View Full Version : Andrew Skurka sees U.S. from sea to shining sea

03-22-2005, 11:28
Update from Minnesota local paper on uber-hiker Andrew Skurka.

Hiker sees U.S. from sea to shining sea
By Steve Kuchera
Duluth News-Tribune
March 22, 2005

Like many college graduates, Andrew Skurka decided to see the country before pursuing a career.

But he's doing it unlike anyone else ever has. Skurka plans to become the first person to hike the entire 7,700-mile Sea-to-Sea Route, following parts or all of six long-distance hiking trails.

The 23-year-old Seekonk, Mass., native currently is hiking the Superior Hiking Trail northeast of Two Harbors -- more than 4,400 trail miles from his starting point on Quebec's Cape Gaspe.

"It's an incredible experience seeing all these different places and meeting great people," Skurka said. "And then there's the challenge of walking across the continent.

"I'm trying to seize an opportunity when I don't have some of the things that come with maturity," he said. "I don't have a wife, I don't kids or a mortgage and I haven't started my career. Now is the time to do something like this."

Skurka hopes his trip increases public awareness of the trails he's using and helps establish a complete route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

The Sea-to-Sea, or C2C, Route was the idea of Washington state writer and Pacific Northwest Trail founder Ron Strickland.

"The essence of my C2C vision is to invigorate the 1968 National Trails System by giving it this east-west backbone," Strickland said in an e-mail interview.

The route includes parts or all of the International Appalachian Trail, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Long Trail, North Country National Scenic Trail, Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and Pacific Northwest Trail. The 4,391-mile-long North Country Trail is the longest segment, stretching between New York and North Dakota, crossing the Northland along the way. There are, however, several hundreds of miles of gaps in the Sea-to-Sea Route.

Strickland hopes those gaps will be plugged. He also hopes that Skurka's hike attracts more people to the outdoors.

"Young people who experience the wonders of the out-of-doors for themselves are much more likely to want to preserve what they have come to love," he said. "Andy, by his enthusiastic pursuit of his transcontinental dream, is helping to remind everyone of the wonders around us."

Skurka learned about the Sea-to-Sea Route from a Strickland story published in the February 2003 edition of Backpacker magazine. He quickly decided to hike the route after graduating from Duke University. Months of planning and preparation followed, ending with his Aug. 6 departure from Quebec's Forillon National Park. Skurka plans to arrive at Cape Alava in Washington's Olympic National Park by this August.

Skurka had to schedule his trip so he wouldn't cross mountains in the East or West during winter months. That meant crossing the Northland now.

"Yeah it's cold, and there's a lot of snow, but you're not on an exposed slope, and you're not dealing with avalanche danger," he said.

Using skills sharpened by a 93-day through-hike of the 2,172-mile Appalachian Trail in 2002 and a June 2004 hike of the 479-mile Colorado Trail, Skurka has thinned his pack weight down to about 16 pounds. A hiking pole doubles as the center pole for his tarp tent. He's averaging about 20 miles a day.

"I don't really take breaks on the trail," he said. "I've taken one day off since Jan. 6."

That was about 1,200 miles ago. He walked about 1,000 of those miles on snowshoes -- necessary equipment, especially after winter storms slammed him crossing northern Wisconsin.

"I was sinking down 18 inches with every step," he said. "In order to step forward I had to lift my knee as high as my hip. So my pace slowed from something like 2.5 mph to 1.7.

"Winter in Michigan and Wisconsin has been the most difficult part of the trip," Skurka said. "Winter just wears on you. It never gives you a break. I have to constantly worry about how my hands are doing -- if they're getting too numb."

Skurka sleeps out five or six nights a week. Occasional stays in hotel rooms or with people met through trail associations give him a chance to shower, dry his gear and not worry about his stove failing or his hands freezing.

North Country Trail Association member Sue Breskin put Skurka up when he passed through the Twin Ports.

"He's delightful to be with," Breskin said. "He's an incredible young man to take on this venture no one has ever done. He could be a great inspiration to a lot of young people, and old people too."

Skurka, who left Duke with a double major in economics and political science, hasn't given much thought to life after hiking the Sea-to-Sea.

"This is my task at hand, and it's all-consuming," he said.
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03-22-2005, 12:08
Andrew Skurka is the reason why I wanted to hike the AT. I was over Blake's house one nite last summer and he told me about his dream of hiking the appalachian trail. I had heard of the trail before, but never thought about hiking the whole thing. We got to talking about it, and he showed me Andy's AT hike website. We got to talking, and we started wheels turning. I went home and was overwhelmed by Skurka's hike, I looked through his pictures over and over again, I looked at his gear lists, and found out exactly what everythingn he had was. I was amazed by his mile per day charts, and found his FAQ section to be helpful in planning a hike of my own. Blake and I were serious about the AT, and it became a topic of constant discussion. Everynight I would look at Skurka's site, I was so impressed with everything he had done and he became my "AT Hero," in the way Wingfoot is to many hikers. Andy made me into a light weight hiker, and I based many of my gear decissions on thigns he carried. I check up on his Sea-to-Sea site all the time, and I wish him all the best, and I'm sure he will be successful.

The Solemates
03-22-2005, 17:13
Likewise, Ive been keeping up with him and really enjoy his updates.

The Solemates
03-22-2005, 17:14

02-18-2006, 10:39
Just saw that this guy will be in the REI at Bailey's Crossroads. I'm definitely checking it out. It's free, and w/ gear giveaways apparently.

Thursday, Feb. 23 7PM

02-18-2006, 12:24
Went to the his atl rei presentation. It was a good 1hr30mins with prize raffle at the end. Couple boxes of balance bars, a jam pack, golite wind shirt, photon lite (I won), pair of montrail shoes, BPL subscription, couple other knick knacks. Nice pictures. go chk it out, he's doing a good job.

actually bought a jam pack after that to try out.