“Ever since I’ve been born I’ve just been in the dirt. It’s always been a happy place for me.”
Eddie Boyd grew up spending his Ohio summers outside. Today, at 20-years- old, he is known as “Oilcan” in the woods by his companions on some of the longest trails in America.
Boyd is aiming to achieve something very few people his age have achieved–completing the Triple Crown of the hiking world. For those unfamiliar with this feat, the Triple Crown is completing three of the United States’ longest thru-hiking trails: the Appalachian Trail (“AT”),
the Pacific Crest Trail (“PCT”), and the Continental Divide Trail (“CDT”). To put this achievement in perspective, more humans have been in space than have hiked the Triple Crown.
If all goes as planned, by the beginning of November, Boyd will be one of the youngest hikers in history to not only complete the Triple Crown but to also complete it in three years.
Boyd is “falling into a group of under 10 people” who have ever completed all three trails at his age in such a short amount of time.
Boyd says this is a major motivator for him, and completing the Triple Crown is why he has delayed college for a few years since completing high school.
At his high school in central Ohio, Boyd was part of a program that was “very adamant on making sure that you did what you actually wanted to do with your life.”
For his senior project, he prepared for the AT, which he completed in four months and 21 days in 2015. The AT is the shortest of the three trails and runs 2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine.
Boyd’s original plan was to complete the trail with this post-high school gap year and then attend college in Ohio. Then something else happened–he got addicted.
Once he got the idea of the Triple Crown in his head, there was no stopping him.
His adventures and the people he met on the AT motivated him to pursue the Triple Crown. One hiker, trail named “Texas Poo,” who he spent 900 miles with on the trail was pursuing his own Triple Crown. “We talked about it every day. I would listen to his stories from the CDT and the PCT and it really sparked my interest,” Boyd said.
Once Boyd returned from the trail in November 2015, he began preparing for his next big adventure: the PCT, which runs 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada, through both the blazing heat of the desert and the frigid snow of the mountains. Last year, Boyd completed the journey from south to north in four months and 20 days.
Boyd discusses the trails with passion as he recounts his time in the North Cascades of Washington, the White Mountains in New Hampshire, and the pure beauty of roaming the woods in the south in the deep fall.
“I love nature. I’m energized by beautiful views and amazing sights,” he says. “I just love being outside, and living outside just gives me this sense of freedom and clarity that I don’t get while I’m [at home].”
In June, Boyd left for the CDT–his final, but longest, trail to achieve the Triple Crown. He began his journey in Montana in Glacier National Park and has already hiked 1,000 of the 3,100 miles to Mexico. He hopes to be done at the beginning of November and then begin college in the spring.
This time around, however, Boyd is a part of a team that aims to produce a documentary of the trip, called 3 MPH (a preview trailer can be found here). Boyd references two popular movies–Wild and A Walk in the Woods–which are Hollywood films about the PCT and AT, respectively.
“I don’t think that they really represent what it would be like to thru-hike the trail so we’re trying to do that–try to show people what it’s really like to actually be on a thru-hike,” he explains.
Not only will this documentary be able to demonstrate the reality of hiking a several-thousand-mile hike, but it will also show the pure beauty of these wild places that few people on the planet see.
The beauty of America is “so pristine and so perfect. The experience of hiking has definitely deepened by respect for making sure that we protect this planet and these places, especially.”