Although Ryan Eula is an experienced hiker, he has never done anything like this before, not even half of what he’s about to undertake this August. For three weeks, Eula and two other people will hike the entirety of California’s John Muir Trail, a 220 mile route, while raising awareness and funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and National Brain Tumor Society.
Throughout the roughly three week long hike, Eula will be finishing a book he has already started and filming a documentary about those involved, his sister Kara, part of the inspiration for the trip and nature as cognitive introspection.
“For the most part, both of them will kind of follow along the same motif, which is using nature in and of itself as a way to center yourself. Kind of return yourself to a nice even pace of being. And the documentary will also follow the story lines of my sister and then even just certain people and why they’re involved, what motivated them. For me it’s interesting to see how people respond to certain endeavors.”
Diagnosed with MS in 2007 at the age of 21, Kara Eula cannot join Ryan for the initiative because her medication needs to be refrigerated. While she could go off the medication, physical issues associated with the disease and heat hinder her from making the trek. She will see Ryan off in the first leg of the trip and then help to resupply along the way.
Original press release issued by Ryan Eula on July 6, 2012:
Ryan Eula, co-owner of Bay Area adventure company Mazula, and fellow advocates are hiking the rigorous 220-mile John Muir Trail Aug. 14 to Sept. 8 raise funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the National Brain Tumor Society. Eula, 32, and his partner Nic Matsuda organized the journey in honor of Eula’s sister who was diagnosed with MS in 2007, and his aunt who died of a brain tumor in 2012.
“The most rewarding part of the planning process so far has been the responses I’ve received for offers of help and assistance. Sometimes you set out to do something on your own and realize that it inspires others to join simply because of the pure energy involved,” Eula said. “The monies raised will directly benefit both diseases. True to what the purity of backpacking means to me, I hike in honor of those that cannot.”
Kara Eula, Ryan’s 26-year-old sister, faces a lifetime of debilitating symptoms. Though she’s maintained healthy so far she watched her aunt, Julie Hoyne die at 46 from brain cancer, leaving two young daughters behind.
“Both MS and brain cancer have impacted me and my family enormously and I have to believe that there is hope; for anyone who is affected,” Eula said. “This hike gives me hope; it inspires me to push through the fear of the unknown and live in the moment without the worry of tomorrow.”
MS afflicts, approximately, 2.5 million people worldwide and has no known cause and no definitive progression leaving those diagnosed with an uncertain future and an unpredictable course. Roughly 250,000 people worldwide are annually diagnosed with a brain tumor and with 120 different types of tumors, effective treatment is very difficult.
“Some people come and go, but Ryan and I always were able to adapt, change and accept,” Matsuda said, who has known Kara since childhood. “I don’t know how we got it or where it came from, but it created a bond that is hard to find in today’s world. Our friends and family play a very important role to our lives.”
Jim Cox, longtime friend of the Eula family, was inspired by the John Muir hike and decided at 60 to join the cause.
“Once I started checking out the John Muir Trail I was hooked,” Cox said. “Ryan’s dedication to raising awareness and donations for these causes that are so close to his heart is inspiring and makes this adventure more meaningful to me.
“I will be forever grateful to my brother and those that join him for the support and dedication they have shown by taking this journey,” Kara Eula said.
John Muir Trail
The John Muir Trail runs 220 miles along some of the most beautiful stretches of the High Sierras in California. Hikers will follow it from the north to south run, which begins at the Happy Isles Trailhead in Yosemite Valley, continues through the Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks and ends atop Mt. Whitney. The highest point along the way will reach 14,505 feet. The trail has often been called “America’s Most Beautiful Trail,” yet still remains untouched in many aspects. It is easily accessible from either Los Angeles or the San Francisco Bay Area and embodies much of California’s most beautiful areas. The peaks are passable, winters are short, but surprisingly the JMT is only viewed in its entirety by approximately 200-250 people per year.
To donate and learn more about the hike, please visit: www.fundly.com/jmtmazula
To learn more about the National MS Society, please visit: www.nationalmssociety.org
To learn more about the National Brain Tumor Society, please visit: www.braintumor.org
Images courtesy of Ryan Eula