I recently read an article in the Scouting Magazine about EXTREME hiker Andrew Skurka. In previous research for scouting backpack trips and my own personal research I came Andrews website, but with this recent article that was shared in Scouting Magazine, I thought I would pass it along. I included the first part of the article here as well as the link to the entire article and Andrew Skurka's personal blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
HERE’S WHAT THE WORLD’S BEST-KNOWN LONG‑DISTANCE HIKER, ANDREW SKURKA, CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT LEADING YOUR SCOUTS ON A DAY HIKE—OR A 100-MILER.
Does Andrew Skurka ever stay still? Sure, but not to rest. When he isn’t traveling, Skurka hosts backpacking clinics, speaking in packed auditoriums and cramped church basements. He especially likes addressing Scouts and Scouters, which he did recently in Escondido, Calif. (above). Photo by Nadia Borowski Scott.
THE AUDACITY OF Andrew Skurka struck the outdoors world with full force late in the summer of 2005. It was then, with Skurka fresh off what had amounted to a nearly 8,000-mile hike, that reports began circulating about a “kid” who had backpacked solo across the entire continent.
Starting in Quebec, Skurka—just 23 years old, a former Scout, and a recent graduate of Duke University—filled a small flask with water from the Atlantic Ocean. He then shouldered a backpack and walked west. A transcontinental wilderness route sketched on a series of maps served as his sole guide into the unknown journey ahead.
Eleven months later, at a misty beach in Washington State, Skurka emerged from the trees skinny and wet. He marched into the ocean shallows. He uncapped his flask and dumped its contents over his head, the briny waters of the Atlantic from months back mingling with the Pacific Ocean below. It was a symbolic closure to a feat Skurka would later refer to as his “coming-of-age hike.”
Andrew Skurka was born in 1981, and he grew up in Seekonk, Mass., an area with “very limited outdoor recreation opportunities.”As a boy, he rode his mountain bike and explored swamps near his home. He joined Scouting. During college, Skurka spent summers as a camp counselor in North Carolina.
Skurka, who turns 31 this March, has a dozen significant expeditions under his backpacking belt. In a rare trajectory, during just a few years, Skurka ascended from workaday backpacker to bona fide explorer status, including the coronation as “Adventurer of the Year” by no less than the National Geographic Society in 2007.
The Quebec-to-Washington walk—dubbed the “Sea-to-Sea Route”—followed trail systems and pathless stretches in a serpentine line across the country. It required ultralight backpacking technique and months with 30-plus mile days strung one after the next. “I need the challenge of a long trip, the physical and athletic component,” Skurka says. “I push the limits to see what my limits are.”
His latest feat—the 4,680-mile “Alaska-Yukon Expedition,” which entailed traveling by foot, ski, and packraft alone for 176 days straight—pushed Skurka to the edge. Scouting caught up with the backpacking superstar on a rare hiatus from hiking to talk about Alaska, wilderness techniques, gear, and how knowledge from his extreme feats can apply to the average Scout troop or crew heading into the woods on a weekend trip.