Giving Tuesday is a response to the frantic post-Thanksgiving commercial rush—an occasion to be generous to nonprofits instead. For Giving Tuesday 2018, we encourage you to donate to ALDHA-West, the western branch of the American Long Distance Hiking Association. Financial contributions help the organization support its mission "to inspire, educate and promote fellowship among long-distance hikers and those who support long-distance hiking." So exactly what does ALDHA-West do to deserve your well-earned dollars? They educate on trail etiquette and Leave No Trace and advocate for long-distance hikers and their trails, as well as acting as a diplomatic bridge between hikers and local communities.
Hiking the PCT or AT is a really big deal. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail is something phenomenal and deserves recognition with an award called the Triple Crown. Since 1994, ALDHA-West has handed out 396 Triple Crowns to hikers who have completed all three trails. The awards are presented annually at their Gathering.
The Gathering and Rucks
ALDHA-West events are opportunities for thru-hikers to reunite, swap tales of the trail, and learn from those who have journeyed before them. The 2018 Gathering, attended by over 100 adventurers, was held on an October weekend on Mt. Hood, but location rotates by state down the West Coast. In 2019 the Gathering will be in Nevada City, California.
The ALHA-West Rucks are aimed at getting new thru-hikers ready for their trips with gear and sound advice on keeping hydrated and fed, pack weight, and route planning. There are two upcoming Rucks in early 2019. The NorCal Ruck in January and the Colorado Rockies Ruck in March. Not convinced you need to attend one? Read Snuffy's account of how helpful a 2018 Ruck was for her.
A big part of what ALDHA-West is all about is to be a home and a community to the thousands of thru-hikers across the country. Though focused on the Western trails (particularly the PCT) more than the AT, ALDHA-West is the thru-hikers home. From helping to connect hikers to each other, to supporting Trail Angels, to trail town diplomacy, it is about creating the best environment for thru-hikers.
Many the ALDHA-West members are only known by their trail names and all the jokes, stories and meals are whatever hiker trash would love!
ALDHA-West also publishes the Gazette four times a year and members are active advocates for public lands (including trips to DC to be our voice in the capitol).
Trail etiquette, real-life on trail experience, and inside knowledge are crucial to thru-hikers attempting to succeed at a full long-distance hike, and ALDHA-West provides! They help make sure thru-hiking is a sustainable hobby and interest.
The Rucks, set just before each hiking season, are meant to provide aspiring thru-hikers the knowledge needed to succeed. This helps to ensure that hikers going on the trail do so in the right way, for them, the communities they pass and the environment they hike in. Supporting ALDHA-West ensures that knowledge is preserved and shared with as many as possible to increase the viability of thru-hiking and help create new trails and a strong community.