On March 1 2022, Denise Powers will start walking from a remote spot literally an arm’s reach from the wall between Mexico and the United States at Campo, California. With a good pair of trail runners, a map and a backpack of survival gear, she aims to hike through California’s backcountry desert, the Sierras, and the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington, ending in Manning Park, British Columbia, Canada. This is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) – all 2,650 miles of it.
The hike will be the first challenge of Denise’s latest venture Project Further, an awareness-building and fundraising initiative to increase the empowerment of women. This includes solving the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking, workplace inequality and under-representation of female entrepreneurs through big and bold projects to raise funds for organisations championing female empowerment, security and safety.
Why the Pacific Crest Trail?
“Well, either you’ll have the time of your life, or you’ll die.” Such was the advice of author Cheryl Strayed, author of best-selling account of her own PCT hike Wild, whom Denise met at the Power of the Purse fundraiser in 2016. After that meeting, Denise hiked three Washington sections (268 miles) of the PCT. It was an experience both incredibly demanding on the mind and body but also highly compelling in terms of the challenge, the amazing views, the connection with nature and the people she met along the way.
Denise will be thru-hiking the trail in 2022 with her friend Monica, whom she met on the PCT in 2016. They’ll walk 15–20 miles a day, taking a few side trips and periodic ‘zero’ (non-hiking) days. “Accommodation” will be a tent that she carries and the occasional real bed. Food for 5-7 days will have to be carried between pre-planned supply stops. As for showering, the freezing lash of a waterfall may be the only option in between pockets of civilisation. The aim: to reach Canada by mid-September 2022 before the snow flies.
Project Further and CICC
Project Further will launch in the Cayman Islands, but will hopefully continue to grow into further markets, raising funds for specific projects and raising awareness about the issues and working to create a violence-free and empowered environment for all women.
The goal of the PCT project is to raise US$1 million to build a new facility for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre (CICC), Cayman’s only women’s safe shelter. The existing centre is a 4-bedroom, 1-bathroom house, that often accommodates more women and children than its 18-person capacity. While the shelter is homey and safe, it is too small to meet the demands placed upon it.
Domestic violence is a burning issue for communities and a violation of basic human rights all over the world. The CICC is a powerhouse organization with a strong vision to one day close its doors forever because its services are no longer needed. In the meantime, the need for safe shelter and a place for healing is great. One hundred per cent of the funds raised in this project will go to the CICC for the new shelter.
Denise was a board member of the CICC for eight years, six of those as chair. The issues faced by the organisation, therefore, are something familiar and dear to her heart.
You can follow Denise’s progress on her epic PCT trek, see video interviews with fellow hikers, track the route, listen to podcasts, read the blog and enjoy spectacular images by following the various Project Further platforms. These are: