Calendar Year Triple Crown Attempt
This is my big news for the year, I will be attempting a calendar-year triple crown (CYTC) in 2022. In just over a week I will step out onto the Appalachian Trail (AT) and try to hike all three major US trails by the end of December. The AT, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide Trail (CDT) comprise the ‘triple crown’ of long-distance US backpacking with a combined length of ~7,700 miles. We will jump right in – explaining first a little bit about me and then a little bit about the CYTC.
My name is Isaac, but on trail I go by Blouse. I thru-hiked the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail in 2019. My experience on the AT was a dream come true – I got to hike my ‘backyard’ mountain chain, I met amazing friends, was blessed by awesome trail angels, and thoroughly enjoyed my journey. After trail, I found another job in manufacturing as an engineer near my girlfriend in upstate SC. All was set up for a normal life – then Covid struck in early 2020. Let’s be honest – Covid has affected all of us, and I was lucky to keep my job and keep going into the plant every day. But during the first lockdown, I admitted to myself that I yearned to be outside again and needed a huge goal to work towards.
So I brought up the CYTC will my girlfriend, she tossed in her support, and the training began. I wasn’t sure the goal would stay the same, but it turned out over the course of the next year and a half I just became more entrenched in the idea of hiking all three major mountain chains in the US.
Calendar Year Triple Crown
As previously mentioned, the ‘triple crown’ of US hiking is the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail. Each trail runs vertically through the country: the AT in the east, the PCT through the west coast, and the CDT through the Rockies. Each trail is over two-thousand miles and usually takes thru-hikers five to six months to complete. Once a hiker completes all three trails, they are considered a triple-crowner.
My goal is to do all three trails, but shove them into a calendar year. Why? Well, I’m crazy, love challenges, and want to see where my breaking point lies. Lots of other reasons too, but I will share that in another post. If you are looking for some good news, this has been completed before. At the time of this posting, the number of successful finishes is in the mid-teens. Three individuals completed this challenge last year which may bring hope to my friends and family.
The Logistics for an ~8,000 Mile Year
One does not just walk into Mordor. But one does simply walk to complete the CYTC. Well, that’s a little bit of a lie. It does take trains, planes, and automobiles to get between the trails. So how do you fit all those miles between the winter weather? Especially the winter weather at high elevations?
The first hack to being able to complete all three trails in a year is to do high mileage days. The more miles you complete per day, the fewer total days between your start and finish. Also, taking days off, known as zero days, should be minimized to keep your daily mileage high. My goal is to average thirty miles per day. This may sound like a lot of miles to do every day to you, and that’s fine because it feels that way to me right now.
Next, you have to be prepared to dance with Mother Nature. The high Sierras on the PCT and the Rockies through Colorado are high elevation (10,000 feet+) – so the level of snowpack dictates when it’s safe to enter either. With that in mind, the general thought of the CYTC is to complete the AT before and/or after the other two trails, practically in winter. Then you can finish the PCT and CDT between May and mid-October. I will make a more detailed post about the “plan”, but skipping between trails is part of my game plan.
This coming journey is not a sure bet and failure is very possible, but I am ready for the challenge. I hope experienced hikers, novice hikers, and non-hikers alike will find useful or interesting information in my blogs. If you want to see daily, on-trail updates, follow me on Instagram at isaac.nesbitt.1.
Hope to see some of you out there, and happy trails.
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