Peak Performance Personified


Q&A with SCA alum Lizzy Corliss from the CDT

Today, June 28th, SCA alumna Lizzy Corliss begins a 150 day, 3,000 mile journey along the Continental Divide Trail. She’s starting in East Glacier, MT, and when she reaches the Mexican border this fall, she will have completed the Triple Crown of Thru-Hiking, having trekked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015 and the Appalachian Trail in 2015. We spoke with Lizzy – or Laugh Track, as she is known on the trail – just before she laced up her boots.

So, what’s ahead?

Somewhere between 2,200 and 3,100 miles. The CDT is only 70% complete. Snow and other factors will influence four or five alternatives routes, and the variances generally run 10-to-80 miles each. It’s like, choose your own adventure!

You sound ready…

It was a little bit of a roller coaster getting used to the idea of hiking the CDT but I’m very excited. My major motivation is to finish the Triple Crown. It can be totally addictive out there, you’re operating on different plane than back in society. Everything’s free and easy, you’re not on a clock, just taking in the little things in life. And now that I’ve done 60% [of the Triple Crown], I can’t walk away.

Tell me more about that addiction…

It’s as easy as breathing, as stress-free as life gets. Its enlightenment, it’s like nothingness and everything-ness all in one. You feel your place in the world. It’s the best moment ever and you don’t ever want to forget it. You’re not thinking ahead to your next appointment like in normal life. You’re just right there, on that peak, and nothing else matters. That blister on your foot right? As you look up from your boot and over the horizon, you wouldn’t trade it for the world. There are no worries, just pure joy.

Where does the roller coaster come in?

Well, the CDT supposed to be the toughest of the three trails. Its lowest point is 4,600 feet, but most of the rest of the trail you’re up around 10,000 feet elevation. A map, compass and GPS are all necessities. The spacing of resupplies – there are huge chunks of space between towns, the biggest being 210 miles – plus logistics and weather. You’re at the highest point in country when thunderstorms roll in.

You’ve also said part of your motivation is SCA.

Yeah. I want to pay it forward. SCA and nature have given me so much already. While I have the freedom to disappear from normal life, I want to give back now instead of being me the one who gets all the giving. Raising awareness is another major point – I’ll be posting updates throughout the hike, talking about the trails, out there in places most of the world will never see or experience, sharing them with the people who keep the wheels spinning in our normal culture.

You’ll have company along the way?

I’m hiking with 10-to-12 others. Top Shelf, Bard, Anchor. All PCT thru-hikers. They’re my trail family – or my “tramily.”

How did you get your trail name?

It was our second day on the PCT. We were bedding down in a boulder field. We were sun-baked, a little delirious and probably a little dehydrated. I was drinking red Gatorade and someone said something funny. I burst out laughing and red Gatorade came flying out of my nose all over the place, and somebody leaned over and said: Okay, Lizzy, you are now officially Laugh Track.

We hope you enjoy many laughs on the CDT.

Thanks. It’s gonna be a hoot!
Student Conservation Association