Acclaimed Fargo hiker makes Alaska his next quest
FARGO — On his recent, grueling journey through the Alaskan bush, Dan Binde ate foods that were low in variety but high in practicality.
He lived on ramen noodles, instant potatoes and dehydrated meat that he carried by backpack, stopping at villages every 200 miles or so to replenish the supplies from packages he shipped in advance.
His haul also included a raft, sleeping bag and topography maps, along with cellphone, head lamp and battery packs to charge those electronic items.
The 27-year-old native of Lake Park, Minn., who now lives in Fargo is known as "Knotts" for his trademark dreadlocks. He said he covered more than 1,200 miles of Alaskan wilderness over a more than two-month period, ending in September. Only about a half-dozen others have done similar routes in Alaska, he said.
At times, he hiked with a buddy. Other times, the two went separate routes.
"You follow the rivers and valleys and animal trails here and there, whenever they appear, which isn't very often," Binde said, with a laugh.
Binde is making a name for himself in the hiking world.
He's completed the triple crown of hiking: the Appalachian, Continental Divide and Pacific Crest trails. In July 2017, he set a speed record for self-supported hike of the Appalachian trail, according to the website fastestknowntime.com. He covered the nearly 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine in 53 days, 22 hours and 57 minutes.
Always looking to up the ante, Binde decided Alaska would be his next conquest.
He started out on an unusually cold day in June in the small town of Kaktovik. He tried not to twist an ankle on the thick clumps of tussock grass that get slick when wet. As the days went on, he crossed glacier-fed creeks and hiked past spectacular mountain ranges.
Binde tried to stay "zoned in," slowly chipping away at the miles.
"There's some rough days and there's some good days. The highs are high, the lows are low," he said.
The biggest negative was that his feet were constantly wet. He wore out several pairs of shoes.
The high points were the views and the raw moments, like seeing animals in the wild.
At one point, Binde had a close encounter with a grizzly bear. He yelled to make his presence known, but didn't realize the female bear had a cub with her.
If he had, he would have made sure to go "a mile out of the way," he said.
He managed to get a photo and deploy his bear deterrent spray at the same time, then safely back away.
Sometimes, he couldn't decide whether to take a picture or just stop to enjoy the moment.
Fortunately, he was often able to do both.
Binde, who has six older sisters, had his first taste of hiking as a child at Glacier National Park. He's already considering next year's adventure.
Though plans are still "on the down low," he's looking into hiking the Great Himalaya Trail high route in Nepal.
"It looks pretty crazy," Binde said.