In their quest to raise money for suicide prevention, a local couple is planning a gruelling 50-day hike through the Rocky Mountains this summer.
Austin Hager and Tanya Gupta are gearing up to trek 1,200 kilometres on the Great Divide Trail, which runs from Waterton National Park north through to Kakwa Provincial Park, approximately 300 km northwest of Jasper.
Hager was inspired to plan the trip after losing someone close to him. He knew he needed to do something and hiking felt like the natural answer. He then started a fundraiser, Hike4Hope.ca, with a goal of covering 2,000 km in 2021. Hager is hoping to raise $10,000 for the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.
The couple’s journey starts June 27 and they expect to finish Aug. 16. With 50 days on the trail, and only six planned rest days, they will be averaging 25 kilometres per day.
Hundreds of hours of planning have already gone into the trek, the length of which requires serious logistics, particularly restocking food and gear. The trail crosses through a few towns where they are co-ordinating with small businesses and post offices to hold resupply boxes for them.
Besides dealing with the physical challenge of hiking 1,200 km, the couple will also be deep in grizzly bear country and navigating through areas so remote there will be no trail infrastructure or signage to guide them.
Hager and Gupta are currently training several hours per week on local mountains.
For more of their story or to donate, visit www.Hike4Hope.ca.