Brevard College Alumnus Carl Stanfield’15 to Become Triple Crown “Thru-Hiker”

Carl Stanfield '15

It’s safe to say that Brevard College alumnus Carl Stanfield ‘15 is serious about hiking. Carl graduated Summa Cum Laude and participated in the Honors Program Graduate and was a double major in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education and Music. Carl’s experiences as a student prepared him for his current goal and what he’s been up to since the last few years. In 2018, he hiked the Appalachian Trail. In 2019, he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. Carl is currently hiking the Eastern Continental Trail with a goal to break a record – to hike 11,000 miles in one year, an average of 30 miles a day. To achieve this goal, he plans to finish the triple crown of hiking, and then some. The triple crown is defined by the American Long Distance Hiking Association-West as those who “thru-hike” the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. 

Carl benefited from the kind of personalized mentoring available to Brevard College students; one of the most influential professors was Clyde Carter, who was honored in 2021 with the Distinguished Faculty Award. Carl said, “Clyde Carter was the reason I came to BC. I got to take the immersion semester under him and I’ve even started to say ‘woohoo’ like Clyde does.” After graduating, Carl also served as a Teaching Assistant in Professor Carter’s immersion class, a 21-day expedition canvassing the mountains of Western North Carolina. This unique experiential learning opportunity, tackled both as a student and a graduate, provided Carl with knowledge and skills to safely reach his hiking goals. He said, “The immersion semester is a great experience I took away from my time at BC because I experienced first-hand the expectations and discomfort thresholds. This experience set me up for success because I was prepared to hike alone.”

On a normal day, Carl gets up 1-2 hours before the sun and hikes three miles per hour for eleven to thirteen hours per day, with an hour for lunch. He prefers to be the first hiker on the trail and usually arrives at camp around dark, with just enough light to eat, before turning in to do it all over again the next morning. Carl is motivated to push himself physically and mentally. He explained, “I have the best mental health space when I’m hiking and I want to try and reconnect with as many people as possible while on the trail. I have seen a lot more people than I thought and I meet new people along the way.”

Brevard College also offered Carl the opportunity to hone his skills as a journalist and the college’s teaching approach emphasizing reflection, informed the next step in his professional journey – to write a book about his experiences as a thru-hiker. Of how his time as a student at Brevard College prepared him to reach his goals, Carl said, “Even things I wasn’t trying to learn, I learned, and those things have helped a lot today.”

Carl’s advice to current students or fellow alumni is rooted in the joy he’s found in his journey. He said, “It’s never a mistake to travel and adventure when you are young, because we are young for a long time. There is still so much to learn in self discovery and adventure.”