Action | December 21, 2020 11:51 am

These Twins Finished the American Triple Crown of Hiking in Just Two Years

Landen and Garrett Napier completed the Continental Divide Trail this fall, after 46 days on coronavirus call

american hiking
Sebastien Goldberg/Unsplash

Last month, Garrett and Landen Napier became the first twins to ever complete America’s Triple Crown of Hiking, completing the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail in a span of just two years. That would be impressive in any era, but the fact that they accomplished the feat this year is downright remarkable.

That’s not just considering the fact that most trails were shut down in late spring — when park custodians and popular inns were focused to wait out the coronavirus — but because the Napier twins are nursing school alumni, and former EMTs, who felt it their obligation to sign up for 46 days of coronavirus call, as members of a medical response unit in their local West Virginia community. They answered over 80 dispatches in full hazmat suits, and lived in an RV with only each other for company.

According to a recent Outside Online profile, though, Garrett and Landen are used to tight quarters. They’ve been sharing a tent since their pre-teen years, when they started exploring the public lands of West Virginia with their parents. A chance encounter with backpackers near Harpers Ferry cemented their desire to one day become adventurers. Eight years later, at the age of 21, they finished the Appalachian Trail. It took them about five months, which is an average timeframe. For the Pacific Crest Trail, they pushed to finish in 100 days, an effort that required 11 consecutive 40-mile days in Oregon, and 84 miles over the final 36 hours in Washington.

Perils of the PCT (including chest-high rivers, as a result of snow runoff in California) might’ve deterred lesser twins from returning to the American wilds, especially after a multi-month interruption from COVID-19. But the Napiers were keen to complete the triple. They diligently tracked a variety of actors — hospitalizations, restrictions, trail upkeep, the moods of the hiking community — before beginning a four-month trek from Glacier National Park to the Chihuahuan Desert, which they completed on November 4.

This was the wildest of their hikes, according to the twins; the CDT stretches 3,100 miles along the Rocky Mountains, through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. In some parts, the trails were an absolute mess. (The shutdown probably didn’t help on that front.) But those months gave them a chance to reflect on the days they’d spent holed up in a van, answering calls from scared neighbors. Researchers have studied the beneficial relationship between hiking and treating PTSD for a few years now. The activity has long been a boon for veterans, with its sense of purpose and camaraderie. The views can’t hurt, either.

At the moment, Garrett and Landen don’t have any plans to hike another epic trail together. But they’re keeping up their penchants for service and adventure. Garrett is trying to join the Grand Canyon’s search and rescue team, while Landen wants to enlist in the Coast Guard and apply for its Aviation Survival Technician program.

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.