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SCOUTING: Congrats on your Alaska trek. Quite an accomplishment.

ANDREW SKURKA: Thanks. The trip was exceptional. There was so much daylight that I didn’t need to be as regimented. I also mixed it up, with skiing and packrafting as a big part of the journey.

SCOUTING: What was your pack weight in Alaska?

AS: During the summer, my pack weighed 18.6 pounds without food and water, and I had 22.9 pounds of gear in total. This was including



Seekonk, Mass.


Duke University, class of 2003


“Lucrative Wall Street career”


Professional explorer AVERAGE TRAIL DAY:

30-plus miles


plus miles 28 30,000- SIDE HOBBY:

Ultra-running (Second place in 100-mile Leadville trail race)


2007 National Geographic Society’s “Adventurer of the Year,” one of several 2010 Outside magazine “Adventurers of the Year,” and the 2005 Backpacker “Person of the Year”


The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail (see next page)


SCOUTING: Tell us about your back- ground and involvement with Scouting.

AS: I actually have more involvement with the Scouts today. As a kid, I started young as a Cub Scout. I was involved for a couple of years, but unfortunately we didn’t have a super- active pack. Now, I work with Scouts and give clinics and presentations throughout the year, from 15-member troops up to fundraisers where there are 300-plus people in the audience. Scouts and their parents tell me the most important part of what they

my clothing, footwear, and trekking poles plus my 5-pound packraft and 1-pound satellite phone.

SCOUTING: How fast are you moving each day to complete a big trip like the “Alaska-Yukon Expedition”?

AS: The key is not moving fast, but making constant forward progress. My days are long. I might be moving for 15-plus hours per day. But at a steady 2 miles per hour, that’s still 30 miles.

SCOUTING: What is the appeal of back- packing, and how do you motivate kids or adults to get “into the wild?”

AS: I point initially to a couple things: The true natural beauty of a place I find most of the time is often seen far from the trailhead. Backpacking is the only way to get there. It’s also more rewarding to get somewhere by your own power rather than driving there. That adds something to the experience.

learn is the technical info—the “how- to” information that helps them when they go backpacking and hiking.

SCOUTING: We want to dig in to that “how-to” information. Let’s start with eating and nutrition on the trail. Any general advice?

AS: I see a lot of people over-packing on the food and bringing the wrong stuff. Cheap, processed stuff does not have sticking power. Pop-Tarts are bad! For snacks, I like chocolate, beef jerky, energy bars, and trail mix. For dinner, I combine just-add-water meals, such as instant potatoes, instant rice, instant beans, couscous, and ramen with butter, olive oil, cheese, and spices.

SCOUTING: Go into calories and nutri- tional breakdowns a bit, both from your trips and for the general hiker.

AS: I eat small meals. I skip lunch and instead have a 400- to 500-calorie snack every two hours while hiking. Breakfast is about 600 calories, and dinner is about 1,000 calories. This gets me to about 4,500 to 5,000 calories a day, which is much more food than most backpackers need. Most people will want about 3,000 calories a day. If you choose right, that’s often about 1.5 pounds of food per person per day.

SCOUTING: Secrets to trail eating? What do you do differently?

AS: At dinnertime, I eat my dessert first. I eat it right when I get to camp. I find it’s easier to brush my teeth after potatoes rather than chocolate, and also a little sugar rush is good to moti-

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