Inspiring Active Ager Spotlight: “Billy Goat” The Grandfather of the PCT
Cruz Hemp has decided to create a series of posts to honor individuals that epitomize the notion of Living Your Best Life. These people have no affiliation with Cruz Hemp, do not endorse Cruz Hemp products, and may not have even heard of Cruz Hemp. We simply want to recognize those unique accomplishments that inspire us.
For most, a visit to the mountains is refreshing and brings us back in tune with our primal self. For George Woodward, AKA Billy Goat, the mountains are his true home. It seems as though he belongs to the mountains. Billy Goat hikes at least 150 days out of the year. His friends gave him the name Billy Goat long ago, and that is the name everyone knows him by. He wears a long silvery beard, untouched for over two decades, prefers hiking alone, and always travels with his trusted snack, a block of cheese.
Today Billy Goat is 81 years old, he was born January 28, 1939, and grew up in Maine. Billy Goat retired at age 49. He spent his working years as a railroad conductor, and by age 50, he decided to pursue his love for the mountains and began walking. He is not just any old backpacker who enjoys nature. He spends about half of every year on trails under wide-open skies hiking. Billy Goat has hiked more miles than some people’s cars have driven. Since he has been documenting his hikes, which he started doing at age 50, he has tracked over 48,000 miles. That was in 2018. Today he has probably passed his goal of 50,000 by the age of 80.
Billy Goat could be called the grandfather of the PCT trail. He is a guru to explorers and those pursuing the PCT trail look to the legend for confidence. His best advice is to prepare your body a month in advance and prepare your mind. Get rid of the thoughts like car payments and the argument you had last week. For food, he says avoid snickers bar meals, stick to natural carbohydrates for a good source of fuel such as rehydrated black beans, buckwheat, oats, and vegetables. “Beans have go power,” says Billy Goat. One more tip for the newcomers: learn how to use a camp stove before setting foot on the trail.
Billy Goat gives hope and inspires many older people and explorers of all ages. For those who dream of adventures in the outdoors, he says there is no better time to get out and go hike. “As you get older, with each year that goes by, if you postpone being physically active, it’s harder and harder to become fit” His active lifestyle and oneness with the earth seems to keep him happy and healthy. However, Billy Goat had a heart operation in 2014, which has slowed him down a bit, but has not stopped him from hiking. In 2015 he talked about his goal to have hiked 50,000 miles, by 80 years old. It is unclear if Billy Goat got to 50,000. He remarked it isn’t the goal that motivates him, it is the feeling he gets being out there that completes him.
Billy Goat never planned to be a famous thru-hiker. He says, he just walks. It is where he is most comfortable and at peace. There is nothing more to it. “I make it a goal to hike someplace every month of the year, even if it’s just one day. I don’t want a month to go by if I haven’t hiked someplace.” Those who have met Billy Goat say he is a no-frills kind of guy. Billy Goats advice for new and experienced hikers pursuing the PCT, “Take it easy! You’re not going to get to Canada today. Maybe not even tomorrow.” It is best to keep a steady pace and be gentle. Think about the start and the end and let the in-between come easy.
Billy Goat exudes the spirit of the mountain. He is resilient and passionate about solitude in nature. The mountains are home to Billy Goat; he is not out for a weekend or a vacation; he lives in these mountains half the year. Billy Goat is an inspiration. He started his thru-hiking journey at age 50. Now 31 years later, and a heart surgery, he is still climbing mountains. You can read more about Billy Goat and the PCT trail here.