In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Nika “Early Bird” Meyers. Nika is a backpacking badass. Not only is she a triple crowner, but Early Bird has set a pair of speed records, including the unsupported FKT on the Long Trail and the self-supported FKT on the Colorado Trail, which she set last year with a time of 9 days 14 hours, and 19 minutes (keep in mind, this takes most people a full month). We get a full chronology of Nika’s backpacking career, when and where the idea of attempting FKTs first entered her world, her background in competitive skiing, the most important lesson she’s learned when attempting thru-hikes, her incredible artwork, and much more.
We wrap the show with a series of Elise-centric segments (as she’s sitting in for Chaunce today), including how she’s preparing, what gear she’s using, how she’s budgeting for the CDT, and much more. We also chat about some 4-6 day backpacking trips in the West to put on your bucket list, how thru-hiking has changed our lives, and we get a surprise visit from Jabba at the end of our interview.
Download this episode.
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Interview with Nika “Early Bird” Meyers
Time stamps & Questions
00:05:11 – QOTD: What are your hiking plans for this summer?
00:07:27 – BPR Announcements: Trail Days Road Trip, Asheville Meetup May 11, 6:30pm
00:08:30 – Introducing Nika
00:08:56 – How did you get your trail name?
00:10:33 – What’s relevant in your background before you started thru-hiking?
00:13:51 – Did you know right away after the Long Trail that you would do more long trails?
00:15:35 – What kind of animals use the Long Trail as a migratory corridor?
00:16:34 – If you got to list one sport on your tombstone, what would it be?
00:17:23 – Take us from the Long Trail in 2012 to the PCT in 2014.
00:19:03 – How did you manage without your parent’s blessing for starting the PCT?
00:22:00 – How quickly did you hike the Long Trail and the PCT?
00:24:50 – How did you get interested in FKTs?
00:26:27 – Anything else you want to highlight from the PCT?
00:26:56 – What did you do after the PCT?
00:28:25 – What’s harder, a 50-mile day or dealing with high school kids?
00:29:34 – How did you get into environmental education to begin with?
00:32:11 – What was your lifestyle like living in the Cascades?
00:32:55 – Discussion about snow on the PCT.
00:33:40 – What’s your snow hiking technique?
00:35:08 – Did you do a lot of peaks in the Cascades?
00:36:08 – Are you an adrenaline junkie?
00:36:55 – Tell us about the CDT.
00:37:20 – What’s your pack weight like for these hikes?
00:38:54 – What else do you want to share about the CDT?
00:41:54 – Did you feel the same way going from the CDT to AT that you did PCT to CDT?
00:45:07 – What are the biggest differences between those two trails?
00:47:10 – What’s your take on the AT as your last Triple Crown trail?
00:49:02 – Was it difficult to find a way to hike by yourself?
00:51:00 – Was this pink blazing or banana blazing?
00:52:24 – Tell us your poop story.
00:57:41 – Anything notable from the Rim2Rim2Rim?
00:58:23 – What’s the elevation change in the Grand Canyon?
00:58:40 – What’s the R2R2R FKT?
01:00:28 – How fast did you hike the Arizona Trail?
01:00:47 – When did you get the idea of setting FKTs?
01:02:56 – How did you bridge the gap between regimented schedules and having fun?
01:05:56 – How do you plan an FKT without planning daily mileage?
01:08:14 – What was your sleep regimen like?
01:09:00 – Discussion about talking with other hikers while pursuing an FKT.
01:11:22 – Did you utilize caffeine at all?
01:13:42 – Did your appetite ever get back to normal during the Colorado Trail FKT?
01:15:12 – Did you crave anything during an FKT?
01:15:55 – Do you think this will change your food planning for future FKTs?
01:16:42 – Is any part of an FKT Type I fun?
01:18:02 – Do you get anxious about hiking in the middle of the night?
01:19:11 – What’s the time difference between the Long Trail and Colorado Trail FKTs?
01:21:58 – Do you get antsy while waiting for storms to pass?
01:22:48 – Did finishing in better condition have more to do with your training or the terrain?
01:24:08 – Tell us about your art.
01:27:37 – Tell us about the watercolor t-shirt.
01:29:10 – If you could pick one piece to display in your house, which would it be?
01:30:13 – Are a lot of pieces commissioned?
01:30:45 – Where can people catch up with you?
01:31:43 – What’s next for you?
01:32:54 – Thank you!
Pre-Trail Q&A with Elise
Triple Crown of non-obvious thru-hike prep things
5 Star Review
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