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From Cancer Warrior to Trail Junkie

Hello! My name is Christopher Smiley. I am an Airman in the United States Air Force with over 17 years of active duty service. On February 3rd, 2017, while still serving our great nation, I was diagnosed with cancer - Stage IV cancer of the head and neck to be exact. 

Cancer is a horrible disease. The journey to recovery is long and scary. For many, life after cancer means adapting to a new way of life. Some of these changes can alter one's quality of life, which may be enough to drive a person mad. But, if that person remains optimistic, there are life lessons and new perspectives to gain. 

One such life lesson I have taken away is that life is much too short to simply wait for our dreams to come true. We must be pro-active when making the most of this one life.  If there are people, places, or things you want to see and/or experience... start taking steps now. Save money. Set aside time. Communicate to your loved one's so they can help you. Dreams only become impossible when you don't try.

One of my dreams is to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This is a trail that extends from the boarder of Mexico to the boarder of Canada - 2,650 miles. 

As a Boy Scout, I fell in love with the outdoors. I earned by Backpacking merit badge, which is no easy feat. In doing so, I hiked portions of the PCT, but no more than 20 - 30 miles over a 4 -5 day period. Since then, I've dreamt of returning to the PCT. 

My military career is coming to an end, which will provide me the first opportunity in twenty years to return to the PCT for a complete thru hike. It is a four to five month investment of time, which will not be cheap. I will prevail in my battle against cancer, but there will be a re-building phase in my life before I am well enough to hit the PCT in its entirety. My plan is to start small and work my way up. I want to completed some 3 -5 day hikes in the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. 

The gear I need is not cheap. I figure a fundraiser like this might help get me on the trails sooner, rather than later. Your donations are greatly appreciated. 

On a side note... 

As of 11 June, 2017, I am still in my fight against cancer. I am currently undergoing both chemotherapy and radiation. If you would like to learn more about my story, which is updated daily... please visit my blog:


  • Mike Minnich
    • $25 
    • 7 yrs


Christopher Smiley
Vail, AZ

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