When Collin “Wild Turkey” Britton reaches the Eastern Terminus of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail on Friday, September 23rd, he will set the new fastest known time (FKT) for a self-supported thru hike.
Although he’s previously completed the Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), this is the first time Britton’s attempted an FKT. And it was something he really didn’t plan to do.
He’d been out on the PCT for bit earlier in the year, did the Tahoe Rim Trail, then was in Iowa for the RAGBRAI bicycle ride.
“I had to find something to do in September,” he says. “I have a 50K run to do in Indiana in October, so I figured I’d do a quick FKT on the IAT.”
In order to achieve this feat, Britton was hiking an average of 47 miles a day before getting to Cross Plains. (His highest mileage day as of Sept. 15 was 53.4 miles.)
He’s never consistently hiked this high of mileage before. “I knew I could do 38 miles,” Britton says, “So I thought I’d push it and see.”
So far, he’s surprised himself. So much so, he’s thinking he’ll set the FKT at 24 days, rather than his initial 30-day goal. (In case you’re wondering, Patrick “Dosu Kinuta” French holds the current self-supported record for an IAT thru hike at 31 days and 5 hours. He established the time in June of this year.)
“Thru-hiking the Ice Age Trail is really like a big pub crawl.”
In order to keep his energy up on Trail (and maintain his weight), Collin’s resorted to drinking bottles of chocolate syrup, eating Snicker bars and packs of tuna as he hikes. At night, he carbo-loads for the next day by eating bags of instant potatoes.
Britton is following the Trail’s connector routes as they are mapped, rather than taking shorter alternatives. He figures the Trail is plotted the way it is for a reason. And, for the most part, he’s enjoying himself. The Trail is “blazed great,” he says “and it’s well maintained. I’m very impressed.” He’s found the bars along the Trail to be very accommodating. They’re often willing to let him set up camp in their back lawn. Britton jokes with his thru-hiker friends further West on the Trail that thru-hiking the Ice Age Trail is really like a big pub crawl.
He thinks the Ice Age Trail is going to explode with thru-hikers in the coming years. That being said, his hike is not all fun and games.
“I have great days,” he says, “But I also hate it.”
He says he would love to stop, but the fact he’s so close to the end keeps him going.
When he finished the AT, Britton swore he’d never hike again. But with a little time, he realized what an amazing experience he had. And that led him to other trails.
When he finishes the Ice Age Trail, Britton will do his planned 50K run with friends in Indiana, then head back home to Richmond, Va. where he’ll work as an EMT until the next hiking season begins.