As part of his preparations, he’s paired up with local nonprofit, Outdoor Outreach, to raise funds and awareness for their programs that help connect San Diego’s at risk youth with the transformative power of the outdoors.
“I wanted to take this hike that I was planning, and use it to give back to the community somehow,” Hervey said. “I’ve used the sheer massiveness of the trail’s distance to get attention about the work that Outdoor Outreach is doing, and the relationship has proved to be very rewarding.”
The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, or CDT, runs 3,100 miles following the spine of the Rocky Mountains. Beginning at Crazy Cook Monument on the Mexican border, hikers follow the Continental highpoint, across New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, and finish at the Northern border with Canada.
This trail is one of what long distance hikers call the “Triple Crown” of long distance hiking, with the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail rounding out about 7,500 miles of backcountry hiking.
A successful hike of any long trail is often times unreported, but the CDT remains the least popular of the “Triple Crown” trails. High altitude and remoteness make the CDT more daunting, labeling it the “expert trail” where most hikers that attempt the trek, have previously completed another major thru hike. In a given year, roughly 300 hikers will attempt the trail in a single season.
Having completed the 2,600 mile Pacific Crest Trail during the summer of 2013, Hervey has developed the right skills and the right gear for this kind of adventure.
With only the essentials on his back — a tent, a sleeping bag, rain gear, a stove, a map and compass, and plenty of food — he can keep the weight light, maximizing the distance he can cover, which means that in order for Hervey to successfully hike the entire trail in a single season, he’ll be averaging 25 to 30 miles per day.
“I mostly plan my trip around food resupplies, so I’ll hike four to six days at a time, and when I cross a paved road, I can hitch a ride into the nearest town for food, laundry, and shower, and then I return to the trailhead for the next leg.”
Hervey plans on the hike taking about 150 days, or five months. The entire time, completely exposed to the elements.
“Hiking long trails is about balancing weight and speed. But you have to be fully committed in order to see the goal through. That is where the real challenge lies.”
Hervey will begin his hike mid-April, to hike the entire 3,100 mile trail in a single season. In order to make this possible, he must move quick enough to beat the first snow storms in the northern states.
Along the way he will bear extreme heat, snow and ice storms, high altitudes of up to 14,200 feet, thunder and lightning, and the most breathtaking views the western United States has to offer.
With a yearly schedule of after-school and overnight programs around San Diego county, Outdoor Outreach provides kids with the necessary knowledge and equipment to experience the outdoors through a variety of recreational activities. Some of their programming includes surfing, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and environmental stewardship.
“The impact that the outdoors has on all of us is indefinable, but when you meet the kids that are touched by the experience, we can suddenly put a face to that transformation,” Hervey said.
In partnership with three Title I high schools and various other youth- serving organizations in San Diego, Outdoor Outreach is dedicated to using the outdoors to inspire youth to see opportunity in their lives.
Beyond recreation, Outdoor Outreach’s high school leadership program helps teach practical job skills to ease the transition to adulthood. Participants in the program can be trained as outdoor educators, and can even lead after school programming with the potential of being hired on as part of Outdoor Outreach’s staff.
Recreational fluency and environmental stewardship are how Outdoor Outreach is making a change in San Diego, and they are helping to foster in the next generation of respectful outdoor users.