SAN ANTONIO - A local teen is undertaking a solo journey to hike one of the most challenging national scenic trails.
Noel Nelson, 18, said he has always loved the outdoors and as a kid, had joined the eagle scouts.
Nelson has done some backpacking in the past but was inspired by a Pacific Crest Trail video on YouTube. One week after graduating high school, he took off.
On April 18, Nelson started along the Mexico/California border and will continue on till he hits Canada.
The trail spans 2,650 miles.
Hikers on the trail will cross over 57 major mountain passes, 19 major canyons, hundreds of lakes and dozens of federally designated wilderness areas.
"A lot of people didn't take it seriously. They brushed it off and said oh yeah, sure. You're going to hike the PCT. I mean, I don't blame them. It's kind of a crazy thing to do," Nelson said. "It's a huge goal. I think about 10 percent of the people who start, finish. It was definitely a good way for me to test myself and you know, push myself."
When Eyewitness News talked to Nelson, he was in the Washington area. He is about halfway complete and has already gone through three pairs of shoes. Nelson said when he passes by nearby towns, he hitchhikes to the store to stock up on supplies.
"My feet have actually grown a size and a half from all the walking. I started out as a 10 and now I wear 11.5 hiking shoes, which is apparently something that happens," Nelson said. "Injuries are a big reason people quit. But since I came right out of high school, I was playing basketball, involved in different sports and I lived a pretty active life before the trail. So there wasn't a huge transition for me."
Nelson said he's been able to experience nature's best and escape dangerous situations.
"I have seen a few bears. One I accidentally got pretty close to. I turned a corner and it was 20 feet ahead of me, a black bear," recalled Nelson.
He estimates it'll take about 5 months to complete the trail.
Afterward, he plans to head to eastern Europe to work as a backpacking guide. Nelson has been tracking his adventure on his blog.
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