One of Grand Hotel’s favorite bartenders, Jesse Bader is taking on a new challenge this summer. Instead of mixing cocktails for some of his favorite guests he will be hiking 2,663 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail to help benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Jesse will start the hike later this month and will reach his goal destination in September.
We were able to ask Jesse a few questions before he leaves to find out more about his inspiration behind this respectful journey.
One of your goals is to complete a thru-hike but why the Pacific Crest Trail?
I read a book on Mackinac Island in the winter of 2003 by the name of, ‘”A walk in the woods’” by Bill Bryson. The book was a fabulous adventure where the author hiked a large portion of the Appalachian Trail only to fall short and never finish. After reading that book 14 years ago I knew it was something I had to do. The rest of the time building up to this hike has been a combination of working and living out west and slowly convincing myself to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail instead of the Appalachian Trail. No work schedule? Sunset and a sunrise everyday? Mountain views for months? Yes, absolutely and please sign me up!!
Why did you choose St. Jude?
If you can honestly show me one person who would NOT want to help a child battle cancer or something horribly similar then I will give up on the first mile of this hike. Children are the most precious thing this world has to offer and to deny them the opportunity to grow and live a life they deserve is quite frankly not something I understand. St. Jude is an amazing organization and I chose to hike in hopes to benefit the kids that don’t have a choice or a fighting chance, and for their families who struggle to provide the best medical attention for those children.
Where will you start and end?
The Southern Terminus is a mile shy of the small town of Campo, California at the Mexico/United States border. The trail system extends north all the way to the Northern Terminus in Manning Park at the Canada/United States border. A total of 2,663 miles. I will hike some of the most remote areas of California, Oregon and Washington.
How did you prepare?
I started with lots and lots of research. It will be important for me to carry lightweight gear, and high calorie foods. I will go through river crossings in mountain runoffs so I need to be prepared, and lets not forget about the backpack weight distribution!
Approximately 12 weeks ago I started carrying a 55 pound pack for at least 3 miles a day. I have slowly extended distances and added severe elevations in hopes to acclimate my body to tackle the high Sierras. Gear setup and breakdowns were also an almost daily routine. And the mental preparation… I don’t think anyone will ever be ready mentally for their first thru-hike.
Where will you stay along the way?
I will sleep under the stars in a freestanding tent, a 10-degree sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad that barely reaches 1 1/2 inches from the ground. Once or twice a month I may splurge on a hostel or motel depending on how my body feels. It won’t be the Grand Hotel but it will have the best view money can’t buy.
Are you afraid of anything?
The inability to finish the entirety of the trail, High Sierra river crossings, mosquitoes, ticks, and poison oak. Scary stuff!! Oh, and, ‘I will walk 500 miles’ stuck in my head for the entire trip.
How long have you worked on Mackinac Island?
I’ve been a Mackinac Island resident and employee for 14 years. I have been an employee for Grand Hotel for almost 7 years. I started at Grand Hotel with the honor of being the Bar Manager at The Gate House restaurant. As the years went by I have worked my way into management positions at Cawthorne’s Village Inn, Sushi Grand while still maintaining The Gatehouse. Working during most of the busiest times of the day I’m sure I’ve had the pleasure of telling most of you, “good morning” or “last call.”
Is Mackinac Island where you call home now?
I was raised in a military family and had the benefit of always moving to new and exciting places. The amazing opportunity of always moving also left a large hankering to call someplace or any place for that matter “home.” Until I found Mackinac Island with the amazing locals, summer workers, thousands of visitors guests/travelers and the surrounding communities around the straits have been my entire world for so many years now. The joy and the privilege to call such a beautiful place ‘home’ has always found me at a lack of words.
You are known for the famous Bader Bomb, how did that start?
It was created in 2008 on Fat Tuesday for a shot to please those looking for an alternative to the Jager Bomb craze. It is a mixture of Southern Comfort, Amaretto, Pineapple juice, and Red Bull. Best enjoyed as a shot or to sip over ice.
Any final thoughts?
I am a firm believer that one receives in life what one puts in. Some call it karma while others call it ‘paying it forward’. I call it just plain good living. I also believe we are ALL in this life together whether we are family, friends or complete strangers. That being said I would be honored for those willing to give to such an amazing organization should do so or take the time to share my story with anyone they can.
To help support Jesse’s adventures you can visit his fundraising page for St. Jude’s here: http://events.stjude.org/jessebaderPCT. Grand Hotel is donating $1 per mile to help support St. Jude’s Hospital.
Follow his trail…..
To follow along with his adventure, you can do so my connecting with him via social media, or he will upload photos to the donation site. During re-supply trips he will periodically make updates so follow along. Grand Hotel will also post periodic updates as we get them. If you are on the island this summer stop in to The Gatehouse or Cawthorne’s Village Inn for an update from a bartender.
See you in September Jesse!