Monday, January 02, 2012

Ward “Chip” Leonard and the Record Books

An article by Kimberley A. Hooper in the 2 January 2012 Metro West Daily News (from Framingham, Mass.) titled "Concord man takes a hike into record books" tells us that Ward “Chip” Leonard a "52-year-old backpacker, who has lived in Concord for more than nine years, is known by hikers around the country as the first person to ever backpack the Appalachian Trail 10 times." Well, not known by me until now.

He did his 10th hike in 1992 and "said he holds the unofficial record for backpacking the Appalachian Trail solo in 60.5 days in 1990. He said it usually takes the average hiker about six months to complete the entire trail.

"During that 1990 hike, Leonard said he also set the speed record for the Appalachian Trail’s fastest hike (60.5 days) — although someone surpassed that mark a year later."

The comments from the ATC in the article are interesting, particularly in light of the article on speed hiking in the November-December 2011 AT Journeys According to the ATC spokesman Brian King, there are only records for 5 thru-hikes by Leonard (he's sending in paperwork on the other 5) and "As for the solo, unsupported backpacking record that Leonard said he still holds, King said the conservancy doesn’t have an official record of it, but he added that the conservancy doesn’t have a reason to doubt Leonard’s information."

In any event, Leonard says his thru-hiking days are behind him.

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