LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A Southwest Louisiana native is continuing his quest to hike the three most challenging trails in the U.S. We first met Michael Winkle in the fall of 2016, when he completed hiking the 2100 mile Appalachian Trail. In 2017, he hiked the 2600 mile Pacific Coast Trail.
"114 to 120 degree days in the Mojave desert," recalled Winkle. "I ran out of water. I was injured in the Sierras in the snow, which was melting. 11 people died on the trail this year. It was very difficult this year. 18 people started in the Sierra Mountains and only 3 of us came out on the other side in our crew."
Communication was limited along the trail, but Michael got some upsetting news in the middle of his trip.
"My father, Don Westbrook passed away. He was a Green Beret in Vietnam. He passed away in June, I actually came off the trail for three days and attended his funeral. Then I carried his flag the rest of the way. I unfurled it when I completed it. Sort of a tribute."
The Navy veteran now has his sights set on the Continental Divide.
"The Triple Crown is the Appalachian Trail, The Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, which is New Mexico into Canada. More people have been in outer space than completed the Triple Crown in this country. I'm looking forward to being the first person in Louisiana to make that happen."
Winkle plans to begin his trek of the Continental Divide in April. He expects it will take 6 to 7 months.We'll keep you advised of his progress.