Last week, I remembered that GoLite's Demetri “Coup” Coupounas should be nearing the end of his 40-day quest to break the “alpine-style” record of hiking 620-miles without resupplying food and equipment on the Appalachian Trail (see Hauling 100-Pound Packs, Pt. 1). I did a Google search to see if there were any updates from the trail, and I came across a note from Jack Tarlin from Neel Gap in Georgia that was posted March 28th.
“Coup is here in Neel Gap (actually got in last night). He's doing great, but for any number of reasons, he's decided to skip the 40-day thing; instead, since he gets out here so seldom, (he's based in Boulder), he's decided to explore the area at his leisure and have some fun, which I think is very wise indeed. He particularly is interested in checking out the Smokies.
For those who care about such things, his pack was indeed straight off the rack and was not altered or re-enforced in any way I could see. When I tried the thing on (the only other person who has, by the way), it weighed at least 125 pounds; I walked around 80 yards and up a flight of stairs and was very happy to be rid of the thing. That he got here from Springer in that beast is pretty impressive. Sorta nuts, but impressive.
P.S - Coup now owns the record for most unwanted stuff sent home from Neel Gap (121 pounds!), and I don't think it’s a record that anyone's gonna bust anytime soon!”
Well, that experiment didn’t last long.
I consequently sent an e-mail to Ashley Devery, GoLite’s wonderful Mistress of Communications, for some more details on just what happened. Here’s what I found out: Coup covered 31 miles in four days with a peak load of 135 pounds, reached Neels Gap, and decided he’d rather see more of the area. So he put together a 30-pound pack and set off to explore.
Yeah, I would think it'd be more fun to ramble around 10-15 miles of trail each day with 30 pounds on your back rather than the measly, yet undoubtedly painful, 7-8 miles a day Coup was covering those first four days.
Frankly, I agree with Tarlin, that Coup managed to cover 31 miles with that weight on his back is quite a feat. But I think Coup really deserves credit for realizing that his goal was insane, or just not right for now. And that he remembered to enjoy himself and changed plans to do so. At the end of the day, I have to think that backpacking is about what we see and experience, not what we accomplish in terms of miles covered and elevation climbed. We should all be so smart about our approach to our fitness and adventure goals.
Over the last decade Grant Davis has been writing and editing articles about health, fitness, and nutrition. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.