Frequently Asked Questions
How will you eat? Where will you get water? Where will you sleep?
I’ll be hiking as many as ten days between resupply points, at which I’ll pick up packages I’ve sent to myself filled with food and maps for the next section. I’ll drink from natural sources, except for a few waterless stretches in New Mexico, where I will have dropped off caches of water for myself. I’ll sleep wherever I stop walking each evening! Most nights I’ll set up my shelter, some nights I will “cowboy camp” under the stars.
Isn’t it dangerous?
There are certainly very real dangers on the trail – dehydration, hypothermia, lightning, getting lost, getting injured or sick, flooding, extreme temperatures, wildlife and so on. I would personally argue that life on the trail is considerably safer than life in a city, but I also believe safety is of the utmost importance. I’ll be carrying maps and a compass, a GPS and a first aid kit. The experience I gained from thru hiking the PCT and the priceless collective wisdom of the long-distance hiking community have equipped me to properly prepare for whatever the trail may throw at me.
How long will the hike take you?
Between five and six months. I’ll be aiming to average between 20 and 25 miles per day of hiking, and I plan to take a healthy amount of rest days in order to meet with the communities I’ll be highlighting and get to know their stories.
How will you travel to sites off of the trail?
Part of the thru-hiking experience is the humbling and often hilarious endeavor of hitch hiking – standing on the shoulder of a road covered in dirt, smelling less than wonderful, and jabbing a thumb out in hopes of generosity. But this is only practical when trying to head in for resupply in the nearest town, undoubtedly accustomed to hikers. Because some of the people I will be meeting live relatively far from the Continental Divide Trail, I will be arranging rides with members of the grassroots communities I’ll be working with. For some sections, I may have a friend acting as my “support team,” shuttling me around, bringing my resupply boxes straight to me and assisting with video, interviews etc.
But some people say climate change is a hoax!
I’m not a scientist. I have not spent a lifetime conducting climatology research. In light of this, I choose to trust the overwhelming consensus of scientists at large and the virtual unanimity of climatologists’ take on the matter: climate change is real and human activity is driving it. I think it's an important distinction to note that I accept the scientific fact of climate change. It is not something to believe in or disbelieve, but an empirically verified phenomenon.
But what can I do?
Only we can save ourselves, and it’s going to take everyone. Apathy is a self-fulfilling prophecy and as soon as you decide you have no power, you don’t have any. Choose to be part of the solution, and you are part of the solution. Check out the TAKE ACTION section for ways to help and resources to help you find a community near you that is already working on these issues. If there isn’t one near you, lead the way! Talk to the people around you about climate action. Yes, recycling and efficient lightbulbs are important, and we should all be striving to make each aspect of our lives more sustainable, but more than a change in individuals’ habits, we need a change in the way the system works. Call your representatives, your senators; tell them that you want strong climate policy, that you want a just and equitable transition to renewable energy and that the age of fossil fuels is over.
How will you be documenting the trip?
I’ll be carrying a Sony RX100 camera and a Zoom H-1 external sound recorder. I’ll document my surroundings and the climate warriors I meet – I’ll even turn the camera on myself from time to time. I’ll be writing the entire time.
How can I follow along?
You can read my blog right here, and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. I’ll be sharing video and photos from both the trail and the communities I’ll visit. I’ll publish blog posts and you can find other content published about Hike the Divide [here]. After completing the trail I plan to translate my experiences into a documentary and/or book.
How are you training for this?
I met a man named Walrus on the first day of my PCT thru-hike. He had hiked the trail before, in 2010. As it was 115 degrees, we were hiding out under the shade of a rock overhang, maybe mile number nine out of over 2600. He asked whether I had trained for the hike. I said, “No, but I was an athlete for all four years of college and I just wrapped up my final season last week – I think I’ll be alright.” He laughed and said there’s only one way to train for walking: walking.
He was right.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’ll be going on lots of hikes around the area in which I live, testing out my gear, sometimes carrying a heavier load than I will on the actual hike. I’ll also be doing strength and flexibility training.
What if you don’t make it?
Not finishing is a real possibility. Sometimes conditions – like early snows in the San Juan Mountains – can prohibit hikers from completing their hikes or force them to skip sections. Sometimes people simply decide they no longer feel like walking all day, each day. Sometimes people get injured and can’t go on, or run out of money.
If I were injured or otherwise physically unable to go on hiking, I would continue with the campaign. In this case, I would actually have the luxury of getting to devote enough time to each story as I’d like. Because I am dedicated to sharing my message, I will exercise more caution in response to dangerous situations than I would were I simply hiking for myself.
What kind of gear will you be carrying?
I’ll be posting my gear list here as I acquire the various odds and ends that’ll be in my pack, so stay tuned. At a glance, I’ll have a sleep system (sleeping bag, pad, shelter), food and cooking system (ideally 5000 calories a day, a stove, fuel canister(s) and a titanium spork), clothing (aside from what I wear each day, rain gear and warm weather gear), first aid kit, camera gear and some luxury items.
Will you carry a gun?
Nope. People really like to ask this question.