Walking from Mexico to Canada for Better Mental Health
Posted by Lucy Mills
9th Jun 2016

Submitted by Charlie Knight

Yesterday, I woke up freezing inside a tent covered in snow. Just a few hours later, I found myself trudging through the desert, sunburnt, dehydrated and my shoes filled with sand. This is typical of the drastic weather I have experienced so far in my 6-month walk from Mexico to Canada. The climate here is extreme, unpredictable and confronts me with different obstacles every single day.

It seems fitting, then, that I am undertaking this huge adventure to raise money for and build awareness of mental illness. In my daily battle with the elements, it is not hard to see links the challenges faced by those experiencing mental ill-health. Sufferers of mental illness will have the quality of their day-to-day lives severely damaged by their unpredictable conditions. Whilst I can pull myself away from my obstacles at any time by just giving up and going home, this is just not an option for those experiencing mental illness.

Mental illness is a cause that I am extremely passionate about, and one that has affected many friends and family members close to me. It is for this reason that I decided to walk 2650 miles across America to raise money for SANE.

The Pacific Crest Trail spans 2650 miles from the southern border of America in Campo, to the northern border in Manning Park, crossing three states (California, Oregon and Washington) and some of the most remote wilderness areas in the United States. My northbound PCT thru-hike will take me through the Mojave Desert, the snowy High Sierras, the forests of Oregon and the Cascade Range in Washington.

This trek will take me 5-6 months and is already putting me under great physical and mental strain, facing challenges such as blisters, heavy snowfall, unbearable desert heat and the very real possibility of being mauled to death by bears.

By the time I reach Canada in October, I aim to have raised 2650 - 1 per mile – and, at the time of writing, I have just under 1000 left to raise. My fundraising so far has involved sharing my story and the cause with friends and family, many of whom have kindly donated extremely generous amounts. I have been keeping a blog to document my expedition, and this has resulted in donations from a number of strangers interested in my trip. Social media has also proved useful in driving awareness, and I am posting numerous pictures from my hike on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

SANE were kind enough to provide me with some t-shirts that I am wearing throughout my hike and these have provoked questions from other hikers about the cause I am raising money for. Even if these conversations don't directly result in donations for SANE, the mere fact that this hike is generating conversation about mental health and the great work SANE do is without doubt a positive effect. I am confident that I will reach my target by the time I step over the Canadian border, but even if I do not then I am still extremely proud of the huge amount I have raised.

I am only three weeks and 400 miles into my walk and so I still have a long way to go and many more challenges to face. If you would like to sponsor me for my walk and make a donation to SANE, it would be greatly appreciated.

Charlie's Blog:

Charlie's Virgin Money Giving Page:

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