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What Makes People Go for the Fastest Known Time?

UNSUPPORTED - Going for the FKT on the JMT

I’ve thru-hiked the John Muir Trail twice. The first time, back in 1980, I took 25 days to cover the 211-plus miles. The second time in 2010 I hiked it with my girlfriend (now my wife) over 22 days. If I could’ve taken more time off from work, I would have taken longer, but three weeks was the longest vacation I’d ever taken at that point in my career. John Muir himself didn’t care much for the term hiking. It felt too regimented and rigorous to him. He preferred the concept of sauntering.

SoCal Hiker friend Jason Fitzpatrick (you might remember him from MILE, MILE & A HALF) recently made a short documentary called UNSUPPORTED that looks at the other end of the spectrum: that strange breed of hiker that goes for the FKT–Fastest Known Time. This short documentary follows a number of men and women who have pursued the unsupported fastest known time on the John Muir Trail. That “unsupported” modifier is important, because it means they do it completely on their own. No pacers. No resupply teams. They can’t even accept a candy bar from a stranger without losing that important unsupported qualifier.

This video did not inspire me to go out for a FKT on any trail, really. I’m more of a saunter-er most of the time. But I was inspired by their stories, their grit and determination–qualities that many adventures share. Even though I’ve got no plans of attempting an FKT on the JMT, the documentary was highly entertaining and well put-together.

One of my favorite bits from the film comes right in the beginning, when Reinhold Metzger compares the John Muir Trail to a beautiful woman. I remember him sharing that same analogy when Joan and I met him on the JMT back in 2010.


So… what’s your next big adventure? 

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