App Gear Co Athlete Ben Vaughan recently completed the Continental Divide Trail, capping a multi-year effort toward thru-hiking’s Triple Crown (that’s nearly 7,900 miles on foot!). Ben was the very first person to thru-hike in one of our shirts, way back on the Appalachian Trail in 2018. Since then, he’s put over 2,500 miles on his original All-Paca shirt and over 4,000 miles on his All-Paca Fleece Hoodie. We recently checked in with Ben to ask him nine of our most pressing questions about completing the Triple Crown.
Appalachian Gear Company: Congrats on becoming a Triple Crowner! How do you feel now that you are finally done?
Ben Vaughan: I’m happy to be done with the hike, but I definitely miss being out there. Living in the wild on one of the most remote trails requires a slow transition back to the world.
AGC: We have to know, what’s your go-to meal when you finish a thru-hike? On the flipside, what’s one trail food you will never eat again?
BV: I’m a big fan of Mexican food so I’ve been eating plenty of it since I’ve been off trail. I’m not in a hurry to eat tuna right now. I ate a lot of it this year
AGC: Fewer than 500 known hikers have completed the Triple Crown, which puts you in rare company. What made you want to attempt the feat?
BV: The saying in the hiker community is that you can do one trail and be done. But you can’t do two of the trails and not attempt the third one.
AGC: Thru-hikers have long been obsessed with comparing the three major trails. If you could only hike one trail again, which would it be?
BV: I’m partial to the CDT. This was the most remote and most challenging trail for me and I love it. I want to hike it again!
AGC: Do you have a favorite memory from your journey?
BV: The Wind River Range in Wyoming was stunning and it was unlike any place I’ve ever been.
Last year after I got done with the PCT, my 26-year-old daughter met me in Lone Pine, CA, and we hiked into the Sierra and did 45 miles in 3 days and finished with a climb up Mt. Whitney for a sunrise summit. That was an amazing memory for both of us.
AGC: How about a scariest moment?
BV: I got severe frostbite on my toes last year in the Sierra and it almost ended my thru-hike. I recovered and went back to complete the trail.
AGC: The AppGearCo team first met you at Trail Days in 2018. What got you hooked on All-Paca?
BV: I was hiking in a merino wool shirt and it was falling apart after only 500 miles. It had holes all over and it was getting worse. I spoke to John about his shirt and he guaranteed it would be a great hiking shirt. I wore it every day for 1,600 miles and kept him updated while I hiked. I became the unofficial wear tester for the shirt, and we have been a team ever since.
AGC: Any other must-have gear?
BV: Granite Gear backpack, Zpacks tent, Salewa trail runners
AGC: Besides a well-deserved rest, what’s next for you? Got your eye on another adventure?
BV: I’m still looking at work opportunities for this winter, but I know I’ll be somewhere in the mountains so I can enjoy hiking and snowboarding.