Free Shipping for Domestic Orders above $100!

Passing the Torch: A Chat with the Youngest Calendar Year Triple Crowners

By Jeff Garmire

Calendar Year Triple Crowner/Mountain Athlete/Author

 

In 2016 I completed the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail to become the youngest known person to complete the Triple Crown in a single calendar year. I was 25 years old. This year, on October 22, Jackson Parell (21) and Sammy Potter (22) completed their Calendar Year Triple Crown. They are now the youngest and faced a ton of adversity in their push through more than 7,400 miles of thru-hiking.

Photo: Chris M. Shane @chrismshane

The Calendar Year Triple Crown is hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail all in the same calendar year. Only about a dozen people have completed the endeavor to date, including Heather “Anish” Anderson. The biggest challenge with the undertaking is timing. The thru-hiking season is simply too short to fit in all three trails, so to be successful, winter hiking becomes a necessity. It becomes a sprint over months.

“The biggest challenge with the undertaking is timing. The thru-hiking season is simply too short to fit in all three trails, so to be successful, winter hiking becomes a necessity. It becomes a sprint over months.”

Potter and Parell, AKA “Buzz” and “Woody,” began their epic quest on New Year’s day with the ambitious plan to make it back to Stanford University for the fall quarter. Potter says, “We initially thought we were going to finish in time to go back to school in September, but around April or so, it became clear that it wasn’t going to be possible.” So they adapted, over and over again. Attending fall term quickly was scratched. But after a fantastic accomplishment, they are set to be roommates in 2022.

Photo: Chris Bennett @chrisbennettphoto

The snow was impassable in Virginia; fires shut down northern California and pulling together the logistics of jumping to open portions of the route became the real challenge. Each mile had to be walked, but during some periods of 2021, the trail was simply closed.

“We were trying initially not to flip, but the snowpack in February was too much for us. So we ended up doing a bunch of flipping.” 

“We were trying initially not to flip, but the snowpack in February was too much for us. So we ended up doing a bunch of flipping.”

On the AT, they ended up hiking from Springer Mountain to Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, before their plan had to be altered. At first, it was snow, and then it was wildfires. The year gave them everything they could handle and more, and that is precisely what they were looking for.

January 1 is not a typical start date on the Appalachian Trail. From the beginning, Jackson and Sammy were on their own and without trail names. So they began brainstorming what to call themselves. Eventually, they landed on Woody and Buzz, but discussions ensued about who would be who. With miles and hours to toy with each day, lengthy cases were made for whose personality lined up best with each character. Finally, the two settled it: Jackson was Woody, and Sammy was Buzz. They had their names for the Calendar Year Triple Crown. 

A thru-hike is made up of all the adventures and stories along the way. The Stanford students had plenty — Sammy (Buzz) got caught between a mama bear and her cubs; the pair had to sprint from a wildfire in Northern California, and lightning wreaked havoc on the Continental Divide portion of their thru-hike. It was a never-ending string of events, day after day.

Photo: Chris M. Shane @chrismshane

In the Smoky Mountains, they slept in the same bathroom that I did to avoid temperatures that dropped below zero. They each contracted giardia, and Jackson (Woody) had to fight off an infection with an herbal medicine first aid kit. They battled windburn on Katahdin and deep snow in Virginia. But in the end, they succeeded and successfully connected their footprints along the three most well-known thru-hiking trails in America.

On October 22, Jackson’s parents were waiting at the end with a reporter from the LA Times. It was a simple 40-mile section near Etna, California, that somehow became the culmination of months of thru-hiking. They walked out from the woods and officially finished their epic year.

“On October 22, Jackson’s parents were waiting at the end with a reporter from the LA Times. It was a simple 40-mile section near Etna, California that somehow became the culmination of months of thru-hiking.”

Sammy and Jackson used their epic attempt as an opportunity to raise money for Protect Our Winters (Donation Link Here) and have so far raised over $6k. The goal is to raise one dollar for every mile they covered as part of the Calendar Year Triple Crown.

Sammy Potter also has a podcast out now in conjunction with Backpacker Magazine featuring recordings from along the way. A link to their podcast can be found here: Link Here.

The two plan to continue their studies at Stanford while getting used to living life with modern amenities again. It is a fantastic accomplishment to hike 8,000 miles, and even I can’t comprehend doing it at 20 years old!

Cover photo: Chris Bennett @chrisbennettphoto

Older Post
Newer Post

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

The All-Paca™ Fleece Hoodie

Close (esc)

Join The Herd

Sign up to receive 10% off your next order!

Age verification

By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.

Search

Shopping Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Shop now