UAHS alum hikes over 7,000 miles in three consecutive years
By Caroline Favret, ’18
What started as a senior project led to roughly 7,610 miles and 22 states hiked. Twenty-year-old UAHS graduate Eddie Boyd began his adventures after choosing to hike the Appalachian Trail for his Odyssey project.
In the following years, Boyd continued to hike, eventually pursuing the premier award of thru-hiking, the Triple Crown. By completing the Continental Divide Trail, or the “CDT,” he has become one of the few people his age that has completed this feat in such a short time span, and one of only 334 people total.
As for his Odyssey, Boyd chose both a physically and mentally demanding project. He grew up loving the outdoors, and during his freshman year a friend casually mentioned the idea to tackle the Appalachian Trail, or the “AT.” They’d talk about it throughout high school, and Boyd became really serious about it as he neared the end of high school.
Initially, however, the trail proved too much for him and he stopped about 20 miles in.
“It was my dream to hike the AT, so after I got over [the quitting part] and got back on the trail, there was no more quitting. I had already quit, so I couldn’t quit again,” Boyd said.
He tried again, starting June 28, 2015. This time, he started at Harpers Ferry, went north to Maine, then backtracked to end in Georgia. For one segment, he joined a 42-year-old man who went by the trail name “Texas Poo” and had already completed the CDT and PCT over the last two years. Here, he started seeing the Triple Crown as a reality after hearing Poo recount his experiences on the other trails.
The AT also exposed Boyd to the social nature of the sport, which for him is unparalleled.
“What makes thru-hiking awesome is the social aspect of it, meeting all of these interesting people and doing this crazy thing and being united by that,” Boyd said, “It’s been really cool to know, ‘Hey, if I want to go travel around I have a someone to stay with in Tokyo, I have someone to stay with in Germany.’”
The next year in May, he continued on to attempt a quieter trail across the Mississippi. He embarked on a 2,650 mile journey from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail, or the “PCT.”
“I’d have days where I just put my headphones in and would just be absolutely in the zone, in the state of flow, which is really hypnotic and very nice to experience. It’s something you don’t really get everyday,” Boyd said.
After completing the PCT, which includes Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, he knew he had to continue on to attempt the CDT as he had already come so far.
“After 1,000 or 2,000 miles of hiking, your body is 100 percent amazing at hiking. You wake up with the sun, you go to sleep with the sun, and your body’s on this perfect natural rhythm to get up and walk 25 to 30 miles every day with a backpack on, over whatever mountains. It doesn’t matter how high they are, it’s just effortless,” Boyd said.
In November 2017, he conquered the CDT and his hardest state, Colorado, allowing him to apply for the Triple Crown Award from the American Long Distance Hiking Association-West organization.
Boyd’s hiking days might be over for the time being, as he is a current college student, but he plans to continue hiking and even re-hiking trails he’s completed in the future.
“I’m 100 percent addicted,” Boyd said, “I have a massive list of trails for the rest of my life.”
This summer he hopes to travel to Wyoming, forging his own trail to showcase the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. This would include the Tetons, the Gros Ventre Wilderness and the Wind River Range. With the exception of Washington, this region of northern Wyoming was one his favorite areas out of over 400 days of hiking.
For him, the sport is not much more than mental determination and an unbeatable adventure, and as Boyd says, “It’s just walking.”
All Photos Courtesy Eddie Boyd