Born to Hike – The Adventures of Piper

A hiking blog chronicling the adventures of Piper (Chad Killingsworth)

Trails of the Triple Crown

The Triple Crown of Hiking is held by very few people. It took me nine and a half years to complete the 7,500 miles of trail. This blog hosts journals from all three hikes.

The Appalachian Trail (AT)

Northern AT terminus sign
Northern AT terminus sign
Dates: March 25 – August 18, 2002, 147 days
Length: 2168 miles

The AT is was where I learned how to long distance hike. With so many other hikers, there was a great support system to help me succeed. I started as a complete novice and with a pack that weighed entirely too much – over 50 pounds! However I learned quickly and was continually looking for ways to trim that weight. By the end of the trail I was hooked on the sport and on the idea that less weight means a happier hike. This is also where I first learned of the other long-distance trails and of the triple crown and met Kevin Jacobs, my hiking partner.

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)

PCT Trail Sign
PCT Trail Sign
Dates: May 3 – September 28, 2005, 149 days
Length: 2,655 miles

The PCT is the golden child of the trails. Spectacular scenery and well graded tread made every day a joy to hike. Building upon the lessons of the AT, my pack weight started out with about 14 pounds of base weight (doesn’t count food or water). A more technically challenging hike, the PCT required me to learn how to travel on snow with ice axe and crampons. It also required much better navigation skills.

The Continental Divide Trail (CDT)

Understatement of the Trail - Monarch Ski Area
CDT Following a Ski Run
Dates: June 22 – October 28, 2011, 129 days
Length: 2,682 miles

The most difficult of the three trails, the CDT is a much more challenging hike in every respect. I dealt with more extreme weather, poorly marked trail or no trail at all and very few other hikers. The CDT is the least known and least used trail. It required all of the skills I had learned from the other hikes. While the trail was spectacularly beautiful, it was the most physically challenging.