Can’t Stop Now

For al­most three decades, Ge­orge “Billy Goat” Woodard has been on a thru-hike with no end.

Backpacker - - CONTENTS - By Bill Donahue

Will the PCT’s fa­vorite hiker ever slow down?

IT’S RAINING AT RAINY PASS, Wash­ing­ton. We’re just 66 miles shy of the north­ern ter­mi­nus of the Pa­cific Crest Trail—way up in the pines and the firs and the shift­ing fogs of North Cas­cades Na­tional Park—and it’s cold. Even now, in the mid­dle of Au­gust, there are still patches of snow in the creases of the steep, sharp-ridged moun­tains above. It’s hy­pother­mia weather. And ear­lier, as a trail an­gel named Monte drove us up a moun­tain road to the 4,800-foot pass, he waxed grandiose, telling us, “You guys are step­ping onto the Trail of Death.” Now, I look out the car win­dow, skep­ti­cally.

The most ven­er­ated hiker in PCT his­tory is out­side, how­ever, stand­ing be­side the large wooden sign that wel­comes vis­i­tors to Rainy Pass trail­head. Billy Goat, a re­tired rail­road con­duc­tor from Maine, has hiked the en­tire length of the PCT eight times and most of the route two ad­di­tional times. He is 77 years old and, ever since re­tir­ing at age 49, he has hiked roughly 150 days a year. He is not just an­other backpacker who en­joys be­ing out in na­ture. No, Billy Goat is na­ture. Or at least he’s more com­fort­able in it than most. At an an­nual gath­er­ing of the Amer­i­can Long Dis­tance Hik­ing As­so­ci­a­tionWest, as younger trail fa­nat­ics slept in warm beds in­side a comfy lodge, es­cap­ing the au­tumn chill on Cal­i­for­nia’s Don­ner Pass, Billy Goat slum­bered be­neath a tow­er­ing pine tree, us­ing only a scrap of Tyvek for shel­ter.

In many ways, Billy Goat looks as old as weather it­self. His hair, untrimmed since 2004, is an un­ruly tan­gle of gray cas­cad­ing down from the rim of his broad khaki hat, and his long beard, like­wise untrimmed, is a boun­teous mist of tiny white whorls. The man could rea­son­ably be cast as God in a movie.

But there is some­thing boy­ish about Billy Goat as well. He’s a slight fel­low, only 5’ 7’’, and jaunty, so that walk­ing be­hind him you can see the mus­cles in his wrin­kled, gamey calves coil­ing and spring­ing. Some­times on the trail, he spon­ta­neously breaks into his sig­na­ture ditty: It’s a long way to Canada, but we won’t get there to­day. We’ll walk and talk and sing and play be­cause Canada’s a long waaay awaaay.

Right now, at Rainy Pass, Billy Goat is not sing­ing. He’s stand­ing be­neath the small roof shel­ter­ing the trail­head sign and hold­ing his palm out, into the rain, de­cid­ing whether it’s pru­dent to com­mence our planned four- day, 40-mile hike now, in a storm, at four in the af­ter­noon. Should we say good­bye to Monte, whose bat­tered but heated Honda idles nearby? “I’ve got a lot of re­spect for this kind of sit­u­a­tion,” Billy Goat says, his voice a wise and reedy yelp bear­ing the dis­tinct inf lec­tions of north­ern New Eng­land. Ruh-spekt.

A clap of thun­der re­ver­ber­ates in the dis­tance. “Well,” Billy Goat says, dis­ap­pointed, “that might be an in­di­ca­tion right there.” We get back in Monte’s car, and as we’re rid­ing down­hill, I’m al­ready think­ing about a ho­tel room and a hot shower. I won­der if we might find a place to drink a beer. Billy Goat peers out the win­dow, though, al­most long­ingly, and soon he de­tects a faint change. “Look!” he says like a kid who’s been con­fined on a sum­mer day. “The clouds are lift­ing!”

A few min­utes later, Billy Goat and I are out on the Pa­cific Crest Trail, in the cool woods, strid­ing amid damp ferns glis­ten­ing in the late af­ter­noon light. The dirt is soft un­der our boots and when we come to a lit­tle gap in the trees, Billy Goat re­joices. “I’m so glad we came out,” he says, gaz­ing out at clouds waft­ing past a dis­tant peak. “This is where I be­long, out on the trail.”

FOR MANY PCT HIK­ERS, it’s hard to imag­ine the trail with­out Billy Goat. “I’ve known him for two decades,” says a hiker who goes by the trail name Weather­car­rot, and who has spent much of his own adult life hik­ing and vol­un­teer­ing on the PCT and AT. “Why is he such a leg­end? First, there’s the way his per­son­al­ity, de­meanor, and pas­sion cap­ture the spirit of the com­mu­nity so beau­ti­fully. And then there’s his sheer per­sis­tence. When you wan­der around as long as he has, you start to span sev­eral dif­fer­ent eras, with chang­ing com­mu­ni­ties.”

In­deed, he’s been roam­ing the PCT for so long that he’s be­come a char­ac­ter known only by his trail name. (Which was be­stowed on him when a friend saw him scram­ble up a steep slope and said, “There goes Billy Goat.’’) As he puts it him­self, “Thirty years ago I was Ge­orge Woodard. Then slowly, grad­u­ally, I be­came Billy Goat.”

But of course the num­ber of moun­tain streams he’ll bound across, hop­ping from rock to rock, is ever dwin­dling. The man is frag­ile these days. Three years ago, Billy Goat un­der­went quadru­ple by­pass surgery. He’s had di­a­betes for more than two decades. And in 2013, a kid­ney stone lodged it­self in his in­nards, pain­fully, forc­ing him to aban­don the PCT and rush to the VA hos­pi­tal in Seat­tle, stop­ping ev­ery so of­ten to vomit. The in­ci­dent caused a gap in his PCT legacy, a 9.5-mile sec­tion that he wanted to hike out and back on that trip. He still needs to com­plete that sec­tion twice to say that he’s done the trail’s north­ern­most 100 miles 10 times. On this 2016 hike, we start at Rainy Pass so he can knock off that miss­ing link be­fore tack­ling a longer sec­tion to the south.

Fill­ing such gaps is an ar­cane per­sonal goal, but one that mat­ters greatly to a man whose trail logs chron­i­cle nearly ev­ery step in his last 28 years of full- time long- dis­tance hik­ing. Most thru-hik­ers com­plete one long trail, sa­vor the achievement, and move on with life. A few chase the Triple Crown. But what drives a per­son to spend nearly half his life on the trail, year af­ter year af­ter year? I’ve come along to wit­ness Billy Goat ce­ment his PCT legacy and to find out why this un­re­lent­ing hiker keeps go­ing—and how he con­tends with the slow­ing down and the fall­ing apart that awaits all of us. What hap­pens when he must stop?

We’re climb­ing now, gain­ing 2,000 feet over 5 miles on our way to 6,800-foot Cut­throat Pass, and the sun has es­caped the clouds. We walk very slowly, a lit­tle more than a mile an hour. It’s pos­si­ble that I, be­ing a long- legged guy 25 years his ju­nior, push the pace slightly. Three miles in, as we near tree­line at dusk, he col­lapses trail­side, com­plain­ing of chest pains. For a mo­ment he just sits there, gasp­ing, his head pressed to his knees. “Four years ago, this never would have hap­pened,” he says. “I might just have to give up on my ef­fort to hike the PCT. I’m feel­ing weak and dizzy. Oh, I just can’t do it any­more!”

Back in Monte’s car, Billy Goat’s bad heart had been an ab­strac­tion. Now it dawns on me that he could die in my pres­ence. “If any­thing hap­pens,” I ask, “what do you want me to do?”

Billy Goat peers up for a mo­ment, think­ing. “I don’t know,” he fi­nally says. “I don’t know.”

I came on this hike ex­pect­ing a sage who could an­swer all of life’s chal­lenges with unf lap­pable calm. He’s a leg­end, yes, but he’s also hu­man.

Even­tu­ally, Billy Goat musters enough en­ergy to set up his tent. Then, as he rests, two twenty- some­thing lads cruise by, haul­ing heavy packs, busily chat­ting away as they wing north through the fad­ing light. “Just lis­ten to those young horses,” Billy Goat says. “Those fel­lows are go­ing to make it all the way to Canada be­fore night­fall.”

WHEN YOU HIKE WITH Billy Goat, you are con­stantly re­minded of his celebrity. Young women in par­tic­u­lar bathe him in ado­ra­tion. At Rainy Pass, a hiker named Hatchet, tak­ing shel­ter in her tent, beck­oned us over to share some grapes she’d bought in town. Then, shyly, fal­ter­ing, she asked, “Are you— are you Billy Goat?” An­other hiker we met, trail name Miss Wash­ing­ton, rem­i­nisced aloud about a chance Billy Goat sight­ing she’d made a few sum­mers ear­lier. “You were eat­ing a pickle,” she said.

“Isn’t that some­thing?” Billy Goat re­sponded warmly.

To his fans, the man em­bod­ies all that’s great about thru-hik­ing. He’s out there year af­ter year be­cause he loves life on the trail. He’s not try­ing to break speed records or tell oth­ers how to hike. Ca­sual trail­side con­ver­sa­tions have left many with the im­pres­sion that he’s sim­ply the PCT’s gen­tle and beloved grand­fa­ther. But his trail per­sona be­lies a com­plex back­story.

Ge­orge Woodard grew up in north­ern Maine, within sight of Katahdin. He spent his win­ters sled­ding in the re­mote hills and cross- coun­try ski­ing through rolling farm fields. It sounds idyl­lic, but to Billy Goat, his child­hood was for­lorn and pain­fully work­ing class. “We didn’t have much of any­thing,” he says of his fam­ily. “We didn’t have in­door plumb­ing. One house we moved into, we put in elec­tric­ity, and we thought that was a big deal. And there was noth­ing to do—no clubs, no Boy Scouts, nowhere to go af­ter school. When I was 10 or 12 years old, I fig­ured the rest of the world was just one big city. I wanted to run away.”

Billy Goat says that he wasn’t com­fort­able at home, in part be­cause his mother was in­tru­sive and pos­sessed of “an anx­i­ety and ner­vous dis­or­der” that also aff licts him and his son Toby Woodard, 46, who lives in Maine. Toby says sim­ply, “She hen­pecked him to death and he couldn’t wait to get out of there. Some­thing re­ally bad hap­pened with his mother. He didn’t even go to her fu­neral, and to this day he won’t talk about it.”

When Billy Goat was 17, he fol­lowed his un­cle into the rail­road busi­ness. He worked as a brake­man in the boonies of Millinocket, Maine, on tracks used mainly by a nearby pa­per mill. It was cold work—a mat­ter of dig­ging the switches out of the snow at 3 a.m.—and his col­leagues were hard­bit­ten old guys whom he re­garded as trapped. One man kept telling Billy Goat that as soon as he re­tired, he was go­ing to Florida with his wife. “He’d never been there,” Billy Goat says, “and as he was driv­ing down there, he died. He died some­where in North Carolina. I de­cided, ‘ That’s not go­ing to hap­pen to me.’”

To that end, Billy Goat left his job at age 20 and joined the army. He served two years in Ger­many dur­ing the Cold War. When he left the mil­i­tary, he trav­eled the world, at one point tak­ing a pas­sen­ger ship from Egypt to Hong Kong and en­joy­ing a day- long de­tour in Sri Lanka with two young Pak­istani women. “We rode around in a taxi cab and saw ele­phants in the river, and rub­ber trees and forests. I felt so lucky,” he re­mem­bers. “I kept think­ing, ‘ I have three sis­ters back in Maine and they wouldn’t even know how to change trains in Chicago.’”

Af ter that, Bil ly Goat’s life might have blos­somed into a hip­pie day­dream. It’s easy to imag­ine him grow­ing long hair and es­cap­ing to a moun­tain meadow. But he didn’t. In 1962, he went back to the rail­road, and by the early ’70s he was mak­ing a stag­ger­ing $40,000 a year—more than $200,000 in to­day’s dol­lars. He was mar­ried with two chil­dren. He owned a brand new house in New Hamp­shire and drove a 1972 Ply­mouth Satel­lite. But he couldn’t en­joy the Amer­i­can dream. “I wish I knew how to make my­self happy back then,” he says. He hadn’t yet re­al­ized what is now his life’s guid­ing prin­ci­ple: “If I get too bored, if I don’t move around, I can get de­pressed.”

Billy Goat’s mar­riage ended in 1976. Af­ter­ward his son, Toby, lived with him full time for two years. Billy Goat was con­fi­dent that hik­ing would be good for his son, but his ef­forts were met with mixed suc­cess. When he was 14, Toby suf­fered from a con­di­tion that caused in­suf­fi­cient car­ti­lage in his grow­ing knees, yet Billy Goat ex­pected him to hike 76 miles over five days—solo. “In the morn­ing,” Toby wrote in a re­cent es­say, “I have to use my hands and arms to pull my­self up­right, then walk for up to an hour like Franken­stein with my knees locked.” Even­tu­ally, at age 17, af­ter three sum­mers of hik­ing sec­tion by sec­tion—mostly with Billy Goat—Toby com­pleted ev­ery mile of the AT. But he still didn’t feel he’d sat­is­fied his dad. “Even into my thir­ties,” says Toby, who says he suf­fers from chronic de­pres­sion, “I was still try­ing to please my fa­ther.”

Billy Goat’s daugh­ter, April Woodard, who is 48 and an artist in ru­ral Mas­sachusetts, like­wise

de­scribes her dad as de­mand­ing. “With him,” she says, “you’d bet­ter know how to make a good campf ire. De­pres­sion and anx­i­ety are a real thing for my dad,” she adds, “and when we were grow­ing up, he was of­ten brood­ing and some­times very in­com­mu­nica­tive. His cop­ing mech­a­nism is hik­ing—the longer he’s off the trail, the harder he finds life to be.”

ON THE SEC­OND DAY of our hike, I awake at dawn. Billy Goat is al­ready out­side his tent, rum­mag­ing around in his back­pack. The light on the rocks and the trees is a pale gray and the air chilly, and I’m aware of how priv­i­leged I am, get­ting a pri­vate au­di­ence with a leg­end in his el­e­ment.

We shoul­der our packs. “Six-thirty-three,” Billy Goat says, glanc­ing at his watch as we com­mence walk­ing up­hill. Later, he will write down this de­par­ture time, along with the dis­tance we hike, in a note­book. He’ll record how long each of our rest stops are. Ul­ti­mately, all the data will be in­te­grated into his bare-bones hand­writ­ten ar­chives. “It’s in­ter­est­ing to look back,” he says, “and to see how many times I started out be­fore five in the morn­ing, and how many 14-hour days I’ve done.”

Hik­ing is Billy Goat’s job. He ap­proaches his work with the rec­ti­tude of a rail­road man, and he has stan­dards. He is ap­palled by the pro­fu­sion of ill- equipped soul seek­ers that have washed up on the PCT since the 2012 pub­li­ca­tion of Ch­eryl Strayed’s mem­oir, Wild. “I see a lot of hik­ers who have no idea what’s in front of them,” he says dur­ing a break later that day. “They just want to drink beer and smoke pot, like the Pa­cific Crest Trail’s noth­ing but one big party.”

As he speaks, Billy Goat fishes into his back­pack and pulls out a 1-pound block of Shurfine Mon­terey Jack Cheese and be­gins eat­ing it, di­rectly from the pack­age. The sin­gle-item snack is an ex­act re­peat of his break­fast, and dur­ing our first two days to­gether I never see Billy Goat eat any­thing but that cheese. I’m able to mark the pas­sage of time by the dwin­dling of the block, and all the while I’m awed by how lit­tle Billy Goat car­ries in his 12-pound pack. He doesn’t have a stove, opt­ing for ready-to- eat food. He car­ries no wa­ter fil­ter ( he trusts the streams) and he doesn’t bring a book. “All I do,” he tells me, “is eat and walk and sleep.”

There’s an an­i­mal qual­ity to the way Billy Goat fits into the land­scape. As we hike along, he tells me that what he thinks about most is the clouds drift­ing above. He de­lights in the pur­ple wildf low­ers we see, but has no in­ter­est in learn­ing the names of these plants, and he walks, al­ways, with a kind of pri­mal in­tent. He’s not out for a wan­der.

Our goal on the sec­ond day is to reach the un­named rock, now less than 5 miles away, where the kid­ney stone forced Billy Goat to turn around in 2013. We’re hik­ing to the spot and back. Billy Goat climbs Cut­throat Pass slowly, re­frain­ing from pro­longed con­ver­sa­tion. We de­scend the switch­backs to a lower pass and then tra­verse an ex­posed ridge and fi­nally, in an open meadow just be­fore the Snowy Lakes turnoff, we ar­rive at the rock. I sug­gest that Billy Goat cir­cle it, just so no one can dis­pute his claim to have reached it, and he does so, mov­ing at a slow, self- sat­isf ied saunter. “Well,” he says, “that one was plagu­ing me for three years.”

We turn around with­out paus­ing and hike for an­other mile and then Billy Goat stops and slips off his pack. “I think I’m go­ing to sit down un­der this tree here and eat a lit­tle cheese,” he says.

THESE DAYS, WHEN he’s not hik­ing, Billy Goat hangs his hat in Syra­cuse, New York, rent­ing a room in the home of a wo­man he de­scribes as a “very good friend.” Amoeba (she prefers to go only by her trail name) is a 72-yearold re­tired in­sur­ance un­der­writer who ac­com­pa­nies him to all his doc­tor’s ap­point­ments—and like ev­ery­one else, calls him Billy Goat. “I en­joy help­ing him,” she says, “and it’s nice hav­ing him here, too. I have a big old house with a lot of room.”

Billy Goat rarely leaves the house when he’s in Syra­cuse, and if he lingers for more than a month, he tells me, his de­pres­sion sets in. “I just lie around and do noth­ing and I can’t seem to pull my­self out of it,” he says.

In 2014, Amoeba coaxed Billy Goat to try psy­chi­atric coun­sel­ing, but he balked af­ter one visit. “This wo­man wanted me to do these breath­ing ex­er­cises,” he says, speak­ing of the ther­a­pist. “It was just a lot of hokey pokey. My cure”—he ges­tures at the tow­er­ing moun­tains nearby and the blue sky above—“is right here, on the trail. When I get out here, I just for­get what all my trou­bles are.”

That’s easy to see just by watch­ing him in­ter­act with other hik­ers. He’s charm­ing, smooth. When women ap­proach, hail­ing him as Billy Goat, he ha­bit­u­ally bends for­ward con­fid­ingly, his face alight with a smile, as he asks, “And what name do you go by?” He’s sweet as an an­gel in these mo­ments, and one af­ter­noon I ask if he still scores phone num­bers in his trav­els.

“I do,” he says, his voice ris­ing with glee. “I do!

I do!” He tells a story about meet­ing a wo­man in her 60s while wait­ing for a bus just two days ear­lier. “If you’re ever go­ing through Ash­land, Ore­gon,” she told him, “give me a call.”

For all his blus­ter, I sense that Billy Goat only goes so far down the play­boy path. He speaks fondly of Amoeba, call­ing her his “la­dyfriend,” and he ad­mits that he needs her. “I’ve got a good sit­u­a­tion go­ing in Syra­cuse,” he says. “I wouldn’t want to mess that up. When you get older, I guess what you look for is com­pan­ion­ship.”

I try to get Billy Goat to imag­ine a time when com­pan­ion­ship might be his only salve. What would his life look like when he is too old to hike? “I don’t like to think about that,” he says with stiff dis­com­fort. “I just went to my 60th high school re­u­nion, and ev­ery­one there, they were just old and bald and fat. They had great-grand­chil­dren and canes and walk­ers. I don’t want to be old. I just want to keep hik­ing.”

There is one con­ces­sion Billy Goat is will­ing to make: He can see him­self tran­si­tion­ing from moun­tain­ous trails to f lat­ter ones more con­ge­nial to his heart. He has his sights on the Ice Age Trail in Wis­con­sin, as wel l as the Po­tomac Her­itage Trail stretch­ing from Penn­syl­va­nia to Vir­ginia.

To­ward the end of our sec­ond day, we pass some over­hang­ing rocks on an ex­posed ridge and Billy Goat says, “I’m al­ways look­ing for places like this, where you can wait out a storm. I don’t want to die up here.”

“But I guess if you had to pick a place to die,” I say, “here might not be bad.”

“I don’t see it that way,” Billy Goat says. “I don’t want to die any­where.”

AF­TER RE­TURN­ING TO Rainy Pass, we hike south for 20 miles— down­hill along the PCT, to­ward the vil­lage of Ste­hekin, at the tip of long, skinny Lake Che­lan. It’s sunny and cloud­less. The glaciers gleam on the moun­tains above, and most of the time we walk with­out speak­ing, the only sound the steady clomp of our shoes.

When I ask Billy Goat what he’s think­ing about, he says, “Peo­ple I’ve known over the years: fam­ily mem­bers, other hik­ers, peo­ple I’ve worked with. All the memories I have when I’m out here are pos­i­tive.” He tells me that in re­cent years he’s grown closer to Toby, his son. The two men now talk on the phone sev­eral times a week. Toby says Billy Goat has mel­lowed over the years. “He’s told me, ‘It doesn’t mat­ter what you do. You’ll al­ways be my son.’”

Per­haps be­cause I’m not his son, I sense a nearly un­wa­ver­ing light­ness about Bil ly Goat. And though I’m hik­ing with a bor­rowed pack and far less out­door knowl­edge, he never casts judg­ment. Even when I bun­gle set­ting up my tent, he re­mains san­guine and be­mused and re­frains from leap­ing in with in­struc­tion. He has no in­ter­est in run­ning my show, but he seems at­tuned to how I am feel­ing. And so when we lunch by a creek in the af­ter­noon of our third day to­gether, he can see that I’m im­pa­tient, with stores of vigor and bounce in my younger

legs. He pro­poses that I go ahead and meet him in Ste­hekin.

I do. I hike solo for 10 miles and then, per Billy Goat’s rec­om­men­da­tion, I dine at the Ste­hekin Ranch, re­ceiv­ing a cool re­cep­tion as I skulk into the line for the buf­fet. “You can only fill your plate once,” the server says, eye­ing me war­ily.

The next morn­ing, I re­peat this line to Billy Goat and he rolls his head back, cack­ling with de­light. “Oh,” he says, “they’ve seen old Billy Goat one too many times.”

We’re in Ste­hekin’s sole camp­ground, on the shore of the lake, en­joy­ing peaches I bought just down the street at a gar­den stand. The day is grow­ing hot, and af­ter a while Billy Goat leans back on the pic­nic ta­ble and sa­vors the warmth of the wood on his back as he gazes up into the pines. “I sure do like it here in Ste­hekin,” he says.

I re­al­ize I’m go­ing to miss him. In an hour, I’ll take a ferry down the lake, to­ward civ­i­liza­tion, as he preps for his next ad­ven­ture—108 miles south along the PCT to Stevens Pass, Wash­ing­ton. Af­ter col­lect­ing re­sup­ply boxes, he’ll set off car­ry­ing 12 days of food along a re­mote sec­tion of trail.

I look at his slight frame and know that he could die be­tween Ste­hekin and Stevens Pass. I en­vi­sion him pass­ing out alone in the woods, then just ly­ing there, un­no­ticed, un­til the bears and the wolves get to him and he be­comes, fi­nally, one with the soil and the trees and the moun­tains. He’s tak­ing a risk. But Billy Goat is who he is be­cause he makes de­ci­sions we’re trained to re­gard as au­da­ciously wrong—like hitch­hik­ing af­ter the age of 70.

As we make our way down the road to­ward the boat dock, I try not to worry about him. The man him­self is in high spir­its, par­tic­u­larly af­ter a bus pulls up and a young wo­man steps out, tall and lean and blonde. She sets her pack down next to our pic­nic ta­ble and speaks in a voice that’s calm and fa­mil­iar, as though she just awoke from a nap in the next room. “Hi, Billy Goat,” she says with a south­ern ac­cent.

When I leave, the wo­man is sit­ting at Billy Goat’s ta­ble, mar­veling that he drinks straight from moun­tain streams. “You don’t pu­rify?” she says. “That’s awe­some! I’m not there yet.”

Thir­teen days later I get a phone call. Billy Goat. He made it out of the woods; now he’s sit­ting in a Mo­tel 6 in We­natchee, Wash­ing­ton. “I’ve been eat­ing for two or three hours straight,” he re­joices. “Cheese, bread, pick­les, pears, nuts. And now I’m just about to dip my feet in the bath­tub. Oh, what a lux­ury this place is! Oh, it’s just won­der­ful!”

The next morn­ing, he boards an Am­trak train. He rides for al­most two days and then meets a friend in St. Paul and gets a ride east into the wilds of Wis­con­sin. The Ice Age Trail lays be­fore him now, gen­tle and rolling and lined with maples and cedars. Fall is coming and the leaves will soon be chang­ing. But hik­ing sea­son is not over.

Billy Goat has never chased trail records, but with 47,700 miles (to date), he’s one of the world’s most pro­lific hik­ers.

Clock­wise from top: Billy Goat and his son Toby at the AT’s Wind­sor Fur­nace shel­ter in Penn­syl­va­nia in 1985; fin­ish­ing a south­bound AT thru-hike in Ge­or­gia in 1987; to­tally ex­hausted af­ter a Grand Canyon rim-to-rim day­hike in 1976.

Af­ter his 2016 PCT hike, Billy Goat kept go­ing on Wis­con­sin’s Ice Age Trail.

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