PORTLAND, Ore. — Some people say you have to walk a mile in a man’s shoes to know his travels. If that’s so, few would probably be willing to walk 2,650 miles to help raise money or awareness.
But Jason Baab of Piedmont is one of the few who would — and is.
The Pacific Crest Trail runs from southern California to just a few miles inside the Canadian border and is indeed 2,650 miles in length, crossing California, Oregon and Washington.
Baab began this journey April 18 and has reached Portland, stopping briefly to resupply and ship his stores ahead, checking in from the venue of the Trailblazers, which seems appropriate.
But this isn’t just a trek for a young man who enjoys the outdoors.
Jason’s brother, John Baab, was struck by a vehicle when he was 14 years old — some 18 years ago — and suffered a brain injury. In the years since the accident, John, now 32, has developed mental health issues and his younger brother is enduring this unbelievable hike to raise money for Hike for Mental Health.
Hike for Mental Health then distributes the funds to Brain Behavior Research and other associated charities.
Jason finds his brother an inspiration and is one of the, if not the most important, reasons for taking on such a monumental task.
“I decided I wanted to do this hike for a fundraiser and put that out on social media. The charity contacted me and we set this trip up,” Baab said. “I hope to raise at least one dollar per mile and at this point I am at about 58 percent of my goal. This is tough and doing it for my brother and for the charity has kept me going. I’ve always been the type of guy that when I put my mind to something I want to see it through and I’ve been pretty happy to stay on the trail since I started.”
Baab has completed a little over 2,000 miles to date and will resume his march to Canada at the Oregon-Washington border before making the final push to Canada, where he will cross into British Columbia and reach the trail’s terminus.
While the hike is for a purpose, there have been plenty of sights to see and people to meet a long the way.
“Along the way I’ve seen a lot of wildlife and bears and made a side trip to see Mt. Whitney in the High Sierras of California. The peak is 14,508 feet and I was in snow in June,” Baab said with a chuckle. “There are times I have been sitting outside of a grocery store taking a break and resupplying and strangers have walked up and introduced themselves to find out what it is I’m doing and then offer to help. Usually they offer me a hot shower and a hot meal before I have to set out again and even have asked how they can help with what I’m trying to do.”
Baab isn’t new to hiking, having completed the Appalachian Trail last year, but said this was different and tougher.
“I’ve got my second wind now, so to speak, and can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Baab said. “I hope to finish and be in British Columbia on Sept. 23 where my girlfriend is going to pick me up and I can head home.”
Despite all of the distractions, Baab hasn’t lost sight of what the hike is really about for him.
“I’d like to see people get involved and help erase the stigma associated with mental health issues and depression and the other conditions no one wants to talk about,” he said. “Instead of ignoring these problems, if people become aware of everything involved we can work toward a solution instead of ignoring the problems that are associated.”
As Baab has hiked his way along, he has kept a photo journal of his journey and has invited anyone who is interested to follow along with his Instagram account, which can be located with the username @greenman4687.
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355