Andy Skurka Hits Halfway of Great Western Loop
Andy Skurka is walking. Everyday, all day. In rain, snow, and scorching heat. And nothing can slow him down -- not cougars, bears or snakes. Not blisters or burning muscles. Since setting out from the Grand Canyon on April 9, Skurka has covered 3,653 miles … and he’s only halfway home.
Andy Skurka’s “GoLite on the Planet” walk has reached the halfway point. The nearly 7,000 mile odyssey -- roughly the distance from Los Angeles to Istanbul, Turkey -- is an effort to provide a first-hand look at the damage global warming is having on America’s National Parks and wilderness areas.
When Skurka reaches his finishing point this November at the Grand Canyon, he will become the first person to complete 6,875-mile Great Western Loop, and ambitious journey that links the West’s long-distance hiking trails and traverses 12 National Parks. Areas that studies show are being quietly decimated by climate change
“Because so few of us get chance to visit remote areas, the damage that global warming is causing on the America’s crown jewels is ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’,” said GoLite Chief Executive Officer Kim Coupounas, whose company is supporting Skurka’s endeavor. “The hope of Andy’s journey is to bring the plight of the backcountry to the front of people’s consciousness.”
Vanishing Wildlife, Melting Glaciers and Raging Wildfires
Many scientists believe that the American West is experiencing the affects of climate change faster and more severely than anywhere else in the USA. According to a report published in 2006 by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council, “a disrupted climate is the single greatest threat to ever face western national parks.” The report states:
All the glaciers in Glacier National Park could melt away by 2030.
Wildfires threaten to eliminate saguaro cacti from Saguaro National Park and Joshua trees from Joshua Tree National Park.
Warmer weather is increasing the beetle population in Yellowstone National Park, which in turn is endangering the enduring symbol of the American West: the grizzly bear. Beetles are destroying whitbark pines, a staple food source for the grizzly.
Higher temperatures and earlier snowmelt have contributed to a four-fold increase in western wildfires since 1987.
"As Americans, we have too much, do too much, use too much. Andy Skurka is extending a personally accountable philosophy of traveling light in the wilderness to a global call to action to live lightly on this planet." Said Ryan Jordan, co-founder of backpackinglight.com, another supporter of Skurka’s hike