One of Seven Project: How Thru-Hiking and Bikepacking Inspired a Movement

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Gossamer Gear | May 03, 2019

As a child, I was the one who always wanted to go further and see what was around the next corner. My family regularly went camping, and my father would take me fishing. Not much has changed over the years. Nowadays, I still go on vacation with my folks and fish with my dad. The big change is that when I go exploring either by foot or bike, I go a lot further. My love for exploring has grown with me over the years, and I'm always dreaming of new places to visit or the next crazy adventure.

In 2015, I completed the thru-hiking triple crown by completing the Continental Divide Trail. This was a dream of mine that started in 1985 when I first climbed Mount Katahdin during one of my family trips. On the top of Mount Katahdin, at the iconic sign, I met a thru-hiker who had just finished the Appalachian Trail. I was just shy of 13, very impressionable, and to learn that one could walk all the way from Georgia to that very spot blew my mind. It didn't take much for the seed that thru-hiker planted to mature over the coming years.

one of seven project

A Thru-Hiking Triple Crown Inspires the One of Seven Project

After completing my triple crown, I was quite lost, as many thru-hikers are. My post-trail depression lasted most of 2016. Without a new goal, I didn't know what to do with myself. I was encouraged by a friend who had completed the bikepacking triple crown to give it a try for myself. After all, bikepacking is simply a combination of cycling and hiking, two things I love.

In the Fall of 2016, I dreamed up the One of Seven Project. The goal was to become the first person to ever complete the triple crowns of both thru-hiking (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail) and bikepacking (Tour Divide, Colorado Trail, and Arizona Trail)–to become that one person amongst the world's 7+ billion. It definitely started as a personal goal, but during and upon completion, many things became clear to me.

one of seven project

On October 22, 2017, I finished bikepacking the Arizona Trail from the Mexico border to Utah, which included hiking the Grand Canyon with my bike on my back (single-handedly the toughest thing I've done to date). Finishing the AZT completed the bikepacking triple crown and the One of Seven Project. I had become one of seven billion!

The One of Seven Project Grows to Inspire Others

I knew before I started that I wanted to build the One of Seven Project into some sort of business, but I didn't know how or what that would be at the time. As I mentioned, throughout the course of both triple crowns, I learned a ton about myself, hiking, biking, planning, and most of all, what was important to me.

During the Colorado Trail Race, I was caught in a typical afternoon storm near Stony Pass. I got soaked and was nearly hypothermic. I set up my tent at 5:30pm and curled up in the fetal position for hours trying to warm up. During this episode, I looked at my pruney fingers, and it hit me–we're all born one of seven billion, each with our own DNA and fingerprints. I didn't need to be lying there, shivering in my tent at 12,000 feet while racing my bicycle on the Colorado Trail to be one of seven billion–I already was.

one of seven project

It was then I realized that not everyone chooses to celebrate their uniqueness. It also became clear that our passions help define our uniqueness.

Shortly after completing the One of Seven Project, a new focus started to take shape for me. It was at this point I createdthe One of Seven Project's core values:

  • Encourage others to truly know themselves and their passions.
  • Assist others in celebrating their uniqueness by following those passions that make them unique.
  • Humanize adventure.
  • Help others be the best versions of themselves.

Along with promoting these core values, a big part ofthe One of Seven Projectbecame the breaking down of barriers, both mental and physical, that keep others from following their passions. I realized I had both an opportunity and obligation to give back to those around me. If my triple crowns taught me anything, it was that we don't do anything in life without some sort of help from others.

one of seven project

As a thru-hiker, I have come to rely on many of the quality hiking guides available. As a bikepacker, I did not have this option. With bikepacking being a fairly new sport, the quality guides I was used to as a thru-hiker were not available to me. Upon recognizing this, I created four bikepacking guides (Tour Divide, Colorado Trail, Arizona Trail, and Kokopelli Trail) in 2017. To support these guides, I also created resource pages. These resource pages include things like: how-tos, advice pieces, gear lists, and planning aids. They're all geared towards breaking down barriers and simply getting others to know themselves, their passions, and to just get outside.

Next Adventures for the One of Seven Project

My focus is leaning towards bikepacking since there's so little information out there, but there are so many great hikes left on my to-do list. This summer, I'm hitting the John Muir Trail (JMT), but as a "warm-up," I'm going to thru-hike the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT). However, as I pointed out at the very beginning of this article, my ideas are big. On the way home from the JMT, I'm going back to Tahoe to bikepack the Lake Loop, about a 130-mile loop around Lake Tahoe. Basically, half of August and September will be spent on my bike or my feet in the Sierras.

one of seven project

Beside tromping around the Sierras for a month, I'll be doing multiple other short hikes in and around Colorado. I'm also working on a S24O bikepacking series as part of my guide series. Like with most of what I currently do, I'll try to use my personal adventures to inspire and encourage others the best I can through my website, storytelling, and talks. The One of Seven Project started as a personal goal, but now it's about helping others follow their own passions.

When the One of Seven Project reaches a certain point and I can take an extended time away, I hope to give the Calendar Year Triple Crown a go. My focus might be the bike right now, but the woods are always calling. I'm listening–are you?

Author Bio

Craig Fowleris a professional adventurer, storyteller, and motivator. Fowler specializes in hiking and bikepacking, and he's no stranger to spending time in the woods. When not on the trail, Fowler is an avid fisherman, birder, and disc golfer. Currently, Fowler holds the title as the only person to have completed both the thru-hiking and bikepacking triple crowns. Using his experiences from the trail, Fowler shares his knowledge through his stories and guides on his website: oneofsevenproject.com