For avid hikers, the Triple Crown holds a special significance. The Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and Appalachian trails are the most sought after hiking experiences in the country. These three trails, spanning a total of 7,500 miles, are considered the ultimate test of a hiker’s physical and emotional limits. Chico’s Charlie Janssen recently accomplished the rare feat of hiking all three trails, becoming just the 13th person to complete the Triple Crown in one calendar year.
Janssen began his journey nearly one year ago, with the goal of pushing his limits and testing his endurance. He set out on the Pacific Crest Trail, which is roughly 2,700 miles, followed by the Continental Divide Trail, spanning 2,600 miles, and finally completing the journey on the Appalachian Trail, which is 2,200 miles. At the pace he walked, this equated to roughly a marathon a day.
The isolation and solitude of the hike was a significant challenge for Janssen, who spent much of the journey in silence, with no music or podcasts to keep him company.
“It’s a pretty isolating experience,” Janssen said to Action News Now. “On the Continental Divide Trail, for example, I saw 26 southbound through hikers over 2,601 miles.” Despite the loneliness, Janssen’s mind was constantly engaged in the hike itself, as he had to constantly plan and strategize for his next water source, food supply, and elevation changes.
The hike was not without its challenges. Janssen faced a number of physical ailments, including cellulitis and a strep blood infection, which made hiking extremely painful. He also had to contend with harsh weather conditions, including rain, wind, and snow, which often forced him to jump from one trail to another.
Despite the difficulties, Janssen’s efforts were rewarded with breathtaking views and memorable experiences. Some of his favorite moments were on the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern California, which he described as the “easiest of the three” and the “most scenic.”
Janssen started his journey on February 3rd, his 34th birthday, and 285 days, 20 hours, and 56 minutes later, on November 15th, he completed the incredible feat. Reflecting on the experience, Janssen said, “It was a weird almost numbing feeling. I was at a loss for words and I’m still unpacking this experience.”
Through his journey, Janssen has come to realize that anything is possible when you have a clear goal in mind. He has also come to appreciate the power of silence and solitude, and the unique insights that can be gained from spending time alone with one’s thoughts.
The Triple Crown of hiking is a monumental accomplishment that requires a tremendous amount of dedication, perseverance, and mental and physical strength. Charlie Janssen’s journey serves as an inspiration to anyone who has ever dreamed of pushing their limits and achieving the impossible.