- Courtesy Of Brandon Weis
- Brandon Weis atop a mountain in Maine
Jeanne Agner has lived in hilly Vermont for nearly 40 years, but she grew up in northwest Ohio, which is "as flat as flat could be." That's why the Richmond resident was surprised to learn from a friend that a young man from her hometown had embarked earlier this year on a difficult journey through punishing alpine conditions. Brandon Weis, nicknamed Horsepower, planned to complete the Triple Crown of hiking: the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails. He planned to hike the combined 8,000 miles — through snow, extreme heat and mud — in just one year, something that fewer than a dozen people have done.
On Monday, 24-year-old Weis added his name to the list — with a twist. Rather than finish the Appalachian Trail at its northern terminus, Maine's Mount Katahdin, Weis completed his trek in Stratton.
He had taken a circuitous route to get there, driven off course by weather. He'd started the trail in January at Georgia's Springer Mountain, then made it north to Rutland by March. But deep spring snows forced him off the trail, so he hit pause. Agner picked him up and gave him a ride to an airport so he could fly out West and complete the other two hikes. In early October, he restarted the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin and headed south, encountering rain, wind and snow as he wended his way back to Rutland. He added some extra miles to finish atop Stratton Mountain, where he was greeted by dense clouds instead of an epic view.
During a phone interview last week from Hanover, N.H., Weis said he was feeling pretty good despite the 11-month journey up, down and across the U.S. He'd been daydreaming of spending two weeks on the couch as he binge-watched TV and ate. He'd lost about 45 pounds in the wilderness.
But he's not done just yet. Weis has set a new goal for the year — 10,000 total miles — that he hopes to reach by completing the Arizona Trail as well as the Buckeye Trail, which loops around Ohio. He's also been raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Weis had originally planned to go to law school after taking a year off, but he's now reconsidering his future.
"This is potentially going to be the greatest thing I do in my life," he said, "so I gotta figure out something to top that."