Where do most kids want to go during their spring break? I’m fairly certain few would say “let’s hike!” But Christian aka Buddy is not an ordinary kid. At 5 years old he hiked the Appalachian Trail; at 6 he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Since then he’s been working toward completion of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).
I first met Team Buddy Backpacker (Andrea, Dion and Christian) in 2014 when they were hiking the PCT. I had the opportunity to host them and provide a little magic.
Luck would have it that I was in the right place at the right time to join them for this short section hike. Although the sun was in our faces, it was a nippy mid 20-degree morning. Photo credit: Dion
We began our hike at South Pass City.
It’s been partially restored and open for visitation in tours during the summer months (link).
And so begins our hike.
Although a crappy photo, I was excited to see this ermine (aka weasel). A friend who lives in Teton Valley had been posted really cute photos all winter. It was my first in person sighting . . . well except for the dead one we found on my recent ski-to-cabin adventure.
We also saw big herds of pronghorn aka antelope. They run really fast, like up to 55 mph. I was happy to capture these images a couple days after our hike.
With the mostly flat topography, we were able to hike big miles.
The snow enhanced this normally bland landscape.
This section includes significant time wandering through the tufted grass.
Dion was chief navigator. Notice the all important water! I really dislike carrying excess water.
You might have thought Dion led us a bit more than a few miles off trail.
“The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about 3,000 miles (4,800 km) across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California. After it was established, the first half of the California Trail followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, namely the valleys of the Platte, North Platte and Sweetwater rivers to Wyoming. In the present states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah, the California and Oregon trails split into several different trails or cutoffs.” Source: Wikipedia
We found a campsite near water, and got settled in just before sunset. My notes say it was a cold windy 28 at 9pm. Thankfully the wind stopped during the night and overnight temps settled at 18F in my tent.
The next day was Easter! Buddy has the best parents.
Road walking was much preferable to picking my way through the ankle-twisting tufts.
With thousands of miles under his feet, Buddy is a pro at stream crossings.
Ever wonder how Buddy entertains himself over thousands of miles? He listens to music and podcasts. I loved watching him playing orchestra director, hearing him singing or sharing newfound knowledge. As I learned during his visit in 2014, he’s also a proficient map and app reader.
We ended our hike with this hysterical hitch from a local rancher who drove his truck like we were on the Indy 500.
Dion put together this awesome video of our hike. Let me know if you have trouble accessing as it’s a facebook link.
I previously posted about the ALDHA-West gathering (link) in which Buddy received his Triple Crown award for having completed all three long trails (AT, PCT, CDT). Below is the video of his speech. I loved that he thanked chocolate and Pooh. Once again it’s a facebook link, so let me know if problems. Video credit: Andrea
Buddy became the youngest at 9-years old to earn his Triple Crown. His efforts have been recognized by many news sources including:
I’ve really enjoyed spending time with this incredible family. They didn’t start hiking to set records or even complete long trails, it all started as a two-week vacation. To learn more about them and follow their story:
- Date(s) Hiked: April 15-16, 2017