Two BC Hikers from Penticton are taking on the 1,200 km Great Divide Trail to raise money for the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
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The Great Divide Trail is one of the longest trails in Canada. It stretches from Waterton Lakes National Park at the Canada-US border in the South to Kakwa Provincial Park which is 300 km of Jasper, Alberta in the north.
Austin Hager and his partner Tanya Gupta are preparing for a 50-day trip to hike this trail.
A year and a half ago, Hager lost a close friend to suicide and decided to create a fundraiser called Hike4Hope, to help stop those following the same path.
“The person I lost to suicide, she and I hiked a lot together. And I felt that would be a good way to honour the relationship that we had by helping the epidemic of suicide in Canada,” Hager told Daily Hive in an interview.
He said that many people have reached out in support of him raising awareness about suicide prevention.
“There have been so many people that have reached out. It seems like a little bit of a conversation has started and the more people that talk about it, the less stigmatized it is and it’s not pushed into the shadows as much,” Hager said.
The duo is starting the trek on June 27th until August 16th. They will be hiking for 44 days (26-27 km per day on average), with six days of rest and time to restock food every 200 to 300 km.
In order to prepare, they have been doing hikes in the area and walking up hills with their backpacks fully loaded. They also have been prepping their own food to mail it to points along the trail in advance.
Despite this, they know a challenge lies ahead and are glad it’s going towards a good cause.
You can donate to the Hike4Hope fundraiser here, by pledging per kilometre that they hike. All funds will go towards the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. They are currently about 50 per cent of the way to their goal of $10,000.
You can also follow their journey by reading their blogs documenting the process on this website.