Brian's Pacific Crest Trail Thru-hike for Ichthyosis Research and Awareness

Brian's Pacific Crest Trail Thru-hike for Ichthyosis Research and Awareness

From Brian Gass

To help pay for the cost of food and gear to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail and to raise money and awareness for the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types.

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Hello, my name is Brian Gass. With your support, this summer I will be attempting to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail that runs 2,650 miles over the spine of the Sierras from Mexico to Canada.

The northbound hike starts at the Mexican border in the scorching Southern California dessert where water is scarce and rattlesnakes, lizards, and bobcats thrive. After the 700-mile dessert stretch the trail climbs high into the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains of Central California where high-alpine lakes, incredible views, and curious bears are abundant. Northern California makes way to more mountains and solitude. The Oregon section of the trail is the relatively flattest and easiest section with dense forest and heavy rain. Finally, the trail cuts through Washington State where a mix of dense forest and big mountain climbs challenges you to scramble to Canada before the first snowfall. 

Among the challenges I will face attempting to thru-hike the PCT, I will be fighting another battle: my skin. I have a little-known genetic skin disease called Ichthyosis. Ichthyosis is a family of genetic skin disorders that are characteristic of a gene mutation that usually causes rough, dry and scaly skin.

Many people like me with Ichthyosis have trouble sweating, easily sunburn, face restricted/painful range of motion, and their skin is much worse in dry climates. At home, I can shower every day and put on heavy lotion (Vaseline) to make my skin look and feel as close to “normal” as it gets. On the trail I will not have this luxury. After a few days hiking in the dessert my hands may be riddled with cracks and the rest of my skin will be in full rebellion feeling something like rug-burns all over my body.

Thankfully, I've learned that after a few weeks my skin will become adapted to life on the trail and each day will become less painful. I know this because over the past few years I have racked up over 1000 trail miles on three continents and exposed myself to climate extremes and durations without home skincare that I never thought possible. I am not advocating reckless exposure to the elements but suggesting with proper protection, training and perseverance I can do it and so can you. I do it because I love adventure and getting lost in the wilderness and I will never let my disease hinder my passions. Luckily, I am not challenged by one of the worst types of Ichthyosis like Harlequin Ichthyosis; I can only begin to understand the physical and social mountains they climb everyday.

The goal of my hike is not only to finish the PCT in a speedy fashion (less than 110 days), but also raise awareness and empower people with afflictions that prevent them from pursuing their goals through my blog ( My message to those of you reading this with a debilitating skin disorder is this: do what you love first and your skin will follow.

I am asking for your financial support as I prepare for this journey of a lifetime. The money raised will go to two places:

  • 50% will directly go to help me pay for food and gear expenses while on the PCT 
  • 50% will be donated to the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types (FIRST). I need about $6,000 to complete the hike and I was hoping to match that amount to donate to FIRST. Regardless of total donation amount, funds will be split 50/50 right off the bat. Anything that is raised past my goal or not spent on the hike will be 100% donated to FIRST.

With the money we raise, FIRST will support Ichthyosis research and programs assisting families living with Ichthyosis and related diseases.

I cannot do this trip without your support. Thank you and good hiking!

Picture/Video Descriptions: 1) Why "Hike on the Good Foot"?2) Selfie of me hiking on the Tibetan border in Yunnan, China. 3) The most epic camp spot Ive ever had(same day as selfie). 4) Ichthyosis Foundation logo. 5) PCT Map 6) Hands of my two sisters and me. 7) A young boy with Harlequin Ichthyosis 8) An adult woman’s hand with Lamellar Ichthyosis. 9) Sole of adult woman affected with Ichthyosis. 10) A typical baby affected with Ichthyosis at birth, with parchment-like skin covering that cracks before or shortly after birth and then peels off in 2-4 weeks, known as collodion membrane. 11) Me, just getting out of the mountains. 12) A silly training day with my nephew.

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Learn more about Ichthyosis:

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