Calendar Year Triple Crown: 8,000 Miles, 3 Trails, 1 Year

Pacific Crest Trail:  ~ 2,700 miles
Continental Divide Trail: ~ 3,100 miles
Appalachian Trail: ~ 2,200 miles

8,000 miles. Three trails. One year.

To start, I will be kicking off from Campo, CA, on the Pacific Crest Trail. My permit is active on Feb. 25 and I intend to begin as close to that date as possible, weather and travel conditions permitting.

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

Let’s break those numbers down a bit.

When I start I’ll have roughly 300 days to year end. Averaging out, that’s about 27 miles a day. Winter may not let me continue heading north continually as planned, so let’s say no December (31 days). Now it’s a little over 29 miles. Thanksgiving may be a stretch, following similar seasonal patterns that led to a solid 2016 hiker season before the iconic 2017 Year of Fire and Ice, so we’re looking at roughly 30 miles a day, no zeros.

Quick look at the start of this journey gives me 700 miles before I reach Kennedy Meadows, the gateway to the South Sierra via the PCT. I estimate roughly three weeks for my arrival, accepting a very early entrance if the “secret season” holds long enough for me to make it back to the 395. Knowing the section, I’m aware of the areas where 20+ will be a fair average, where snow/ice will make me fight to keep pace, and the few stretches I can smash a 24 challenge or two along the way.

Not sure how the technicalities work on this here. If I get the layover dates into 2020 it would be a fun way to start the year by finishing an epic equivalent to walking the country three times. Other options in time/season management would be breaking the NOBO code or taming a bull moose when I reach WY.

But Wait… What About Zeros?

I can attest to my own fair share of triple and quadruple zeros on my last thru-hike, but those will have to be saved for the big days. Will I make it for a Belden music festival? Damascus in May? Woodstock 50th or something? I’m definitely going to PCT Days. I think Colorado has a big thing in May or June (when don’t they?).

Plus injuries, hot springs, visiting a special someone, reuniting with East Coast friends, running into trail family along the way, making new family and all the shenanigans the trail entails.

By now I may need to do 40 miles a day.

Where Is My Mind?

The spirit is willing but the body has needs: we’re gonna take this one day at a time and plan accordingly. Going with my starting point, I’ve chosen the cool, windy high desert as my beginning arena. Having Death Valley in my backyard and the tips of the Sierra in the skyline, I’m just walking 700 miles back home. A bit of snow along the way on San Jacinto, the north slopes of the Bernardino range, and Baden-Powell/L.A. range, yet I’m craving a taste of that pow-pow! Eyeing weather conditions and snow levels, I am willing to tackle the section from Kennedy Meadows South to Cottonwood Pass (pending traveling possibilities) along with to Kearsarge if the chances are fairer.


A lot could, and will, happen along these next eight months. There will be blood. There will be plenty of sweat, and there will definitely be tears. They say nothing’s ever like your first thru-hike. The next ones lose that sparkle. I don’t know, I don’t think I was as excited at the beginning of the first two as I am about this attempt. I was definitely scared and struggling on both, having dropped gut-growing jobs consecutively before jumping on a bus and letting “the trail provide.”

This time I had my mind set before returning home.

The PCT is cool and all, but got anything on the other trails?

My experience is strictly the PCT, having spent the last two years casually roaming the ridges and resisting the grasps of another desk job. Any experience relating to the other trails would be a weekend in Denver for Pretty Lights 10th Anniversary at Red Rocks Amphitheatre last year and road trips up and down the coast when I used to live in New York for college. That’s it.

I have done my research through guides and apps, and am prepared for the new states. I’ll only truly know what I’m up against once I’m out there.

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