Out and Back

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This week, Out and Back delves into the psychological side of backpacking. Special guest host and previous Out and Back guest "The Real Hiking Viking" joins Shanty to chat with one of Viking’s buddies: hiking legend Zach “Badger” Davis. Thru-hikers may know Badger as the founder of the popular backpacking resource, The Trek. Badger has also written Appalachian Trials and Pacific Crest Trials, psychological guides for tackling the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.

Badger explains how his puzzlement over the “Virginia Blues” led him to start a blog to make sense of why so many thru-hikers quit the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Blogging ultimately led him to write Appalachian Trials and found The Trek. On a lighter note, Badger and Viking dig into the unlikely start of their friendship, and they share wild stories from thru-hiking the PCT together, including how sleeping in an outhouse saved their lives.

Seasoned and aspiring thru-hikers alike won’t want to miss this episode to learn how to find the light at the end of the dark, green tunnel.

Show Notes

Go to TheTrek.co for all the resources you can imagine for long-distance backpacking as well as learn more about Badger. Follow his adventures on Instagram, and tune into his podcast, Backpacker Radio. You can also hear more hilarity from Viking on his first Out and Back appearance.

Remember, podcast listeners can get UP TO 50% OFF ON A GAIA GPS MEMBERSHIP!

Episode Highlights
0:45: Zach “Badger” Davis is one of Shanty’s favorite people in the outdoor community.
1:30: Shanty explains how backpacking with the Real Hiking Viking led to getting Badger (and Viking once again) on the show.
5:20: Zach did not grow up super “outdoorsy.”
6:50: Thru-hiking the AT was Badger’s first backpacking trip.
7:20: Badger did everything wrong on the AT—including setting his socks on fire.
8:30: Badger explains why relying on free gear isn’t always the best move for a thru-hike.
9:30: The trio discusses how social media has impacted thru-hiking.
12:00: How thru-hiking has changed over the past decade.
15:45: Badger accidentally fell into backpacking because he was miserable working 70 to 80 hours a week.
17:30: Norovirus on the AT.
18:50: Badger’s AT thru-hike was deliberately solitary and introspective.
19:30: Badger recounts his most cathartic moment on the AT.
21:00: The person who went into the AT and the person who came out were two entirely different people.
26:30: Badger explains how repeating the mantra “Why are you here?” on the AT helped inspire him to write a book.
27:30: Writing Appalachian Trails was a reprieve from the post-trail blues.
29:30: Badger gives his explanation of the “Virginia Blues” — it’s not what you may think!
33:00: How making sense of the Virginia Blues led to Badger starting a blog, which led to writing a book.
34:00: The origin story of The Trek.
37:40: Badger and Viking tell the hilarious story of how they met.
41:00: Badger and Viking hike the PCT together. 
42:00: Different challenges of the AT and PCT.
45:30: Why Badger changed the name of Appalachian Trials to The Trek.
48:40: Why you should mentally break your thru-hike down into a series of section hikes.
52:30: How Viking decided to attempt a last minute winter thru-hike of the AT.
55:00: How sleeping in an outhouse saved Viking and Badger’s lives.
1:05:15: Badger’s vision for the future of The Trek.
1:13:00: Badger’s next goals.
1:15:00: Badger’s favorite off-the-beaten-path trail.
1:16:40: Badger recounts watching Viking eat an enormous mid-hike meal.
1:19:15: Badger and Viking hitch a ride with a bachelorette party bus.

What is Out and Back?

In the Out and Back Podcast presented by Gaia GPS, thru-hiker Andrew “Shanty” Baldwin, professional guide/outdoorswoman Mary "Hiker Midnight" Cochenour, and professional athlete Abby Levene dive deep into conversation with long-distance hikers, record-breaking athletes, offroad travelers who sold everything to live full-time on the dusty backroads, and other awesome guests who have mastered their backcountry craft.

In every show, Shanty, Mary, and Abby tap into each backcountry expert’s superpower so you can take their experience and knowledge with you on your next adventure.