Beyond Vassar

Walk on the (Still) Wild Side

By Samantha Soper '91

Upon graduating from Vassar, David Nova ’83 brought his belongings to his parents’ New Jersey home, had his brother drive him to northern Maine, and started hiking to Georgia on the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. Back then, Nova and friend Ellen Coletti ’81 hiked the trail to get away from it all. Now Nova will don hiking boots for another rigorous, lengthy journey—but this time, he’s hitting the West Coast and wants the world to pay attention.

From April to September, Nova will hike the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, to focus attention on the impact of population and consumption. PopHike: A Hike for Population Awareness will champion the 1994 United Nations Cairo Agreement on population and development. It will raise donations for family planning and environmental organizations through per-mile pledges. Completed in 1993, the near-pristine wilderness of the Pacific Crest Trail is a reflection of what the Appalachian Trail once was when it was established in the 1920s.

“The encroachment of population and urban sprawl threaten to turn the Appalachian Trail into one long, suburban park,” he said. “A comparison of the two trails offers an understanding of the effects that unceasing growth and consumption can have on our environment and our communities.”

Once again Nova will be sharing at least part of his 2,650-mile journey with a fellow Vassar graduate. Matt Savitz ’84, whom Nova credits for introducing him to hiking, will join him for a week along the trail. Nova also intends to meet with West Coast Vassar clubs from Los Angeles to Seattle along the way. To support his hike, or to read journals entries and view photos from his journey, visit

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of David Nova ’83