Lisa Garrett and Francis Tapon: Appalachian Trail thru-hikers

Lisa "Cartwheel" Garrett and Francis "Mr. Magoo" Tapon hiked the entire Appalachian Trail together, sharing equipment along the way. That helped them save weight and forced them to see each other every once in a while.

How did it all start?

One of our early attempts at minimizing weight. Believe it or not, that is all we carried (including food and water) for our three day trip into the Ventana Wilderness in Big Sur, California.

Without setting one foot on a trail or even reading a single book about backpacking, we instinctively believed that we should minimize what we carried. Why? Two reasons:

  • We wanted to see as much as possible. Some people boasted doing 10 miles after hiking all day; we thought, "Ten miles? You see so little!" It was depressing how little ground backpackers covered in a day. We wanted to see as much natural beauty as possible. We knew that we could walk more than 10 miles if we weren't carrying anything, so the key was to get rid of unnecessary things and lighten our load.
  • We wanted to diminish the chance of injury. We figured that carrying 50 pounds on our backs all day long must punish our bodies over time. It would not only increase our chance of a catastrophic injury, it could also lead to physical problems later in life. We concluded that traveling light was safer, as long as we brought along the essentials.

Pre-Appalachian Trail photos: shows what we did to prepare for the AT!

Francis Tapon posing in front of an amazing sunrise in a burned out forest Yosemite over Thanksgiving 2000.

Sunrise in Yosemite

Francis posing in front of an amazing sunrise in a burned out forest Yosemite over Thanksgiving 2000. Notice the snow.


Lisa Garrett cooking while camping

Grand Master Chef at work!

It was our last meal of the day before we headed high up in Yosemite, which had just gotten hit hard with a snowstorm on Labor Day. Cartwheel is whipping up some pasta from Sunridge Farms! Yummy! Sunridge Farms was one of our sponsors, and we thought of them everyday on the trail because we enjoyed their nutritious and delicious food!

Toasty in Yosemite Thanksgiving 2000

Toasty in Yosemite Thanksgiving 2000!

Here is a happy camper! It's Cartwheel's favorite time of day: BEDTIME! She is all bundled up to survive the below freezing temperatures at 8,000 ft! Here she is wearing about 5 layers of clothing: two wicking shirts; a fleece sweater; a water proof jacket; big white down jacket; scarf; hat; two long johns; ski pants; and gloves! All this and she snuggles into a 20 degree sleeping bag!

The result? "I slept so well those nights," she said with a smile on her face.


Two feet, two conditions Two feet, two conditions

Two Feet, Two Conditions.

On the left, Cartwheel is enjoying a pit stop on the shores of Pt. Reyes, the start of the American Discovery Trail, which goes to Washington, DC! Check out those dirty feet! We learned we didn't like hiking in sandals because it was painful after a while.

On the right, Cartwheel's feet are not so toasty! With no snow shoes, we trudged through miles and miles of snow covered Yosemite. It was certainly a workout, and the solitude was divine!


Mystic Fog of Pt. Reyes, CA

Mystic Fog of Pt. Reyes, CA

Mr. Magoo felt that he was entering a fairy tale forest shrouded with mysterious fog.

You call that a snow angel?

You call that a snow angel?

Cartwheel may be a rugged and adventurous backpacker, but she sure needs more practice making snow angels!


Movin' Right Along!

Movin' Right Along!

This silly Muppets song is our theme song for our backpacking expeditions! It's so positive and fun, you can't help but be happy!

Deserted Trail in Yosemite

Deserted Trail in Yosemite

It's was hard to believe that during the summer, these same trails are teeming with hikers.

The Ultimate Treat: a Shower!

The Ultimate Treat: a Shower!

OK, so most people wouldn't call this a shower, but we consider this luxury: running water!

Sure, it's only a little faucet barely a foot off the ground, but it sure beats scooping water from a stream and walking 200 feet to take a "sponge bath."

It also helped that the weather was warm and dry in Big Basin Redwood Park in California.

Happy in Costa Rica

Happy in Costa Rica

We spent the Christmas of the year 2000 backpacking in Costa Rica for 10 days. It was some of the most grueling hiking we experienced. The wildlife was incredible. We crossed a river with a crocodile nearby, deftly avoided a Corral Snake, and woke up to the eerie sound of howler monkeys! We hiked for days in incessant rain, forded intense white water rivers, and slid down mudslides! It was an amazing adventure.

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