Thursday, July 17, 2008

Two Lads From Across the Pond Take The Challenge

All European hikes seem like a walk in the park compared to the adventure Paul Hayton of Eaglescliffe has embarked on.

The 31-year-old senior designer is on a mission to cover 3,100 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada.

Together with his old university pal, Simon Cook of London, Paul is walking across the USA following the Continental Divide Trail. The wilderness trail runs along The Rocky Mountain range crossing five states, 25 national forests, three national parks and three Indian reservations.

Carrying all they need to survive on their backs, the duo are walking more than 20 miles a day, six days a week for six months through mountainous terrain.

Paul and Simon started out on May 1 and have encountered heavy snow, water scarcity and their first bear.

Paul’s mum Barbara, 53, a machine operator from Eaglescliffe, said: “They are doing this to raise funds for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust as they both have friends who suffer from this currently incurable disease.

“Paul’s one of these lads who will push and push and he just lives for a challenge.”

Paul said: “Back in 2000 when we left university we made a pact to walk the Continental Divide Trail in 2008. We chose it purely because it was the longest walk we could find any information on.”

The former Egglescliffe School pupil and Yarm Army Cadet, said the San Juan mountains were one of the best sections of the trail so far.

Simon, 31, said: “There is something great about being the first people to make tracks in the snow but it does mean that you have to be constantly alert to where you are and where you’re heading.”

Paul said their shortest pit stop was when they almost came face to face with a bear.

“Before our packs hit the ground I heard a deep grunting or growling sound that sounded nothing like any animal we had heard before.

“Our packs were on our backs quicker than we took them off and as we moved away talking very loudly and making as much noise as possible I turned to see a bear the size of a small car pounding down the hill before it stopped under a tree a short distance away. We did not stick around to appreciate this animal.”

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