Two-and-a-half years after his first step on the Pacific Crest Trail, Will ‘Akuna’ Robinson reached the northern terminus of the Continental Divide Trail. And in doing so, he became the first black man to thru-hike the big three.
Completing one of hiking’s crown jewels — the Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), or Continental Divide Trail (CDT) — stands as a bucket list dream for many outdoor enthusiasts. Finishing all three? Most never even attempt it.
But while the Triple Crown of hiking welcomes only the hardiest thru-hikers to its ranks each year, none has been a man of color. Until now.
On Sunday, Will “Akuna” Robinson finished a 5-month traverse of the CDT. It marked his final trek of the Triple Crown, having finished the AT last year and the PCT in 2017.
A veteran and Merrell-sponsored athlete, Robinson not only became the first African-American man on record to complete the Triple Crown, but he also used his attempt as a platform to advocate for thru-hiking as a tool to manage PTSD.
“On this journey I’ve had rough days, injuries, and a ton of good times in between,” Robinson wrote on Instagram. “But it’s time to tie a bow around this sucka and head back to the 90-degree temperatures of southeast Louisiana for the offseason.”
1st African American to Hike Triple Crown
View this post on Instagram
Four years ago I took a different path not sure of where it would lead me. But it was not about the destination and all about the journey. Thank you for supporting and being a part of my journey! #forceofnature #unlikelyhikers #diversifyoutdoors #hiking #womenwhohike #blackgirlsthathike #melaninbasecamp
Although Merrell applauded Robinson as the first African-American man to achieve the Triple Crown, he is not the first person of color to reach hiking’s highest ranks. In July 2018, Elyse “Chardonnay” Walker finished the Appalachian Trail, 4 years after setting out on the Triple Crown.
After she finished, she was considered “very likely” the first black woman to claim the achievement, according to The Trek. However, both Robinson and Walker’s hikes are all but definitive, as thru-hiking oversight organizations don’t officially record data on race.
Still, by adding new faces to the sport’s greatest challenges, Robinson and Walker inspire people of all colors and backgrounds to add their mark to the outdoors.