Triple Crown in Under a Year History
Updated: Nov 23, 2019
Last year I endeavored to complete the Calendar Year Triple Crown. My body broke down causing delays and instead I finished in January for a Single Year Triple Crown. That made me the 11th person that I know of to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Appalachian Trail in under a single year. Of those 11 people, 9 of them completed all three trails in the same calendar year.
Since finishing, I have learned of four people attempting a CYTC or SYTC this year. Unfortunately for them, snow in the West has been high and summer has been slow in arriving making it a much more difficult task than it was for me and the five people who last year completed a CYTC. I doubt I could have finished an SYTC if I attempted it this year, so I wish them all nothing but the best of luck.
However, I keep seeing bad information about those who have hiked the Triple Crown in under a single year. One person claimed that he will become the 8th person to complete a CYTC when I know that 9 people already have. In multiple places, I have seen the FKT listed at 252 days when I know that someone completed all three trails in 237 days. In this post, I want to provide at least one place where people can see everyone who completed all three trails in under a single year and provide encouragement for those who are attempting it or will attempt it in the future.
Before I started my CYTC attempt, I researched everything I could hoping that it would give me even the slightest advantage in my hike. With how many mistakes I made, who knows if all that work actually paid off. However, I did learn about the history of the CYTC.
After others unsuccessfully attempted the CYTC, Flyin' Brian Robinson completed it first in 2001. Starting on the AT, Flyin' Brian hiked to Vermont where a large amount of snow moved him to New Mexico on the CDT. Following New Mexico, Flyin' Brian hiked the PCT breaking the speed record for the trail, before going back to the CDT in Montana and hiking down to New Mexico. Last, he went back and finished the AT. Unfortunately, his trail journal is no longer online, but I did read it before my hike.
Next, Matt "Squeaky" Hazely became the first person to complete the CYTC without flipping (means he hiked all of one trail in one direction before moving on to the next trail) in 2005. Squeaky started on the PCT breaking Flyin' Brian's PCT speed record. He continued on the CDT and finished on the AT. His trail journal can be read here.
Before Squeaky finished, Justin "Trauma" Lichter started on the Eastern Continental Trail which extends the Appalachian Trail from Cape Gaspe, Quebec to Key West, Florida (he had an additional 2800 miles to hike). He did not do all this hiking in the same calendar year, so this was technically a Singe Year Triple Crown, but no one I know of thinks of his hike as any less impressive than any of the successful CYTCs. Trauma has completed a large number of long distance hikes, including the only successful winter PCT hike, and written several helpful books on long distance hiking. More about him can be found on his website.
Interesting side note: Squeaky and Trauma met and hiked together on the PCT before their respective Triple Crown hikes.
The CYTC laid dormant for a while, at least as far as my research could tell, until Cam "Swami" Honan decided to do his 12 long walks in 2011-2012. He hiked 12 long distance trails/routes totaling 15,000 miles in 18 months. The final three trails were the PCT, CDT, and AT, which he finished in 237 days and completing the CYTC in 2012. Swami is one of the most traveled long distance hikers if not the most traveled. His website is called The Hiking Life and can be followed on Instagram.
Jeff "Legend" Garmire was the talk of the PCT while I hiked it in 2016 as he had already hiked the AT and was crushing the PCT. He later finished the CDT and managed to inspire several others to attempt the CYTC in 2018. I met him during my SYTC while on the PCT as he hiked the Great Western Loop (2nd person ever to complete it). Since then, he broke the FKT on the Arizona Trail, and he hiked it self-supported. His website is called The Free Outside and can be followed on Instagram.
Heather "Anish" Anderson set out to become the first female CYTCer and completed it in 2018. Like Flyin' Brian, she flipped around the country until she completed all three of the Triple Crown trails. Anish also holds the self-supported speed record on the PCT and has hiked all three Triple Crown trails three times. Her website is here and is on Instagram.
Mike "Kickstand" Popadatos also completed a CYTC in 2018 (you will see a trend soon), with the interesting hurdle of it being his first ever long distance hike. I don't know how that's possible, but he completed the CYTC in 2018. You can follow him on Instagram.
Mike "Graduate" and Melanie "T-Rex" Tilton met Legend on the PCT in 2016 when they caught Legend from behind (Legend had to stop to take his jacket off), decided to follow in his footsteps in 2018. While hiking at a speed that I as a mere mortal could not maintain, they finished the Triple Crown in machine like fashion. T-Rex finished faster than Anish giving her the female FKT and Graduate and T-Rex are the only people to hike together for the entire CYTC. You can learn more about them at mymountainiswaiting.com or on Instagram.
Tyler "Prodigy" Lau started his Triple Crown hike with Graduate and T-Rex, but because of injury could not finish with them. However, Prodigy became the first person of color to complete a CYTC. You can follow him on Instagram. He also had the following amazing video made about his hike.
Garrett "Pathfinder" Guinn (that's me) also attempted the CYTC in 2018, but finished on January 13, 2019 so I settled for a lowly SYTC (in other words, I'm the least impressive out of the people who hiked the Triple Crown in less than a year duration). For those who may not know my story, I ended up hiking with Prodigy, Graduate, and T-Rex for about a month on the CDT.
After having done this research, and figuring out how fast all the other people completed the Triple Crown who did it in under a year, I decided to make a list to see how fast it has been done.
1. Cam "Swami" Honan (2012) - 237 days
2. Matt "Squeaky" Hazely (2005) - 239 days
3 & 4. Mike "Graduate" and Melanie "T-Rex" Tilton (2018) - 245 days
5. Heather "Anish" Anderson (2018) - 252 Days
6. Jeff "Legend" Garmire (2016) - 257 Days
7. Garrett "Pathfinder" Guinn (2018) - 258 Days
8. Mike "Kickstand" Popadatos (2018) - 270 Days
9. Tyler "Prodigy" Lau (2018) - 272 Days
10. "Flyin'" Brian Robinson (2001) - 300 Days
11. Justin "Trauma" Lichter (2005-2006) - 356 Days*
* I don't actually know when Trauma started the Triple Crown so I just went with the total elapsed time. His Triple Crown time is actually less.
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