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'Brothers on the adventure of a lifetime'

Two LO men take on the Pacific Crest Trail


Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego High School grads Paul Lantow, left, and Sam Lantow took on the Pacific Crest Trail.Imagine any cross-country road trip you’ve taken, full of harrowing moments, long hours and beautiful sights.

Now imagine doing it on foot.

A 21-year-old Lake Oswego man is doing just that. Paul Lantow is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, a roughly 2,650-mile stretch extending from the Mexican border to the U.S.-Canadian line.

Lantow’s journey is the equivalent of the distance from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., but it involves extreme temperatures, high altitudes and exertion so extreme that it quickly wears the seat right off a pair of hiking pants.Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Paul and Sam Lantow of Lake Oswego pose during their Pacific Crest Trail adventure.

The trip wasn’t inspired by “Wild,” Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her PCT adventure, by the way. Lantow hasn’t read it.

“I was looking for a break from the pressures of mechanical engineering school,” said Lantow, who is attending Santa Clara University in California.

He started the journey on April 15 with his 20-year-old brother, Sam, but after 1,500 miles, a foot infection forced Sam to leave and seek medical attention. Lantow is now completing the trail on his own, taking breaks every five to 10 days to recover from the grueling ordeal. Last week, he visited his parents, Sam and two younger brothers in Lake Oswego.

“The Pacific Crest Trail is the best backpacking trail in the world ... and it goes through some of the most beautiful scenery,” he said.Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO 8 - The Lantow brothers, as boys, hiked the Timberline Trail, from left, Sam, Paul and Kyle.

Among the longest hiking trails on the globe, the PCT wends through Mount Hood, Tahoe, Lassen and Stanislaus national forests; Yosemite, Sequoia, Mount Rainier and North Cascades national parks; and the ever-lovely Columbia River Gorge. There are chains of mountains and miles of forest and desert along the way.

“I went because I just didn’t want Paul to die in the desert,” said Sam, an economics major at the University of Oregon. “I think I was just looking for an adventure.”

Paul and Sam, who are both Lake Oswego High School grads (‘11 and ‘12), enjoyed mountaintop views and black bear Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - From left, Sam and Paul Lantow climb Mount Whitney in early June.sightings as well as what they called “trail magic” — acts of kindness along the way, such as an apple pie set out for hikers at Bishop Pass in the Sierra Nevada. Hoofing it through thigh-deep, sun-softened snow up Mount Whitney, sweating through the Mojave Desert and enduring “hordes of mosquitos in the Sierras,” have been among the more intense moments, Paul said.

The most life-threatening moment of the trip was not on the strenuous trail, though. It was during a car ride.Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Paul Lantow walks the snowy terrain of  San Jacinto Mountains.

To reach towns while on breaks after several consecutive 20- to 30-miles-per-day hikes, the young men often had to hitchhike. Once, they waved down an old Mustang driven by an older man with a massive belly and several missing teeth. He regaled them with stories of dealing drugs in high school and serving time in prison.

“Sam asked, ‘Did you go to prison for dealing drugs?’” Paul recalled. “And he said, ‘No, I went to prison for stabbing my wife and her boyfriend.”Photo Credit: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Brothers Paul and Sam Lantow point to places and points of interest on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Their creepy benefactor then mentioned the Belgian pistol he carried in the car, all while drifting across the center line and hurtling down the road at 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.

“It was terrifying. I thought we were going to die and go off the edge,” Sam said. “After that, we were a little better at picking our rides.”Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Lantow brothers have been hiking for years. Paul, left, and Sam used walking sticks to travel around Mount Harkness in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.

That adventure is among the many things that parents Brian and Michelle Lantow probably did not want to know about; they only agreed to the trip if their sons took along a Spotted Anywhere GPS. A satellite signal allowed Brian and Michelle to keep track of their sons’ location.

Before okaying the excursion, Michelle also asked Paul to create a presentation to persuade her.

“He sent me a PowerPoint presentation,” she said. “I said, ‘How can we not let him do this? Let him go.’”Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Michelle Lantow is glad to see her oldest son, Paul, home safely after months on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Brian is proud of Paul for inspiring the adventure and of both young men for executing it. Already strong from their time as high school athletes, the pair took several long practice hikes to prepare.

They’re “just two regular guys who came up with the idea on their own, brothers on the adventure of a lifetime,” Brian said. “I think for young men and young women, the opportunity to test yourself is important and getting harder to find.”

Follow the trip

To learn more about the Lantow brothers’ trip, check out www.trailoftwobrothers.tumblr.com.


By Jillian Daley
Reporter
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