect with the trail around the Darwin Bench, north of Muir Pass.

soloone7 karma

Whats the one piece of gear you wish you had thought to pack?

JustinLichter-Trauma11 karma

Probably more chocolate :-) That's a good question though. I think we covered all of our equipment with previous trips and planning trips and had everything fairly well dialed before we headed out. The only thing we probably could have done a bit better was switch to our overboots and snowshoes a little sooner since that would have prevented us from getting the frostbite.

GoddammitCricket4 karma

Do you think the movie Wild, with Reese Witherspoon, portrays the PCT journey accurately?

JustinLichter-Trauma11 karma

I think Wild did a good job of showing a personal journey and growth that happens to be on the PCT and can happen on the PCT, or just in the outdoors in general. It doesn't really show a hike of the PCT or what it's like to thru-hike the trail, and that's not what it's intended to do.

SammyUSC3 karma

Can a beginner hiker go ultralight? Can I be ultralight with gear but carry a four pound pack?

JustinLichter-Trauma6 karma

Absolutely! Yes, I would recommend getting all of the ultralight gear before you upgrade your backpack -- that way if your gear is a bit heavier you can still carry it comfortably and not push the weight carrying or volume capacity of an ultralight pack until you have all of the other gear that will then work in an ultralight pack and can choose the right volume of UL pack.

hiddentools3 karma

Trauma can you please in as much detail describe what you considered in making your ski set up choices? Why did you choose the boots you wore? Did they perform well for you? Why did you choose those skis? Did they perform well? For what kind of activity would you recommend your ski set up? Do you use this EXACT set up when you ski in bounds? Thank you.

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

The ski set up took a lot of research and fine tuning. I wouldn't use this same set up in bounds but it worked well for what we were doing. The Voile Vector BC skis are great for touring since they have a fish scale base, so we didn't need to transition to skins as much on rolling terrain. This ended up saving a lot of time. The rando racing boots worked well since they are lightweight, but the last is really narrow so we had to do a lot of boot work on them before we were comfortable with heading off in them for weeks. The only other issue is that they aren't made for day after day use since they are made for racing and then heading home after the race. There isn't a plastic tongue so water/snow can get in. We managed this with adding a lightweight gaiter to help prevent some of it from entering. The Tech bindings worked well but in some snow conditions they freeze up and you can't get your boot out to switch back to touring mode. This can be really frustrating!

hiddentools2 karma

What do you mean by "the last is really narrow"? What do you mean by "boot work"?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

The last is the shape of the foot model that they have used to sculpt the interior volume of the boot. By boot work, I would go to a good ski shop and they will have people that specifically work on boots and punch out or grind places that are hurting or putting pressure on your foot.

trail-blaze3 karma

Hey Trauma, thanks for doing this AMA, and congratulations on completing the PCT! Your stories and experience are truly inspiring. So I have 3 questions:

  1. What's the best advice you have for other aspiring ultralight thru-hikers?

  2. What's the best way to prepare (mentally and physically)?

  3. What are you hoping will be your next big adventure?

Thank you again!

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

Thanks! 1) Get outside and have fun! It can really help to take your gear for tune up hikes to make sure you are comfortable with it, like it, and know how to use it. You don't want to get outside and have to set up your tarp for the first time on a super stormy night. 2) The best way to prepare physically is to hike with a weighted backpack. There's nothing else that compares to this. I think the best way to mentally prepare is just to hike and get used to hiking. This will also make it easier because you will minimize foot and joint problems and get a routine. Mentally things are harder when you are dealing with challenges. 3) I am not sure yet what's next. I'll have to relax a bit first and then see what piques my interest.

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

Thanks everybody! Hopefully this answered all of your questions. Have a great week. Get ready for spring and hiking season!

flyinghorsedancing3 karma

Did you see any bears or cougars? If so what type of bears?

JustinLichter-Trauma5 karma

We saw a lot of bear tracks, bobcat, mountain lion, and even wolf tracks, but we didn't have any encounters. They were black bear tracks.

Choniepaster3 karma

Hello Justin, I'm very happy for your successful journey! I am a former back country trail worker and I have worked on many different parts of the PCT, mainly Kings Canyon and Sequoia national park, and I love hearing from thru hikers about their experience.

What was your favorite section of the PCT?

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

Thanks! It is hard to pick just one section since the trail is so amazing and goes through so many different landscapes. The High Sierra are near and dear to me and are always one of my favorite areas.

CrazyH0rs32 karma

What would your suggestion be to someone who totally loves the outdoors and wants to get into the industry?

Another question: if external frame backpacks were lighter, maybe as light as internals, would you be inclined to use one when carrying a large load like you had to in winter? Do you see other people using them if they were available in light enough weights?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

To get employment in the outdoor industry I would recommend checking job boards on SNEWS and Malakye. Try to apply for things that you have experience in or might cross over from previous jobs, i.e. sales or customer service, and then work your way into the industry from there. As far as your other question, there is a new ultralight external frame pack made out of Titanium from Vargo. I think it is a good compromise, but personally I like internal frame packs. They are a little more streamlined for bushwalking and "tight" situations in the woods or the canyons. Also they are a bit easier to make sure your entire pack is waterproof since you can just use a trash compactor bag for the entire inside of the pack.

CrazyH0rs31 karma

Thanks for the response, makes sense. I've been following your travels for a while since I'm a Granite Gear fan. Keep hiking!

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma


Webrockin2 karma

I will be hiking the PCT this summer with my two brothers. What advice can you give about hiking together with others on the PCT?

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

Hiking together can be a great experience. You'll have people that you can relate to and they will be the only ones that will know exactly what you went through. In the same regard, you can also plan to split up communal gear if you plan to hike together or at least camp together each night. Other people hiking together may hike separate and be separate for days at a time. It is best to let this happen organically since everybody hikes at their own pace and has their own style, and see what works best for you and your brothers. Have a great time!

hiddentools2 karma

What is your best method for dealing with missing home on the trail? For missing loved ones? Do you have a girlfriend?

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

Yes I do have a girlfriend. I think the best method is to keep in touch from towns but stay in the moment and enjoy what you are doing. I try not to turn on my phone at all when I am in the backcountry. Be thankful for being able to take the time off to get outside and be on the trail.

hiddentools1 karma

How does she deal with the fact that you are gone for so long? Forgive me if I am getting too personal, but I have never been with a woman who wouldn't just break up with me if I was away for that long.

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

I think she knew what she was getting into when we first started dating since I've been doing this for a while :-) I think it's easier if she is also a bit independent because she likes the time to herself and also enjoys the time when you are together.

jrrees2 karma

Which was your favorite piece of gear? Weirdest food craving?

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

It's hard to pick one piece of favorite gear, but it is always nice to get in your warm sleeping bag at the ned of the day. Anything that works as it is supposed to is a good piece of gear. "Function is beauty". I always crave, pizza, chocolate, ice cream, yogurt, hamburgers, but I think I had a strange craving for imitation crab at one point on this trip.

hiddentools2 karma

What is the most dangerous situation you have ever been in? Has anything ever happened to you in the field that made you reconsider your hiking and go to a more "safer" life activity?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

I have had some dangerous situations but just rely on experience, luck, and smarts to get out of them. Usually I try to plan ahead for conditions that I might encounter to try to troubleshoot these beforehand. I think most of the dangerous situations have been calculated risks so I have been able to manage these and am ok with them occurring. I don't feel that the lifestyle is dangerous, in fact walking down the street or driving a car is probably statistically more dangerous.

NorbertDupner2 karma

How much did your pack weigh, on average? Would you share your gear list with us?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

Our pack probably weighed around 20-25 pounds on average. I will post an updated gear list on my website in the next couple of days with everything we used and some notes. I am not sure if I can attach a document to a comment here.

hiddentools2 karma

How do you reconcile the fact that you need a TIGHT fitting boot for skiing downhill BUT you need a more loose fitting comfortable boot for skinning up hill?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

On a trip like this I am willing to sacrifice some downhill performance for comfort since we were in our boots for so many hours each day, day after day.

IronyElSupremo1 karma

Read you took some Cuben fiber shelters (mids, iirc). How did they perform in heavy snow relative to other materials?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

They performed really well. All shelters would have to be shoveled out regularly, sometimes every 30 minutes, but in general the material worked really well. We used a mid which helped a little to shed the snow and still provide good coverage. We did have some spindrift to deal with on super windy nights but for the weight savings it was well worth it.

capnheim1 karma

What was the biggest mistake you made on this trip?

What is the next trip you are planning?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

I think the biggest mistake we made was not being completely ready for a record breaking cold snap in the beginning/mid November. We didn't quite have our full winter set up yet. --- I am not sure yet what's next. I'll have to decompress a bit for this trip, save some money, and see what starts to float to the top and pique my interest the most.

capnheim1 karma

Any good encounters with other people on the trail? I'm sure they couldn't believe what you were up to.

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

We went over 1750 miles without seeing anybody on the trail. It was pretty amazing. We only saw people in town all the way from Snoqualmie Pass, WA all the way to just north of Walker Pass, CA. We went through a pattern when we'd see people in town. When we were still up north it was "wow, you guys are close but don't you think you are a little late" since they thought we were going northbound, then "which direction are you going", then "didn't you guys start early" as we were getting closer to the southern end.

hiddentools1 karma

You inspired me to get the Voile Vector. Are these your main skis for everything? What size do you use?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

We used the Vector BCs since they have the fish scale base. They worked really well for touring. If I was skiing in bounds with them more then I probably would get the regular Vectors without the patterned base.

hiddentools1 karma

Yes that's the one I got, the regular. What size do you use?

What do you use when you ski in bounds?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

I think they are the 170s or thereabouts. I got them a bit short so I'd be able to make quick turns and be more agile in the backcountry. I have a few different skis for various in bounds conditions since I am a ski patroller.

hiddentools1 karma

I am sorry if this is annoying but can you please tell me what other skis you use in bounds?

Also, how does one go about becoming a ski patroller?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

In order to become a ski patroller you need advanced + skiing ability and be able to ski any terrain comfortably as well as an EMT license in the state you are working. Then you apply to the mountain and they will often put you through a ski test and their mountain specific training. As far as skis go in bounds, I use the Voile V8 and G3 Tonic skis.

capnheim1 karma

What was the total weight of your pack?

Did you have skis/snow shoes with you the whole trip, or pick them up at a certain point?

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

Our packs were probably 45 pounds at their heaviest through the High Sierra when we were carrying ski gear, avi gear and a bunch of food. We swapped gear a number of times. Essentially we carried/wore snowshoes from the start of the trip until Interstate 80, then skied for 450 miles, and then were able to hike most of the rest of the way - even though some was through snow.

capnheim1 karma

Did you end up having much free time, or just hike, cook, sleep, hike again? What did you to pass the time on storm days or rest days?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

Since there is minimal daylight in the winter (we really had only 10-11 hours of daylight to travel in), we were pretty much moving the entire time that we could. If we had down time it was after dark in the evening and we'd be melting snow for water to cook dinner and for the next day. This could take up to 2 hours each night. If we took rest days we were generally in town organizing our resupply boxes or catching up on e-mails and doing those chores....and maybe get a movie or some tv time in.

Webrockin1 karma

What was your favorite section of the PCT during your winter thru-hike?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

It's tough to pick one section. A lot of the sections that are not highlights in the summer stood out in the winter when fresh snow blanketed the landscape and the tree cover. The High Sierras are always a highlight though.

BiblioMom1 karma

Do you think it is safe for a woman to hike alone? Did you have any type of device for emergency communications? Our Boy Scout Troop carries a small satellite communication device where you push a button and a helicopter comes. Have you read the book Wild? What did you think of it?

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

It is absolutely safe for a woman to hike alone! It is much safer on the trail than in a major city. We carried a DeLorme inReach for safety purposes. ---- I did read Wild. More to come on that in a second.

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

I think Wild did a good job of showing a personal journey and growth that happens to be on the PCT and can happen on the PCT, or just in the outdoors in general. It doesn't really show a hike of the PCT or what it's like to thru-hike the trail, and that's not what it's intended to do.

hiddentools1 karma

Have you ever run out of money because of hiking? How do you fund your trips? As we both know, gear is not cheap.

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

I have never run out of money but I try to budget and save up enough so I am realistic and not on a really tight budget each time. I try to work a lot and live simply when I am working and then save up. I know about how much it costs to hike in different areas so I can plan accordingly. Gear isn't cheap but the single biggest expense on long hikes is food and hotel rooms. If you can minimize how much you stay in a hotel room (at roughly $75-100/night) then that makes things a lot more affordable.

SammyUSC1 karma

Question on water sanitation - I plan on using the UV Camelbak or the Steripen. Should I use a filter for muddy water or will the UV systems take care of all types of water?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

It will take care of all types of water. If it is cloudy just treat it twice. You can also strain the water through your shirt or a bandana as you are filling your bottle.

jabes70991 karma

Did you run into a lot of avalanche danger while you were out there? If so, how did you manage the danger/routes with minimal to no access to avy forecasts?

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

We would check weather forecasts and avi forecasts religiously when we were in towns so we could plan accordingly. We monitored the snow conditions throughout the trip and knew of potential dangerous/weak layers so we were ready if additional snowfall fell. Overall the avi conditions didn't feel that dangerous but we always took proper safe travel precautions and had our avi gear through the Sierras.

jabes70991 karma

Did the low snow pack make traveling routes a little easier? Did you dig many snow pits? They can tire you out quick if you're digging multiple pits in a day.

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

The low snow pack made avi conditions lower but made traveling harder. We often had to transition more because of the low snow. We had to hike downhills in our ski boots, instead of being able to ski, sometimes because there wasn't enough snow to ski but enough snow to posthole in. We also had to negotiate very variable snow conditions, a lot of rocks, and downed trees that would have otherwise been buried. We didn't dig many pits since we were so familiar with the conditions and the layers since we were out there all the time. I dug some hand pits to test some things out often but mostly not full pits.

haley7441 karma

Do you carry a pistol on you in case of any bears getting a little to friendly? I also hear that parts of the Appalachian can get a little sketchy have you run into any undesirables on your treks?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

We didn't pack any weapons, besides for a small knife (about half the size of my thumb) to make gear repairs or cut food. I think animals are typically more scared of you than you are of them - unless it is a national park or area where they have been habituated to people because hunting is not allowed.

As for undesirables not really. You meet a lot of characters but everyone is generally very nice.

GrowlerTiamat1 karma

Woah Man, you are an Hero to me!

So my question is, who are the people that inspired you to make this as a lifestyle? Any Big Names or maybe not so known, but closer to you, now or in your childhood?

Also What are the most fundamental things to "make it" alive (example food, knowledge, gps phone etc...)


JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

Thanks! I think my parents played a big role in allowing and always telling me to follow my passion. As far as the most important things I think it's a combination of planning, packing the right equipment and knowing how to use it, food, and experience. Experience can help in a lot of situations even if you don't have the exact proper equipment for that scenario. There's only one way to learn......get out there and do it!

Damnaged1 karma

Hi there, thanks for doing this AMA. I'd love to do a section of the PCT here in Oregon for maybe a weekend trip with some friends. Can you suggest a section that would be good for a small group (3-4) of beginner/intermediate hikers?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

Oregon is a really nice state. I think there are a lot of places that you could go. The northern area, heading up the Eagle Creek Trail and then down back to Cascade Locks on the PCT could be a great weekend trip. You could also do some areas like the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness or the Sky Lakes Wilderness (although you don't want to do this in mosquito season).

TheStonedTrex1 karma

What tips would you give an aspiring hiker?

Also would you ever consider hiking the amazon rainforest? I've always thought it would be cool to hike from the end of the river in the ocean all the way to the top

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

I'd consider anything! I don't limit myself to where I want to hike at all :-) Tips for an aspiring hiker: research gear and plan some trips. Start with shorter trips and work your way up. Get accustomed to your gear before you head out on anything really long so you know you like it, how to use it and if it will work for you.

Locopollo131 karma

Are you by any chance related to the Lichter Firm of Denver Colorado? Just kind of weird that I applied to an open position for them this morning then see your thread. One of those cosmic coincidences.

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

That is a coincidence. I am probably related somewhere way back but as far as I'm aware of I don't have any direct relatives in Colorado. Good luck getting the job!

hiddentools1 karma

Trauma I have to think that hiking is part of your life mission and personal life purpose. Could you please describe your life mission to us?

JustinLichter-Trauma3 karma

I don't know if I have a life missions.......or maybe it hasn't come to me yet, but I do know that I enjoy being outdoors, pushing my limits, experiencing new things, and seeing new places. I also like to help people get outside and experience the outdoors, safely and enjoyably.

Highway3951 karma

Trauma, congratulations to you and Pepper on your winter completion of the PCT! I have hiked the PCT as well and followed your guys journey.

I remember reading about you guys having issues with your footwear and frostbite. Did you ever end up dialing down your footwear to keep your feet warm and dry?

Thank you for doing this AMA!

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

Congrats on completing the PCT! Yes, we got our footwear system pretty dialed after the frostbite. We used a mid high gore-tex shoe that was pretty light, like the salomon x ultra, inside a NEOS overboot, with our snowshoes. On really cold days we might add a neoprene sock on top of our wool sock inside this. Then when we switched to our ski gear things worked out pretty well with our system.

FuckThatsCold1 karma

I don't follow a lot of professional hiking etc first off. I like to browse and apply as needed. I was looking for a gear list as well and can't seem to find anything. I'm a tech guy who loves to drag some crap with me. What's your opinion on powerpots/biolites etc and other things that can be used? I use my cell and a power pot most times out because of the universal more then one use nature of them. Also I've recently been getting into hammock use. Also favorite meal on your trip? I see your sponsored for your packs. What makes them superior to others? Nice trip. Once I get some free time I'll have to read thru on your site.

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

Personally I don't use the Powerpot or biolite because it is a little heavy compared to an alcohol stove and a Titanium pot. I also don't need to recharge my phone or any battery powered device every night. Usually I don't use my phone on the trail and just use map and compass so I limit what I need battery power for. I don't really have a favorite meal on the trip. I do make some sort of pasta almost every night so I guess you could say it is pasta. I like the Granite Gear packs because they are durable, comfortable, carry a load well, and are very lightweight for the load they are designed to carry.

caclimber1 karma

Congrats on finishing! I actually go to Bren and was super psyched to hear that you graduated from there a couple years ago! Just curious if the Bren background has been useful at all during your trips?

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

Thanks! I think the Bren background helped a lot -- maybe not on a day to day basis -- but often my mind is wandering and thinking about everything that I am seeing. I typically think back on some of the lessons and they definitely relate and trigger additional thoughts, whether it's ESM 202, 203, 204, 207, 222, or 223.

uberlad1 karma

  • What do you do for employment? And why/how are they okay with giving you so much time off from work?
  • What's your very best life advice?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

I am a ski patroller typically in the winter and I also do some odd jobs on the side to save extra money. Typically it is seasonal and fairly flexible so I am able to take off chunks of time. Part 2 is a tough question! My very best life advice: Follow your passions and enjoy life.

DvK1 karma

Hey Trauma,

Congratulations to you and Pepper on the safe journey. It's really cool to see a hiker on the front page of AMA.

I plan on finishing the Triple Crown next summer. What advice would you give to a young athlete who wants gear sponsors? Do I have to get into fast packing or "first ascent" thru-hikes?

I'm also curious why you and Swami never published a guide to the 100mi. route you pioneered in Mexico?

What order and which directions did you hike the Triple Crown in one year? Do you think anyone will top Swami's record of ~7 months?

Finally, will you ever go for the elusive Triple Triple crown?

Thanks for taking time to answer our questions!

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

Thanks for the congrats! Congrats to yourself on your near completion of the Triple Crown! That's fantastic! You do not need to do "firsts" to get gear sponsors. As I mentioned to someone earlier, you just need to craft a way to make it worthwhile for a manufacturer. That might be photos, blog updates, social media posts, product testing, feedback, or appearances and events (depending on your personality). Personally I like the techy, engineering, behind the scenes stuff, to make better products since I am sort of a quiet guy but can be creative. I think that's the most important thing. Just realizing that it is a two way street and the manufacturer will be asking for stuff in return. --- Swami and I thought about a guidebook but decided not to since the hike ended up being fairly dangerous. --- I did the Triple Crown south on the ECT (AT extended), north on the PCT, and south on the CDT. --- I think 7 months is an amazing time for the Triple Crown, but anything's possible! --- I like to see new places or the same places in different seasons. I'm not saying that I won't do the Triple Triple at some point but it isn't in my plans at all right now. Good luck on your final piece of the Triple Crown next summer!

DvK1 karma

Thank you for your kind and informative words! I wish I had the means to hike year round, but I don't want to turn my refuge into a racetrack or a day job.

Can I ask one more question? What are your and Pepper's favorite ultra-calorie dense foods that other hikers might not know about?

Hopefully I'll meet you guys on a trail some day. Best of luck with your next adventure!

JustinLichter-Trauma2 karma

I feel the same way about hiking. I like to work to save up for hiking so that I can really enjoy and savor my time out there. On this trip we would add butter to our dinners for extra calories since it was cold out. I think typically we are pretty standard for calorie dense foods. We eat a lot of bars (like ProBars, Larabars, and Kind bars), nutella, Justin's nut butter packets since they are quick and easy, and potato chips. See you out there!

achasem1 karma

I was not a hiker growing up. Quite frankly, I hated the idea of walking anywhere, let alone more than 2,500 miles. However, over the last two years, I have became utterly obsessed with hiking. So far, I have not tried any long distance hikes, mainly because I have not gained enough confidence in my survival skills. Most of my experience has been in Ohio, West Virginia, Oregon, and Washington. Did you find the mental aspect of taking the first plunge into long distance hiking to be a large barrier for you, or did you just pretty much say screw it and go for it? Were you fairly experienced before your first long distance hike?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

I was not experienced the first time that I headed out - nor are most of the people that start the Appalachian Trail and try to thru-hike it each year. I think with some online research, shakedown shorter trips, and then setting out on a trail (like the AT), where everyone is growing as a hiker at the same time it can be really helpful. Over the first 500 miles you will become comfortable and learn a lot.

gammarayman0 karma

Did you pack any weapons just in case, and if so did you use them at any point?

JustinLichter-Trauma6 karma

We didn't pack any weapons, besides for a small knife (about half the size of my thumb) to make gear repairs or cut food. I think animals are typically more scared of you than you are of them - unless it is a national park or area where they have been habituated to people because hunting is not allowed.

kaylernayler0 karma

Hiya Justin! What do you say to yourself on days you REALLY don't want to get out of bed in order to keep going?

JustinLichter-Trauma1 karma

I'm generally excited to get moving and see what's up ahead. If the weather is bad then I tell myself that it always sounds worse when you are in your shelter. There's a lot more surface area for the rain drops or the wind to hit, so it usually isn't as bad as it sounds when you get out.......or so I tell myself :-)