Hiking With Purpose: The Colorado 54

July 24 2014, 1:54 PM

Hiking a fourteener ain't easy. But if you tackle the Colorado bucket-list item on Saturday, August 2, you and your buddies may be inspired enough to make it to the final steps of the summit. Why? Because hundreds of fellow thrill-seekers will be taking part in the Colorado 54, a fund-raising endeavor in which participants will collectively attempt to summit all 54 of the Centennial State's highest peaks in order to raise money and awareness about the lack of access to clean water in the Jalapa Valley of Nicaragua. 

The event is the brainchild of Travis Ramos, founder of Boulder-based nonprofit Second Mile Water. "Water poverty is a problem around the world," he says. "[In the Jalapa Valley,] there are nearly 47,000 people without access to clean water. Most organizations have gone the first mile to provide access, but then they walk away. The second mile is creating long-term access" via the construction and installation of water systems, plus the creation of community infrastructure to keep the water flowing. Ramos, who has a master's degree in civil engineering (with a focus on engineering for developing communities), aims to put an end to the issue through social action and events such as the Colorado 54.

Here's how it works: Interested hikers sign up online, pay the $50 registration fee, and pick which peak they want to conquer. (Ideally, all 54 will be chosen, but the event will still go on regardless; currently about 35 peaks have hikers. You can view how many people are already signed up on which mountains when you register.) Then you create a campaign page. Hikers are encouraged to raise at least $500, which is enough to help two Nicaraguan families have access to clean drinking water for their lifetime. Need incentive? The most successful fund-raiser will win roundtrip tickets for two to Nicaragua. Bear in mind: These aren't guided hikes. Participants—all ages and skill levels are welcome—have until August 1 to register and help Second Mile Water reach its goal of $50,000. 

Do you need a better excuse to get up (really) early on a Saturday morning?

Follow associate editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger