Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Four Legs, British, Walks Like Crazy

I don't remember. Some days are like that, and it's been a while, but I was searching for something on the Continental Divide Trail, for whatever reason. Sometimes I do things like that. I don't even remember the reason now, or when it was, or where else I'd looked for whatever it was, but I got somewhere unusual.

I fell right into one of the episodes of "Cookie and Paul do America". It's a long blog, about 500 entries, written by Simon "Cookie" Cook, an English designer and illustrator, who along with his buddy Paul Hayton were near the end of a 3100-mile trudge north along the Continental Divide Trail.

This seemed a little odd, or unlucky, because I think when I stumbled onto their adventures it was already near the end of September 2008, and they were still early into Montana. Traversing Glacier National Park late in the year seems to kill a lot of trips, and I expected theirs to be one, but they made it.

I haven't read each and every blog entry but I have been back to Cookie's web site "Made in England by Gentlemen". A lot, in fact. It's a good place to stumble on all kinds of visually interesting ideas because it's more than a showcase for a hike. Even a big hike.

And hey, Mr. Cook has now finished doing up a video of his trip, and if you happen to be in London on February 6, you can stop by 10 Redchurch Street half past sixish and take it from there. "Three years in the planning, six months in the walking and about four months in the edit - Finally I've got the video / documentary of our 3000 mile Continental Divide Trail hike finished."

But on the off chance that you are not in London that night, or they simply won't let you in, Mr. Cook has put up links to three versions of his video, suited to different attention spans. Three minutes, 15 minutes, and 120 minutes: one of them might suit you.

The two minute preview I got is six MB, and runs in a tiny window. But it's good. This man knows what he's up to. If you're like me and have a painfully slow internet connection, then I've already begged Mr. Cook to publish a DVD. I'd pay, but don't think he'll do it, so I might have to go ahead with the overnight download thing. I simply don't think I can fit a trip to London into my schedule this week. Or is it my budget? Or both?

Anyway the video looks interesting. Anyone who walks 3100 miles in a season gets applause from me. Let alone hiking daily with a partner and not being involved in homicide. I wish I was that good.

If sharing his video and blog isn't generous enough, Cookie also has up a bunch of useful links, and his companion, Paul Hayton, put lots and lots of photos on Flickr. You have to see.

In case you're wondering what could have inspired this, Cookie says "Back in 2000 when we left university, Cookie & Paul made a pact to walk the Continental Divide Trail in 2008... The reason we choose it was purely because it was the longest walk we could find any information on, the reason we picked 2008 was because we had no money and thought by now we’d have all our student debt paid off!"

But maybe one of the most interesting aspects is how Cookie brought his visual design skills to bear. Take a look at the map. "I made this map of the CDT split into each section with basic info like how far it was in between towns, what I thought our daily mileage would be based on the terrain and estimated date we’d be getting to each place. We found it incredibly useful to visualise an overview of the route ahead and get a quick mental summary of the next state etc." Brilliant. No other way to say it.

OK, the rest is up to you. Take a look at Cookie's site. Download the video. Check out the stills on Flickr. And if you make it to London for the premiere, then say howdy for me. I'd appreciated it.

Postscript: I seem to have a lot of trouble accessing Made in England with Firefox (it keeps crashing). Opera works OK though. I'm on Linux as well. No idea how things might work for you.


The Continental Divide Trail, Made in England video version
CDT section planner
The CDT in 20 pictures
Paul's Photos of the trip on Flickr