FARMINGTON — Two local residents spent part of the summer hiking to raise money for children with disabilities and illnesses.
Shey Lambert and Jake McBride, both of Farmington, recently hiked the Colorado Trail, a long-distance trail that travels from Denver to Durango, Colo.
The 486-mile trail crosses six wilderness areas and eight mountain ranges, and the average elevation along the route reaches more than 10,000 feet, according to the trail's website.
The men embarked on the hike to fundraise for Peach's Neet Feet, a nonprofit organization based in Farmington that provides custom, hand-painted shoes to children living with disabilities and battling life-threatening illnesses.
It was founded by Farmington resident Madison "Peach" Steiner, who said this was the organization's first fundraiser that focused on hiking and was completed by local members of the community.
"We both wanted to hike it," McBride said. "Shey spearheaded the whole thing with Peach's Neet Feet, and I decided to help him out with it."
Lambert and McBride's effort has collected $638, as of Saturday. Fundraising continues online at www.gofundme.com/alf9hg.
"You might as well take something that you love and raise money through it," Lambert said.
Throughout the hike, which started June 22 and ended July 26, Peach's Neet Feet's Facebook page shared posts from the men's journey, along with a daily profile of a child who was a recipient of shoes from the organization.
Lambert and McBride hiked a minimum of 18 miles each day, but camping and water accessibility also dictated how far they trekked daily.
At one point, McBride had to seek treatment for giardia, an intestinal infection caused by a parasite found in backcountry streams and lakes, as well as areas with poor sanitation and unsafe water. The infection can cause abdominal cramps, bloating, nausea and bouts of watery diarrhea, according to the Mayo Clinic's website.
"I treated all of my water, but there was a bridge that was out and I had a lot of mosquito bites on my leg or maybe something splashed into my mouth, that's the only way I can think of that I got it," McBride said.
The men were caught in a lightening storm outside of Lake City, Colo., and decided to take time away from the trail to rest and for McBride to receive medical attention for giardia and severe dehydration.
"We got a day off, so it was kind of nice that I got giardia because we got a little break," McBride said with a chuckle.
He credited his hiking partner with getting him through the journey.
"Shey was a machine. Everything was OK with him. He was fine the whole time," McBride said. "If it wasn't for Shey, I probably wouldn't be able to get through it."
While they spotted a bear and a moose, the lightening storms caused the most concern, McBride said. They also went for long distances without seeing other people. The longest stint was about four days, McBride said.
"For the most part, I thought we would see a lot more hikers and people than we did. I think there were a couple of days we went without seeing anybody but each other," he said.
This was McBride's first long-distance hiking experience, but Lambert previously hiked 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which starts in Maine and travels south to Georgia.
"It feels good," Lambert said, of being home.
"It's weird assimilating back into society at first because of being gone and in the backcountry for so long, but it definitely does feel good to be home," he said.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.