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Inspirational BACKPACKER Readers

Meet five of BACKPACKER's most inspirational heroes–they're also readers.

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Life Changer | Believer | Mentor | Explorer | Survivor


Sue Enlow West Covina, CA

Motivated by views, hiker gets fit.

“I fell in love instantly,” says Enlow, recalling the first hike she took along the rim of Utah’s Bryce Canyon. “It hit me like a lightning bolt—I wanted to get down into that canyon. But, I was grossly overweight and knew I could never climb back out.” Enlow returned home on a Saturday and was in the gym on Monday morning. Eight months later—and 65 pounds lighter—she hiked 40 miles in Zion National Park. At 92 pounds lost, she hiked the Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail. Then, last July, she celebrated losing her 100th pound by climbing California’s 11,501-foot San Gorgonio Mountain. “I’ve seen more than I ever thought possible,” she says. “I’m not the same person I was. Hiking has given me a new life, full of energy, fun, and adventure.”

Life Changer | Believer | Mentor | Explorer | Survivor


Jim Chatterton Lubbock, TX

Stroke survivor instills hope in others.

Every trail name has a backstory. Jim “Wipeout” Chatterton’s came to him on California’s Lost Coast Trail in 2008, when a rogue wave swept his feet out from under him. He was lucky not to get washed out to sea. In fact, after a stroke in 2007, he was lucky to be hiking at all. “I’m legally blind and suffer paralysis in my left leg and arm,” he says, “but I hike, though it’s slow and difficult, because I want other disabled people to believe they can still accomplish great things.” Chatterton has hiked the Lost Coast and Colorado Trails. He writes about his hikes at 

Life Changer | Believer | Mentor | Explorer | Survivor


Steve Schnyders Hudsonville, MI

Leads local kids on backpacking trips. 

As a teacher, bus driver, and track coach at Hudsonville Christian School, Schnyders could be forgiven if he avoided students during summer. Instead, he takes them on hiking trips in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In the past 15 years, he has led more than 50 outings (with up to 20 kids each). “Students and parents talk about Mr. Schnyder’s hikes like a rite of passage,” says Robert Nesky, a local dad. Schnyders provides all of the gear, always sets up a special challenge, like a geocache or zipline, and maintains a hiking wiki “to remember the fun times we’ve had.” 

Life Changer | Believer | Mentor | Explorer | Survivor


Cordell Andersen Springville, UT

A dedicated hiker shares his secrets.

The Uintas Mountain Range in northeast Utah spans 456,705 acres and contains 545 miles of trail. Seventy-four-year-old photographer Cordell Andersen has seen every corner of it, hiking 1,327 miles there since 1993. On the way, he has photographed 232 varieties of plants and flowers and built a website with hundreds of photos and videos detailing his routes and key skills for other would-be Uintas hikers. He calls it his “Uintas Project.” We call it a labor of love. “My first trip there was a 27-day, 236-mile epic with no resupply,” he says. “Next year, I’ll turn 75 there.” See his work at

Life Changer | Believer | Mentor | Explorer | Survivor


Dennis McKenna Stamford, NY

Accident victim backpacks again.

Thirty years ago, during college, Dennis McKenna was one week away from a buddy trip into New Hampshire’s Presidential Range when a motorcycle wreck left him paralyzed from the neck down. After months of rehabilitation, he regained his ability to walk, but he never backpacked again. Until last summer. McKenna commemorated his 30th year of life after the crash by taking the Presidentials hike he missed. “He trained for months,” says his wife, Cathy. “And on July 6, we set out to hike Mts. Pierce, Eisenhower, Franklin, and Monroe.” They completed the 20-mile hike in four days.

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