Monday, November 3, 2014

55. Triple Crown

The Triple Crown is an elusive, much revered honor in the hiking community. One receives the Triple Crown after completing all three long-distance hikes in North America:

The Appalachian Trail: 2,184 miles between Georgia and Maine

The Pacific Crest Trail: 2,654 miles between Mexico and Canada, following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada Range and the Cascade Range

The Continental Divide Trail: 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada, following the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains.

The sum total is 7,938 miles. Though, of course, the lengths of the trails vary somewhat from year to year, so it's around that long, and each year the folks who finish it might have a slightly longer or slightly shorter overall mileage. Frankly, I think once you're in the seven thousands, a few miles here or there probably shouldn't matter. Perspective, folks!

Very few people complete the Triple Crown. I couldn't find a reliable number, as the only organization that records Triple Crowners is the American Long Distance Hiking Association of the West (, and they only have lists of hikers who have completed it each year since 1994. The first person to complete it was 19-year-old Eric Rybeck in 1972. So WHO KNOWS. I'm gonna go out on a wild limb and say it's less than 300 people. But if you have knowledge about these facts, please let me know!

I met Why Not?! near the halfway mark of the Appalachian Trail. And yes, the interrobang (?!) is an inseparable part of her name. She was a hiker completing the last hike of her Triple Crown. She had completed the Continental Divide Trail in 2012 and the Pacific Crest Trail in 2009. We "leap-frogged" the rest of the way up the trail, and though we never officially hiked together, we got to check in with each other several times over the back 3 months of the trail. She was hiking with a pair of fine folks, B-Line and Srocket, and the three of them were indeed a fine gathering of humans.

We just so happened to summit on the same day that Why Not?! summited, September 13th, 2013. I got to witness her getting to the top, hugging the Katahdin sign, putting on her crown, and completely affirming with a gentle spirit and complete humbleness that she is WAY more of a badass than anyone I've ever met. I can only hope to absorb some of her badassery via osmosis, because that's how things work. SCIENCE.

Why Not just completed a second thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail this past September. I highly encourage you to check out her fabulous blog:

She is a full embodiment of her trail name, and a testament to following your heart on fine adventures.

Portrait of Why Not by Dumptruck

Portrait of Why Not by Dumptruck

Why Not and Srocket

All of us summiting Katahdin - Why Not is in the middle!

Putting on her Triple Crown

Clever Girl

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