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Thru-Hiker Heroes: Andrew “Reptar” Forestell

Whether it's a relationship or a round-the-world trip, sometimes plans fall apart. If you're Reptar, you just pack your bags and roll with it.

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To hear him tell the story, hiking found Reptar. He and a friend had saved for a year to go on a big, round-the-world adventure. But when it was time to get into the details, his friend had a confession: He’d spent all his money. Time to pivot. Reptar, living in Virginia at the time, had done a single overnight on the AT. Looking for a new trip he thought, what about that? A few weeks later, he arrived in Georgia ready to hike. “I had this camera, and I thought why have a nice camera if I’m not going to take it on one of the most epic trips of my life?” Soon, people were asking him if he was shooting a documentary, and soon he was saying yes. He enjoyed himself. With some comrades, he started a fake sword-wielding Scottish drinking clan (none of them were Scottish). After the AT, he tackled the PCT. When fellow hikers were clipping the handles off their toothbrushes, he was packing a 3.5-pound inflatable unicorn for 200 miles. He’s seen record snow and wildfires, hiked with a girlfriend, a group, and solo. He’s felt a range of what it means to be human while walking the trail, and understands that it’s important not take things too seriously. And always keep the camera rolling.

Desert Detritus

Sonoran Desert, California

I signed up for Granite Gear’s Grounds Keeper program figuring I’d pack out microtrash and help beautify the trail, but I didn’t know what that might mean. Somewhere between miles 300 and 500, I was hiking with my buddy Marble. He saw it first. He was like, “Yo man, you gonna pack that out?”

I was like, “Pack what out?”

Marble laughed. “This bowling ball”.

It was a 16-pounder covered in mud.

“Well yeah, man,” I said. “I gotta pack it out. Not only to get it off the trail, but because this is hilarious”

I waddled with it like a penguin for a mile to a campground. All in all, I packed out 65 pounds of trash.

Pool Party

Evolution Creek, California

It was a big snow year in 2017 and everyone was worried about the Sierra. I thought, No, this is going to be fun. I posted on Facebook asking for someone to mail me an inflatable unicorn. Thanks to my friends Matt and Jenny, Marshmallow the Unisex Unicorn was born. I used it to glissade and had a tube day on Evolution Creek before leaving it in a hiker box in Mammoth, California. ‘Twas a noble steed and will always be cherished.

Flip Flop

Canadian Border

My girlfriend and I broke up after 1,000 miles. Thru-hikes are difficult. Relationships are difficult. That combination can either pull you together or drive you apart. She dropped me off at the Canadian border as winter was approaching so I could hike south to stay ahead of it. There was a forest fire happening that painted the sky in a pink haze. Even the animals were quiet. That was the first time I had been hiking by myself and I was filled with this weird sense of dread. I filmed the fire for a bit, but all you can really do in that situation is put on some music and keep moving. Time heals wounds. What better place for that than the trail?

Early Ending

Crater Lake, Oregon

It was single-digits cold. My shoes were frozen, my socks were frozen. Every morning I had to bang on them to loosen them up so I could get my feet in. I was hiking with three friends and one said that if Crater Lake Lodge had space, rooms would be on him. There weren’t any rooms. But a guest in the lodge offered to let us stay in her room. The next morning, she offered a ride to Bend, Oregon to anyone who wanted one. I don’t know why but I said yes. That night, I cried. I lost my girlfriend, who was my hiking partner and best friend, and now my hike was over.

Back On Track

Echo Lake, CA

It took two years for me to return to this place, where my NOBO hike and relationship had ended, but I came back hard, aiming to get to Cascade Locks, Oregon in time for PCT Trail Days. I’d need to hike a marathon a day to make it to Crater Lake. I was happy to be done but sad to be done alone. I grabbed a ride from there to Trail Days and ended up having a reunion a lot of the people I knew from 2017. When you’re in the trail community, you’re never alone for long.

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