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Impossible Odds Podcast

Could You Hike 8,000 Miles in a Year? These Two College Students Did.

Hear the story of the youngest adventurers ever to complete the Triple Crown in a calendar year, straight from the source.

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We all have our hiking goals for 2022. Some of us are weekend warriors just want to get out more, notching dayhikes and the occasional overnight on our days off. Other hikers may have a life-list trip on the docket—a week in a national park or in some far-off destination. A few hardy souls are weighing their gear and getting inspired for an attempt at a long trail. But there are few, if any, hikers out there with goals as lofty as Sammy Potter’s and Jackson Parell’s were last year.

Over the course of 12 months, Potter and Parell, two students from Stanford University, completed the Triple Crown of hiking in one swoop, piecing together the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail. During their journey, which they recorded in a podcast for Backpacker, they dodged forest fires, dealt with injuries, and had to answer a fundamental question: How much were they willing to give up to achieve a dream?

Now, you can listen to the story of their epic year on the trail in Backpacker’s Impossible Odds podcast, which Sammy and Jackson recorded during their hike. Listen to the full season below.

Episode 1: How Do You Prep to Walk 8,000 Miles in a Calendar Year?

Sammy Potter and Jackson Parell explain their thru-hike motives, check their packing lists, and say goodbye to their families on the first episode of Impossible Odds. Read the Transcript

Episode 2: Hiking Toward Winter

Sammy and Jackson have to hike through multiple feet of snow on the AT. Are conditions bad enough to bail and transition to the CDT early? Read the Transcript

Episode 3: Desert Tribulations

Sammy and Jackson face their first medical problem on the trail after hiking in worn boots for too long, and they have to decide whether to push through or rest. Read the Transcript

Episode 4: Chill Hiking Never Lasts Long

Sammy and Jackson complete their first trail, but not without solving logistical challenges, rehabbing injuries, and outrunning snowstorms. Read the Transcript

Episode 5: Going it Alone

Sammy and Jackson decide to split up embark on 200 miles of solo hiking. Then, Sammy finds himself in the most dangerous situation yet on the Triple Crown. Read the Transcript

Episode 6: Physical Breakdown

Dehydration and questionable water sources get in the way of Sammy and Jackson’s progress when one of them gets sick on trail. Read the Transcript


Episode 7: On the Edge

Sammy ponders his thru-hike motivations after he receives difficult family news. He is also nervous to tell Jackson he wants to redo some of the CDT. Read the Transcript

Episode 8: One Last Hurrah

As they wrap up the PCT, Sammy shares how the trails changed him, and he reads his post-hike bucket list. Hint: Eating a lot of ice cream and donuts. Read the Transcript

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