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Edmonton hiker starts four-month trek from Mexico

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Edmonton hiker starts four-month trek from Mexico

Postby ERIC » Fri May 05, 2006 8:08 pm

Edmonton hiker starts four-month trek from Mexico

Cassandra Kyle
Edmonton Journal
Published: Friday, May 05, 2006

Rattlesnakes, volcanoes and angels are just some of the things 60-year-old Karl Jorgensen can expect to run into during his four-month hike from northern Mexico to the British Columbia border.

And he’s going it alone.

Jorgensen, a warehouse worker, begins his journey today when he hops a bus to San Diego.

The real adventure starts at the break of dawn Monday with one foot in Mexico and the other in California.

Then he starts walking — 4,240 kilometers up the Pacific Crest Trail before he is back in Canada.

He’ll be recording his progress in his blog. To follow his trip, click here.

“I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think I could, but in my head I’m still a kid,” Jorgensen said at his Edmonton home as he prepared for the trip.

He will be celebrating his 61st birthday in July somewhere in northern California. The hike is like a gift to himself.

The Pacific Crest Trail runs from the United States border with Mexico in California through Oregon and Washington, ending at the Canadian border in Manning Provincial Park. The trail travels through deserts, mountain ranges, thick forests and national parks.

The trail was first explored in 1930 and was dedicated in 1993. It is maintained by the Pacific Crest Trail Association allowing thousands of hikers and equestrians (no biking allowed) use the trail every year. Only around 300 people attempt the hike from end to end in one season. Jorgensen grew up in Washington state and hiked most of the Pacific Crest Trail there during his younger years. It has been a goal of his for more than 40 years to hike the entire trail, and now he can.

“It’s been a dream, and it seems like now it’s financially possible,” Jorgensen said. He has the support of his wife, Peggy Smith, and his employer, Home Hardware.

“I think I will be done in August, but I have no date that I have to be done by,” he said. Jorgensen hopes to travel 37 to 40 km a day.

“He’ll be moving at a pretty fast pace if he expects to finish in August,” said Angela Ballard, editor of The Communicator, a Pacific Crest Trail Association publication. Ballard has also hiked almost the entire trail with her husband.

“I think the diversity of the experience on the trail is what makes it unique,” Ballard said.

Jorgensen can expect to see elements on the trail that vary from sweltering desert conditions to thick snow, and he will encounter a lot of animals.

“In terms of wildlife, there is everything from rattlesnakes to mountain goats,” Ballard said.

In northern Washington there is a bear recovery centre along the trail, but no bears have been spotted yet, she said.

But Jorgensen is not worried about bears. He has more pressing issues to concern himself with, like how to cross streams in the Sierra Nevada mountains without being taken down current.

“My biggest fear is stream crossings because of the danger. They lose someone there every year,” Jorgensen said.

Luckily Jorgensen knows he has angels looking over his shoulder. There are more than 52 “trail angels” on the trail. Trail angels leave food and water for hikers, they welcome adventurers into their homes, provide transportation if needed and apply the odd bandage on blistered feet.

“I learned how to deal with blisters (in training),” Jorgensen said.

Since June 4, 2005, Jorgensen has logged ,808 km training in Mill Creek Ravine, and he does it with his 23 kilogram backpack strapped to his body.

With good socks, angels and a lot of motivation, Jorgensen is excited to start his journey, but he’s not without a little apprehension.

“Am I excited? Yeah. Excited and fearful... you want to do this, but you’re full of butterflies,” he said.
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