Journey for the Good of All

Tackling the Pacific Crest Trail for Your Favorite Non-Profit

A 2650-mile trek dedicated to raising money for non-profits that foster and promote happy, healthy, kind, and compassionate actions and lifestyles for individuals, the planet, and all beings.

The Mission

My name is John Swart, and, at the end of April, 2014, I will launch a solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada, in a pledge drive for the non-profit of your choice. I hope to act as a conduit for the infinite generosity, compassion and kindness that I feel is the true nature of all humans.

The Plan

I am soliciting donations, pledges, and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for each mile I hike. The money I raise will go to the donor’s non-profit of choice, or it can be left up to me to donate the funds to my preferred non-profit organizations. A list of those non-profits will be posted shortly.

The hike will take about five months, and I’ll keep a running blog of my adventures, including photos and video, to keep all informed of my progress. I also encourage anyone interested to join me along the way for any period of time they may want to hike. As the hike progresses, donations and pledges will be listed on this site, along with donor names (if desired) and the choice of non-profit. Read more »

Same Path, Different Trail

The Journey Continues

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls (I was only there metaphorically)

Hari Om, Y’all,

Several months and a lot of agua over Niagara Falls (if you know what I mean), much has happened (yet so little in reality).

Last time I reported I was in Whidbey Island, Washington, where I was comfortably ensconced in my cousin’s townhouse. It was the perfect setting for some much needed R&R after the trail.

While at Whidbey, I cooked up a storm (delicious vegan food, of course), worked out at a local gym, hung out with some really nice folks (including an exceptional lady, Netsah, with whom I worked in a community garden to feed less fortunate folks), kicked back, and enjoyed the natural beauty around me (quite impressive).

Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island

I also explored the island and discovered a really neat zen monastery/hospice (where I unfortunately damaged my cousin’s car), meandered through quaint seaside towns, and gazed upon the beautiful Puget sound-lapped landscape.

My only foray into Seattle was to attend a Vipassana (a form of Buddhist meditation) retreat. Seattle is a beautiful, vibrant city with a LOT going on. I enjoyed exploring but did find myself getting a tad overstimulated by all the activity. Fortunately, the retreat was the perfect antidote.

Around November 1st, I headed south (via the “Leave the driving to us” folks, Greyhound) to Reno, Nevada (which, interestingly, is west of L.A.). There I threw in with my  extremely close RV-ing friends, Christopher and Arlene, and I joined Arlene as a seasonal employee at an Amazon “Fulfillment center”—a vast, six-square mile warehouse.

Amazon Fulfillment Center

Amazon Fulfillment Center

The Amazon work involved sprinting around the building and picking out items for shipment to the many thousands of frantically awaiting consumers. We worked ten-hour days and covered 10-13 miles per day on concrete floors in what I would called a less-than-enlightened environment. (I could expound on that topic, but I will restrain myself.)

It was at the onset of this employment that my trail-happy bubble burst—or, should I say, exploded—dumping me into a very deep, dark, murky, yucky pit. I became quite depressed and despairing as I pushed my leaden body and fog-enshrouded mind through the endless days.

My deperately low spirits held on tenaciously throughout the Amazon experience. They clung on afterwards when I traveled to Death Valley and Ventura, California with Christopher and Arlene.

Death Valley

Death Valley

Xmas Eve found me walking out across Death Valley, contemplating wandering into the surrounding mountains and returning to nature (dying, that is). What an appropriately named place to have such thoughts, I must say. I repeated this behavior again on New Year’s Eve, heading from Ventura (on the ocean) inland into fruit groves where I spent a very unpleasant night huddled in my sleeping bag in freezing temps.

The next day I bought a bus ticket for Asheville. It was the first of two attempts to make the cross-country journey. I spent 32 hours in the LA Greyhound bus station due to icy roads in Texas, finally giving up and returning to my friends’ RV in Ventura to wait out the weather. Fortunately, the second attempt was successful—albeit delayed by eight hours—extending the trip to 62 hours (another tale I won’t delve into).

Asheville mountains

Asheville mountains

Asheville’s healing vibe and my wonderful, loving support community gave me an initial lift, but it was not long lasting, and I found myself considering medication for what I believed to be bipolar disorder.

I decided to make a last-ditch effort to correct my imbalance naturally, without resorting to meds. I consulted an MD near a yoga ashram called Yogaville, located in central Virginia. The doc, who came highly recommended by two trusted friends, is a colleague of the well-known doctor, Dean Ornish, and she has authored several books.

I made the five-plus hour trip near the end of January with a very close friend—a loonie like me—to see Dr. McClanahan. My friend and I were bowled over by her presence and brilliance. Dr. McClanahan prescribed yoga, strict nutritional guidelines, and several other lifestyle changes.

We spent the night at the yoga center in Yogaville. We were both highly affected by the loving, peaceful environment. We decided to apply to Yogaville’s month-long “Living Light” program. At a time of confusion and indecision, I was very clear that this was the path I needed to follow.

Yogaville

Yogaville

Long story longer, I was accepted into the Yogaville program and arrived at this miraculous center two weeks ago.

Words cannot begin to describe the profound awakening I’ve experienced since my arrival. The various forms of yoga practiced here have balanced my mind, energized my body, and enabled my spirit to soar. I’ve also realized that the founder of the ashram, Swami Satchidananda, is the great teacher I’ve been seeking all my life. His teachings penetrate the deepest aspect of my being.

I understand now that the four difficult months preceding my arrival here were a necessary part of the process. That dark time was the fertilizer needed to create this most recent growth spurt. It confirms the absolute necessity of everything that has transpired in my life.

I should probably leave my tale here, as it may appear to most that I’ve gone around the big bend. I do intend to continue reporting on my life here at the ashram as this most interesting adventure unfolds. I find it quite fascinating that I have searched the world for my life’s teacher and have found him here in my birth state, which I left at age seven.

On a business note, my trusty sidekick Suzanne (Szechuan) Hahn will be gently reminding folks who made pledges to pony up the pennies (which many of you may have done already).  I must again reiterate the great honor it was to hike for those wonderful organizations that all of you very kind, generous beings chose to support.

I hope you and your families are happy and well. I will get back to you all soon and would love to hear from you.

Love and light to all—

John

End of the Trail (But the Journey Continues)

John Swart completes the Pacific Crest Trail

A Big Fat Kiss for the Monument at the Trail’s End

Greetings, all!

I am VERY happy (possibly ecstatic) to report that I completed the Pacific Crest Trail. I reached the Canadian border (mile 2,660) last Sunday about 6 p.m. and hiked eight miles to Manning Park, Canada on Monday to exit the wilderness.

After a rather sumptuous, celebratorial breakfast at the Manning Park Lodge, a fellow hiker (one who was sometimes confused for me along the way) and his wife took me to Vancouver. I spent the night in that very delightful city (including a delish meal in Chinatown) and bussed my way to my current location, which is Whidbey Island, Washington—about two hours north of Seattle. Read more »

It’s So Close I Can Smell It

Pasayten Wilderness

Pasayten Wilderness in Washington

Phone Update from Zen Dawg

John called in with a quick phone update before striking off on the trail again.

He called from a trail angel’s house is Mazama, Washington, situated in the “gorgeous” Pasayten Wilderness. After being caught in a downpour, he decided to stop and dry off momentarily due to being “thoroughly soaked”—shoes, tent, and self.

John is now 68 miles and three days from Manning Park, Canada—the northernmost end of the Pacific Crest Trail. The “prospect of a real bed” dangles before his eyes.

In Manning he will write a blog post to describe the last miles of the trail. The blog will not end there, however, as he plans to continue with updates for a while about the “aftermath” and “after effects” of this little five-month adventure.

Stay tuned…

The Grand Finale (Hopefully)

Washington Trail Angel and PCT hikers

Trail Angel brought us B-less BLTs

Happy day, all, from the picturesque and historic community of Skykomish, Washington. I am taking a much needed day of rest (after 15 days and 325 miles of hiking) in anticipation of the final push to the finish line, 180 miles up the trail.

Several folks have told me that the coming section is the most beautiful and spectacular part of Washington. It is also reputed to be the most challenging terrain thus far. Beauty with a price tag, I guess. So I want to be well rested in order to reap maximum possible enjoyment in this final phase. Aside from some fatigue—which is being remedied today—I feel quite able, physically and mentally, for the task. Read more »