Interviewing Hikers of the American Discovery Trail

I asked three past and present American Discovery Trail Hikers six of my biggest questions- and was surprised by their answers.

While preparing for my own thru-hike of the American Discovery Trail, I felt it necessary to connect with some of the very few people who attempt this lengthy feat. Learning about each of these individuals and their own reasons “why” compelled me to dig a little deeper. Here I interviewed Mike Jones (trail name Feral Shasta) who has finished his hike, Alexander Seling, who is currently hiking, and Robert Fabbiano (Twisted Rob), who is also currently hiking. I was intrigued by their “all on the table” answers and was very grateful for their participation. Here are the questions and answers from our interviews.

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Mike Jones, AKA Feral Shasta (via Facebook).

Why are you hiking (or did you hike) the American Discovery Trail?

Shasta: I chose to hike a long trail because it was either make a major change in life or just flat out kill myself; I made the right choice.

Alex:  I chose the ADT because I wanted to take a path from coast to coast that included a lot of trails and points of interest, not just road walking.

Twisted Rob: Living an extreme life not normal to regular people, I’ve experienced homelessness for many years with the facts that you may not see tomorrow. I’ve been trying to achieve the goal of being my best self. I’m hiking the American Discovery trail to show entrepreneurs can accomplish anything they set their minds to, no matter how long it takes, My reason was to travel, make money, to be truly happy, and to live the way I want!

How did you find out about the American Discovery Trail?

Shasta: I don’t remember exactly how I landed on the American Discovery Trail, it may have been mentioned by a YouTuber I follow; whenever the trail was mentioned I could sense that (it) would be a tough one. Due to its distance and inevitable lengthy road walks, I knew I’d have the solitary experience I was hoping for.

Alex: I first found out about the American Discovery Trail by googling “What is the longest trail in the U.S.?”

Twisted Rob: I was joking around with my buddy about walking across America. We were talking about Mike Posner walking across America and I wanted to watch a clip of him. Then I found Alex Seling’s videos on his trekking with the American Discovery Trail on YouTube.

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Alexander Seling (via Facebook).

Did you consider a National Scenic Trail or another long-distance trail (such as the AT, PCT, CDT, etc.)?

Shasta: I originally had my sights set on the PCT, however, due to the huge crowds and horrible fire issue out West, I decided not to do the PCT (will probably end up doing it last if there’s something left by the time I get around to it).

Alex: I didn’t really consider any other long trails for this journey, I knew I wanted to go from coast to coast.

Twisted Rob:  After I found Alex Seling’s videos I looked for the biggest trail in America. Come to find out, it’s 6800 miles and you can walk the whole thing! I began to commit to the southern route (5,057 miles), but only once I found out nobody has thru-hiked in support of entrepreneurship.

Have you hiked any other long-distance trails?

Shasta: I had only hiked sections of the PCT near where I live.

Alex:  In 2017 I hiked about 1500 miles of the PCT before wildfires forced me off the trail. I then continued on my own path Northward, taking roads, railroads, and forest service roads all the way to Canada.

Twisted Rob: I’ve never been a real backpacker in my life nor even hiked before.

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Robert “Twisted Rob” Fabbiano (via Facebook).

How much research did you do on the American Discovery Trail/ how much time was spent planning your hike?

Shasta: I did very little research, regarding the route. My research mainly focused on how I would manage my time, average pace, and dialing in my pack weight.

Alex:  I did a fair amount of research on the basics of the American Discovery Trail for a couple years but I found there is far too much information for me to remember all the fine details. I found it helpful to learn about the weather windows, desolate areas, seasonal/regional considerations, etc, before starting the trip.

Twisted Rob:  I watched a few of the American Discovery Trail videos that were available on YouTube. And after 2 days, with the idea stirring in my head, I committed mentally to walking across America. I didn’t buy the trail maps until I was actually on the beach in Cape Henlopen, trying to figure out where to go! I didn’t plan really it all. I grabbed my gear and hit the trail!

Is there anyone in particular who inspired you to hike the American Discovery Trail?

Shasta:  There were several people I met along the way that helped more than they could know. Shout out to Bob Palin for his support from the Colorado/Utah border all the way to Preston NV. Bob drove out ahead of me and buried water caches every 10-15 miles where water would be scarce.

Alex: My biggest inspiration to hike the American Discovery Trail was watching the late, great, Michael “The Lion King” Daniels’ YouTube video series of his epic American Discovery Trail adventure. I’ve thought about him a lot out on the trail.

Twisted Rob:  Alex Seling’s content was explosive for me! I saw him out there doing what he loves, living his life, and I knew I could do it!

Surprised?

In conclusion, I find some similarities in these answers, also they are just as unique as the individuals themselves. Everyone is called to a trail for certain reasons and I thought it odd at first to hear that these people hadn’t done a whole lot of hiking in their pasts. It seems like they began to hike almost out of necessity. Maybe we all are hiking out of necessity.

I’m here trying to schedule my time to make my schedule. These guys, some of them, are out there 100% winging it! That said, trails are made (usually) without discrimination to the hikers. The important thing may just be to get out there and do it. Go get what you need, because something like this, you can still take it all without leaving a trace.

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Comments 3

  • RickyD : Dec 14th

    Don’t know where you find the time to do all this while planning what’s probably to be your biggest Lifes’ Adventure!! Planning, packing, reading, interviewing, writing, and finding some time to socialize in between. You really are an inspiration!!! Great Writes!!! You got this Girl!!!

    Reply
  • Marcia…GottaWalk : Dec 15th

    So glad you decided to backpack the ADT (and not push a stroller)! Having another thru hike is really beneficial to hiking the ADT but I found I missed the community of other hikers. West of the Mississippi in the big sky country was my favorite.

    Awesome that you’re going and I’ll be reading while you hike!

    Wishing you an amazing adventure full of surprises and challenges!

    Reply
  • Bob Palin : Dec 15th

    Thanks to Shasta for the shout out. I spend a lot of time at the computer on American Discovery Trail work, but it’s the time out on the trail helping people that I enjoy the most, without the travelers there wouldn’t be any point to the rest of it!

    Learn more about the American Discovery Trail at discoverytrail.org

    Reply

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