100 Mile Hike While Carrying 45lbs of Water

On June 27th, James Leitner, David Shyloski, and Arrow the Dog began their 100-mile hike of the Appalachian Trail while carrying 45lbs of water to symbolize what children have to go through to get water. They did not expect the challenges that would occur with elevation, weather, and mental will.

James and David, both enthusiastic outdoorsman, were out of their comfort zone. Day 1 started with good conditions but they did not plan for the constant squeeze and climbing of boulders. Being 3 miles short of their destination, James and David camped close to the side of the trail doing their best to stay dry and safe from bears. By Day 3 the humidity and heat began to spike. With highs reaching 98 with 80% humidity. Their overall safety and well being became a concern as they fought dehydration and heat exhaustion. Their entire upper body became sore from carrying the water. Their pace has slowed down to a crawl forcing them to have to hike from sun up to sun down, many times not making it to their destination by 10 pm. 

Even with the unbearable heat and constant dehydration, James and David were able to finish their hike. After reflection, they both consider themselves lucky. They get to stop after 5 days while communities without water have to walk every day. To save on weight, James and David were able to collect water and treat it using Iodine tablets instead of what most communities have to do which is to boil the water for a long time. They also had people constantly checking up and looking after them while many girls will walk only at night to avoid being attacked. 

James and David want to see a world where everyone has access to clean drinking water.

1,000 miles completed. 1,100 miles to go

Chris Roma has been making excellent movement and strides in his effort to complete the Appalachian Trail. He has yet to take any breaks to help him be done in 100 days. On day 43 of his walk, he finished the first 1,000 miles of the trail. He feels blessed to be in the woods and witness beautiful moments that let him breathe and be at peace. He has experienced his fair share of low moments but is always able to push through.

While we rest and relax on the weekends, he is walking an average of 22 miles a day. While it rains or is hot outside, he is always moving. Similar to how a child always has to walk to find water. On day 40, his motivation was at an all-time low. Virginia was taking its toll on him. A part of the trail known to be absolutely relentless with elevation, mountain tops, and endless fields of rocks. During these weak moments, he is always able to push forward. Knowing who he is doing this for and how he will directly change a communities life. Also how he will get to see his girlfriend when he reaches New Jersey.

At this point, the hardest part of the trail is over. He has conquered the mountains of the first quarter of the trip, he has completed the longest state. Now its a matter of pushing forward through the hot summer. If anyone can do this, it is Chris.

Mountains, Rain, and wild ponies: First Quarter of the Appalachian Trail

Chris Roma set off to begin the Appalachian Trail on May 1st dedicating his hike to help children gain access to clean drinking water. He started at the southernmost point in Georgia with the goal of averaging 22 miles a day or completing 1% of the trail every day. 

The AT starts as an elevation challenge with the highest points being in the first states. For the first few days, his team climbed more than 6,000ft every day in the unforgiving heat. They all moved forward even with sore feet with the goal of having no zero mile days.

On Day 9, they were able to experience a luxury, a pizza buffet at CiCi's Pizza. After consuming their own body weight in pizza, it was the positive reinforcement they needed the toughest state of the trail, Tennessee.  They had their hardest week in front of them, all h28 mile days and 90-degree weather. A break from the heat occurred after day 21 when clouds covered the sun bringing endless rain for 7 days.

Their effort to move forward and not stop is admirable. On Day 30, there was no sight of shelter for over 40 miles. So they had no choice besides to cover the entire distance. They covered 40 miles, an overall total of 702 miles and were welcomed by trail angels at four pines hostel with a place to sleep.

Keep it up, Chris!

Chris Roma: The Triple Crown for Clean Water

On May 1st Chris Roma, New Hampshire Native, started mile one of the 2800-mile Appalachian Trail to help provide underserved communities with clean drinking water. He has completed the Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles) and the Continental Divide Trail (3,100 miles). During his journey, he realized the importance of having clean water and wanted to do something unique for his final thru-hike.  Chris is partnering with MissionCleanWater, a nonprofit organization working to provide accessible clean drinking water and sanitation to underserved communities.

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Currently, there are 844 million people in the world without access to drinking water. They have to walk every day to find water. Since most men are working, it is primarily the women and children's job to get water for their family.  Women sacrifice taking care of their family while children as young as 5 miss out on a proper education. The water collected often comes from rivers, lakes, and puddles that are shared by animals. During the dry seasons, rain is infrequent. Many have to dig holes in river beds to get water in the dirt.  Children can spend up to 8 hours collecting water that is not even clean. Children that consume dirty water do not have a strong enough immune system to defend against water-related diseases such as Hepatitis, Typhoid, and Cholera. Together, this can all change by supporting Chris Roma.

If Chris can reach his donation goal, the lives of thousands will change instantly. Water-related diseases will disappear, long walks to retrieve water will be eliminated, and children, especially girls, will have the chance to grow.  Clean water improves health, gender equality, education, opportunity, and time.  Chris is empowering us all to push forward and to work together as a team to help those born into a life of hardship. 

Show your support by coming to The Loading Dock on May 18th for a reggae concert and silent art auction. Come dance, party, and enter for the chance to win original local artist work.

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What can be done to prevent water project failure: STEEP Model

Many factors are needed to bring people clean drinking water. When one aspect is not considered or changes, the entire project can be put in jeopardy. One model that considers everything is called the STEEP model: Social, Technical, Economic, Environmental, and Political. By looking at every factor, we can gain a good understanding of the past and future of water development projects.

Social
What are the community needs? Do they want assistance? What are the major health issues? Where do they go to get water? How do they want us to help? Can we work together? Are they willing to learn about water technology and sanitation? Are there issues with open defecation?

Technical
What is the communities understanding of water technology? What type of filtration is necessary? Are there other projects in the area? Have they failed and why? 

Economic
Are we able to charge for water usage? How do most people make their income? Can this project create jobs? What other aspects of the community benefit from clean water?

Environmental
How long are the rainy seasons? Are the rainy seasons becoming shorter? What type of soil and bedrock is expected? Has a recent change in water quality occurred?

Political
Are there tribal conflicts in the community? Are their regulations and requirements we have to follow? Are their political issues locally and nationally? Will politicians use our project for political gain?