Demi Kapler is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for the first time. She is hiking alone, well almost alone (more to come on that), for a cause that means a lot to her — to bring about a time when there are no more homeless
pets and a world in which there is more kindness to animals.
Kapler, who grew up on a farm in Minnesota, interacted with animals from her earliest years. “I love the outdoors and grew up climbing trees and playing with chickens,” said Kapler. “I grew up with every single type of animal — horses, cows, donkeys, sheep, lizards, ducks, geese, cats and dogs. We had many strays we adopted and took care of.”
And through years of attending a YMCA family camp, later enrolling in its counselor training program and hiking the Superior Hiking Trail in northeastern Minnesota, Kapler grew to love the wilderness. “I fell in love with backpacking and helping others,” she said. “I have a passion for animals and will always be pro-rescue.”
In deciding to hike the full 2,650 miles of the PCT, Kapler knew she wanted to have a cause to promote and benefit. She discovered the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society, with sites in New York, Los Angeles and Utah. It is the nation’s largest sanctuary for homeless animals and provides adoption, spay/neuter and educational programs.
She will be hiking to raise money for Best Friends and to raise awareness about rescues and shelters. Animal Rescue Friends of Idyllwild will host a barbecue for anyone interested in hearing about Kapler’s hike and mission at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at the ARF House on Highway 243.
And, as an extra benefit, those attending will be able to meet Evan, Kapler’s Living Free Black Lab/Chow-mix hiking companion. Kapler will meet up with her new buddy at Living Free and hike with him into Idyllwild, arriving on Friday, April 29.
Evan’s story is compelling. He is 1-and-a-half and was found abandoned in a vacant field in Hemet, left there with only a bag of food. Evan was loyal. He waited in the field for his owners to return. A neighbor noticed Evan sitting there day after day, provided food and tried to get him to leave the field. Evan refused for over a month.
Living Free heard of the dog’s plight and came to pick him up after the neighbor managed to catch him. Evan will return to Living Free after completing the trek into Idyllwild with Kapler.
Kapler is hoping to meet up with other rescue dogs in Tehachapi, Lake Tahoe and Washington, and to have them accompany her on sections of the PCT.
For more information about the ARF event, call 951-659-1122 or email Janice Murasko at [email protected] The event and barbecue are free to the public. Food donations are appreciated.
For more information about Demi and her hike, visit www.rufftrails.wordpress.com and www.facebook.com/demikap?fref=nf.