Crowning achievement in the books for hiker

·2 min read

Dec. 4—OTTAWA — Brandon Weis has lived up to his nickname, "Horsepower."

The Ottawa resident and Ohio State University alumnus earned the moniker during his first hiking trip a few years ago in California.

"I went there with other OSU students and often carried most of the hiking gear," said Weis, whose Instagram handle is the apropos @naturalhorsepower.

His memorable outing with fellow Buckeyes at that time was a harbinger of 2021: In late October, Weis completed the Triple Crown of hiking, which means he traversed the Pacific Crest, Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide.

The 8,000-mile journey took only 10 months, since he started putting his best foot forward in January.

Along the way, the 24-year-old has raised money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, an organization that helped establish a fund-raising page for his endeavors.

For good measure, Weis set about on the Arizona Trail in November, after which his legs finally got much-needed rest.

His mother Lisa Weis expressed pride in her peripatetic son's accomplishment.

"Brandon's determination is phenomenal," she stated via email. "We did not imagine anything like what he's done this year. To say we weren't nervous about his adventure would be a lie."

Weis's enthusiasm for hiking didn't stem from his youth and upbringing. "Our family didn't hike or camp when our children were younger," his mother explained.

While attending Ohio State, where he studied history and finance, Weis joined a leadership program that focused on transformational experiences. As a result, he developed a passion for backpacking, which proved to be a gateway to Mother Nature, the great outdoors and solitude.

"The connection to being outside and away from civilization" is part of the appeal, Weis said, noting that his favorite segment of the Triple Crown was exploring the Continental Divide. "Everything felt bigger but remote there — I really loved that aspect."

Conversely, most challenging was the Appalachian Trail, thanks to sub-zero temperatures as late as March in Massachusetts.

By and large, the timing of Weis's accomplishment was "lucky" from an economic standpoint, he said. When America was paralyzed by COVID-19 last year, he saved money, had few expenses and made investments. While hiking for months at a time, "There are minimal luxuries and few comforts."

What does his future hold, now that Weis has moved his feet from extensive trails to a footrest? He speculated it could be time to turn the page.

"I may write a book about my hiking experiences," he said.

Reach James Luksic at 567-242-0399.

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