(Lander, WY) – Distance hiker and high school social studies teacher Charlie Janssen recently accomplished what fewer than 15 documented individuals have ever done after completing the Triple Crown of Hiking, which entails hiking the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails, totalling over 7,800+ miles.
Janssen, a 34-year-old Kansas City native who currently resides and teaches/coaches in Colorado, made it to the southern terminus for the Continental Divide Trail on November 15, completing a feat that began on his birthday of this year, February 3, and was something he has been planning for nine years.
Janssen, who goes by the trail name ‘Kansas Express,’ passed through Lander back in September on Day 232 of his total hike, and Day 38 of the Continental Divide Trail portion.
When Leslie Robeson heard Janssen’s story while his wife Allee and mother Rebecca were shopping at her store Scott Robeson Custom Woodworking, she reached out to County 10, and we were able to sit down for dinner at the Cowfish with him and his ‘trail angel’ wife and mother (more on ‘trail angels’ in just a moment).
Janssen told County 10 that he began hiking about a decade ago, completing many thru-hikes like the Colorado Trail and the Appalachian Trail on its own, which planted the seeds for wanting to take on the Triple Crown.
“I just thought I could do it,” Janssen replied when asked why he wanted the challenge, adding that he has the drive to see goals through and “stoicism” in the face of difficult situations.
Due to the ever-changing weather on the three trails, Janssen did what many Triple Crown attempters do and split the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails into two portions, starting first on the AT, then moving to the PT, back to the AT, back to the PT again, and then one long stretch on the Continental Divide Trail.
Janssen had many memorable moments on the trails, which were all documented on his Facebook page Where Is Charlie Hiking Now?.
Among them were catching up with former students (Janssen shared that because of his teaching and coaching jobs, he has professional ties to both Spearfish, SD and Riverton, with former students all across the country); the camaraderie with fellow hikers with trail names like ‘Boomerang,’ ‘Quadzilla,’ ‘Tank Tops,’ and ‘Professor;’ and of course, the support of his ‘trail angels’ Allee and Rebecca.
‘Trail angels,’ for those who don’t know, are responsible for leaving ‘trail magic’ for hikers attempting long thru-hikes, which includes water, supplies and anything that might provide help or motivation.
Oftentimes ‘trail angels’ get to know other hikers on the trails, and provide ‘trail magic’ to them as well
“Allee is a logistical genius,” Rebecca commented about Allee’s ability to help plan water and other ‘trail magic’ drop-offs. “They’re an amazing couple who complement each other really well.”
Allee’s ‘trail magic’ drop-offs were so well done in fact, that Charlie was being recognized by other hikers because of her.
“You’re Allee’s husband?” Janssen said he heard from more than one fellow hiker.
On the subject of food, Janssen shared that he would consume an average of 5,000 calories and up to three to four pounds of dry food a day, which he proved as he downed his Cowfish bison ravioli, and finished both Allee and Rebecca’s leftovers.
But at an average of 25.6 miles a day, Janssen said he was still barely maintaining weight and enough calories to complete the 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM routine.
In terms of other hardships, Janssen cited logistical problem-solving, packs of wild dogs, travelling through miles of snowpack, and isolation.
“Loneliness set in on Day 229,” Janssen commented before adding that his resilience kept him going through it all. “What wears others down, wears me down less.”
That resilience paid off, and on November 15, on day 285, Janssen completed what very few humans in recorded history have accomplished.
“At 10:28 am after 91 days, 21 hours, 30 minutes on the CDT and on my 285th day, the eagle has landed.”
To learn more about Charlie’s hike and see all the photos and updates, click here.