Man With Crohn’s Set To Tackle Pacific Crest Trail
After enduring a dozen abdominal surgeries to treat a chronic disease, David Blanco decided to battle his way back to health and tackle a long-held dream – hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail.
Blanco, a former teacher based out of Washington state, is training now in the mountains around Taos before he begins his trek.
He turned to yoga, a healthy diet and an exercise regimen to combat the inflammatory intestinal disease known as Crohn’s and to prepare for the trail that will take him along the breadth of the United States from Mexico to Canada.
While hiking the infamous 2,650-mile trail, Blanco, 59, will face a challenge not many people have completed. Fewer than 5,000 people have finished the trail, which takes hikers from the U.S-Mexico border town of Campo, California, to Manning Park, British Columbia, Canada, through California, Oregon and Washington. Blanco plans to add his name to the list in a five-month time period.
Blanco, who said he had been super athletic in the past, refuses to let his condition hinder him from completing his goal and hopes his adventure will inspire others who currently suffer from the disease to pursue their dreams.
“My doctors, the specialists that deal with Crohn’s and colitis, they’re just amazed,” said Blanco to the Taos News. “They can’t believe what I’ve done with my life and how I’ve made this turnaround.”
Hiking the PCT was a dream for much of Blanco’s life. He said he didn’t expect to be taking on the challenge as he approaches 60, but he is striving to instill a sense of hope to those who also suffer from intestinal complications. While in the beginnings of the journey, Blanco has been working with the PCTA to raise awareness of his condition as well as to help those who suffer from Crohn’s or colitis.
He plans to get many people following his trip and potentially donate to the efforts of scientists or doctors who are working to combat this disease. After several trips to online support groups, Blanco decided that he needed to be a positive voice and combatant against the disease. He is determined to complete this hike and give hope to those nationwide suffering from the disease to show them that there is still the possibility of overcoming and taking back control.
“The disease is there. You have to accept that and you have to tell yourself you can do something about this,” Blanco said. “It’s hard work, and it’s life-changing stuff, but how much do you love life? Do you want life that much to keep on going? I’ve got too much to live for.”
Following the trip, Blanco plans to return to working a day job as a yoga instructor and hopes to continue to be an advocate for Crohn’s patients across the country. He has not yet decided if he will continue raising funds, but wants to continue raising awareness and hope for those undergoing treatment for the disease.