Appalachian Trail 2023- Preparation

Some of you might be wondering – what is the Triple Crown, does it mean doing one long trail three times or something similar?

The Triple Crown of Hiking refers to the three major U.S. long-distance hiking trails:

Pacific Crest Trail – 2,653 miles (4,270 km), between Mexico and Canada following the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range and traversing Washington, Oregon, and California. Hammer and I completed California together in 2016 and Hammer went on to finish the rest after I broke my ankle in the Russian Wilderness area. I went back in 2017 and completed the Oregon and Washington sections on my own.

Continental Divide Trail – 3,028 miles (4,873 km), between Mexico and Canada following the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains and traversing Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. We completed the CDT 2019, a year which presented challenging weather conditions. Little did we know of the challenges coming in the next few years.

Appalachian Trail – 2,194 miles (3,531 km), between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine and traversing the state of Georgia, North Carolina,  Tennessee,  Virginia,  West Virginia,  Maryland,  Pennsylvania,  New Jersey,  New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts,  Vermont and New Hampshire. This is the oldest and the most popular of the three long distance trails. Our plan was to do it in 2020 but off course nobodies 2020 went to plan.

It has taken us some time to agree that this hike is something we wanted to do. Before the huge disruption over the past three years we were in no doubt that the Triple Crown of Hiking is what we were aiming to complete. The setbacks over the past three years made me doubt that I still had the ability to go on long hikes. Of course these doubts still exist but there is only one way to find out.

Last years return to hike the Washington section of the PCT was a sort of test of our ability and physical fitness and more importantly a test of our willingness to embrace the discomfort for extended periods of time.  A circuit breaker of sorts for the despondency I was feeling over the losses and setbacks we exprienced over the last 3 years.

It was Bill Brysons book ‘Walk in the Woods’ which I read way back in the early 2000s that ignited my imagination about spending more time immersed in nature. Hammer did not need any convincing – being active outdoors is his happy place, be it in the surf or camped in some mountainous landscape. In fact the first present he ever bought me, when we first met – some 33 years ago,  was a sleeping bag suitable for camping in the snow. Not very romantic but so incredibly practical.

We are days away from leaving Australia and we have our packs ready to go. If we finish this hike we will be in the select group of Triple Crowners. It means nothing to most people but so much to the small  club of long distance hikers.

The decision to go was made back in February, departure date set, airfares booked and then we got distracted by evolving plans to demolish our house and rebuild when we return.  Plans are with Council, it was a rocky start but we are back on track as of the day of our departure.

As a result of planning and permitting hurdles our gear sat in a sorry pile in the spare room. No neat flat gear lays for photographs till the Monday before our departure.

It felt great to order the mess and make sure we had everything we needed and nothing more.

A few friends have asked about our packweight. Now that we are sorted, my pack base weight is 4.8kg and Hammer is 9.2kg. Food and water will add to this  but we don’t expect that there will be long food carries like on the other two trails. Apart from that we approach this hike with no expectations except to stay unbroken.  

We leave home April 5th flying Sydney  to Los Angeles, then Houston and finally Atlanta. The trail commences approx 90 miles north of Atlanta. We plan to spend a day in Atlanta and start hiking on Good Friday April 7th. We expect the hike to take about 5 months. Plenty of time to spare before our visa runs out