OSU student puts school on hold to hike the Triple Crown.
In the world of adventure sports, few achievements hold the weight of a Triple Crown of hiking. A true test of mental and physical will, only achieved by some 260 individuals as verified by its governing body. To complete a Triple Crown, an individual must complete in entirety the 2,184 miles of the Appalachian Trail; the grueling 2,654 miles of the Pacific Crest; and the last and longest leg of the trail, the Continental Divide, which reaches 3,100 miles. To thru-hike one of these trails is an achievement in itself, to thru-hike all three requires an individual to walk over 7,900 miles through the United States. With each hike lasting between three to seven months, hikers must learn to depend on themselves, as well as random acts of kindness from strangers to make it through the endeavor.
For Eddie Boyd, OSU student and Triple Crowner, completing this feat puts him in the record books as one of 10 people who have ever hiked the entire Triple Crown before the age of 21.
When I first entered his house, Eddie Boyd was packing for another trail adventure named the Greater Yellowstone Traverse. This trail will consist of 500 miles crossing the state of Wyoming. In total, it will take him about a month to complete. Eddie specializes in unsupported through hiking, a style of through-hiking where all food and equipment are carried and source by the hiker, this stands opposed to supported hikes, where individuals rely on a support team to get the food required while out on the trail.
Growing up in Upper Arlington, Eddie’s parents were always encouraging him to the outdoors. His mom, an organizer for various summer camps, helped to inspire his love of adventure from a young age. Early on, Eddie was exposed to camping, foraging, and species identification which built the foundation of the skills he uses in the field. Despite all this, it wasn’t until high school that Eddie set his sights on his first thru-hike.
His friend brought up the idea of hiking through the Appalachian Trail after they graduated high school. Then the idea started growing. It turned into his senior project. He set out on the trail. And it eventually took him about four and a half months to complete the hike. That trail set him on a new path—literally and figuratively.
The trail was supposed to be a one year gap year, but Eddie had caught the hiking bug and the success of a Triple Crown soon became a driving force in his life. After convincing his parents of the validity of what he hoped to accomplish, Eddie began preparations to finish both the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide in the next two years.
“There definitely was something driving about the difficulty of the hikes and the fact that so few my age had finished,” Eddie recalled.
It was through this accomplishment that Eddie began to learn more about himself, and the path he wanted to go down once he entered the academic world.
“Prior to hiking, I was aiming for a finance major, something traditional,” he said. “However, I quickly realized once on the trail that this was something I wanted to be doing my whole life. I knew I wanted to base my life around the ability to hike as often as I could, as well as contribute to the hiking community.”
It was this understanding that motivated Eddie to begin environmental studies at Ohio State, where he hopes to continue to help in protecting the lands he loves so much, as well as to help establish new trails throughout the United States.
“You need time to figure out who you are, then you can figure out what you want to do with your life. For anyone thinking of taking a gap year, I would recommend it, just like I recommend everyone tries a thru-hike. You learn so much about yourself that you can apply later. It gives you a specific confidence that you can make it through anything because of the incredible obstacles you face and need to overcome on the trail”
When asked about the return to student life, Eddie brought up the difficulty of seeing many of his friends graduating while he was just starting.
“It’s strange, because I’ve just finished my first semester, and many of them are on their last. It’s necessary for the end to allow me to do what I want to do though, and college offers a backup plan for my life, a major reason why I pursue it.”
Going forward Eddie hopes to bring his skills to others, offing guiding services to hikers and outdoorsman all over the U.S.
“If I can build a career that allows me to spend as much time on the trail as possible, then I’ve done it right.
Eddie began his latest hike on June 25 and expects to finish by the end of July. After this completion, he will begin his second semester at OSU.