Thru-Hike Syndicate Team

About: The Thru-Hike Syndicate (THS) is a team of 20 hikers who will be thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail this year. 10 will be hiking the AT and the other 10 will be hiking the PCT.

Appalachian Trail Hikers

Jessica Georgia: Jessica is a wife, mother and entrepreneur who has been bit by the wanderlust bug from Mooresville, North Carolina. While normal moms take their kids shopping on the weekends, she takes her 11-year old backpacking because family always comes first. When she’s not adventuring, Jessica is working on projects, writing, doing photography or creating something.

Mellanie Paredes: Mellanie is a Bay Shore, New York Native who currently resides in Portland, Oregon. She has always had a passion for adventure and love for the outdoors. She will be exploring wellness on the trail in a mindful manner, and really focusing on a healthy mind, body and soul. On the thru-hike, Mellanie is looking forward to leaving behind the things that don’t make her happy and pursing the things that make her feel fulfilled.

Natalie Sawn: Recently graduated from Stockton College of New Jersey with a Criminal Justice degree, Natalie is constantly looking for her next big adventure. The Appalachian Trail thru-hike is it! She is a huge advocate for living life to the fullest with no limits on what you can do. During her hike, Natalie hopes to inspire others to get outside so they, too, can enjoy the same challenges that lead to self-fulfillment and personal growth that hiking has given her.

Josh Goebel: Josh grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. He relocated to Georgia for college where he met his fiancé. Since then, the couple moved to Ohio. Josh has always loved being outside and has recently taking a liking to long-distance hiking.

Jade McFadden: Jade is an elementary school teacher from California living in Brooklyn, New York. She likes to make up silly songs and dances about everything. She loves to marvel at the vast night sky in the wilderness and the smells of the seasons. She will be hiking north bound with her husband, Mike. They aren’t in a rush, and are ready to embrace the highs and lows of the AT together.

Emmi Laakso: Emmi is a farm girl from a rural town in Finland. She is currently a designer in New York City, and aspiring thru-hiker. She is hiking to learn to embrace the unpredictable, to trust in people and to satisfy her craving for adventure.

Krista Little: Krista was born and raised in Manchester, Connecticut. She is a self-proclaimed nature child, avid reader and passionate yogi. She spent the last year as a volunteer at Kripaly Center for Yoga and Health in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, and is eager to see what new adventures life on the trail will bring.

Johnny Morris: Growing up near the Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina, Johnny has developed a deep appreciation for backpacking, fly fishing and all things a little dirty and hard to get to. He is doing the thru-hike both for himself and a non-profit, Memorycare, which is dedicated to providing resources and improving the lives of those with Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive impairments.

Brendan Bucko: Brendan is searching for an adventure, solitude, an escape from civilization and to refocus and revitalize his mind. From Tallahassee, Florida, he will be taking full advantage of being able to sleep under the stars, walk miles in the wilderness and to simply bask in time. He studies our environment, health and improving the state of them both, independently and at Florida State University.

Morgan Hackworth: Morgan is putting her degree on hold this year to go in the direction her heart is pulling her – to the Appalachian Trail. When she realized the monotony of her college life and that she was working towards something that wasn’t important to her right now, her life changed. She has decided to refocus her life on the adventure she’s craving, instead of getting a degree and following everyone else’s path. She will be going into the wild with her boyfriend, Brendan, and will turn 21 during her first week hiking.

Pacific Crest Trail Hikers

Chris Backus: Chris was raised into all things outdoors since he could walk. Born in Houston, Texas and now living in League City, Texas, Chris’ love for the outdoors was taught my his grandfather, and reinforced through Scouting. Since achieving his Eagle badge, he’s continued to pursue adventures all over the United States. He loves to backpack and will hike for food.

Zac Barbiasz: Zac really loves to ski. When he’s not skiing powder or dreaming about skiing powder, he spends his time biking or running on trails in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Zac also has a 9-year old Border/Lab named Miss Rhino.

Greg Sagan: Greg loves to share his passion for the outdoors with his like-minded friends in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. When he’s not out shredding on his snowboard, Greg enjoys cross-country mountain biking, backpacking and running. He is a cancer survivor, eager to conquer the PCT.

Jamieson Lamb: Jamieson is a teacher from Canada with a love for everything outdoors. Since reading “A Walk in the Woods” in college, he has dreamt about completing a long distance thru-hike. He feels fortunate to have the opportunity to realize his dream, while raising money so that others have a chance at a similar experience. He will be hiking with his partner, Bethany.

Bethany Ward: Bethany is an early years educator, yoga teacher and photographer from Canada. She loves travel and the outdoors. She often seeks out new experiences that challenge her mentally and physically. Bethany was drawn to the PCT by its beauty and promise of great adventure. She will be joining her partner, Jamieson, in hiking to raise money for a non-profit

Lizzie Morrison: Lizzie grew up in the Midwest and headed even further west after graduating from college. She has been traveling around since, doing various seasonal outside jobs in places like the Mojave Desert and Colorado. Besides loving everything about the outdoors, Lizzie also enjoys cats, cheese and breweries.

Taya Chase: Taya grew up in Humboldt County, California and moved to San Diego to attend college. She graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice. She volunteers for MADD and works to prevent future car crashes. Taya is eagar to get back to her roots in the outdoors.

Ali Edwards: Ali thru-hiked the AT southbound after graduating college. It was there that she fell in love with backpacking and gained a new perspective on life. Now, living simply and being outdoors are her passions. She currently works as a nurse in a surgical ICU in Birmingham, Alabama, but has been dreaming about her next adventure ever since she finished the AT in fall of 2013.

Bri Leahy: Bri is a full-time photography student living just outside of Seattle, Washington. After a decade-long career in Engineering, she decided to follow her passions towards photography, backpacking and triathlon. Bri loves to enjoy life with her husband and their two pups. Their adventures tend to involve hiking, backpacking or training for the next triathlon.

Kern Ducote:
Kern was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. After graduating college, he moved to Juneau, Alaska for almost a year before thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2012. Since then, he has been pursuing his dreams of spending as much time as possible outside and loving God, people and life.

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