The Triple Crowns & the American Perimeter Trail

The past couple of years, I’ve been reading about books about the Pacific Crest Trail aka “PCT”. Most famous is probably the book from Cheryl Strayed, in which a relatively untrained and not-well prepared woman decide to walk the PCT.

It was breath-taking and inspiring. It’s one of the longest and most demanding thru-hikes available – and due to its length and altitude differences, seasonality plays a role too. Starting in the south means you probably want to get stepping in the late spring time. Being too early brings you into substantial snow cover in the Sierra Nevada, whilst starting too late will be challenging in the desert.

With over 4,000km of trail through the worlds most breath-taking scenery, the PCT is definitely on my bucket list.

But that’s just one crown of the Triple Crowns.

The second one is the Appalachian trail. You’d never have guessed it – but it follows the Appalachian Mountains on the east side of the USA. It’s not as demanding as the PCT, at least not by the looks of it: there is no desert to cross and where the highest point on the PCT is over 4,000 meters, at the AT it’s just 2,000 meters. It is heavily covered in forest – for as far as I can judge. As clearly – it’s on the bucket list for the very fact that I haven’t done it yet!

The third part of the Triple Crown is the Continental Divide or CDT. It follows the same logic, more or less, as the PCT & AT: it runs north-south (or vice versa). It’s apparently not complete and about 5,000km long. The highest point is over 4,300 meters whereas the lowest is 1300 meters. Looking at the map and the scenery, this might be my favorite. But also the most demanding due to its altitude and length.

But it can always be way cooler!

Somewhere, somehow and don’t ask me how, because I can’t remember, I came across The Mother of All Hiking Projects: the American Perimeter Trail. This project is run (almost literally!) by Triple Crown Hiker Rue McKenrick. Rue has completed the first 10,000 miles of this eventual 12,000 mile long project. In non-imperial units: That’s close to 20,000 km! Or as long as going from Portugal to Cyprus, then from Cyprus to the North Cape in Norway, and then hike to the Swiss Alps. It’s mind-boggling long.

Quite realistically: I live in Europe and have a family with 3 kids. The chance of me ever being able to complete one of the above is quite slim – let alone all three of them. Hiking 30 miles a day would bring the total time spent at 400 days – which US immigration won’t like either.

But, then again realistically: who says you need to do it in one go? It could be staged, hiking a part every year, for a couple of consecutive years. Some parts (north side & west side) can only be completed in summer, whereas the stretch through Texas, Arizona and New Mexico could be (probably most convenient) done in spring time or late winter.

In any case, I think it’s inspiring that there are people out there, enjoying the world and making it a better place. Not by creating casino-resorts, but taking us back to nature.

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