Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scott Williamson aka Bink on the PCT again

Bink on his successfull 2009 PCT Unsupported Speed Record Attempt just north of the Three Sisters Wilderness Oregon Photo Krudmeister
Scott Williamson aka Bink is at it again!  He started the PCT south bound from the PCT's northern terminus on August 8th.  This will be his 13th thru hike of the PCT if he pulls the trip off and his 3rd speed record on the trail if he can keep up his pace.  His goal is to come in under our unsupported record of 2009, but if that isn't working out he will continue on attempting to best the southbound speed record which is currently somewhere in the 87-90 day range.  So Bink is looking at anything below 65 days as a top end time and anything below 75 days as a lo ball time.

Bink dropped by work to tell me a little about his attempt and didn't sound to upbeat about it.  This isn't uncommon for him as he is one of the most humble athletes I know.  I think he builds himself up by tearing himself down and attacking every possible positive thing he has going for him.  I think this is smart of course because it is his way of running through a mental checklist of things that could possibly go wrong.  In 2009 I became acutely aware of the fact that you don't have a 65 day record wrapped up until you set foot in Canada.  Anything can happen all the way up until the last day, hour, minute and second.  Bink knows this from experience attempting to be the first person to yo yo the trail for over a decade.  He had come close on so many occasions, but something always came up usually in the form of weather in the Sierra heading south late in the year.  Scott never gave up though and like a true athlete was undeterred from attempting something so difficult that he had a very slim chance of success first time out.  He came home each winter, regrouped and thought through what to do differently next time.  All of this will be to his advantage this 13th time on trail.  I kind of laughed at home thinking about how down on his trip he was because I know he will crush it and I have long thought that the biggest threat to our 2009 record is him.  Kind of funny it isn't all the other people running their mouths about doing it, because as Bink says there is talking about it and there is doing it.  In my experience any time someone is putting a much heavier emphasis on talking about what they plan on accomplishing vs. getting ready/ training for their attempt, their chances become slimmer and slimmer.  That is my opinion on running your mouth about your record attempt.  That is not to say I think it is inappropriate to announce your record or to let the media in on your attempt.  However if you have never set foot on a long distance trail before nor run an ultra and your claiming your going to do 65 ultras back to back?  Good luck...

Some of the things Bink has working against him on this trip:

- Diminishing light.  In 2009 due to Binks knowledge of the perfect window for a speed record we finished on August 12th.  We where dogged by rain storms and losing light daily.  This became the most apparent in Washington.  This involved walking all possible daylight hours and then some.  It also involved loosing more sleep.  Scott is starting only 4 days prior to our finishing date in 2009 so he will be battling diminishing light all the way south.  This will involve him covering many miles in the dark.

-Snow.  Bink had to start off on a tremendous snow pack.  Contrary to popular belief in the PCT thru hiker community, starting in Canada on a high snow year and going south doesn't save you any effort.  It may some years, but this year would be a perfect example of the opposite.  Bink called me a week out from his departure date and mentioned that north of Stevens Pass he walked on snow all the way to Lake Valhalla (may be wrong on the exact lake so correct me if so).  He was dubious at that point as to whether he would start or not.  However in true Bink fashion he dug in his heels and went after the record anyway.  Now snow can also be an issue in the Sierra when he gets down to the California section of the PCT.  It will be mid September when he gets down near the I-80 corridor heading south.  Bink has been dealt a blow several times on his yo yo attempts going through the Sierra late in the season.  Although late here is more like October so this shouldn't be too much of a issue.

-Dry desert.  The PCT skirts the Mojave for 700 miles.  Bink will have the advantage of cooler temps here, but the negative will be much dryer conditions overall.  Where one could normally count on seasonal water sources and water caches maintained by trail angels, these sources all become extremely iffy.  Bink knows where to find water though as he has more first hand experience than any other human on the planet with the PCT.  13+ times!

-Bink is attempting this speed record solo.  I have become aware of the fact how much easier it was to push with someone else in 2009 when Bink and I set the current all out PCT Speed Record.  I am getting better at going solo, but honestly believe a team going after unsupported records has a tremendous advantage over someone going solo.  Bink has spent more time alone on the PCT than anyone else though and I think he is perfectly suited for a solo speed record attempt.

Scott Williamson enjoying some June Gloom on his 2009 PCT Unsupported Speed Record Attempt just outside Hiker Town photo Krudmeister
The things Bink has working for him on the trip:

-Knowledge of the trail intimately.  Every water source, camp, bend, fork, junction... he knows and has probably spent some time there poking around.  He knows water sources that aren't in the data book and speaking of data book that is all he needs to navigate the trail.  No maps, no GPS and no compass!

-13 successful thru hikes of the trail.  2 of these yo yos and 2 of them speed records (on the unsupported and one the all out speed record which he currently holds).

-Positive can do attitude.  This is huge and Bink is someone regardless of what is going on pain wise/ weather/ gear always has a smile from ear to ear.  He genuinely is a happy guy and happy to be dealing with adversity.

-He currently holds the all out speed record.  Knowing what it took to set his current record and what it will take to break it are huge mental/ logistical advantage as well.

-High pain threshold.  I have watched Bink walk 6 days through flu like symptoms unable to keep food down and water down.  Sleeping through fevers, waking up wet with sweat to go out and lay down another 40+ mile day like it was nothing.  The guy actually pushes harder the worse he feels.  He has a theory that he is actually burning out whatever is causing the illness.  On top of that he has issues with chewing/ and digesting food properly from a past injury.  He also has some big toenails that are usually ingrown badly and infected by the end of the trip.  Being sick one or two days is enough to pull my plug.  I need everything going for me health wise to stay positive.  Bink doesn't need this margin and is able to push through.

Bink hands down is the most incredible athlete I have had the opportunity to know.  His skills on trail have definitely helped me out a ton.  I tried to learn as much as I could from him in 2009.  He is also a very humble guy.  I feel he is beyond the entire public recognition thing anymore and is really just doing his accomplishments for himself.  This is important as if you aren't doing a speed record for yourself your probably going to fail.  You alone have to motivate yourself daily and if you have illusions about fame/ fortune your in for a big let down a month into your attempt when no one gives a damn.  Let alone after you achieve your accomplishment.  Bink knows this all too well.  He received plenty of attention for his second yo yo, but after that as he has pursued speed records he really hasn't put much effort into working with the media to get word out about his accomplishments.  He instead has focused all his energy on working/ training for another attempt.  I am definitely in that boat as well.  If a media opportunity falls into my lap great, if not I am not loosing any sleep or time training worrying about it.

So where is Bink now and how is he doing on this PCT Unsupported Speed Record SOBO (southbound) attempt?  I got a message from him 8/22 that detailed some of what he has been experiencing.  First off tons of snow.  He said he was on snow continuously for most of Washington.  The trail is difficult enough without snow in Washington so I can't imagine maintaining a 41+ mile a day pace up there.  I was excited to hear that he made it passed the Bridge of the Gods ( a bridge that takes the PCT hiker from WA to OR) near Cascade Locks right on schedule.  Part of me wants our record to stand, but now that he has put that much effort into staying on schedule for an all out unsupported speed record and the fact that he is my bud I am really pulling for him.  At the least if he doesn't best our record he is well on his way to smoking the southbound speed record.  He said he had one low mileage day going around Glacier Peak which is a extremely rough section of trail.  He said he could only manage a 30 mile day which is still 2 miles more than we managed in 2009 but he is dealing with a ton of snow and no doubt much more dangerous river crossing conditions.  His knees have suffered though.  In 2010 his knees acted up forcing him to have to pull out very early (day 1 or 2) near Harts Pass in Washington.  He feels it is the same thing again going on, exacerbated by walking on snow non stop for the first 2 weeks.  Give Bink a shout of support here at FSTPKR and let him know your pulling for him.  I am sure he would appreciate the good energy and I will post more updates as he continues on SOBO.  YEE HAW BINK!


  1. Good luck Bink! Is he using a pack with or without a hip-belt in that second pic?


  2. I wish you the very BEST, Bink! I know you love it out there!!!

    -Blue Butterfly

  3. You go Bink. I'll be on the JMT in September so maybe I'll see you and get to cheer you on in person! I'd better not blink though.

  4. Met Scott as he southbounded a bit of Oregon in 2007. Really nice guy, still takes the time to talk while managing bit mile days.
    I should confess to using him as an example to my friends that I'm not the craziest person on earth for wanting to walk the PCT in one season :-)

  5. Where can I find his gear list at? I'm sure he knows what works out there on the trail! Amazing numbers considering all the snow still on the trail up here in the Seattle area.

    Go Bink GO!!!!!!

  6. Looking forward to further updates - thanks Krud'.

    For Anonymous, this old gear list from 2006 is available online:

  7. First off thanks for all of the kind words of support to Bink/ Scott! I left a message with him yesterday and mentioned everyone being very supportive and he is still doing extremely well. His knees are feeling better and he seems to be having a good time joking and all. I will post a update next week.

    Juggles that is a custom Bink pack he is using in 2009, which I think he was going to use again this year. I tried to get him a hand me down MLD Prophet, but time didn't work out. Bink builds these packs:

    No hip belt on those packs. He also rocks a bug tent kit from the Jardines and a tarp from them too.

    Hey Anonymous looks like James got you a sweet link I had no idea existed. Check that out. Here is a link to my gear lists:

    James! Thanks for posting that gear list! I have never seen that before. I appreciate folks helping out and getting in the discussion. Just the kind of community I am trying to foster here at FSTPKR! Side note, I couldn't figure out why my Chafe article was getting so much read until I saw folks referencing it in a forum the other day.

  8. Thanks a lot for the update Adam! Go Scott go!

  9. hello

    my English is very bad (I'm French) I use google translation: D

    I wanted to congratulate you on your qualities Walker and Scott Williamson and wish him good luck for this year

    I find your blog very interesting

    good luck

  10. More updates coming as I get them and from France thanks for checking out FSTPKR! Your comments are always welcome here and help share with your friends too! I would love to walk in France some day! Glad your digging the content. My english/ writing skills aren't so hot either and english is my native tongue!

  11. I;d be interested in your candid evaluation. Surely, you've heard about Jennifer Pharr Davis' 46 day, 11 hour supported record she set this summer on the Appaalchian Trail. How would you compare that record with the one you and Scott set in 2009? Objectively, which would be more difficult to do (Not that I'm a candidate for either one!). I'd like to hear your take on it.

    Skywalker AT '05, PCT '09