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Outdoor Adventure Goals: Fresh Air, Exercise, Fun, and Satisfaction

Deb thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and is a Search & Rescue volunteer and writer living in Flagstaff, AZ.


Something for Everyone Who Loves Adventure

Calling all outdoors-loving list-makers!

I don't know about you, but I make lists. Lots of lists. Of course, there's the weekly grocery list and the never-ending "to do" list of chores and issues to take care of (like the darn cable company's billing mistake ... again).

I have lists of books to read, topics to write about, appointments to keep. All sorts of lists on all sorts of scrap paper, sticky pads, dry erase boards and notebook pages of things I don't want to forget. A lot of pragmatic and often dull stuff. Stuff that sometimes makes me groan just looking at the list.

But that's not the sort of list-making I want to talk about. No, I want to talk about the fun stuff!

By far, my favorite lists that I keep have titles like, "Trails to hike" and its companion, "Trails I've hiked." I'm even toying with the idea of starting a "Mountains to Climb" list, though nothing too technical.

I'm not only a list-maker, you see, I'm a lover of the great outdoors, of adventure, and of goal-setting. When I set a new goal for myself, I get all giddy and excited, and life takes on a whole new meaning. I have something to strive for and fun planning to do, and I enjoy the process of reaching those goals as much as the feeling of checking something off a list. It's also my way of staying motivated to exercise.

So does this sound like you, too? If so, you've stopped by the right place.

The following are a handful of outdoor adventure goals -- some big and perhaps out of our comfort zones, others not quite so ambitious or gutsy -- and some folks who've accomplished or are striving to accomplish them.

Appalachian Trail -- Mt. Katahdin

Appalachian Trail -- Mt. Katahdin

Long-Distance Outdoor Adventures: Hiking America's Triple Crown

The three longest, north-south National Scenic Trails

The Appalachian Trail (A.T.)--The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)--The Continental Divide Trail (CDT). These three major National Scenic Trails, each stretching more than 2,000 miles through some of America's most beautiful, rugged and wild country, make up what is known within the long-distance backpacking community as the "Triple Crown."

An end-to-end hike of any one of these trails in a single season is known as a thru-hike. Each year in recent times, between two and four hundred people have successfully completed Appalachian Trail thru-hikes, while the number is usually less than 200 for the PCT and significantly fewer on the more remote CDT.

Meanwhile, greater numbers are hiking sections of these trails--thus called "section-hikers"--with the goal of piecing them together to eventually complete them end to end.

Completing any one of these or other long trails is a great goal and a wonderful accomplishment in and of itself. Sometimes, though, the long-distance backpacking bug bites, and doing just one isn't enough.

Eventually, when a habitual hiker completes the A.T., PCT and CDT, either as thru-hikes or in sections, that person is then known as a Triple-Crowner. As of December, 2008, approximately 92 people are known to have accomplished that goal.

Only the organization known as ALDHAWest (or Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, Western States Chapter) officially recognizes the "Triple Crown" accomplishment and, operating on the honor system, awards plaques to those who apply for the status.

However, the personal satisfaction, not to mention precious moments and memories, of experiencing and completing these trails is certainly what it's all about.

My favorite Triple-Crowner is a woman known as Yogi, who thru-hiked the A.T. in 1999, the PCT in 2002 and 2003, and the CDT in 2004. (She also kindly transcribed my own Appalachian Trail thru-hiking journal.)

And these are a couple of others who have hiked the Triple Crown:

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A Triple Crown in One Year!

Check out this article about "Flyin'" Brian Robinson, the first person to complete a Triple Crown in a single calendar year.

Hiker Achieves 'Triple Crown'

I know some folks frown on any type of "speed record" attempts when it comes to hiking or backpacking, but regardless of one's opinion on that matter, walking 7,400 miles in 10 months is quite the feat. (Not to mention tough on the feet!)

For More Information on the A.T., PCT and CDT and hiking America's Triple Crown, visit....



Samuel Gadner's 12,500+ mile "All-In Trek"

The Goal: To establish a new record of unassisted ultra-light long-distance backpacking on the four longest hiking trails in the U.S., continuously with no time off -- the Appalachian Trail, the North Country Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail

Read more about this grand adventure and follow Samuel's journal on National Geographic's Adventure Blog.

"Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another."


Me on the summit of Mt. Washington, highest point in New Hampshire

Me on the summit of Mt. Washington, highest point in New Hampshire

Another Outdoor Goal: Highpointing

Climbing the highest peaks, hills, humps, bumps and knolls

Me at the highest point in New Hampshire

Until the summer of 2008, I'd never heard of highpointing. Not until one of our monthly Search and Rescue team meetings, when our coordinator announced that the club named for the pursuit would be coming to Flagstaff for their annual, week-long convention. During that time, roughly three-hundred people would be hiking to the summit of Arizona's highest peak, Mt. Humphreys at 12,633 feet, just outside of town, as well as other area trails. (He told us this so we'd be prepared for potentially more call-outs than usual, given the increased number of people on the mountain. I should say right off, though, our pagers didn't go off even once that week.)

Highpointing is the sport of visiting the point with the highest elevation within some geographical area, such as the highest points in each county within a state.

Over the years, this pursuit has been taken up by thousands of people with goals that include visiting the highest point in each state, summiting every peak above some round number (ie. climbing all the mountains in Colorado above 14,000 feet), and reaching the highest point on each continent (the now famous "Seven Summits").

Talk about a list-making outdoors-person's dream! When I heard about highpointing and about the Highpointers Club, this new-found idea made me go ... hmmm.



  • Highpointers Club: Summits of the States
    The Club's blog
  • The Highpointers Foundation
    "...provides a forum for education about the highpoints, aids in the conservation of the highpoints and their environs, maintains positive relationships with owners of highpoints on private property, assists in the care and maintenance of highpoints
  • Highest Points in the U.S.
    A cool, interactive map on
  • Unofficial Highpointers Group
    A Yahoo! Group not affiliated with the Highpointers Club. Members "discuss high points of states, nations, and other geographical and political entities. A great way to meet fellow hikers and climbers for mountaineering expeditions to high points."

The journey is the reward.

--Chinese Proverb