Unalaska resident Sean Peters broke his personal record this year by making the one-mile hike up Bunker Hill 321 times. That averages out to more than once a day for every day he’s been on island in 2021.
Peters, 24, hit the milestone last week. He said he wanted to complete his 321st climb up the iconic Unalaska landmark before flying out for a holiday trip.
KUCB’s Hope McKenney sat down with Peters las week to talk about why he hikes Bunker Hill and how it felt to smash his prior record.
The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Sean Peters: In 2017, I just got 19 hikes up Bunker Hill. But in 2018, I got 155. My dad and I got it together. In fact, my dad actually was the one who kind of got me started on that. He and I both wanted to see how many we could do. And we both ended at 155 together in 2018. In 2019, I got 111. But in 2020, I wanted to get 201 because I knew someone who got 200 in a year. I was like, ‘I gotta get just one more,’ but I had over a month left. So I went from doing once a day to twice a day so I could get past 250 and I ended up getting 255. And then yesterday, I got, you know, 321.
Hope McKenney: Wow. I love going up Bunker, because not only can you do it kind of in any weather — there’s a road that you can go up — but also when you get to the top, it’s just such a beautiful view of every part of Unalaska. Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like when you get to the top?
SP: Oh, it’s just a beautiful view. On windy days, you got to be careful though, because sometimes, like if you go up the backside especially, you’re protected and then you get pretty much to the top and then you could get blown off. The day after that major storm in October that we had that was blowing over 100 mph, my dad and I went up there and it had calmed down a lot, but it was still pretty windy. So you have to climb the rocks to get to the bunker. I was afraid I’d get blown off, so I crawled to make sure I was safe. And it’s amazing what I’ve seen on that hike too, though, like I’ve run into people I haven’t seen for years on that hike. It’s just always exciting, you never know who you’re going to run into. Sometimes I’ve run into over a dozen people just on one trip. But last year — I’ve only seen one here in my entire life — it was a night hike up Bunker Hill, I saw snowy owl and my first thought was that it was a seagull, but I was like, ‘Why would a lone seagull be flying around at night?’ And it was flying different than a seagull flies. But I was shining the flashlight at it and it was like kind of hovering over me looking at me and I got to see its flat face. I got to see its feathers and I got to know for sure it was a snowy owl. That was last year. This year, I saw some sort of falcon. I’m not sure what kind of raptor it is. It could have been a kite, a falcon, a hawk or whatever. But I saw one. And then just last week when it was night, down toward the bottom, I saw some sort of black raptor flying around.
HM: Yeah, I was gonna ask you, do you have kind of a most memorable trip up Bunker Hill? Sounds like you’ve had a few pretty beautiful experiences.
SP: Oh, man, it is tough to pick a single most memorable one. Because whenever I hike it with friends and family and stuff, those are my favorite. I know, oftentimes, they’ll say, ‘Go on ahead of me, I’ll slow you down.’ But like no, I’d rather go slowly with people than fast on my own. But probably the most memorable one would be my 10th trip up during the endurance challenge. Like, I mean, it wasn’t pleasant at the time. I mean, every step was really exhausting, but I was thinking I’m actually going to do it 10 times in one day, I’m actually going to walk 20 miles today. And I set so many new records on my Fitbit, like I’d never come even close to doing that much since I had my Fitbit, so that was a pretty memorable one.
HM: And so what’s next? We’re almost to the end of the year. You’re about to leave town this weekend till early next year. Are you going to continue to try to beat your record next year do you think?
SP: I hope so. But like, I don’t know if I’ll be able to or not. It all depends on how much I’m gonna be on island and everything. Basically, like this year, I was hoping I’d get 300. But if it’s nice weather and I have the time, I’ll usually do it twice. If it’s kind of iffy, I’ll probably do it once. If it’s bad weather, I won’t do it. I just take it day by day. I would like to get to 365 sometime though, but I don’t know when that’s gonna happen.
HM: And, I mean, 321 times in one year is a lot. It’s multiple times a day, a lot of the time. How do you feel? Are you proud of yourself?
SP: Yeah, it is really nice. I am really happy to be able to do this. I’m blessed to live in a place where I have that option. I mean, I would much prefer doing that over going to the gym, going on a treadmill or elliptical. I’d much rather be going up Bunker Hill or something, because it is a satisfying experience to get to do it that much.