Coronavirus impact: Southern California man's dream to hike Pacific Crest Trail derailed by COVID-19

ARCADIA, Calif. (KGO) -- It's not just Olympic athletes who have seen their gold medal dreams disrupted by the Tokyo games being postponed. The novel coronavirus pandemic is doing the same for ambitious hikers with plans to tackle one of the west's most challenging trails this spring and summer

The 2,650 mile long Pacific Crest Trail is one of most scenic and challenging trails to be found. It has been a goal since high school for Alex Berger, 25, to walk its length from Mexico to Canada. He was set to start the hike next month.

However, COVID-19 has closed the trail.

"It was devastating," he said.

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Berger started training just more than a year ago, doing short hikes and running. He had to assemble gear and supplies to sustain him for an estimated six months.

It entailed personal sacrifices, essentially leaving his life behind. He gave up a job in the hospitality industry and downsized, selling his car and personal property. He paid off $27,000 in student loans.

Berger broke his lease just so he could focus on his goal. Then the health emergency derailed everything.

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"As of right now, I have been cast into limbo," Berger said. "I'm out here maintaining my fitness, trying to maintain a positive outlook and waiting to see what the future holds," he said.

While there is disappointment, Berger puts the health and safety of others first. The Pacific Crest Trail is remote, and hikers are dependent on suppliers as they make their way through California, Oregon and Washington.

You typically resupply by going into small towns along the trail to buy food every four to six days, so I could be transmitting this disease to unwitting people up and down the length of our country," he said.

Besides testing his own perseverance and skills, he was also using his hike to raise donations for a mental health organization.

Berger is hoping conditions will allow him to hike the trail later this year, although it appears more likely that it will have to wait until next year.

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