Teen Hiking 2,600 Miles to Raise Money for Endangered Gorillas

·Lead Editor

Kyran Young (Gorilla Walker/Facebook)

Cheryl Strayed made walking aspirational after hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and turning the journey into the best-selling book Wild and a subsequent Reese Witherspoon movie of the same name. Now a young Brit named Kyran Young is doing the 2663-mile hike from the border of Mexico to Canada to raise money for the mountain gorilla, which is on the verge of extinction.

It all started when Young, 19, read a National Geographic article detailing how mountain gorillas are killed and their hands are sold as lucky charms. Thanks to poaching, there are reportedly only 700 of them left in the world. The story touched Young, and he was inspired to get involved. “I felt there was no higher cause than helping an animal that cannot protect itself,” says Young.

Mountain gorilla (Joachim Huber/Flickr)

Then a chance meeting with gorilla conservationist Ian Redmond at the local farmer’s market sealed the deal for Young, convincing him to do the walk to raise money for the gorillas. The famous biologist decided to help him get the word out. “[Redmond] gave me a lot of advice and mentoring,” Young told the Daily Mail. “Meeting such a great man in one of the smallest towns in the country felt like just the push I needed.”

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The Pacific Crest Trail was the perfect choice for Young, who was born in Zimbabwe, but now lives in England. Young says he is an avid outdoorsman, and he’d always wanted to do an extended trek, even before he learned about the gorillas. He chose the PCT because it’s a challenging route that’s still safe.

After training for months, Young is about to set off on his journey. He will be blogging his adventure on GorillaWalker.com, where supporters can also donate. Young is aiming to raise £100,000 (more than $150,000) for The Gorilla Organization, which is working to save the world’s last remaining wild gorillas from extinction.

According to Redmond, “The gorillas have found a new champion [in Young.]”

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