I AM A GIANT MASTER
Sleeping Giant State Park, Hamden
I have done a lot of things for CTMQ. I am inarguably the first/only person to have done a lot of things I have done. I rarely think and don’t really care about hardly any of that stuff though.
However, I very much do care about being the 245th person to become a Giant Master. (Only 353 in total have done so as of March 2018.) I love being a Giant Master. Just look how happy I am in the picture here.
The Giant Masters program has nothing to do with graduate level education. It is a hiking challenge overseen by the folks at the Sleeping Giant Park Association. As such, I’ll let them explain:
The SGPA Hiking Committee sponsors the Giant Masters program for all SGPA members. Any member hiking all the marked trails and logging the dates on a Giant Master’s Log can send the completed log to us and receive a Giant Master’s certificate and a Giant Master’s patch. We hope this will encourage our members to explore all the wonderful trails and special places in the park.
Simple, right? Sort of… Half of the fun of becoming a Giant Master, for me, was in the planning and route choices. As a solo hiker, I had to hike way more than the 32-miles the challenge requires. Doubling back, road walks, cut-throughs, circle-arounds, repeated sections… all part of the challenge. I did all five of the red trails in one morning, which was probably my most masterful bit of route planning and solo car-spotting. Giant Masterful.
There are other hiking challenges in Connecticut; The annual Sky’s the Limit Challenges. The Steep Rock Hiker’s Challenge, and the CFPA Blue Trails Challenges spring to mind. If you organize one, I’ll do it. If you give a rocker patch and/or a certificate or something, I’ll do it even quicker! Some Giant Masters have mimicked what some other hiking challenges have done by extending their efforts beyond normalcy.
Our members are finding new Giant Masters challenges. We have Four-Season Giant Masters who have hiked and logged all trails in each of the four seasons, 12-Month Giant Masters who have hiked and logged all the trails 12 times (once in each consecutive month in a one year period). Please be aware that each Giant Master category is a separate achievement. Hikes completed for one category do not count toward another category. We also have Giant Master Marathoners who hiked all the trails in one day!
In my younger years, I’d have tried that last one. I’ve hiked 30+ miles in one day before, but the continual ups and downs at Sleeping Giant would certainly present a challenge. (And, again, the route-choice decisions.) There are also now 4-season Marathoners who have hiked all of the trails in one day in each of the four seasons. Don’t shake you head – applaud those people!
Then shake your head.
I began the Giant Master challenge completely unaware of it. At the time, when the CFPA still (sort of) maintained the CT400 Challenge, I had to hike all of the marked trails in the park anyway. But after my first hike in the park, I came to learn that I could become a Giant Master almost by default. Double bonus.
With each successive hike in the park, I became more and more enamored with it. It’s hardly a backcountry experience, but once away from the popular Tower Trail, it can feel like one. That never ceased to amaze me with each outing. Huge thank you to the SGPA and all of the trail volunteers and maintainers. And here’s to all of the Giant Masters out there – well done!