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Backpacker Radio

Apr 27, 2020

In episode 69, we are joined by Will Robinson, AKA Akuna.  Akuna is an army veteran, the first known African-American male to complete the triple crown, and an all around awesome guy.  We talk about his experiences in managing chronic pain, how hiking interfaced with his PTSD, what it's like hiking through rural America as a black man with dreadlocks, and some of the highlights and lowlights of each of his thru-hikes.

We also have some listener emails, we learn how people are keeping busy during the apocalypse, and introduce a new segment, Backcountry Matchmaking- our new on-air dating service.  Giggity.


00:04:30 - Meet Will “Akuna” Robinson and learn how he got started in hiking

00:05:44 - How he ended up on the PCT

00:06:30 - The closest long trail to Akuna in Louisiana

00:07:11 - How did growing up in New Orleans make you resilient? 

00:08:42 - How did you end up in the military? 

00:11:18 - Did your academic achievements have any bearing on your military experience? 

00:12:40 - His Job in the Military (and how that became an electrical engineering degree)

00:14:00 - What was it like coming home from the military?

00:15:30 - Was PTSD treatment helpful?

00:16:20 - What are your injuries from the military? And how does that affect your backpacking? 

00:19:00 - Healing through thru-hiking

00:24:50 - Why doesn’t the military talk more about mental health? 

00:26:40 - Barriers to unorthodox treatments 

00:27:37 - People thinking of long-distance backpacking with chronic pain

00:32:45 - Did you have to deal with withdrawals? 

00:33:57 - Does backpacking alleviate pain? Or distract from it? 

00:34:51 - Having flashbacks on trail

00:38:16 - Does your hiking family know about your flashbacks? Can they help in any way? What is the right way to help? 

00:41:45 - How the thru-hiking community deals with mental health issues

00:45:00 - How Akuna Ended up on the PCT

00:49:00 - Tell us about your first PCT hike

00:51:00 - Akuna dislocates his knee on Mt.Whitney

00:54:00 - What was 2017 like on the PCT?

00:56:35 - Triple digit temperatures are no problem for Akuna

00:57:50 - How did you get your trail name on the PCT? 

00:59:30 - Tell us about your 2017 Sierra experience

01:06:01 - Do you crave life-fearing moments?

01:10:00 - Akuna Hated the AT (at first) 

01:15:19 - What is it like hiking the AT as an African American? 

01:22:23 - Did you notice a difference in the way you were treated between the AT, PCT, and CDT? 

01:26:00 - How does your trail family react when people are racist?

01:30:30 - Do you have any advice for Afircan Americans thinking about thru-hiking?

01:31:15 - Any advice for how the hiking community can help make thru-hiking more welcoming and inclusive?

01:32:00 - Notable AT moments

01:37:40 - Akuna’s AT Merrel Film & Akuna’s CDT Merrel Film

01:41:30 - Akuna’s CDT Hike

01:46:40 - The brutality of the CDT 

01:48:15 - Gnarly weather on the CDT, PCT, and AT

01:50:25 - Falling in the Gila River on the CDT

01:55:05 - Akuna and Undecided almost get arrested

02:00:00 - How does it feel to be the first African American man known to finish the triple crown?

02:04:00 - Akuna’s postponed North Country Trail thru-hike

02:11:30 - Any plans for later this year if things clear up?

02:15:30 - Where to find Akuna: @AkunaHikes

02:17:11 - NZ borders closed for an entire year.



02:18:10 - The Trek Propaganda: Clay Bonnyman Evans reviews Chaunce’s Book

02:19:00 - Mail Bag! 

02:20:00 - Things people are doing to stay sane during quarantine

02:26:30 - Akuna weighs in on if Carol Baskin killed her husband

02:28:07 - Pupdates from Chuance: Harper is Getting Crate Trained 

02:36:38 - Five Star Reviews: Poop Stories and Horse Facts (& Impromptu Gear Reviews)

02:45:00 - Backcountry Matchmaking: Zach “Beta” Terpstra, Emily Mydlowski, Erica “Spitfire”


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