Thursday, June 23, 2016
(East Glacier, MT) June 23, 2016 – It’s an elite feat requiring elite feet, as well as stamina, skill and smarts.
The Triple Crown of Thru-Hiking is only achieved by traversing the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail, each in its entirety. And for Lizzy Corliss, 24, of Vashon, WA, only one leg remains.
“Nature has already given me so much,” Lizzy declares. “This is my way of paying it forward, raising awareness of our environment, and saluting those who got me started on this amazing journey.”
Lizzy states the seeds to this trek were planted in 2010, when she was a trail volunteer with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) deep in Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. That’s when she encountered “this big, bearded, smelly, sweaty, yet endearing character” along the Pacific Crest Trail. “There was spark in his eyes. He’d returned to nature,” Lizzy recalls. “He joined our crew for lunch and shared his story, a ribbon of experiences miles and miles long.”
Lizzy never forgot those tales. After graduating from the University of Montana with a degree in Parks, Tourism and Recreational Resource Management, she thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with her brother, Josh, in 2014. Last year, she conquered the Appalachian Trail. Now, the Crown is a mere 3,100 miles away, give or take.
A seasonal county park employee, Lizzy says she’s hiking to support expanded outdoor service opportunities like the one that changed her life years ago. “SCA is preparing the next generation of public land managers, environmental advocates, and world leaders,” she says. “SCA gave me my start, and I want to inspire more kids to return to nature and get that spark in their eyes.”
Lizzy will begin her mountainous trek on June 28th in Glacier National Park and expects to reach the Mexican border in mid-autumn. “The CDT is supposed to be the toughest of the three,” she notes. “Most of it is at 10,000 feet elevation, much of it requires GPS [global positioning system], and weather and the long-range spacing of resupplies pose their own challenges.”
Since 1994, the American Long Distance Hiking Association (West) has accredited fewer than 300 people with achieving the Triple Crown. But Lizzy, whose trail name is Laugh Track, says she is drawn by the quirky culture of thru-hiking as well as the spectacle of nature.
“I’ll be hiking with ten or twelve members of my trail family – or my ‘tramily,’” she jokes. “Out there, you’re operating on a different plain than you do back in society. You really feel your place in the world.
“It’s like nothingness and everything-ness all rolled into one!”
Throughout her hike, Lizzy will post updates on Facebook and also share blogs and photos at www.thesca.org.