Wednesday, March 11, 2009

56 Degrees of Latitude

"Where are we?" was their constant watchword.

Beginning on July 13, 2006 at Papallacta, Ecuador, and ending on April 28, 2008 at the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego, Deia Schlosberg and Gregg Treinish of Bozeman, Montana hiked.


"Our goal was to backpack the length of the Andes Mountain Range, in the mountains."

They did.

"To the best of our knowledge, having successfully completed the trek, after covering 56 degrees of the globe, trekking more than 7800 miles, we became the first two people to backpack the Andes Mountain Range, the first two to walk it through the mountains without relying on roads, and Deia became the first woman to have walked South America."

The fun began immediately. "The anticipation of what is to come combined with the accomplishment of actually getting to a place we have both dreamed of for a long long time was truly extraordinary. It may have been possible to enjoy that feeling for awhile too, if the path we were following at the moment wasn't comprised entirely of mud that sucked us in, often to our knees. They call the section of the Appalachian Trail in Vermont, Vermud; Vermud was nothing. At 12,000 feet, this quickly became the most difficult hiking we have ever encountered."

I haven't read all their journals yet, but you can. You can also download a podcast, or view their photo galleries, or browse through the large library of video files. They are working on books, which should be good.

Not to take an iota from the accomplishments of Appalachian, Pacific Crest, or Continental Divide trail hikers, let alone those who have hiked the American Discovery Trail or the single tramper of the Sea To Sea Trail (to date), but this is an entirely different level of accomplishment.

Think Marco Polo.

Think being in a country where the people you encounter have heard of but never actually seen a gringo.

Think of being effectively lost every day.

Think of being out there for two years.

Think of finishing.

"Though it was one o'clock in the morning, we had nowhere to be, nothing to do, we just were there in another foreign city. We didn't have to rush to the Internet to get updates done, didn't have to resupply to head out in the morning; it didn't matter, we didn't matter. Well, at least not like we have. No one here knows us; we blend in like we would in New York, like we would at home. We are not the center of the conversation, we aren't 'the walkers.' So much has changed in just a week's time since we first saw that lighthouse on Cabo San Pío. I am no longer on a mission, I am no longer moving towards one single point as I have been for nearly two years. I am free, I have no where to be. I am broke, I need to start work, I don't dread the thought."

Think of how you might tackle it.



Across The Andes site
Across The Andes journal
Across The Andes photos
Across The Andes videos
Across the Andes Podcast (choose listen on line or download)
Across the Andes Podcast (download)
At National Geographic Adventure