Backpacker Radio #178 | Leonard Adkins on 20,000 Miles of Backpacking, Thru-Hiking in the 1980s, and Authoring 21 Books
In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Leonard Adkins. Leonard is a backpacking legend and author of more than twenty books, including several guide books, a book about the flora, fauna, and geology on the the Appalachian Trail, and his most title, “All About the Appalachian Trail” the first and only book for children grades 4-8. We go in depth on Leonard’s backpacking history, which includes more than 20,000 miles dating back to the early 80s. We learn what it was like to be one of the first to hike the Pacific Northwest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and the first (alongside his wife) to hike the Allegheny Trail. We learn some fun facts about the plants along the AT. And we get the ultimate endorsement for this interview from Leonard himself, who says, “I enjoyed that more than I was expecting.” We were flattered.
We wrap the show with the worst all-time Christmas songs, the triple crown of baked goods, a new stupid thing of the week, and more.
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Interview with Leonard Adkins
Time stamps & Questions
00:05:15 – QOTD: What is the all-time worst Christmas song?
00:13:52 – Reminders: Hiker Meetup, Saturday December 10!
00:18:34 – Introducing Leonard
00:19:19 – What’s your origin story?
00:22:56 – How popular was the trail in 1980?
00:26:18 – How was the trail or route different in 1980?
00:29:14 – Did you hike the trail to research for your books or did your books result from hiking?
00:31:55 – How much time did you spend on your first book?
00:33:33 – Tell us more about hiking the AT in 1980.
00:37:50 – If you could backpack the AT today or in the 80’s again, which would you pick?
00:40:11 – Do you remember your original backpacking gear?
00:44:29 – Tell us about the Allegheny Trail.
00:50:42 – How long do you think it would take the average thru-hiker to complete?
00:54:30 – What was the Pacific Northwest Trail like in 1983?
00:57:54 – How did you know about these trails to hike them before they were completed?
01:00:22 – How did you plan your hikes without guide books or maps?
01:03:30 – Discussion about hiking the Continental Divide Trail in 1987
01:05:26 – How many maps did you carry on the CDT and how did you get them?
01:07:37 – What does your navigation setup look like today?
01:10:05 – What shorter trail stands out from the ones we haven’t talked about yet?
01:11:54 – Would you describe your hiking experience as Type I or Type II fun?
01:12:50 – What was your most challenging day of backpacking?
01:14:58 – What percent of your time is spent hiking, researching, and writing books?
01:16:21 – If you could hike one of your international trails again, which would it be?
01:21:39 – Did you re-hike sections of the trail to write your books?
01:25:37 – What’s your favorite story about nature that’s in your books?
01:27:44 – What’s your favorite story about the animals you researched?
01:29:43 – Tell us more about your educational and professional background.
01:32:08 – What are the best overnight hikes on the AT?
01:34:06 – Are the ponies in Grayson Highlands wild or feral?
01:35:41 – Tell us about your wife getting struck by lightning.
01:40:14 – Was the pain localized to her foot?
01:42:00 – Laurie’s perspective on the story
01:42:55 – What was the inspiration for writing a book for kids?
01:45:42 – What feedback have you gotten on the book?
01:47:50 – Do you have a larger mission for writing books?
01:48:53 – Where can people follow you and get your books?
- 5 Stupid Light Gear Choices That Take Ultralight Too Far by Alex Brown aka GPS
Stupid Thing of the Week
Triple Crown of baked goods
5 Star Review
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