Explorer Series: Ultimate Hike
Mike Owen

Our monthly Explorer Series returns this month. The series focuses on local explorers who aren’t much different from the rest of us, yet have managed to something extraordinary. They share their experience, both the planning and execution, in the hope that once might have seemed unthinkable may now seem within the realm of reality.

What: Ultimate Hiking

Who: Mike Owen of Apex

When: Wednesday, July 25, 7 p.m.

Where: Great Outdoor Provision Co., 2017 Cameron St., Raleigh, NC 27605

Claim to fame: Mike, who is 70, has done the Ultimate Hike 10 times. Begun in 2011, the Ultimate Hike is a fundraiser for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, which works to fight childhood cancer on a number of fronts. Each hike consists of a 12-week training program, followed by an epic day hike. Ultimate Hikes are held throughout the country, including on the Foothills Trail and in the Canaan Valley area in the Southeast. The hikes range in distance from 20 to 30 miles.

Inspiration: Mike was a lifelong athlete, developing into a jogger for most of his adult life. He developed tendinitis about six years ago and limped around for a year waiting for it to heal on its own (it didn’t). His physician recommended specific stretching exercises and chiropractic treatment which, along with strength training, got him straightened out in about 6 months. During his recuperation, Mike’s interested turned to hiking, which he had done on a small scale over the years.

Impetus: In the spring of 2014, Mike saw a flyer for the Ultimate Hike. The deal: undergo a 12-week training program of increasingly longer hikes, culminating with a 28.3-mile fundraising hike on the Foothills Trail straddling the North Carolina/South Carolina line. The challenge punched his adventure button. His only reservation: Could he raise the $2,500 required of of the participating hikers?

Outcome? Hiking has since become a passion for Mike: Not only did he complete that fundraising hike in the fall of 2014, but he’s been back each year since, including four Ultimate Hike events in 2017. He just completed his 10th, the 20.7-mile Canaan Mountain Backcountry Hike in West Virginia, where Mike was the second leading fundraiser, bringing in $7,000. 

Learn more about Mike’s presentation and register (participation is free) here.