Utah hiker's dream: A trek that may take 5 years

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MILLCREEK CANYON — Imagine getting out of bed some morning and starting a hike — a hike that will ultimately stretch about 19,000 miles.

Sound impossible?

Well, that's the plan for a Utah man who's been dreaming about it for half a decade. Logan McEwen's life will be all about his backpack for the next several years.

"It's about 55 pounds now," McEwen said as he slung the pack from the ground to his shoulders for a short "training" walk in Millcreek Canyon.

He'll be carrying it, living out of it, surviving from it. It has the essentials of life, including two solar power cells.

"They can charge my iPad, my cellphone," he explained.

He also plans to carry a machete for cutting trees and branches, and for protection. "From animals. Bears. In Mexico, (from) humans," McEwen said with an uncomfortable laugh.

The trek he is planning is just about the longest point-to-point hike that can be done without leaving the Western Hemisphere.

"We're going to start right here," he said as he pointed to the remote city of Barrow on a map of Alaska. "The most northern city in Alaska." When it's all over, the hike will end at the southern tip of South America. "This lighthouse right there," McEwen said with his finger resting on a map of southern Chile and Argentina. "That's my goal."

With good friend Robert Duhammel of California, he plans to "Hike the Americas" as his blog labels the effort. They will hike from the top of Alaska, through western Canada and down the Pacific Crest Trail through the United States. After crossing the Mexican border, they'll hike through numerous countries of Central and South America before reaching their goal near the Strait of Magellan.

With some meandering built into the planned route, McEwen believes they'll ultimately walk close to 19,000 miles.

"If we don't stop, it's going to take 3 ½ years," McEwen said. "But we're going to be stopping here and there. So it's going to take four to five years."

The duo will begin their trek on Mother's Day, May 10. They expect it will end sometime in the year 2020 when McEwen's passport expires.

"The purpose is to do this trip to help other people," he said, "and to see the places that aren't going to be there in four or five years."

The purpose is to do this trip to help other people and to see the places that aren't going to be there in four or five years.

–Logan McEwen

Along the way he expects to savor places that are threatened by dams, development and a changing climate.

"So I want to see those places and meet those people that live there — and experience that — before it's all gone," McEwen said. "And the best way to do it is by feet."

McEwen is leaving his job at the Olive Garden restaurant in Sugar House. He and his hiking partner are not planning to spend a lot. "We're going with no money," McEwen said. "I mean we'll probably have a couple of bills in our pockets and that's it."

They hope to stop now and then along the way and do odd jobs for a few dollars worth of food. A major goal of the two hikers is to find people who need help and give them what McEwen calls "service for a story."

"Whatever they need, we're going to offer our services to them," he said. "I'm going to ask just, in return, for a story about their life. And then I'm going to write a memoir about these people I meet along the way. And it's going to be very interesting — and spiritual."


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John Hollenhorst


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