The Pacific Northwest Trail starts in Montana’s Glacier National Park and follows 1200 miles of hiking trail from the Continental Divide through northern Idaho before ending at Alva Beach in Washington, the most western point in the continental United States. Many hikers pass through chunks of the 65 day journey but only nine hikers finished the PNT last year.
This summer, recent UC Berkeley graduate and Berkeley Ironworks staff member Ignacio “Nacho” Mendez-Nunez will be hiking the trail. The environmental economics and conservation resource studies major wanted a summer challenge to mark his graduation.
“I like the idea of doing a long-distance thing,” said Nacho, who will leave June 10th for Montana, where he will meet with his high-school friend Matt Cosca. The pair will leave Glacier National Park on the 14th or 15th depending on snow level. The beginning of their trip includes the greatest physical difficulties. “There’s 6 or 7 feet of snow, icy and slippery trails for 5 or 6 days of pretty tough hiking,” said Nacho.
Nacho worked BIW’s belay staff since November and said it was “one of the coolest jobs I’ve ever had. It was nice because all my co-workers were friends from the CAL climbing team. I liked working with my friends and it was fun climbing.”
Beyond having a great time working at BIW, Nacho often used the gym to train for the grueling hike. “I alternated climbing/core days with leg weight training and hours upon hours of stairmaster. Also I spiced it up with a little bit of yoga to stay loose. There's a training page on the blog (pntbound.wordpress.com) for examples of my training weeks, especially in mid April. It’s really convenient that IronWorks has everything I need right there in one place. Also I ran or did a long hike every weekend,” said Nacho. Touchstone also helped support Nacho’s trip by providing 70 dehydrated back packing meals, which Nacho will send to resupply outposts along the trail.
Nacho has tested his systems with extended trips in the Kings Canyon area and the Golden Trout Wilderness, just west of Inyo National Forest. He’s measured his back pack and found the best light weight and durable equipment for the trip.
After finishing the hike, Nacho plans to move to Spain where he will work at a winery and organic farm.