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Steamboat Magazine

Steamboat Springs Local on the PCT to Help Others

09/22/2015 11:41AM ● By Dan Greeson

Just four years ago, Steamboat Springs resident, Greg Sagan, would have been unable to physically commit to a hiking trip, much less a five-month trek on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which stretches from the California-Mexico border to Canada. At that time, he was undergoing surgeries and treatment for testicular cancer at age 22. Thankfully Greg, now 26, discovered traces of the disease early, and soon fully recovered, coming away from the experience with an entirely refreshed perspective on life. After regaining his health, he decided to continue pursuing his passion of exploring the outdoors, while also gaining the ultimate reward of helping others who battle cancer. 

Greg moved to Steamboat in 2013 for its incomparable accessibility to the outdoors, opportunities for outdoor sports, the abundance of sunshine, and its craft beer scene. This year, he and his friend Zac Barbiasz left Steamboat and embarked on a five-month, 2,663-mile hike of the PCT in mid-April, in an effort to raise funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money to fund the most promising children’s cancer research, easily becoming one of the most ambitious fundraisers for the Foundation. 

Born in a rural city in Massachusetts, Greg didn’t have many opportunities to hike growing up, but once he was introduced to the White Mountains of New Hampshire during a weekend backpacking trip in college, he was hooked. Since moving to Colorado, his passion for backpacking only grew, and he applied to participate in the Vasque Footwear Thru-Hike Syndicate program, for which he was chosen to be an ambassador of multiple outdoor brands during his hike on the PCT. However, he wanted to do more than just hike the PCT. Surviving cancer at a young age and being fortunate enough to live out his passion only made Greg more enthusiastic about giving back to those who may be less fortunate. More specifically, being the oldest of four siblings and having researched multiple cancer foundations, Greg felt a strong pull toward the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. 

“Kids should be kids,” Greg said. “They should be the ones that are able to live life to the fullest and not be burdened by a terrible disease.” 

Greg feels his experience with cancer uniquely prepared him for the mental and physical hardships he encountered on the trail, and with a goal to raise $5,000 through their fundraising page, each mile Greg and Zac walk is dedicated to conquering childhood cancers. In addition, he has prepared physically through simply pursuing his craving for exploring the outdoors while living in Steamboat. Having the accessibility to the mountains and trail systems in his backyard has helped him train and maintain a daily workout regimen, keeping him healthy after cancer. Others often ask Greg how one gets in shape for a long trek like the PCT and his response is simply, “Look out the window. We are indeed spoiled to live in Steamboat.” 

Although Zac has already completed his journey on the trail, Greg is scheduled to complete his hike Sept. 28, just in time for the conclusion of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Greg plans to celebrate his accomplishment by taking part in what many unfortunately do not have a chance to ever do: detaching himself from everyday society and technology, and simply relax by breathing in Mother Nature.