Joel and Joe reach half way point on a 3,100 mile trek across the USA

Posted by tac22 at Jul 14, 2017 11:50 AM |
We catch up with Joel and Joe, the British hikers, and University of Leicester student and alumnus, taking on a 3,100 mile trek across the USA.

They have already completed half of the gruelling walk across the diverse landscape of the United States, and have been documenting the extraordinary environments that they been travelling through.

Once completed, University of Leicester Engineering student Joel Strickland and Geography alumnus Joe Boot would have travelled through five states, twenty-five national forests, three national parks, and 3,100 miles in their journey from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, namely the Continental Divide Trail.

They are hoping to raise £5000 (£1 per km) for the University of Leicester’s Widening Participation programme, inspiring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to raise their educational aspirations, and MQ, who help fund ground-breaking mental health research.

 

How is the trek going – are you on track? cdt 1

The trek is going well and we're just about on schedule. Every day is tiring and keeping up the motivation to walk consistently can be difficult. Acknowledging the incredible life experience we are gaining and all of the positive support we have been receiving, including sponsorship for our charities, is helping us stay committed and confident to finish. We've been through some amazing landscapes and met some great people. This too, has really helped in keeping us motivated.

We completed the Colorado last week. This was our second state completion and we are now walking through our third state, Wyoming. We reached our half way point of the whole trip, and the 1,500th mile, about 50 miles before the Colorado-Wyoming.

We reached the half way point about a week behind schedule because of the slow progress through Colorado. We were caught up in the highest snowfall in 20 years, slowing our progress down from about 20 miles a day to 15.

We have finally come out of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and are now in the Great Divide Basin in Wyomings red desert. The topography of the land is a lot flatter and we have been able to up our mileage to about 23 miles a day which means we are slowly getting back on track. Currently we are on mile 1650 out of the 3000.

We are confident that we will finish on time and are aiming to try and finish 3 days before our flight.

 

What challenges have you experienced so far?CDT 2

The biggest challenge we have faced so far has definitely been getting caught up in the record breaking snowfall in 20 years. The harsh weather made us come off the San Juan Mountains in Southern Colorado and take a lower route.

Having to post-hole in the snow slowed down the trek and added an extra mental and physical challenge. Also, having to navigate with no trail was a big challenge. The CDT is poorly marked in some places and then the snow would completely cover the trail which added an extra navigational challenge!

Another challenge is staying motivated every day. Especially after having no sleep. Sleeping outside and in the cold can really disturb your sleep. Some nights we have not been able to sleep and have then had to climb summits and hike 20 miles. These have not been the most enjoyable days.

The altitude was difficult to adjust to at the beginning. The risk of altitude sickness increases greatly above 2800m. We spent the majority of our time at 3500m and reached 4200m on one summit. Both of us felt nauseous on some days which is the onset of mild altitude sickness. We had to cut some of our day short.

Adapting our minds and bodies to the demands of trail life in the first few weeks was challenging. This was completely a new experience for both of us! Cooking, setting up camp, getting used to our equipment, learning our physical limits, learning to live without home comforts like showers, cold water and beds etc.

 

Can you tell us about any unusual experiences you have been faced with? CDT 3

We have been humbly taken back by the kindness and generosity of local people in each location. From people stopping on a highway checking we are okay and giving us cold drinks; to rides around towns and meals bought for us. From fresh water and fruit left at dry sections of trail, to the offer of a shower and place to stay upon arriving in a town. We call these acts of kindness 'trail magic' and it makes our journey all the more worth it!

When people ask where we've come from and we say "we walked here from Mexico". The expression of shock on their faces is priceless. "You WALKED from MEXICO? WHAT?"

We enjoy meeting people on the trail and hearing their stories. We have met people from all walks of life; from other hikers, to cowboys and ranchers, Native Americans, local people, and town/country folk.

We can't help but notice clear differences between states, mainly the infrastructure, scenery and the people who reside in them. New Mexico has a large Mexican population, there was greater socio-economic disparity here. The altitude is not as dramatic in Colorado, it is much more arid. Colorado is well developed. The towns have expensive bars, bistros, up-market hotels and pricey tourist attractions. There are also multi-million pound houses everywhere. Being on a raised plateau the scenery is almost always mountainous and we're always at high elevation.

We have only just entered Wyoming but the feel is very country oriented. We have already met a few cowboys, it seems to have many similarities to New Mexico. The scenery is very diverse here too.


You can support Joel and Joe’s USA walk by donating via either of the following JustGiving pages:

 

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