50 hikes, 50 states, 50 days
August 20, 2010
Jackson Lindley spent his 12th birthday hiking the Canyon de Chelly in northern Arizona. It was the 43rd hike he and his dad, Mike, completed in as many days.
After descending to the depths of Navajo country and back out, the duo boarded their RV and drove to Utah, where they stopped by a shooting range before settling in for the night at a friend’s home in Park City. All in all, Jackson says, it was a perfect way to spend the day.
The next morning, the pair woke up and traveled to Sundance Resort to tackle Stewart Falls. Then it was back on the road toward Jackson, Wyo.
Mike and Jackson are coming to the end of a fascinating adventure: 50 hikes in 50 states in 50 days. By the time they return home to Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Aug. 24, the father and son will have logged close to 13,000 miles on a whirlwind cross-country tour.
The concept for the trip came about when Jackson mentioned to his parents that he wanted to see all of the U.S. states before graduating high school. That gave Mike an idea: why not knock out 50 birds with one stone?
He got to work planning the logistics and mapping a route. Then he bought an RV and set up HikerBiker.com, an online portal for photos, videos, and background about each of states and hikes.
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He selected the trails based on length – two-to-three-miles being ideal – and the difficulty level. "The idea is that these are family hikes that anyone can do," he says.
Mike and Jackson started their journey on July 6 in Hawaii. From there, they flew to Alaska, then to Washington, then to Tennessee and Mississippi for a family member’s wedding. Then they picked up the RV in Maine and started the road trip portion of the journey. "Everything had to work perfectly in those first six days," Mike says.
For the past six weeks, each day has entailed waking up, hiking and getting to the next state. They typically sleep on the RV and spend evenings researching locations, editing and uploading video footage, and catching up on summer reading. Jackson also manages to find time to play Xbox Live with friends from his hometown.
They always try to get on the road by midday to ensure that they have ample time should problems arise, Mike says. And a few minor setbacks have arisen, like when the RV got stuck in New York and when the generator died somewhere outside of Baltimore.
The biggest lesson they’ve learned? "Whatever happens, you have to keep going," Jackson says.
The duo has encountered giant spiders in Florida and hiked in 104-degree weather in Kentucky and Missouri. However, they’ve also come across plenty of new friends and fans. "A great part of this trip has been incredible, helpful people everywhere we’ve been," Mike says.
In Colorado last week, one guy saw the RV cruising down the highway, logged onto the site to see where the pair was headed and rushed to meet them at the top of Mount Cutler, he recounts.
They’ve also been joined by friends and family along the way. Wife/mother Lisa Lindley has come along for about a third of the journey and friends have driven as long as three hours to accompany them on hikes.
This fall, Jackson will enter the seventh grade. He says he may have a leg up on his classmates when it comes to lessons in U.S. geography, but more than anything else he’s excited to share his experiences.
Those who don’t know the Lindleys personally can follow their adventures at http://www.hikerbiker.com and on Facebook, where they have more than 1,500 fans. The family also encourages people to post their own videos, photos and stories to make HikerBiker.com into an online community.
"Let’s inspire each other and pass on the passion to get more people out there," Mike says. "Our goal is to be healthier, happier, and to have a lot of fun along the way."