Backpacker Radio #230 | Bennett Lee on Caving and His Calendar Year “Half” Triple Crown, Plus Rachel’s Colorado Trail Hike

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Bennett Lee, an avid caver, backpacker, and photographer. This year Bennett attempted the calendar year triple crown, completing half of it, which he dubbed the Calendar Year Half Triple Crown. In typical backpacker radio fashion however, we swerve, spending much of our time chatting about the wacky world that is caving. We go deep, learning what draws someone into caving, why people in his community don’t call it spelunking, the nude calendars he’s shot in caves, some harrowing stories from situations gone awry (including a time where the search party had already begun the process of looking for his body), another time where he was caught in a collapsing cave next to a rattlesnake, an assortment of fun cave facts, including how someone’s sleep schedule changes when doing multi-day caving trips, and much more. You will leave this conversation delighted, entertained, and possibly at times, a bit disturbed – in the best way possible.

We wrap the show with our very own Rachel giving a hilarious rundown on her Colorado Trail thru-hike / honeymoon, an unveiling of some new merch, just in time for the holidays, life tips for those who’ve recently finished a thru-hike, some things we wish were never invented, a triple crown of modern day luxuries that are tight, and a shoutout to one of our Patreon supporters who recently completed the CDT.

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Interview with Bennett “Tight Squeeze” Lee

Time stamps & Questions

00:07:10 – Reminders: Check out our Stay Feral shirts, our new website, and our application for the Trek’s editorial internship!

00:09:55 – Introducing Bennett

00:11:14 – What knot would you use for the rest of your life and why?

00:12:23 – How did you get started with caving?

00:15:50 – What’s the difference between caving and spelunking?

00:17:05 – What are the steps to exploring a cave?

00:18:25 – What does a cave rescue process look like?

00:20:10 – How do people find and explore new caves?

00:25:28 – What are the Leave No Trace aspects to caving?

00:29:21 – Story about discovering a new cave

00:35:54 – How do you keep continuing new passages in the cave?

00:46:21 – Discussion about free diving in caves

00:50:20 – How do you know when you reach the end of a cave?

00:51:40 – Is there any scanning technology that works in caves?

00:53:15 – Do you enjoy the adrenaline rush and dangers involved with cave exploration?

00:55:05 – Does backpacking seem easy or boring compared to caving?

00:56:55 – How do you fund caving?

00:58:45 – How do you regulate your circadian rhythm when you’re in a cave for long periods?

00:59:54 – Have you ever found human remains in a cave?

01:04:25 – Is it beneficial to have a smaller stature for caving?

01:05:15 – What’s the longest known cave in the US and can you hike through caves?

01:06:30 – How often do you see bats in caves?

01:08:52 – Tell us about being trapped in a tight cave with a rattlesnake

01:15:35 – Tell us about the nude caving calendar

01:19:14 – How did you get into backpacking?

01:21:40 – How much does the gear overlap between backpacking and caving?

01:23:02 – Tell us about your expedition in Alaska

01:32:55 – Tell us the Love Poop story (and submit your own!)

01:37:20 – Tell us the 50 miles for 50th birthday

01:41:08 – How has having Asperger’s interfaced with your hiking?

01:42:50 – Do you have a triple crown of social situations you would consider the worst?

01:45:23 – Tell us about your Calendar Year “Half” Triple Crown

01:52:22 – Tell us about the Porcupine World War

01:58:10 – Discussion about Bennett’s shoes

02:00:00 – What’s next for you?


Rachel’s Colorado Trail Hike

Trek Propaganda: Finished Your Thru-Hike. Now What? 9 Tips for Regaining Your Humanity by Danielle Krolewicz

QOTD: What’s something you wish was never invented?

Triple Crown of modern day luxuries that are tight

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