• Vermonter plans to document 2,560-mile hike
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     | March 31,2013
     
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    Vermont hiker Colin Arisman stands atop a mountain in the Torres Del Paine National Park in Argentina. Next up: The Pacific Crest Trail that stretches up the West Coast.

    Few people will ever complete the Mexico-to-Canada hike that is the Pacific Crest Trail. But Vermonters may at least experience it vicariously through the lens of one of their own.

    Marshfield native Colin Arisman next month takes his first step on a 2,650-mile trek through remote wilderness in California, Oregon and Washington state. Armed with two compact high-definition cameras, Arisman and his hiking partner, Casey Gannon, will compile footage for “Only the Essentials,” a documentary they plan to produce after they complete the five-month journey.

    Arisman, a 2008 Montpelier High School graduate who earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Vermont last year, says the film project is an attempt to engender wider appreciation for the natural world.

    An aspiring environmental anthropologist, Arisman says he’s come to see that “a key part of solving our environmental problems is changing people’s attitudes toward nature.”

    “I think that if you develop a personal love for nature, you’re going to be more likely to have attitudes that are more favorable and sustainable toward the environment,” he says. “So a big part of what we’re doing, for me, is sharing our experience and hopefully motivating other people to do things similar to what we’re doing.”

    Arisman will need some financial help to make the film a reality. He and Gannon have cobbled together savings enough to pay their own way through the hike. They anticipate personal expenses of about $5,000, the bulk of which will go to the enormous quantities of food they’ll need to power through the daily hikes of 20 to 30 miles.

    The fundraising, Arisman says, is to support the filming and photography along the way.

    “Obviously camera equipment is extremely expensive, and also the cost of producing it when we’re done,” he says.

    Arisman is raising money on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter.com, where, with $835 raised so far, he’s 27 percent of the way toward his $3,000 goal. Anyone interested in helping him out can contribute via Arisman’s own website, www.dropprophet.com, where he’ll post videos, diaries and photographs over the course of the hike.

    “This is a way anyone can share our experience with us as we’re doing it, and it’s a way to keep family and friends updated,” he says.

    Arisman is no stranger to the outdoors. He’s hiked the Long Trail twice, and did field research in the Cloud Forest in Ecuador during college. He backpacked around Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Peru after college, and has been dreaming about the Pacific Crest Trail ever since he heard about it three years ago.

    Arisman’s post-hike future could be bright. He has an application pending for a Fulbright Scholarship to study Mayan communities in Mexico next year.

    “I’m interested in the idea of conservation that incorporates indigenous communities,” he says. “It’s about finding solutions that improve people’s lives while also preserving the natural area people live in.”

    First, though, Arisman will hike the Pacific Crest Trail and document its wonders for anyone who wants to see them. He’ll fly to San Diego next month and depart from the border town of Campo, Calif. on April 19. He has until April 21 to raise the $3,000.

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