Jonathan Maidment is back on the trail, blazing a path to awareness for Alpha 1, the rare genetic disease that impacts 100,000 Americans, including Jonathan and his father.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Maidment is taking on his third fundraising hike, this time the rugged Continental Divide Trail, a 3,100-mile span between Alberta, Canada and Chihuahua, Mexico. It follows the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
This time around, Maidment won’t be hiking alone. He will be accompanied by two friends he met along the way when he hiked the 2,653-mile Pacific Crest Trail last year.
Maidment, a 24-year-old Eagle Scout from Connecticut, completed that arduous journey in October 2019, raising an Alpha Angels flag in remembrance of his grandmother and others who have died from the illness, which often affects the lungs and breathing. He was diagnosed with the disease at age 10.
So far, he has raised $60,000 for Alpha 1 research and has adapted the signoff “Money Maker” on his Facebook posts, where he keeps friends and supporters up to date on his efforts.
Due to the pandemic, he had to alter his plans to trek through the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park in Montana because it has been closed through October. The Blackfeet Reservation abuts the east side of the park near the Canadian border. The tribe’s business council passed an ordinance in June shutting down the entrances, saying the move was needed to protect people on the reservation. Native Americans suffer from higher rates of existing health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes that put them at higher risk of serious complications of COVID-19.
“Due to this latest information, I am saddened to announce that I will have to take an alternate route through and around Glacier National Park, which involves a lot of dirt road walking,” he wrote. “I will still be able to start at the Canadian border but I won’t be able to experience GNP in all its beauty.”
Maidment started his hike on July 2, putting in 27 miles the first day. Only two days into his journey, he spotted a bear.
He says that won’t deter him from achieving his ultimate goal, completing the Triple Crown of Hiking, which includes the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail, which Maidment hiked in 2014. It’s estimated that only about 600 hikers have conquered all three trails.
Learn more about Maidment’s fundraiser.