Hiker Larry Ripari stands above Crater Lake in Oregon on his way up the Pacific Crest Trail, which begins in southern California and ends in northern Washington.

Hiker Larry Ripari stands above Crater Lake in Oregon on his way up the Pacific Crest Trail, which begins in southern California and ends in northern Washington.

Photo provided by Larry Ripari


Roseville High grad completes 2,650-mile hike

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 8, 2021

 Roseville High School graduate Larry Ripari recently completed hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. He was frequently accompanied by his girlfriend, and fellow hiker, Colleen Kidd.

Roseville High School graduate Larry Ripari recently completed hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. He was frequently accompanied by his girlfriend, and fellow hiker, Colleen Kidd.

Photo provided by Larry Ripari

 Ripari edited two photos from his hike up the Pacific Crest Trail together. The one on the left shows himself at the start of the trail near the Mexico border when he began in May, and the one on the right shows himself when he completed the trail near the Canadian border in September.

Ripari edited two photos from his hike up the Pacific Crest Trail together. The one on the left shows himself at the start of the trail near the Mexico border when he began in May, and the one on the right shows himself when he completed the trail near the Canadian border in September.

Photo provided by Larry Ripari

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ROSEVILLE — A 2003 Roseville High School graduate is sharing his life-changing experience of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

The 2,650-mile venture took Larry Ripari from May 16 to Sept. 28 to complete. It took him up and down mountain ranges, across rivers and through three different states.

“You experience so much,” Ripari said. “You have your hard days and your easy days. Even on the hardest days, you still are rewarded with some kind of natural beauty that the natural world gives you. The people you meet mean more to you than you think they ever would. The test every day of getting up each day and doing another 20 miles just by putting one foot in front of the other; I wanted to test my endurance and see if I could last this type of distance.”

Ripari said he has been an outdoor enthusiast since he was a child and has been preparing for a hike of this magnitude for years.

“I’ve been hiking Michigan for a long time now,” he explained. “I’ve always been outdoorsy. We would go to Algonac State Park with my parents, and my love for the outdoors started there. I have a close group of friends who go to Gladwin, Michigan, each year for an annual camping trip.”

He said the abnormality of 2020 gave him the chance to take on the sort of big hike he had been aiming toward for a long time.

“I got more into back country hiking recently after hiking the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula,” Ripari said. “I had the chance to do something big this year, and I wanted to try the PCT. It took me a year and a half to prepare. You have to do some research. This means what kind of gear you will bring. I trained by going to local parks like Dodge Park and Stony Creek Park and hiking small distances with all of my gear on. I got some insight on trail conditions and what to expect from some groups on Facebook.”

He was accompanied for parts of his journey by his girlfriend, Colleen Kidd. Kidd, a fellow hiker, would travel with him on parts of the trek; for others, she would aid hikers by bringing them supplies, selling goods or offering them rides.

“I was with him a lot of the second half. We first met up at the end of the High Sierras. I hiked for four days with him. We took a break to camp for a few days, and I rejoined him about 50 miles south of the Oregon border. I was with him for part of Oregon,” said Kidd. “I worked to bring hikers things on the trail for a while, like water, or set up a little bodega out of my car along the trail for people to buy. I would give rides into town so they could resupply. I was meeting up with Larry periodically during that time.”

She said that prior to this journey, she probably had the edge on Ripari when it came to hiking experience. Now she said she is looking to catch up with some friendly competition.

“Prior to him doing this trail I had been on bigger hikes than him,” she remarked. “I did a month in British Columbia, for instance. There’s a simplicity to it. It’s about surviving and just motivating yourself to keep going. You focus on the essentials. When it’s time to put a tent up, that’s all you have to focus on. You’re so disconnected from the rest of the world.”

Ripari said the Pacific Crest Trail holds a special place in the hearts of many hikers.

“There’s a lot of lore about that trail,” he said. “There’s a book and a movie called ‘Wild,’ which is about a woman who hiked the PCT. It’s in the middle of the three big trails in the USA, the triple crown as people in the community call it. The Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. (The PCT) is not super easy, but it’s not super hard either, so this was one that gave me every challenge I was looking for that I could still do.”

The Pacific Crest Trail has some unforgettable vistas, said Ripari.

“The route begins in a place called Campo, California, at the Mexico border,” he said. “It snakes through a couple of national parks going north. You hike through California and into Oregon and Washington. You go through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It ends in Heart’s Pass, Washington, which is at the Canada border.”

Ripari said there were times when completing the multistate journey seemed impossible. He said that it was because of Kidd and other hikers he met along the way that he was able to finish.

“There’s a really difficult section in northern Washington,” he said. “The rain didn’t let up for three days. I met up with two guys called Rev and Kitchen Sink — those were their trail names — and they stuck with me in the rain. We woke up every day at 3:30 a.m. just to get the miles in. One day we got to this gorge and the rain suddenly let up. I don’t know if I could have gotten through that section without those guys.”

Trail names are nicknames earned by hikers and usually bestowed on them by other hikers. Ripari is known on the trail as “Bird.” Kidd is known as “Nitro.”

“You earn it through a mishap or an achievement on trail,” Ripari said. “Kitchen Sink got his name because he brought everything including the kitchen sink. Rev was a reverend, hence his name. I was called ‘Bird’ because I have a couple of bird tattoos and I walk kind of pigeon-toed and my name is Larry, so ‘Larry Bird.’”

“I got that (name) from one of the faster hikers,” Kidd added. “He and I were hiking and we had to stop; he said he had to run to catch up with me, so he gave me the name.”

While a 2,650-mile hike may sound undoable to many people, Ripari and Kidd both encouraged people to try it — beginning with some smaller courses, of course.

“My best advice is just to do it,” said Ripari. “Michigan has some of the best places in the country to explore. That’s how I got interested; (it) was just going out there, doing it.”

“You get to see things you can only see by walking there,” added Kidd. “You’re so far from any road. I’m really proud of Larry. I will definitely be with him at least part of the way on his next one.”

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