I would like to share with you how a once-in-a-lifetime journey (though cut short), taught me that a Call to the Wild and a Call to Service can be two sides of the same coin.
As many of you already know, I am hiker, photographer, philanthropist, positive attituder, gifted gabbist, and spinner of yarns. In July of 2019, I set out to attempt a solo, calendar-year trek through the United States’ great scenic trails – Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail, which when coupled together, are known as the Triple Crown. As of 2018 only five other intrepid hikers had completed this undertaking in a calendar year.
The general breakdown of the journey would have unfolded as follows:
–Pacific Crest Trail: Southbound – Late July to Late October 2019 (2,654 miles / 4,270 km)
-Appalachian Trail: Southbound – Early November 2019 to Early March 2020 (2,184 miles / 3,515 km)
–Continental Divide Trail: Northbound – Early March to late May/Early June 2020 (3,100 miles / 5,000 km)
By way of background, during the years 2013-2014, I completed my first year-long solo backpacking adventure through the backcountry of the U.S. National Parks – trekking through all of the National Parks in the Lower 48 States and three in Alaska. However, during this new 2019 “Walkabout,” I had hoped to put myself to purpose. Inspired by my mother’s selfless nurturing of countless children gravely immobilized by cerebral palsy or other disabling afflictions, this particular call of the wild has also become a call to service. This call was cemented after spending the last two years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and being witness to numberless disabled individuals without the means or access to mobilizing assistance. Thus, while managing this 8000+ mile boot-busting endeavor, I aimed to join forces with The Walkabout Foundation to assist in their mission of restoring dignity, freedom, and independence by providing wheelchairs and rehabilitation in the developing world and funding research to find a cure for paralysis.
To hammer this home, this trek would have roughly amounted to 30 miles a day, every day. To put that into perspective, that’s over an entire marathon, in the mountains, every single day, for a year.
As planned, by October 2019 I had successfully completed a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in a breakneck pace, of averaging 35 miles a day (not recommended - be on the lookout for another post on Pacing the PCT). Well it is now nearing the middle of 2020. And like so many of you, my hiking season was abruptly cut short due to the spread of the Coronavirus. Though I count myself lucky to have (so far) successfully dodged the heartless stampede of the virus' reach, I am nevertheless devastated that the virus forced me off the trails.
While my attempt at this feat was short-changed, the human spirit and drive to help others soared. Friends, family, and complete strangers helped to raise nearly $4000 for this cause, meaning 15 impoverished individuals were granted the gift of mobility. The spirit of the journey was always to hike for those who can't. It's great to have finished the PCT and a shame that the virus robbed the other trails for me. But these accomplishments and disappointments pale in comparison to the life-altering gift that 15 individuals have been granted by the generosity of others.
The gift I have received from this experience is not the recognition from finishing the trail. It is the discovery that answering the call of the wild is infinitely more fulfilling when done in the service of others.
Thank you to all who have already supported this insane adventure. I encourage anyone who is willing and able to contribute to this organization’s mission, so that we can help to enable those who otherwise could not, hope to achieve similar opportunities.
If you would still like to consider donating to this cause, please visit
Or purchase a print from this site the Walkabout Prints Collections where a portion of the proceeds will go to the Walkabout Foundation - you get a print AND you help someone who needs your help.
By donating between $15, $250, and $1000, you could personally provide support to an individual in need by paying for a pressure relief cushion, an entire wheelchair, and/or an entire year of specialized rehabilitation, respectively.
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