|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – June 2008
On your mark, get set ... hike. Inside a 5,600-mile footrace on the country's hardest trail.
But perhaps the most surprising thing about the Onion's surge to the finish was that setting an obscure record–in a contest with no official scorekeeper or prize–had never been his main goal. He had hit the trail for the reasons many of us seek wilderness: to quiet his mind and spirit. He had recently left the Mormon Church and had taken leave from a PhD program; he was troubled by unresolved feelings about God and his future. Magoo, likewise, was motivated by a higher quest: He was a successful MBA who had chucked the corporate world for a dream of turning hiking and adventure into money. Was he insane to think that the dirt path could also be his career path?
Before carrying on, the Onion stopped at the Pie Town post office and picked up four resupply boxes. (Both he and Magoo would occasionally slip into civilization for provisions or to communicate with the outside world.) One box had 20 maps in it. The others mostly contained the jolt-inducing chocolate-chip cookies, chocolate-covered almonds, peppermint bark, and Oreo Cakesters that sustained him on the trail. There was also another reason for the Onion to feel revved. Mr. Magoo, he noticed, had signed the post office's CDT trail register just six days earlier. The gap was closing. Hopeful to get in another 25 miles before calling it a day, the Onion promptly walked into the New Mexico sunshine.