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  Hiker Achieves 'Triple Crown'

By Glenn Adams
Associated Press Writer
Saturday, Oct. 27, 2001; 9:30 p.m. EDT

THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL, Maine –– For 10 months, he started walking at sunup and didn't stop until nightfall.

On Saturday, "Flyin'" Brian Robinson became the first person to hike each of the three U.S. National Scenic Trails in a calendar year when he reached the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail atop Maine's highest peak.

He averaged about 30 miles a day since setting out Jan. 1, destined to complete the Pacific Crest Trail in the West, the Continental Divide Trail in the Rockies, and the Appalachian, which runs from Georgia to Maine.

With a handful of well-wishers in tow, Robinson finished the 2,168-mile Appalachian on Saturday atop mile-high Mount Katahdin.

"This is the toughest five miles," Robinson said after reaching the snowy, wind-swept summit around 11 a.m.

Tackling hiking's "Triple Crown" – 7,400 miles through 22 states – took Robinson through hip-deep snow, scorching heat and more than 1 million feet of upward climb.

To save precious time, he ate while he walked: Snickers bars, peanut butter, anything calorie-rich. Nary a pound was shed from his 6-foot-1, 155-pound frame.

Seven pairs of running shoes later, he looked no worse for the wear Saturday, save a bushy black beard he last trimmed in April.

What nearly got him, he said, was the isolation. Since he never slowed down and barely stopped, no one could keep up long enough to make good company.

"I'm celebrating in my own way and a lot of that is internal and spiritual," he said at the end, where he had prepared for an anticlimactic ending.

"And yet I was quite exhilarated," he said.

Only two dozen people have achieved hiking's Triple Crown in their lifetimes. In 1999, two men became the first to hike two of the trails in a single year.

Robinson hiked the Pacific Crest – 2,645-miles from Mexico to Canada – in 84 days and six hours, averaging better than 31 miles a day before covering 2,588 miles of the Continental Divide, which has no fixed route over much of its length.

Robinson, 40, of San Jose, Calif., is on a leave of absence from his job as a systems engineer for Compaq. He saved $10,000 for the venture, which he dreamed up three years ago after completing the Pacific Crest for the first time.

Jeffrey Schaffer of Napa, Calif., author of Pacific Crest Trail guidebooks, said last month that Robinson's accomplishment would be "the greatest feat of endurance on any of the trails."

"I think it's comparable to trying to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents in a single year," added Karen Berger of Bronxville, N.Y., author of "Hiking the Triple Crown."

"I've quit saying what can and can't be done on the trails," she said. "Humans are amazing."


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