The beginning of the end: My seven year journey to triple crown.
On April 27th, 2023, three of my closest friends and I will be stepping foot in the desert of the southern United States and walking north toward Canada. Beginning the Continental Divide Trail will be the beginning of the last in a long-distance American trail series known as the triple crown, something I’m sure most of y’all reading this are familiar with. This dream is nearly seven years in the making, with countless hours of research, thousands of dollars invested, and the obvious months away from loved ones. However, I hadn’t always intended on triple crowning. In fact, in 2016 during my first thru hike on the Appalachian Trail, I promised myself I wouldn’t quit, but that I would never do another long-distance trail again. “NOPE. This is not my thing” I thought. One was enough for me! Well, fast forward seven years and here I am, gear strewn across the floor, deciding between items based on which has a smaller weight in grams rather than comfort and function, prepping to set out on the CDT. But how did this obsession begin?
Looking for adventure.
In the middle of 2015, I was a freshman at Georgia Southern University in a small place called Statesboro, in the deep south of Georgia. Having no transportation in a town known mainly for football, cotton, and peanut fields made getting around more difficult than expected. I quickly realized that all the things I loved doing growing up, like rock climbing, canoeing, and hiking were pretty hard to do living in a completely flat agricultural town. Sitting on my bed ignoring my chemistry homework, I knew I needed an adventure before getting lost in the college workload. BAM! The idea came to me out of nowhere. “I’ll hike the AT. I was a boy scout; I’ve got all the stuff I could need…this will be straightforward enough! How hard could it be?” I was in for a rude awakening. While the AT was the hardest thing I’d ever done, it was also one of the most influential and important things I’ve ever done. I am forever grateful.
School is in.
After completing the AT in 2016 I returned to Georgia Southern University. With a totally new mindset, I enjoyed every minute of my college experience. I tried new things, made friends more easily, and generally just put myself out there more. But the thought of another long trail slowly crept into my mind and got cozy right next to my fond memories of the AT. So, after graduating in 2020 I saved money any way I could to pay for my graduation gift to myself. The Pacific Crest Trail. This would be my first time on the west coast, and the huge views changed everything. During my 2021 PCT hike, I quickly met friends and we formed a trail family affectionately known as the Skeleton Crew (after unfortunately finding the body of a deceased hiker on trail). We hiked thousands of miles together and although we got separated at times, we always managed to regroup. And not surprisingly, just a few months ago three of those friends all separately texted me with ideas for hiking the CDT. At this point, I had no plans to hike the CDT (at least not for two or three years) and was really enjoying myself in my new job. However, as loose plans become more concrete, my friend Songbird suggested, what better way to experience the awesomeness of the CDT than together as a trail family. The more we discussed it, I thought to myself “You can’t just do two out of three. Finish strong. Finish the triple crown!”. And that was it. I was in.
The Skeleton Crew.
Even now as I write this post, I do feel a sense of pressure and anxiousness during the waiting period. Thoughts of leaving a well-suited career, home, and many loved ones make the waiting feel longer still. However, I know that these feelings are all part of the process and part of the reason why stepping on trail is so exciting. And after two other long trails and moments like this, it is more a moment of excitement and joy rather than nervousness.
One More Mile.
Four of the original seven Skeleton Crew members will be getting back together for the first time since finishing the PCT to begin the Continental Divide Trail on April 27th, 2023. If you’d like to follow along with our journey, I will be blogging here for The Trek, and my fellow hiker trash buddies will be blogging here on our website, OneMoreMile Project. Most importantly we encourage everyone to try new things, get outside and get active and always follow proper Leave No Trace guidelines, and enjoy the outdoors! Happy trails and we will see you all on the CDT’23!
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