For as far back as I can remember I have been timing myself. I use to time myself biking from my house to Basalt. 13 minutes. Back to my house. 23 minutes (uphill on the way back). Aspen to Basalt. 47 minutes. That was back in high school. It was only natural that the notion of the FKT would capture my attention later on.
The first FKT to really speak to me was up and down the Grand Teton outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. From the late 70’s to the early 80’s, an ongoing dual between Creighton King and Bryce Thatcher saw the fastest time on the mountain drop several times. I have tried my hand at lowering the Grand Teton’s time more than once, getting within sight but ultimately falling short. Nevertheless, my times spent on that mountain, pushing myself to dance with nature’s sharp edge along the perimeter of my ability are some of the richest moments of my life.
Wanting a way to commemorate the achievements of the FKT’s that people have put up on some of our most iconic trails, has lead me to create the FKT Project – a celebration of effort that simultaneously embodies the ephemeral/impermanent nature of these achievements. The result has been this – a collection of belt buckles connected to the run that it commemorates. The buckles have been encased in a wooden box designed and built by master woodworker, Elizabeth Thorp. The rules are pretty simple: nobody owns the belt buckles – they are on loan for as long as a person holds said FKT. Name, Date, Time. When the FKT gets improved, the buckle gets passed along.
Thus far, The FKT Project includes the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim (men and women), Mount Shasta Ascent, Half Dome Up and Down, Four Pass Loop, Grand Teton Up and Down and the Zion Traverse.
I would really like for this project to expand first and foremost to give equal representation of Women. Second, I’d like for it to include (but not limit it to) the John Muir Trail, Wonderland Trail, Timberline Trail, Teton Circumnavigation, Presidential Traverse, Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Longs Peak, Nolans, Pemigewasset Loop… I am open to suggestions.
This project would not have been possible without the archival efforts made by Peter Bakwin and the many woodworking and design skills of Elizabeth Thorp.