Winter Park athlete breaks Long Trail speed record
October 8, 2010
Winter Park resident, Travis Wildeboer, broke the speed record in September by hiking the Long Trail in Vermont in just six days. While reading his trip report, I recalled my four days on the Long Trail in 2000. A friend asked me to hike with him for as long as we could last, starting north of Mount Mansfield, the state’s highest peak at 4,395 feet. We lasted for four days; my personal record for backpacking.
Travis has lived in Winter Park for seven years. After completing the Appalachian Trail with his brother in 2000, he wanted to break the speed record hiking the Long Trail in Vermont. Much of his training in Grand County was hiking loops in the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
On Tuesday, September 7, 2010, at Journey’s End trail at the northern terminus of the Long Trail in Vermont, Travis began his pursuit of an unsupported speed record: 272.7 miles hiking the spine of some of the oldest mountains in the United States.
“The strict rules of an unsupported hike mean I had to carry all my supplies – including food, clothes, headlamp, camera, phone, etc. – from the beginning of the trail to the end of the trail without obtaining additional supplies from an outside source along the way. The exception was water, which I could drink at water sources on or near the trail.”
What I liked most about Travis’s trip report is the place names that bring back Vermont memories. He climbs Jay Peak, one of the first big peaks: “I finished the climb up Jay Peak and found a couple carpenters building stairs to the summit. My profession is building so I was curious to check out their work.” I remember skiing the most perfect powder day in the trees at Jay Peak.
On Day Three Travis climbs Mount Mansfield. When he describes the technical aspects of the mountain, I am there. I remember everything about that mountain, especially the ladders hiking up the Nose and Forehead, all while raining and just hoping to make it safely.
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“The climb up Mansfield was a river bed. Just below tree line the rain let up but the wind grew stronger. I made the decision to go for it since there was no sign of lightning. The next three miles over The Nose, Forehead, and through the Needle’s Eye were extremely technical.”
Travis reached the Massachusetts state line – the Southern Terminus – on Tuesday September 14th – 6 days 17 hours and 25 minutes, beating Demetri Coupounas’s record from 2004, by 6 days 2 hours and 28 minutes.
Travis’s story of adventures in the east reminds me of the east-west controversy when it comes to skiing and hiking. Where is the best hiking and skiing, really? As a transplanted easterner I’m always looking anyone who can argue hiking and skiing in the east is better.
Then I received Jay Peak Magazine. Dean Seguin writes about the controversy He is a western skier doubting the entire eastern mountain landscape just before his first run at Jay Peak. He contemplates the wind and freezing temperatures, hovering clouds, icy conditions – he’s a western ski snob. After his ski day, he is converted.
Reading his story, I am reminded how western skiing and hiking isn’t better than the east, his story reveals that there are special places you can find to ski and hike in harmony, and it’s really about being in what he calls “an intoxicating place”. I think Vermont and Colorado are both amazing places to ski, hike, and live.
At the end of his Long Trail journey, Travis sits with his friend JB and celebrates by drinking a Long Trail Ale. A great way to end a day in Vermont – a great way to end any epic outdoor adventure – regardless of the state your adventure.
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