One of the first things people notice about Brad’s hiking style is that it’s truly unique and highly streamlined, almost to the point of being spartan. This style came about out of sheer necessity – he suffered a serious injury in a biking accident while training for a half-Ironman competition in 1992, resulting in permanent damage to his C-5 cervical spine and the brachial plexus nerve. As a result, he could no longer carry a heavy pack over long distances. Yet he was determined to continue hiking, and to achieve his dream of someday conquering “The Trail,” so he knew he’d have to adapt by lightening his equipment load. Adopting what would become one of his basic tenets – “If you feel at home in the woods, then you can learn to do without and let nature provide some of your essentials” – he learned through trial and error to get by on the bare necessities, constantly experimenting and then integrating this philosophy into his training regimen over the next 15 years.

Having been a health educator and marathon runner for several decades, Brad was also knowledgeable about the high-calorie, high-energy dietary guidelines he would need to follow on the trail. He knew that the average thru-hiker must consume between 4000 and 6000 calories per day just to maintain a stable body weight and to keep performing at peak efficiency in high stress conditions. Brad experimented with many different food combinations over the years, and he eventually developed a trail diet that was somewhat unorthodox but extremely nutritious and easily transportable.

The results of all these efforts were astounding. Brad racked up some significant achievements during his 2200-mile trek over the A.T. He only carried his rain gear for 950 miles. He traveled 1,250 miles without using a sleeping bag. His average gear weight for the entire duration of the hike averaged 10 lbs., and this included the weight of cameras and battery chargers he used to transmit photos to hometown newspapers that were covering his adventure. He didn’t use a stove, cooking fuel, or have any need for eating utensils during the entire journey from Georgia to Maine, yet he lost only 11 lbs. Most impressive of all, this 59 year-old hiker managed many 20+ mile days through the rugged mountain wilderness, and he easily kept pace with the many “20-something” companions he befriended along the way.

Brad also experimented with practical ways for combating some of the common nuisances that all thru-hikers encounter on long distance treks. He devised a system for preventing fungal problems and blisters on the feet that are caused by constant daily exposure to water and mud. As a result, he developed NO blisters during his hike, and he kept fungal problems at bay. He is currently applying his experiences on the A.T. to develop a product and methodology for hiking without having the need to haul traditional heavy rain gear; it’s a process that was tested and proven under the worst conditions he encountered on “The Trail.”

Getting creative, staying open-minded and “thinking out of the box” paid major dividends for Brad, and he can teach attendees how to use these techniques to succeed on “The Trail,” or in any of life’s other journeys to achieve our dreams.

The Trail Dreams “Essentials of Hiking Workshop” is a program designed to prepare weekend or longer distance hikers for success on the trail. Brad will cover the nutritional requirements for maintaining high energy output and long distance endurance, hydration, conditioning, traveling light with just the essential gear, the importance of establishing a daily hiking routine, pre-hike preparations, and dealing with the common nuisances and ailments encountered on the trail.

Please contact Brad or Samantha to schedule a workshop, or to obtain additional information about Trail Dreams programs.