With thru-hike season in full effect, everyone is either knee deep in their summer excursions or preparing for takeoff. With boundless options for where to plan your next thru-hike, there’s also a plethora of fun, interesting (and occasionally mysterious) facts about our favorite US trails. Some are more exciting than others, but it brings us joy to know there’s always something new to be discovered on our most esteemed thru hikes.
The Man-Made Hazards of the Pacific Crest Trail
The PCT features sections where travelers can find signs for asbestos, high voltage cables and you guessed it - unexploded military ordinances. What that essentially means is there will be some scarce waste or debris from exploded bombs and mines - some of which are still live. While these notifications are surely nerve wracking and only create more questions than answers, you can easily avoid these hazards by sticking to the trail.
Generations of Record-Setters, Old & New
Ever feel discouraged by the sheer intensity of a thru-hike? They aren’t easy after all - spending weeks and months on end traversing the great unknown can be quite taxing. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t fit for the task. Just check out the youngest and oldest record holders for the Appalachian Trail. Dale “Greybeard” Sanders is the oldest person to complete the route at 82 years old, beating the previous record at just over seven months. Neva “Chipmunk” Warren holds the record for the youngest person to beat it at 15 years old.
The Continental Divide’s First True Thru-Hiker
Prior to discovery of Swedish immigrant Peter L. Parson’s records and photographs, the first person to hike the CDT was recorded in 1962. However, recently discovered evidence shows that it was actually Parsons in 1924. He traversed the trail with nothing but an A-frame tent, rifle, hand ax, two pots, a frying pan, folding Kodak camera, wool sleeping bag, metal canteen, a journal and a pencil. He documented his travels and entrusted them to his friend Otto Witt who preserved the records and documents all these years.
Mysterious Monolith Atop Pine Mountain Trail
At the top of the PMT in Atascadero, CA, a strange silver monolith structure was recorded and reported on social media and in the news. The first one strangely appeared in the Utah desert, and a second one popped up in Romania. Sadly, four metal artists came forward with their identities admitting that they were the ones who installed the monolith at the top of Pine Mountain. However, the truth hasn’t been uncovered regarding the ones in Utah and Romania - could the Atascadero artists merely have taken inspiration from the original monoliths? The artists of which could possibly be aliens?
Wild Ponies on the AT
The horses that roam the plains of the Appalachian Trail are technically feral, descending from a domesticated breed from Assateague Island off the coast of Maryland, where they’ve strode since the 1600s. 50 ponies were brought to the Grayson Highlands in 1975 to graze and manage vegetation at the top of the mountains. They’re rounded up twice a year to check numbers and health, and occasionally sold at auctions to stabilize the population. We say let them roam!