Hiker ‘Knotts’ Binde Claims Self-Supported Appalachian Trail Record

Dan ‘Knotts’ Binde claims to have set a self-supported Appalachian Trail record. If verified, the fastest known time (FKT) of the 2,190-mile route now stands at 53 days, 22 hours, 57 minutes.

Dan Binde, age 25, is from Lake Park, Minn. He departed the southern terminus of the AT on May 26 at 2 p.m. He stood on the summit of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus, at 12:57 p.m. on July 19.

Binde supports these claims with a SPOT tracking device, carried during the hike. He recorded a GPS track of the route.

The world of long-distance hiking FKTs is convoluted, but Binde documented the effort with both GPS and photos. (Noted below, problems exist in the GPS track.) He said he did not ride in any car along the way, and his effort was self-supported.

He had no support vehicle or outside assistance with food and camps.

Verified Record?

The community-recognized officials who manage FKTs have not verified Binde’s claim. And it’s been more than two weeks since he completed the trail.

With the speedy hike, Binde shaves several hours off the record of 54:07:48, set by Heather “Anish” Anderson in September 2015.

The FKT for a supported traverse of the AT is held by Karl Meltzer, at 45 days, 22 hours, 38 minutes.

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We learned of Binde’s hike yesterday, nearly two weeks after he completed it. From what we can find, few people have recognized his claim as of yet. But it appears to be an honest attempt from cursory investigation.

That said, the message boards that closely monitor such hikes seem split as to whether the undertaking should be recognized. As posted on Fastestknowntime:

“Dan “Knotts” Binde has claimed a new overall thru-hiker FKT of 53d22h57m (northbound), but so far this is unverified. Binde carried a SPOT tracker, but there were problems with the device and there are large gaps in the record, which is archived on trackleaders.com. Binde posted his daily miles and an account of his SPOT problems here. For now we regard this claim as an open question.”

FKT: What’s Required

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the management organization of the trail, does not recognize any speed records. These are unofficially kept by hikers and fans.

Before GPS, speed records were simply taken at word. Today, the modern era requires documentation. False claims have cast shadows on the activity, and the onus of proof now falls on the person who claims the FKT.

As there is not much of an audience on the trail, FKT attempts are still largely honor-bound. But evidence such as GPS tracks, photos of the hiker at known points, and postings of intentions on FKT bulletin boards all help validate the attempt.

Binde had some problems with his SPOT tracking, which has led to discussion around whether his hike should be verified. He details his daily mileage and SPOT problems at this link.

Binde’s Background

Binde is an experienced hiker. He completed the Wonderland Trail around Mount Rainier (93 miles) in 2014. In 2015, he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and AT.

He completed the Triple Crown in 2016 with a through-hike of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), to which he added 750 extra miles into Canada on the little-known Great Divide Trail.

To punctuate that year, he also hiked the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota. The man is seemingly a machine.

2017: Training For AT And ‘Calendar Triple Crown’

To cue up for an AT attempt, Binde started the spring by hiking about half of both the CDT and the PCT.

This “training” started on the CDT. He went southbound from Ghost Ranch to the Mexican border, roughly 700 miles.

Then Binde traveled to the beginning of the PCT. He hiked north for about 800 miles before wrapping up at mile 804 at Sawmill Pass. Then he hopped a ride from Bishop, Calif., to Georgia to begin the AT.

So, before setting foot on the AT this spring, Binde already had about 1,500 miles under his feet.

It’s worth noting that he now plans to return to both the PCT and CDT this season to finish his un-hiked portions on the way to a “calendar triple crown.”

Binde’s AT Hike

Binde posted his intention to attempt the AT FKT on May 25 at 10 p.m.

Heyyyy, I’m headed out for the AT self supported FKT starting Tomorrow May 26th.
See you on TRAIL.
Knotts

Tracking can be found on my website. ☮️

Instagram: crazyknotts

He was on the trail at about 2 p.m. the next day, May 26.

“I hit the trail running,” he said in a phone interview. “I had some food drops I had to send while hiking. There was a lot of stuff I had to do even on trail which really slowed my pace.”

But Binde moved steadily ahead. Check out his track from SPOT. A screen grab is below.

He marched on, averaging more than 40 miles per day.

Finally, on July 29, he posted:

Yo what up fkt….
Update on my AT Self-Supported FKT.
Disappointed with the completion time, but you never know the extra obstacles you will face while shooting the speed record.
Interesting experience, looking back I would have [done] tons of things different.
I’ll be back for an FKT next year of the Arizona Trail to train for “Alaska”.

AT Self-Support Completion Time: 53 days 22 hours 57 minutes

Obstacles

Binde faced many difficulties in the through hike. But the biggest was an injured toe.

While hiking in Pennsylvania, Binde attempted to use metatarsal pads to protect his feet from the rocky terrain. He said that while they did improve cushion on the rocks, his toe nails didn’t like them.

“In the Grayson Highlands, I kicked a rock. I knew instantly my toe was bleeding but couldn’t stop,” he said.

When he finally stopped 10 hours later, it was already infected.

On the advice of other hikers, Binde used liquid bandage on the toe for the remaining 1,500 miles of hiking. But he said the injury was the hardest thing to overcome.

Today, he’s got a podiatrist appointment in Minnesota and is resting up to complete the PCT and CDT for the calendar triple crown. He’s also awaiting word on validation of the FKT.

We sent an email to Peter Bakwin, the manager of FKT Pro Boards, seeking more info about the verification of the FKT. Bakwin said he’s currently considering the evidence.

The Pro Boards list Binde’s hike as “unverified,” but he is listed.

Such a speedy through-hike is a remarkable accomplishment. Whether it stands up to scrutiny as a record or not, congrats to Knotts on a wind-fast hike of the AT, and best of luck on wrapping the triple crown this year.

Follow Knotts on Instagram or on his blog, crazyknotts.com

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Managing Editor Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in Denver, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.

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