A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.

- John James Audubon


Athletes & Explorers

Apr 16, 2019

8,000 Miles for 8,000 Smiles: The Stats Behind a Record-Setting Year for Tyler Lau

How Tyler Lau became the first person of color to complete the calendar-year Triple Crown: The hike, the timeline, the details, the athlete, the gear and the goal.


Brooke Hess

Tyler Lau has just become the first person of color to complete the calendar-year Triple Crown. The Triple Crown is the ultimate backpacking feat. Three long-distance thru-hikes. Nearly 8,000 miles. And Tyler Lau did it all in one calendar year. 

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) spans from the U.S. border with Mexico just south of California, all the way up to the U.S. border with Canada in British Columbia. 2,650 miles through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) begins at the U.S.-Mexico border just south of New Mexico, runs 3,100 miles north through Colorado and Wyoming, and ends at the Canada-U.S. border just north of Glacier National Park in Montana. The Appalachian Trail (AT) is roughly 2,190 miles from Mt Katahdin, Maine, to Springer Mountain, Georgia.

An interactive map of the trails can be found here.

Altogether, Lau spent roughly 4,000 hours hiking nearly 8,000 miles. All in 2018.

In addition to hiking all three long-distance trails, Lau created a platform to raise money for causes that inspire him. He developed the campaign “8,000 Miles for 8,000 Smiles” to help grow diversity in the outdoors and to fundraise money for organizations that promote diversity, youth empowerment, and LGBTQ rights.  

Here are the key stats…

The Hike:

  • The date the first hike started: April 2nd, 2018
  • The date the final hike finished: December 29th, 2018
  • Appalachian Trail (AT): 2,190 miles – Maine to Georgia
  • Pacific Crest Trail (PCT): 2,650 miles – Mexico to Canada
  • Continental Divide Trail (CDT): 3,100 miles – Mexico to Canada. Climbs above 14,000ft.
  • Total: +/- 7,500 miles (due to alternates taken on CDT & AT caused by extreme weather conditions).
    Tyler’s feet needed some TLC after hiking roughly 32 miles each day for almost a year.

The Timeline

  • April 2nd – 7th: Began hiking PCT, from the south to the north
  • April 8th – 26th: Took a break to acquire the Wilderness First Responder certification (and rest a foot injury)
  • April 27th – May 10th: Began hiking CDT to let the snow melt in the Sierras, before returning to the PCT
  • May 12th – July 24th: Completed the rest of PCT
  • July 27th – September 26th: Returned to CDT, and completed the rest, from the north to the south
  • October 1st – December 29th: AT, from the north to the south
    A daunting sign to pass while beginning the PCT at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Details

  • Days spent hiking: 246
  • Rest days: 26
  • Average miles per day: 32.3
  • Total hours hiking: 4,000(ish)
  • States visited while hiking: 23
    • California
    • Oregon
    • Washington
    • Massachusetts
    • Idaho
    • Wyoming
    • Colorado
    • New Mexico
    • Maine
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    • Montana
    • Connecticut
    • New York
    • New Jersey
    • Pennsylvania
    • Maryland
    • West Virginia
    • Nevada
    • North Carolina
    • Tennessee
    • Georgia
  • Wilderness areas hiked: 93
  • National Forests hiked: 54
  • Most miles in a single day: 52
  • Second most miles in a single day: 49 (the day after 52)
  • Longest period without resupply food: 7 days – Kennedy Meadows to Mammoth Pass on the PCT.
Tyler Lau at the finish of the Pacific Crest Trail on July 24th, 2018. Photo: Michael Tilton.

The Athlete:

  • Name: Tyler Lau
  • Age: 32
  • Where he grew up: Southern California and Hong Kong
  • Where does he live: Sometimes Missoula, sometimes Southern California
  • Favorite song: Dance with Somebody, by Whitney Houston
  • Favorite trail: PCT
  • Hardest trail: AT (the past year was the wettest year on record, exasperated as he didn’t start the AT until October)
  • Worst injury: inflammation in feet pre-hike and a strained quad in New Hampshire
  • Favorite trail snacks: Double Stuffed Oreos, Juanita’s Corn Chips, donuts
  • Trail snack that you would prefer never eating again: instant potatoes
  • Weight lost while on trails: 25 pounds
  • Would he do it again?: probably not
Grays Peak in Colorado, highest point on the CDT and highest point on the Calendar Year Triple Crown. September 8th 2018.

The Gear:

  • Total Triple Crown expenses: $16,500
  • What most of the money was spent on: food
  • What the rest of the money was spent on: gear!
  • Most expensive purchase: bulk order of Altra Lone Peak 3.0s (trail running shoes)
  • 2nd most expensive purchase: bulk order of Altra Lone Peak 3.5s (trail running shoes)
  • Most expensive item: ZPacks Altaplex Tent
  • Pairs of shoes used (and destroyed): 16
  • Pairs of socks: 10
  • Pants: 3
  • Shirts: 1
  • Shorts: 2
  • Underwear: 2
  • Best sleep system: Thermarest Neo Air sleeping pad, paired with Enlightened Equipment Revelation down quilt, and a Sea to Summit liner.
  • Backpacks used: 2
  • Fanny packs: 1
  • Necessary phone apps: Halfmile for the PCT, Guthook Guides for the CDT & AT
  • Favorite water treatment system: Katadyn BeFree filter
  • Favorite non-essential item: Wild Soul Medicine Arnica Salve
  • Med Kit contents: duct tape.
First Moose encounter on the Continental Divide Trail in Glacier National Park. Day one of hiking south on the CDT. July 27th, 2018.

The Goal:

“One of the reasons that I wanted to do this, was that as someone who has worked in the outdoors and loves being outside, I have noticed a huge lack of diversity. I don’t know how to fix that, per se, but I just knew I had to put a different face out there… The big thing for me was raising awareness about the lack of diversity, and trying to get people of color, underprivileged youth, and communities out to access the outdoors.”

Lau wasn’t just hiking. He was hiking for a cause. He began his campaign, “8,000 Miles to 8,000 Smiles” at the same time that he began hiking last April. ALL the money is being split across organizations that promote diversity, inclusion, and equality in the outdoors. These organizations include the YWCA GUTS program, Empower MT, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and the Continental Divide Coalition. A portion will also go towards his cousin, who is recovering from a coma.

With his own expenses for the hike being close to $17,000, it would have been easy for Lau to start a GoFundMe page to help with his own costs. Instead, he has spent the past ten years working seasonally in the summer and in the service industry during winter. He managed to save up just enough for the hike, thus allowing him to donate all the proceeds from his campaign.

So far, 8,000 Miles for 8,000 Smiles has raised $9,423 (and counting)

To check out the 8,000 Miles to 8,000 Smiles campaign, or to donate, click here.

Continental Divide Trail

*Editor’s Note: Is “Person of Color” an appropriate term? While it is used in this article because the subject themselves refer to themselves in this way, it is not a term that we are comfortable with. It is perhaps the politically correct norm in some countries, but that is far from the case in others. The Outdoor Journal was created precisely because conversations in the outdoor and adventure journalism space tended to be, and are still, driven by organizations and individuals predominantly in rich, western nations. We strive to be inclusive yet analytical in our approach, without taking anything for granted.

“Person of Color”, as a way to identify someone of a “non-White” background or ethnicity, implies two presuppositions:
1. That there is such as thing as a “White” person, and;
2. That there is some kind of obvious and fundamental division between two groups of people, White and non-White, aka, “of Color”.

Firstly, we at The Outdoor Journal do not believe that there is, in the world, such a thing as “White”, be it in science or in society. Secondly, we do not believe in a fundamental division between these two implied groups (of and not-of “Color”). Ethnic backgrounds, physical appearance, language, accents, cultural norms and values fall into a vast spectrum of colors and cultures, from Italian to Norwegian, from Tamil to Ladakhi, from Thai to Japanese, Khosi to Masai, Argentinian to Hungarian, Finnish to Sami, and everything in between. Rather than solve problems, we believe this terminology exacerbates them, and we are working to change that.

We are excited to celebrate Tyler Lau’s incredible achievement, and his drive to make the outdoors a more diverse and inclusive place, and we hope by doing so, these terms will eventually be eradicated from language. 


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Athletes & Explorers

Apr 21, 2019

Jess Roskelley, David Lama and Hansjörg Auer: How the World Reacted.

On Friday, the world was forced to come to terms with the passing of three climbing pioneers. Perhaps the biggest loss to the outdoor community in decades, respects were paid from around the world.



Sean Verity

On Friday, news outlets from around the world reported that three world-class mountaineers who were climbing Alberta’s Howse Peak on Tuesday, April 16th were caught up in a large avalanche, that carried them to their likely deaths. Those mountaineers were 28-year-old Austrian David Lama, 36-year-old American Jess Rosskelley, and 35-year-old Hansjörg Auer.

Loved and admired by many, people from all walks of life have paid their respect. A few of those messages that have been shared on social platforms can be found below.

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David lebte für die Berge und seine Leidenschaft für das Klettern und Bergsteigen hat uns als Familie geprägt und begleitet. Er folgte stets seinem Weg und lebte seinen Traum. Das nun Geschehene werden wir als Teil davon akzeptieren.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Wir bedanken uns für die zahlreichen positiven Worte und Gedanken von nah und fern, und bitten um Verständnis, dass es keine weitere Stellungnahme von uns geben wird. Vielmehr bitten wir David mit seiner Lebensfreude, seiner Tatkräftigkeit und mit Blick Richtung seiner geliebten Berge in Erinnerung zu behalten. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Die Familien von Hansjörg und Jess schließen wir in unsere Gedanken ein⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Claudia & Rinzi Lama⁣⠀ ____________________________________⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ David dedicated his life to the mountains and his passion for climbing and alpinism shaped and accompanied our family. He always followed his own path and lived his dream. We will accept what now happened as a part of that.⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ We appreciate the numerous positive words and thoughts from near and far. Please understand that there will be no further comments from our side. We ask you to remember David for his zest for life, his enthusiasm and with a view towards his beloved mountains. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Our thoughts are with Hansjörg’s and Jess‘ family⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ Claudia & Rinzi Lama

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I will walk by your side forever.

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We all go to the mountains because there is some innate part of being human that seeks challenge and there is endless challenge to be found in our wild places. I’ve always seen mountains as a blank canvas that lets me be an artist by choosing my unique path when amongst them. It’s freedom in its purest and most simple form. But, like many things in life, what you originally set out to do isn’t always where you end up. It’s the unexpected adventures along the way that create the true magic. There’s so much more to this passion than just the climb or the ski, there are the human connections created along this journey that have been some of the deepest and most profound friendships of my life. There is also tragedy. The mountains are both majestic and fierce. They give so much and they take so much. It is with profound sadness, frustration and even anger that this week we have lost so much passion, kindness, ingenuity and unadulterted talent with the passing of these three human beings. *** My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of David Lama, Hansjörg Auer and Jess Roskelley. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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It hurts to feel the crushing magnitude of losing people you not only really care about, but also that are such iconic figureheads of our community. My heart breaks and I am praying for the direct family members and loved ones involved. Jess was one of the most driven, positive, humble, goofy, and kind friends. He accomplished daunting mountains with a smile and inspiring ability to encourage you to see no limits, too. Despite the magnitude of his accomplishments, he wasn’t “above” anyone. He was a genuine, radical guy and husband to an equally inspiring, kickass woman, @alliroskelley David Lama- who in our direct community doesn’t have a story…? Soft spoken, genuine BADASS. Footsy (@magmidt 😭) It’s been some time since the three of us hung out together but I will never forget how you have always been the number one climber I have looked up to’s career…the childhood prodigy turned all-rounded mountain climbing technician. He was the guy that could probably come back from a long expedition and still fire 5.14’s like he never left the gym. Hansjorg; an Austrian legend, I didn’t know you as personally so well but man, your accomplishments were so damn legendary. It’s so hard for me to wrap my mind around this except for the fact that the mountains are at once beautiful and merciless. These guys knew what they were doing in the mountains. They were straight legends. That’s what is terrifying to me. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your resume is: extremely unlucky circumstances can still happen. 💔.

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🖤💫🙏🏻 no words.

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No sabemos ni como empezar este texto, son momentos tan duros que no nos salen ni las palabras. La pérdida de Hansjorg Auer, David Lama y Jess Roskelly es tan grande que nos hemos quedado vacíos. Son tantos los amigos perdidos en la montaña qué se nos encoge el corazón. Muchos ánimos a las familias y amigos. Conocíamos a Hans desde hace mucho tiempo. Le queríamos y admirabamos mucho, era una gran persona , muy entrañable y fuente de inspiración para muchos de nosotros, con el cual tuvimos la suerte de haber compartido mucho tiempo y aventuras. ¡Siempre estarás con nosotros! Tus latín brothers Eneko & iker. We do not know how to start this text, they are such hard moments that we do not even get the words. The loss of Hansjorg Auer, David Lama and Jess Roskelly is so hard that we are left empty. There are so many lost friends in the mountains that our hearts shrink. Many encouragement to families and friends. We had known Hans for a long time. We loved and admired him very much, he was a great person, very fond and a source of inspiration for many of us, with whom we were fortunate to have shared a lot of time and adventures. ¡You will always be with us! Your latin brothers. Eneko & iker

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Read Next: Hansjörg Auer: No Turning Back

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