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Go Back: Home > Earth Island Journal > Issues > Autumn 2001

Nick’s Long Walk

Bay Area Wilderness Training

Imagine waking up at 6 a.m. every morning, knowing you have thousands of miles to hike until reaching your destination. In contrast to mountain climbing, hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail requires a certain type of mental stamina and an ability to shift into the slow, easy pace of walking.

The idea of hiking a major cross-country trail – running from the Mexican border to the Canadian border – is both epic and potentially hellish. The terrain changes dramatically, going from desert to deep forest to snow in a matter of weeks. Ask Nick Brown. On April 27, Nick began hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to raise funds for Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT) – a project of Earth Island Institute.

Equipped with a wireless computer, camera and ultralight pack, Nick, a 26-year-old Oakland-based educator, artist and photographer, will be updating his website [http://www.NicksLongWalk.org] with journal entries and photographs throughout his walk. Averaging about 20 miles a day, Nick expects to reach the Canadian border in about 19 weeks, on September 25.

BAWT’s work is about opening wilderness experiences to a wider population. "The wilderness is a powerful tool for teaching," says BAWT founder and Executive Director Kyle Macdonald. "Our philosophy is to train teachers to use this tool. Through our training, we teach the basic skills: How to keep kids safe in the wilderness, use a map and compass, tread lightly on the land. As a youth worker, you translate those skills – teamwork, safety and cooperation – in ways appropriate for yourself and the population you are serving."

To raise funds for BAWT, Nick is asking individuals, businesses and organizations to sponsor his journey at the rate of $10 per mile. This would raise a total of $26,500 for BAWT’s programs.

Standing 6 feet 9 inches tall, Nick has the advantage of a huge stride, which will afford him one-third fewer steps than most others hiking the trail!

Renee Lertzman is freelance write who lives in Oakland, California.

   

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