Hiking the Pacific Crest and Arizona Trails
An Interview with Lint Bunting


How far do you walk in a day? How about in a year?

It turns out that the average American takes 5,117 steps (or walks roughly two-and-a-half miles) each day. Multiply that by 365 and you discover that the average American walks 912.5 miles a year.  

Lint Bunting, thru-hiker extraordinaire and the newest addition to Team RailRiders , will cover that distance in a month. 

Thru-hiking, sometimes referred to as “end-to-end hiking,” is hiking a long-distance trail from one end to the other. The continental US is home to many such trails, but three stand out in particular: the AppalachianContinental Divide, and Pacific Crest trails.

Lint is anything but new to thru-hiking having completed each of these trails twice; not to mention the Ice Age andColorado trails. All in all, Lint has hiked more than 16,000 miles, or roughly 2/3 the circumfrence of the Earth.

This spring Lint will be attempting something a little bit different. In addition to hiking the Pacific Crest trail - all 2,663 miles (4,286 km) of it - for the third time, he will preface that journey with another: the 817 mile (1315km) Arizona trail.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Lint prior to his early-April departure:

 RailRiders: How accurate is this depiction of thru-hiking?

Lint: That sums it up pretty well. Especially the homeless look. You know the difference between the homeless and hikers? Gore-Tex!

RR: Were you born on a trail? When and where did your affinity for hiking begin? 

Lint: Prior to hiking I was shooting up drugs and feeling lost and was looking for a way to get my head back on straight. A couple months in the woods sounded good, so I set out (with all the wrong gear) to find myself. Even with all the mistakes I made, I came out feeling amazing and hungry for more adventure. 

RR: You've walked over 16,000 miles on trails - that's about 2/3 the circumference of the Earth – what are some random statistics/facts we should know about you?

Lint: Even though I clock in at 200lbs, my backpack is only 4% of my total body weight. Also, I didn't get a cavity until I was 34 years old. Oh, and I can juggle!

RR: Are you in it for the money?

Lint: I'm not only in it for the money, but also the fame and throngs of women who throw themselves at me. This usually happens when I first arrive in town, pre-shower.

RR: What was your favorite moment on the trail?

Lint: I can't even begin to pick a favorite trail moment. Every day is special, and even the bad days are better than any good day in the city.

RR: Have any heroes or people you think are cool?

Lint: My hiking hero is a fella called Billy Goat. He's hiked an incredible amount, and is such a nice man. He still hikes every year, even though he is in his 70’s!

RR: What’s the most epic experience you’ve had with respect to trail angels? Ever get any beer?

Lint: I've had an extraordinary amount of trail magic over the years, and yes, many included beer! One that comes to mind happened in 2007 on the CDT. I was hitchhiking into town to buy food, and flagged down a lady who was a bit fearful of my dirty appearance, but I somehow managed to coax her into letting me in her car. During the 30-minute ride into town her apprehension turned to interest in my trip, and we had a delightful conversation. In 2012, I hiked the CDT again, and it turns out she is now a trail angel and helps out hikers all the time! 

RR: What are your favorite online/offline resources for aspiring thru-hikers?

Lint: Jackie "Yogi" McDonnell has a series of planning books for many of the long trails. The data she provides is extremely helpful and I cannot recommend her books enough. Even having hiked the trails before, I still set out with a fresh copy every year.

RR: What composes your inventory and why? Or, what are your gear recommendations? How many miles have you used RailRiders?

Lint: I choose my gear based on function and weight. Backpacking with heavy loads isn't fun, so I try to get my pack as light as possible (here is Lint’s complete gear list). I wore my Madison River Shirt for 2,600 miles last year and it performed fantastic. Kept the sun and bugs off my torso, plus looked classy in town! (Lint is rocking our new and improved Explorer Shirt for his current journey).

RR: Can you share some life-pro-tips that all thru-hikers should know, but probably don’t.

Lint: Trail running shoes are WAY more comfortable than boots, an umbrella works great in hot sun AND rain, and the untreated water isn't as disease prone as everyone thinks (I rarely treat my water).

RR: Describe the lifestyle of a thru-hiker? What do you do when you’re off the trail?

Lint: When I'm not on a thru hike, I spend the vast majority of my time saving money to pay for my next trip. Working eight months a year to "retire" for four months is doable, and I've been very creative in my lifestyle choices. For years, I only ate food from grocery store dumpsters and even squatted in a warehouse. No food bills or rent!

RR: In case you didn’t know it, you’re quite infamous on the trail – you must explain the tattoos!

Lint: I get maps of the trails tattooed on my legs so I don't have to carry maps next time I hike them. The words "HIKER TRASH" are tattooed across my stomach to warn the folks running the food buffet that I mean business...

Check out more of Lint at www.LintHikes.com