I just walked 500 miles... (Posted 4 June 2012, 11:34pm)
34.7766, -118.6058

The Mojave.

... and I will walk 2160 more. We passed the 500 mile mark today which was a good feeling. It is strange to be on such a long journey. Usually one month on the road would feel like a long time but it still feels like the beginning of this trip. We have such a long way to go but the map shows we are slowly making progress towards Canada.

Today we broke camp and went to a nearby water tank to load up. We were half way through filling up when a dead mouse floated past. I walked the 6 miles to the next water source on the half litre I had from the night before.

We have descended to the desert today and are finally facing the mighty Mojave. We have been skirting around it for a few weeks now and it feels good to be confronting it. The weather forecast for tomorrow is good - cool - but there are 50 mile per hour winds predicted. It should be an adventure.

Marcus at dusk.

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Current nemesis: Poodle dog bush (Posted 31 May 2012, 06:28pm)
34.4969, -118.3439

The dreaded poodle dog bush.

Over the last few weeks there has been a new hazard - poodle dog bush. This bush springs up after fire and we have been passing through the area devastated by the Station Fire in 2009. It has purple flowers and a strong sweet smell.

If you make contact with the bush it can cause skin irritation that hospitalised a couple of hikers last year. It is certainly worth avoiding and we have been taking detours to get around the worst patches. This has meant a few extra miles and some road walking. One of the detours had views of Los Angeles in the distance which was some consolation.

We had managed to avoid contact until a few days ago. I took a short detour around a bush and on my way back onto the trail I collided head on with it. The brim of my hat had blocked a branch from my view and it hit my hat, went down my face and along my arm. I used some of my precious water to wash off and then had a good scrub when we came to a small stream. The irritation takes awhile to arrive so it is a waiting game but I am fine so far. Fingers crossed.

Poodle dog bush is yet another thing to add to the long list of hazards. We are already looking out for poison oak, snakes, ticks, bears, bob cats and mountain lions. This is quite an adjustment coming from safe New Zealand but I am surviving.

The dreaded poison oak.

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Mexico to McDonald's (Posted 23 May 2012, 02:40pm)
34.309, -117.4706

Just a little bit excited...

I try to avoid McDonald's restaurants at home but since I arrived in America I have been on a quest to try the local cuisine. Today after 342 miles of walking we came upon a McDonalds.

It is marked on the map and has been on the horizon for awhile. All of the hikers have been eagerly counting down the miles and dreaming about what they will order.

We passed under the golden arches at 9:30 this morning. I started with the 'Deluxe Breakfast' which consisted of a hashbrown, scrambled eggs, 3 pancakes and a sausage McMuffin. Next stop was Del Taco where I had a burrito and klondike icecream. We then staggered across the road to Subway where we had a 6" sub and got a foot long to take away for dinner. We then headed back to McDonald's where we had soft serve icecreams.

I am currently feeling moderately McViolated but ready for the next stretch - 22 miles without a water source before Wrightwood.

Striding towards the golden arches.

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Gear review: Sleeping pad (Posted 23 May 2012, 10:23am)
34.3089, -117.4706


After walking all day a good sleep is important and the Thermarest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad really helps. I have the regular length which is taller than me and weighs just 350 grams.

The XLite was released this year so it has yet to pass the test of time. It is also just the beginning of this trip but it has already survived almost a month of daily use.

Like its predecessor the NeoAir the light weight material is a bit noisy but it certainly hasn't kept me awake. It takes about 25 breaths to inflate fully and is easy to fold and pack away.

A great feature is the reflective shield which directs warmth back towards the body. I have yet to test it in cold conditions but it feels warm so far.

The main disadvantage of all inflatable pads is their vulnerability to puncture. The XLite came with a repair kit which would fix small holes but a large tear would render it useless which would be problematic in the middle of a long isolated part of a journey. With this in mind I have been taking good care of it and am a bit envious when other hikers throw their foam pads on the ground for a quick siesta at lunch time!

Overall this is fantastic piece of gear and if it goes the distance will be a contender for the gear of the trip award!

It packs down really small - that is a 1 litre water bottle.

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Hot and getting even hotter (Posted 18 May 2012, 02:17pm)
34.251, -116.8841

Lack of water.

The last stretch has been very hot with temperatures nearing 100 degree fahrenheit. Shade has been minimal which has made for some hot hiking.

We have been getting up earlier and earlier to compensate. Our earliest up so far is 4am as it gets light enough to hike soon after 5. It is a really nice time of day to be up and about but getting out of bed is a struggle.

The bad news is that it is going to get even hotter as we enter the Mojave desert. We have also heard there is a 40 mile stretch between water sources which will mean carrying a lot of water and two 'dry' campsites.

We are looking forward to getting to the Sierras and some cooler weather!

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Videos (Posted 12 May 2012, 05:02am)

Jeremy has been unable to upload videos to YouTube from his phone, but managed to send a couple to me. These were taken a few days ago as he was nearing Idyllwild. -Blair

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Recent Check-ins (View all)

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