Of all the pieces of gear I took with me on my first thru hike, there are very few still remaining. Long distance hiking is expectedly tough on gear, and choosing lightweight items can often come at the expense of long term durability. Most of my gear has simply worn out, while a few items were replaced with better alternatives. Not Steve the Spoon.
As a poor graduate trying to pack light on the Pacific Crest Trail, I thought using a disposable spoon was a great idea. Sure, it might break, but I could bring a spare and they would still be lighter than most of the alternatives. I'd also be re-using them and delaying their journey to a landfill, so why not give it a shot? As the days went by my spoon stayed strong and I enjoyed the grin on the faces of fellow hikers as they saw me dig into my dinner with something that was usually paired with a small styrofoam plate and a quick trip to the garbage. Not only did the spoon last, I ended up giving away my spare to other hikers when they happened to lose or break their own cutlery of choice. I (or other hiker friends that were keeping an eye out for me) would just grab a new backup spoon the next time we came across one in town, and soon enough I'd give that one away too. I've done this at least a dozen times.
Once I started hiking additional long trails and telling the story of my little-spoon-that-could, I started joking about holding the unofficial record for the most miles hiked with the same disposable spoon. At first it was all for fun, but now with over 8000 miles of trails under my feet I think I might be able to make a real case for Steve and I. He was officially named on the Continental Divide Trail by Judd, a fellow hiker, upon hearing about the spoon's impressive history and lack of a formal title. As far as I know, there wasn't any particular reason for the choice of name other than 'also starting with an s'. From warm dinners on chilly 12,000ft nights to the cold-soaked mac and cheese incident (DO NOT TRY), Steve and I have been through quite a bit together.
More impressive than the distance, in my opinion, is the sheer number of calories Steve has shovelled into my hungry hiker mouth. At the time of writing this post I've thru hiked four long distance trails: the Pacific Crest Trail (~4.5 months), Te Araroa (~4 months), the Continental Divide Trail (~5.5 months), and the Pacific Northwest Trail (~2 months). That's a total of roughly 16 months of hiking, or 480 days. Adding another 20 days spent hiking in Iceland brings us to a nice and round 500 days, or 500 meals*. A typical dinner would be something like a box of Mac and Cheese and 1oz of olive oil, a Knorr side dish with ramen and olive oil, instant potatoes and ramen and olive oil - you get the idea. I'd say an average of 1000 calories per dinner is reasonable, so finally we have 500 dinners x 1000 cal/dinner = 500,000 calories. Half a million calories. Excuse me while I go for a jog. With Steve.
*To keep the math simple I'm assuming I only used the spoon for dinner. In reality I often use it for breakfast too, however there were many days where I ate dinner in town and didn't use it. I'm going to call it even.