Derrick Lytle, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. FKTs are now quite in vogue, but an unsupported solo FKT across 800miles, thats quite an adventure! We’d love to know a bit more about this journey that you’re going to embark upon, and have ten questions to help our audience understand the effort better.
Who is Derrick Lytle ~ can you share a short background about yourself, what you do, and where people can see your work/follow you.
I’m a freelance outdoor sports photographer and trail runner. I do quite a bit of backpacking to get in to remote locations for photo and video projects. The best place to see what I do is to follow me on Instagram at @derricklytle. I post final shots there as well as more day to day photo and running content to my story.
What made you transition from an SEO specialist, into time-lapse and adventure photography & film making?
I’ve been shooting photos since I was a teenager. After college I took the first job I found to pay the bills, hated it, and decided I’d make the leap to shooting full time. Haven’t looked back since.
Why an unsupported FKT, that too across 800 miles in Arizona? Any specific goals from this?
The AZT has had a grip on me for a ling time. It traverses an incredibly diverse state in terms of ecology and culture. Doing it solo and self supported seemed like a reasonable goal and a great way to see the state.
This is going to be a long effort. What is the type of training & conditioning that has gone in behind you getting ready for this FKT?
Training has meant a lot of trail running, backpacking, and gym work. I average around 70 miles a week during training but also add gym days to condition my entire body. My coach Kyle at White Pine Athletics has been a great help to keep me flexible. A lot of backpacking is mental. You go a lot slower than running so a strong head game is important too.
How does one prepare for such a long event – can you share what depth of planning you may have put in, wrt maps, gear, packing, etc?
Prep for a long thru hike means lots of reading, planning, re planning, and then more planning. I’ve mapped the trail and water spots plus packed calories accordingly. Unlike lots of other thru hikes the AZT is notorious for being short on water. My backpacking kit has taken a lot of planning too. The trail tops out at around 10,000 feet so I’ve had to pack a bag for both freezing nights and burning hot days.
How have you prepared, mentally, for this?
Hiking a lot solo 😉
What type of mileage do you plan to cover each day, and how do you plan to setup your camp for the night? Will you be carrying everything on your back?
I plan to do 40 miles per day. Camp is basic with a small bivvy and a bag. No stove or hot food to save weight and time. Everything will be on my back minus water and food at resupply points.
How does one deal with safety, connectivity, and other precautionary measures while being out & away, alone, for this long?
I’m using a Spot tracker so my tracks are made public. I’ve also looked at plan B options along the way. In the end it’s a risk and an adventure. You can follow me here.
You have many nutrition brands to chose from in the US, what led you to want to work with Unived on this project?
Most US brands are simply sugar and maybe caffeine with artificial flavor. I like the fact that Unived uses science and natural ingredients to make a product that is real food and functional. Taste is also huge. I don’t want to get burned out on artificial chemicals a few days in to a three week long trip.
You’ve been testing some of our products over the last few weeks. How do you find them? Any favorites?
I love the trail butter. It’s an easy way to get calories and fat in a non messy pack able way that also tastes great. The recovery drink is amazing well.
Anything else you wish to share?
Thanks for the support! Give me a follow on Instagram to get updates when I have service along the trail.
The Arizona trail is 800 miles and goes from the northern Arizona border to the Mexican border down south. It crosses alpine, desert, the grand canyon, and various high plain ranges. Derrick will be doing the hike solo and self supported starting at the end of October and planning to wrap up before the 20th of November.
Derrick’s journey will be fuelled by India’s home grown vegan sports nutrition company, Unived.
Here’s some more info on the route.