Hiker will talk about going the distance

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published April 13, 2016

While Christopher Hillier has hiked over 10,000 miles since 2011, he knows he has to be careful when he talks about his passion and experiences on the trail.

Hillier will present “Taking the Walk: Long Distance Hiking with Christopher Hillier” at 7 p.m. April 26 at the Troy Public Library.

“He’s spoken at other libraries, and we thought this would be a good opening to our summer reading, of which the focus is wellness,” said Lauren Bartell, adult information librarian, who is also a hiker.

Hillier has hiked what’s known as the Triple Crown of long distance hiking: the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide.

“I look forward to doing these talks, but I have to be careful,” Hillier said via email.  “I want people to try hiking, but I don’t want to make it sound like the easiest thing in the world. It’s not — there have been some really tough times out there. Likewise, I don’t want to dissuade anyone from hiking by making it sound too difficult. It really is, after all, just walking.”

He likes to recount the story of his close encounter with a black bear near Glacier National Park in Montana at the end of his hike of the Continental Divide Trail in 2014.

“I started hiking in 2011 after the death of my mother,” he said. “I had been working in cardiology for 18 years as a technologist in the cardiac cath lab, and between that and caring for my mom, I was really burned out. I had heard about the Appalachian Trail and decided to attempt a thru-hike. My life was never the same.”

His favorite stretch of trail is in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

“I hiked them as part of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012. It’s about 230 miles of beautiful mountains, much of which is above 10,000 feet,” he said.

He said the best way to start hiking is to first pick an appropriate trail. 

“And it doesn’t have to be thousands of miles long. It can just be a two- to three-day hike. Next, set a date,” he said. “That makes it real. Lots of people want to do a hike, but can’t seem to find the time. Setting a firm start date helps.

“What I love best about hiking is how it can reset your brain. When you spend weeks, even months — the longer the better — concerning yourself with nothing but the basics of life — breathing, moving, eating and sleeping — your reptilian brain takes over,” he said. “It feels very natural and free.”

People can register for the program at www.troypl.org or by calling (248) 524-3542.

The Troy Public Library is located at 510 W. Big Beaver Road.