A picture is worth... (Posted 18 July 2012, 03:57pm)
38.2557, -119.2315

Still standing.

... 1000 miles! Still 1664 to go but I am starting to feel like I am getting there.

Marcus went ahead when I was unwell a few weeks ago and is three or four day further down the trail. I have been walking with Spins, Baboon and the Michigan Wolverine for the last section. We have landed in Bridgeport for a quick resupply and then its back onto the trail again tomorrow. We managed three consecutive 20 mile days - quite an effort in the mountains - which is what we need to be doing from here on out to make it to Canada before the snow.

My body is finally functioning near 100% which is a relief. My hiker hunger is back with a vengeance which I suppose is a good thing. The Wolverine carries way too much food which has worked out well for me so far!

The Wolverine getting a bit of a lean on...

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Pain and gain in the Sierra (Posted 10 July 2012, 07:55pm)
37.6394, -118.963

Over another mountain pass.

I am writing from the town of Mammoth where I have emerged after a challenging 9 day stretch in the high Sierra Nevada mountains. I was off the trail for a few days with a store stomach and probably started walking a few days too soon.

I hadn't been able to eat much and set off up Kearsarge pass without breakfast. My pack was at its heaviest yet with food for 7 days and some extra because of my hiker hunger. I got about half a mile up the pass before collapsing under a tree.

I forced myself to eat something and proceed, having to stop about every 30 minutes to lie down and fight back feelings of nausea. I should have turned back at this point but I couldn't face the prospect of hitching back down to civilisation just to lie in a hotel room again. It took me 10 painful hours to walk 7 miles but I some how made it up and over the pass and back onto the trial.

The following day was much the same and I was unable to eat much of the huge quantity of food I was carrying. I got over Glen Pass and not much further. The following three days the passes continued (Pinochet, Mather and Muir) and thankfully my appetite and strength slowly returned.

The backdrop for these days was just amazing. The trail has followed rivers up and down passes, across beautiful meadows filled with wild flowers and through forests home to deer, marmots, chipmunks, squirrels, birds and lizards. Above the treeline the landscape is rugged and rocky and there are patches of snow between crystal clear alpine lakes. There have been bright blue skies each day and still no sign of rain.

The miles have been slowly ticking by and yesterday I passed the 900 mile mark. The mythical mile 1000 looms and then the half way point of the trail at 1332 miles. The clock is also ticking and the weather and visa windows grow smaller with each passing day. I am still on track - just - but need to start putting in some longer days. But that begins tomorrow, because today I am talking a zero day.

Home for the night - Wanda Lake.

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Hiker hunger (Posted 28 June 2012, 09:50pm)

Oh yeah.

About a week a go I was hit by what is known as hiker hunger! I am now ravenous almost all of the time and am finding it increasingly hard not to eat the next days rations. Presumably my body has burnt through all of its reserves and is relying solely on what I can eat.

There is a big focus here on how many calories are in each serving of food which is something I had never considered at home. One day on the trail I decided to estimate how many calories I was consuming per day and was alarmed to find that it was under the recommended daily intake of 2000. This is also presumably the amount for someone leading a normal modern lifestyle, not walking all day with a loaded backpack.

I did some further research and found that some hikers aim for as many as 5000 calories per day. The army gives their soldiers 4500. This has made me realize that I need to be eating a lot more food if I am going to keep walking for a further three and a half months.

I have stocked up on extra chocolate bars, energy bars and almonds. I now have the challenge of fitting it all into my bear vault and then carrying it but at least I shouldn't be as hungry on the next section!

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The inquisitive marmot (Posted 27 June 2012, 10:10pm)

I met this marmot while summiting Mt Whitney, which we did as a side trip from the trail. The marmots I had previously encountered were a bit shy so I quickly took a photo but this one hung around long enough for a video. He even struck a few poses on a nearby rock!

I have heard that marmots sometimes take things from hikers so I have been a bit wary of them around camp. It is still a delight though when they pop up from behind a rock or emerge from their underground burrows. Hopefully they will continue to be a feature along the Sierras!

Work it like a... marmot.

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Stage one survived (Posted 19 June 2012, 03:24pm)
36.01, -118.13

"There is nothing in the desert and no man needs nothing."

I am sitting next to an electric fan in a trailer park in Kennedy Meadows, the promised land. We have walked 700 miles (over 1000km!) and are 1/4 of the way to Canada. Kennedy Meadows is considered the gateway to the Seirra Nevada mountains and also marks the end of the desert section. It is such a relief to be here.

Marcus and I have walked the last 140 miles separately. My feet were (are) in bad shape and I decided to stay a few extra days in Tehachapi to let them recover. Marcus went ahead and has been waiting for me here. It has been a really hard section - the toughest of the trip for me. The distances between water were long and we began carrying 7 days of food. It has also been extremely hot and the shade very limited. I ended up walking much of the section with another couple of hikers, Uhaul and Scallywag. Uhaul is a doctor who spent 6 months working in Opunake so it has been nice to talk and think about home.

The desert has been a struggle for me mainly because of the extreme heat. Water has become an obsession and I am now acutely aware of its importance to survival. It has however also been a very interesting section because the environment is totally foreign. It has been great to see the animals and trees that can survive such a harsh conditions.

Ahead of us are the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. It is perhaps the most beautiful section of the trail and it will be cooler and water will be much more readily available. We are now well and truly in bear country and Marcus saw a bear cub on the last section. This means we are now burdened with large plastic containers called Bear Vaults which we are required by law to carry. Resupplying food is challenging because of the remoteness of the area but we have sent food ahead to ourselves. We are lucky that it is a particularly low snow year so we will not need to carry crampons and ice axes. So on we go.

Signing the register.

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Live from the Mojave (Updated) (Posted 5 June 2012, 08:10pm)
35.1271, -118.4504

Talking to Jim.

A few days ago the trail followed a dirt road along the Los Angeles aqueduct. I don't usually listen to music since it might cover the sound of a rattle snake but being on a road I could clearly see where I was stepping. This meant that my phone was on while I was walking for only the second time on the trip. I got quite a fright when it started ringing!

It was a New Zealand number so I thought I had better answer. It turned out to be Radio New Zealand National wanting to do another interview. We arranged the interview time before the line cut out. It was extremely windy which was effecting the reception so we continued on, keeping an eye out for a sheltered spot.

We found a suitable place and had dinner before Marcus headed off to leave me to it. It was great to talk to Jim who is starting to feel like a long lost friend and the phone connection went the distance. It was quite surreal talking to New Zealand from the edge of the Mojave desert!

I had assumed I was alone so got another fright when I heard swearing in Spanish nearby. There was a shack not far off that housed a shepherd. I suddenly felt very alone and vulnerable so quickly packed up my things. He seemed friendly though, I waved and yelled hola and got a friendly response.

As I was heading off I yelled ciao to which the shepherd replied ciao, amigo. This exchange set his three dogs after me, but when he didn't call them back I assumed they were friendly. They just wanted to check me out and lick my legs. I left this scene and charged off into the twilight to catch up with Marcus.

The shepherd's house.

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21 I made it.
15 About to catch the last bus for the season out of Stehekin and planning to walk out of America in four days time on the last day of my visa...
09 It looks like some bad weather is finally on the way. My rain gear might actually get some use! Tough climbs ahead but getting closer to Canada each day and with great group of fellow stragglers.

22 Quick stop in Cascade Locks to shower, do laundry, resupply, eat and 'rest'. Across the Bridge of the Gods, over the mighty Columbia river, into Washington today - the first day of autumn.
13 Resupply for Washington all sorted with some help from Mum, who is visiting on her way home from Europe. Now it is time to escape Bend and resume the race to Canada.

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Blog Archive

30 True to the thru (Part 4 of 4)
30 The waiting game (Part 3 of 4)
30 Something was wrong (Part 2 of 4)
30 A story that needs to be told (Part 1 of 4)
21 "I knew Typo would make it" (Part 6 of 6)
19 Throwing the Hail Mary (Part 5 of 6)
10 Up and down, but not out (Part 4 of 6)
06 Crossing Cutthroat Pass (Part 3 of 6)
03 Warming up in Winthrop (Part 2 of 6)

30 We're sleeping in a toilet (Part 1 of 6)
25 Another radio interview (Audio)
21 I made it
04 Nearly there

29 Trail Magic
19 Walking with Mum

28 Cold food
28 Hello Oregon!
20 40 miles in one day
08 Official trail name: Typo
06 (Humbolt) Summit Fever
06 Road walking around a wildfire

30 Two trail birthdays
18 A picture is worth...
10 Pain and gain in the Sierra

28 Hiker hunger
27 The inquisitive marmot
19 Stage one survived
05 Live from the Mojave (Updated)
04 I just walked 500 miles...

31 Current nemesis: Poodle dog bush
23 Mexico to McDonald's
23 Gear review: Sleeping pad
18 Hot and getting even hotter
12 Videos
12 Wildlife
10 People on the trail: Sunset
05 Eagle Rock
03 Hiker discount: 100%

30 The beginning
25 Final preparation
17 Blogging along the way
16 No publicity is bad publicity
08 Walking before the walk
08 Maps for the trail