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Backpacker Radio

Dec 25, 2023

In today’s episode of Backpacker Radio presented by The Trek, we are joined by Liz Thomas, known on trail as “Snorkel.” Liz has backpacked more than 20,000 miles, including an FKT on the AT, many trails internationally, and is likely the most experienced “urban hiker” on earth. We learn Snorkel’s top advice on how to pull big miles, her current gear favorites, what she considers to be the hardest hike in the US, how she advises to backpack often while keeping a desk job, and more. We also dive deep on Snorkel’s many urban hikes, which essentially amount to long-distance treks through some of the biggest cities in the US, including how she chooses her routes, which hikes have been her favorites, elements to avoid, and more.

We wrap the show Badger drinking Chaunce’s toe juice, and yes that’s likely as gross as it sounds, how to stay safe in a lightning storm while in the backcountry, the Christmas gift we were most excited to receive or gift this year, the triple crown of holiday traditions, and an epic listener email.

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Interview with Liz “Snorkel” Thomas

Time stamps & Questions

00:05:12 - Reminders: Watch us on YouTube, support us on Patreon, and suggest a guest through our form!

00:08:10 - Introducing Liz

00:09:30 - What’s your go to Big Three?

00:10:34 - How did you get your trail name?

00:12:40 - What was your first long hike?

00:17:17 - What work did you do at a field station outside Yosemite?

00:18:58 - What was going to an Ivy League school like?

00:21:30 - What was the process for getting a grant to hike the PCT?

00:24:20 - Do you have advice for someone who wants to hike a long trail during college?

00:26:00 - How do you backpack and keep your desk job?

00:33:50 - What is the hardest hike in the US?

00:35:56 - What’s your best pitch for urban hiking?

00:41:35 - What does camping in a city look like?

00:43:00 - What urban hikes have you done?

00:49:00 - Discussion about finding urban staircases and creating urban routes

00:53:00 - What was your favorite urban hiking experience?

00:54:58 - How do you go to the bathroom on an urban hike?

00:59:00 - Discussion about pee keeping your body warm

01:01:55 - Are there other notable themes you’ve designed urban hikes around?

01:03:15 - What are some standout moments you’ve had along urban hikes?

01:06:18 - What’s the list of urban hikes you’ve done?

01:09:14 - Tell us about your AT FKT in 2011

01:10:57 - What are your tips for someone who wants to increase their mileage?

01:13:25 - Is it hard to get excited for an urban hike with all your backcountry experience?

01:15:02 - What do you do as a solo hiker to keep your mind entertained?

01:17:41 - What midlayers stand out to you?

01:19:30 - If you had to get rid of a piece of gear, what would you cut?

01:22:50 - Any other gear item you’re especially excited about?

01:26:04 - What are the biggest lessons learned from gear reviews?

01:29:49 - What’s a gear item from another sport that’s underrated in thru-hiking?

01:31:09 - What do you like about alpaca over merino?

01:34:40 - What’s the most underrated trail in the US?

01:35:48 - Tell us about your close encounter with a grizzly

01:41:30 - Are there other conservation lessons learned?

01:42:29 - Do you foresee bear cans becoming required on the AT?

01:45:33 - What international trails have you done?

01:49:20 - Are there any tech gear items you’re excited about?

01:51:24 - Tell us more about the hiking you’ve done in Japan

01:58:35 - What gear category has the most room for improvement?

01:59:45 - What is your triple crown of hot takes?


Trek Propaganda: The Ultimate Guide to Lightning Safety for Thru-Hiking: Tips & Resources by Arielle Nardizzi

QOTD: What Christmas gift are you most excited to receive or gift this year?

Triple Crown of holiday traditions

Listener Voicemails

Mail Bag

5 Star Review


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Our theme song is Walking Slow by Animal Years.

A super big thank you to our Chuck Norris Award winner(s) from Patreon: Alex & Misty with Navigators Crafting, Andrew, Austen McDaniel, Austin Ford, Brad & Blair (Thirteen Adventures), Brent Stenberg, Bryan Alsop, Christopher Marshburn, Coach from Marion Outdoors, Dayne, Derek Koch, Eric Casper, Erik Hofmann, Greg Knight, Greg McDaniel may he bring honor to his name, Ironhike endurance productions, Liz Seger, Matt Soukup, Mike Poisel, Patrick Cianciolo, Sawyer Products, SPAM, Timothy Hahn, and Tracy “Trigger” Fawns.

A big thank you to our Cinnamon Connection Champions from Patreon: 12 Trees Farms, Dcnerdlet, Emily Galusha, Hailey Buckingham, Jeanie, Jeanne Latshaw, Jeff LaFranier, Joann Menzer, Keith Dobie Jr, Peter, and Ruth S.