Janssen completes Pacific Crest Trail
Former Eagle Valley High School teacher is two-thirds of the way through his calendar trail triple crown
Charlie Janssen is not just surviving. He’s thriving.
The former Eagle Valley High School social studies teacher and cross-country coach, who stepped away from his job — and his life — in Gypsum last winter to tackle his bucket-list goal of completing the triple crown of hiking (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail) in a calendar year is now two-thirds of the way through.
“The heart, mind, body and soul feel about as fresh and as good as ever going into this extended finale that should last hopefully until about the third week of November,” he posted on social media on Monday.
“Thank you all again for the love, support, kindness and spontaneous trail magic during this crazy year. I’m truly grateful, still having fun and loving this experience overall.”
Over the last 195 days, since beginning the monumental task on Feb. 3, his 34th birthday, Janssen has traversed 17 states, walking 4,848 miles and ascending the equivalent of Mt. Everest 29 times (830,000 vertical feet). Additionally, he’s walked 80-100 extra miles which didn’t contribute to the direct progress of the first two trails. During his quest, he’s spent 13 days off trail, with five transit days to transition from the AT and the PCT, four days off due to a bout with COVID and three days off for a wedding.
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It was during days 155-161 that he found himself sick. After hiking 17.3 miles on a Saturday, his fever, coughing and other symptoms became unbearable. He was fortunate to have friends in the Medford, OR area who let him quarantine for the better part of two days after testing positive for COVID.
“It’s amazing that after teaching inside a real life petri dish for two years, I was able to avoid contracting COVID but somehow managed to get it in near complete isolation on trail,” he stated. He recovered just nine hours before his flight to Oklahoma for his friend’s traditional Indian wedding.
The first person to conceptualize and complete the calendar-year Triple Crown was Brian Robinson, who was successful in 2001. Only 11 others have since accomplished the feat, and just two have done all three consecutively as through-hikes, Janssen’s original plan before snow booted him off the final portion of the AT earlier this spring. In 2012, Janssen completed the AT in 103 days.
Janssen began the Continental Divide Trail Tuesday at the Chief Mountain terminus at the U.S./Canadian border. He’ll head south through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
“The route(s) I take will amount anywhere between about 2,613 and 2,900 miles as there are many alternates and routes that can be chosen unlike the AT and PCT,” he explained on Facebook.
“It promises to be the longest, windiest, most isolated, possibly the most scenic, the most logistically difficult, have possibly the most dangerous wildlife, (and it’s) almost guaranteed to have the worst weather, among other challenges that will be endemic to the CDT heading towards winter.”