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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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To the extreme: Family celebrates as 31-mile hike finishers to honor sister

Members of the Baker family who share a love for Spokane-area hikes completed a much-longer trek in tribute to a close relative lost to cystic fibrosis.

Their journey covered all 31 miles of Portland’s Wildwood Trail in Forest Park, a quest raising $10,150 from pledges in the Xtreme Hike challenge for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s research toward a cure.

Sisters Nicole Jonak, a Portland speech pathologist, and Amanda Nelson, a Spokane nurse, completed the trek together on Oct. 3. Their father, John Baker of Spokane, joined them for the first two miles and the final five miles.

On Jan. 28, the two sisters were awarded the CFF Oregon Chapter Top Rookie Fundraiser Award and Top Fundraisers for Xtreme Hike during an event held virtually that evening.

Their sister, Krista, died in 2000 at age 20. Both Jonak and Nelson said they often think about Krista as they continue a passion for hiking, which they do together whenever possible. They wanted to complete the Xtreme Hike together and include their dad as a tribute to their sister.

Jonak and Nelson’s team name for the CF hike was Salty Licks, inspired by what occurred before testing for CF babies, as parents were encouraged to lick or kiss their baby’s skin. If it tasted salty, that was a possible indicator of CF.

Although new medications are helping about 90% of patients today, a cure is still the goal.

The bluff near High Drive in Spokane sparked the Baker family’s love for hiking. Including Krista, the girls often covered the trails on the South Hill with their dad, and Krista stayed active with them despite her illness. CF compromises the lungs and digestive system.

A 1997 Ferris High graduate, Krista enrolled at Eastern Washington University, but her health started to deteriorate. She died while awaiting a double lung transplant.

Although the original Sept. 18-20 Pacific Northwest Xtreme Hike was canceled in Portland because of smoky conditions from wildfires, the sisters said they were committed to finishing independently. After completing training hikes together this past fall, the sisters were able to finish the Xtreme Hike with family support.

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