Thirty-one-year-old speed-hiking phenom Ted E. Keizer, better known as Cave Dog, recently added another record to his list of accomplishments by climbing all 40 of the Southern Appalachians’ 6,000-foot peaks in four days, 23 hours, and 28 minutes.
Last July, Cave Dog attracted media attention by hiking the 46 peaks of the Adirondacks in three days, 18 hours, and 14 minutes, breaking the 1977 record by more than a day (see Outside Online’s July 1 news brief, “‘Cave Dog’ Nails Adirondack Peaks Record”). In September 2000, he climbed all 55 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks in ten days, 20 hours, and 26 minutes (see “Trail Hound,” Outside July 2002).
Cave Dog’s latest challenge began on June 15 at 5:45 A.M. in the Smoky Mountains, atop Clingman’s Dome. From there he ran and climbed solo through six mountain ranges: the Smokies, the Plott Balsams, the Great Balsams, the Craggies, the Blacks, and the Roans. In order to reach all of these mountains via one contiguous run, Cave Dog used woods, roads, trails, and bushwhacks, mainly following the Mountain to Sea Trail. He reached his final destination, the summit of North Carolina’s Grassy Ridge Bald, at 5:13 A.M. on Friday, June 20.
From the first day of the journey, Cave Dog encountered rainstorms, fog, and lightning, which made his nighttime bushwhacking segments particularly treacherous. He traveled approximately 60 miles per day over a cumulative distance of 300 miles, and was supported by “The Dog Team,” a group of 18 friends and family members who provided him with provisions and dry socks and shoes at periodic points along the way. He navigated the course without the aid of a map or GPS system, relying solely on his memory of the trails as he had learned them during his two and a half months of scouting and training runs prior to beginning the challenge.
Cave Dog’s challenges in Colorado and the Adirondacks involved breaking previously set speed records over a range of peaks, but his recent feat in the Southern Appalachians (which he calls the “South Beyond Insanity Megamarathon”) marked a first record for that region. The Dog Team’s Web site, www.thedogteam.com, lays out the basic rules for future challengers to his new record: they must stick to trails whenever possible, do as many or more peaks in less time than he did, and refrain from using any type of vehicle for propulsion.
Cave Dog’s next goal: “I’ve been thinking about challenging the record for the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, The Long Trail,” he says. “It traverses the spine of the Green Mountains down the full length of Vermont. It’s 272 miles long, and the record is four days and 15 hours.”