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John McCoy: 'Triple Crown' hiker, 71, seeks support from seniors

Wow. The first word that came to my mind when I learned of Mike Fagan’s upcoming adventure was, “Wow.”

Fagan is 71 years old. On Feb. 5, he will set off from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to hike the 7,900-mile Triple Crown Trail in a single season.

Oh, you haven’t heard of the Triple Crown Trail? It’s actually three trails — the 2,184-mile Appalachian Trail, the 2,654-mile Pacific Crest Trail and the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail.

To hike even one of these iconic trails in a single season is quite a feat. To hike all three in a season is almost unspeakably difficult. Only four people have ever done it, and none of them was 71 years old at the time.

Fagan’s itinerary for the three hikes seems impossible. He hopes to complete the Appalachian Trail by April 29, knock off the Pacific Crest Trail between May 4 and July 23, and traverse the Continental Divide Trail between Aug. 28 and Oct. 16.

That’s 252 days of hiking. To complete all three trails, he’ll have to cover a whopping 30 miles a day.

Wow. Just — wow.

He’s well prepared for the effort. He’s a fitness expert who has hiked all over the world in some of the harshest environments imaginable. He’ll probably need to call on that experience while he’s trudging through Smoky Mountain snow in February, battling Mount Washington’s winds in April and following the spine of the Colorado Rockies in late September.

To get credit for the feat, Fagan will have to hike every step of the way. No one will be able to walk it for him, but he’ll need to have plenty of help along the way.

He hopes to recruit people 50 years of age and older to help. Here’s what the project’s website says about it:

“He will likely need last-minute private air transportation to section-hike between trails during unforeseen weather or other trail-related obstacles.

“He will need medical evaluations to ensure his safety. He will need supplies delivered frequently to be able to travel as light as possible. He will also need hiking enthusiasts to share in the mission of videoing and witnessing his journey along the trails from section to section.

“Many hikers, private pilots, drone enthusiasts, medical and other professionals from every industry are 50+ years old. Our mission is to involve as many of them as possible to be a part of this adventure.”

Based on this description, Fagan doesn’t necessarily plan to “through-hike” all three of the trails. He might hop from one to another if the weather is too bad or if the trail is blocked, then hop back to complete the unfinished portion. Event promoters call it a “mosaic approach.”

I’m sure he would prefer to “through-hike” all three trails, but having the option to hopscotch around makes perfect sense.

Having people hike with him also makes sense. They’ll witness the accomplishment and help Fagan document it with photos and videos. They’ll also get to share an epic adventure in human endurance.

Fagan’s hike up the Appalachian Trail should bring him to West Virginia’s segments of the trail — one in Monroe County, one in Jefferson County — sometime in March. Seniors interested in helping him or hiking with him can learn more about the Triple Crown Project by visiting www.gchh.org/triple-crown-senior-support.

Reach John McCoy at johnmccoy@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-1231 or follow @GazMailOutdoors on Twitter.

Funerals Today, Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Armstead, David - Noon, Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.

Crawford, Charles - 7:30 p.m., Andrews' residence, Belleaire at Devonshire, Scott Depot.

Duff, Catherine Ann - 11 a.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Jarrett, Shirley - 1 p.m., Mt. Juliet United Methodist Church, Belle.

Lawrentz, Deo Mansfried - 11 a.m., Koontz Cemetery, Clendenin.

McGraw, Judy Fay - 2 p.m., Jodie Missionary Baptist Church, Jodie.

Mullins, Alice Ellen (Blessing) - Noon, Cunningham-Parker-Johnson Funeral Home, Charleston.

Staats, Anthony Vernon “Tony” - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.