While many head out on their Appalachian Trail thru-hikes, New Hampshire hiker “Chezwick” is gearing up for a trip of a different sort: a 6,875-mile route linking together the Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, and Arizona Trail— known as the Great Western Loop (GWL)—beginning later this month. That is a whopping traverse through 8 Western states, making it arguably one of the most difficult thru-hikes there is; a feat only two others have been recorded to finish.

We first learned of Chezwick on the Sounds like a Search and Rescue Podcast (episode 50), where he discussed his introductory experiences into long distance hiking, one of which was the Eastern Continental Trail (a 4,800 mile network from Key West to Quebec), becoming the 16th person to complete it. This was the New Hampshirite’s first long distance hike, and from there he says he was hooked. Two years later was a PCT attempt that was stopped short by forest fires in northern California and Oregon, and a GWL attempt last year that ended with a broken foot on mile 4,777. This year will be a second attempt with the hopes of breaking the pace of his predecessors.

Courtesy: chezwicktreks.com

“First conceived and accomplished by Andrew Skurka in 2007 and then Jeff ‘Legend’ Garmire in 2018, the GWL stands as the hardest thru-hike in the world,” Chezwick said. “With a required average pace of no less than 30 miles per day, it has everything you could ask for from the ultimate thru-hike. Hot deserts, deep snow, dangerous river crossings, and an abundance of high mountain passes make this hike particularly demanding both physically and mentally. To be successful, rest days are nill, there’s no time for a trail family or hiking companions, and logistics have to be on point. In the end, it’s about putting one foot in front of the other and with a little luck from mother nature and help from a core group of close friends and family, this will undoubtedly be the greatest adventure and accomplishment I could ever hope for.”

His mission? To raise money and awareness for the Fill It Up Foundation, which provides clean water to communities in need. “I will average 33 miles per day, including miles across the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, a segment of the trail that provides one of the greatest obstacles: access to clean drinking water. Rusty pipes, cattle troughs, and stagnant water will be a daily reality for me much like that faced by 11% of the world population that does not have access to clean drinking water.” The Fill It Up Foundation has partnered with the Chris Long Foundation and its Waterboys initiative, which unites athletes on a mission to provide clean water for one million people. You can learn more and donate to Chezwick’s goal here.

Join us in rooting Chezwick on as he takes off in a few weeks for over half the year starting in Nothing, Arizona— Follow along via his Instagram and website.

The Great Western Loop. Courtesy: chezwicktreks.com