Dunedin artist sprints to finish epic trek

Jeremy Star after completing his 4265km walk from Mexico to Canada this week, six months after...
Jeremy Star after completing his 4265km walk from Mexico to Canada this week, six months after starting out. Photo supplied.
Sprinting to the finish in snowshoes and a balaclava, Jeremy Star outran his United States visa expiry and the worsening weather to complete his six-month trek into Canada.

The 26-year-old Dunedin graphic artist began his journey at the United States' southern border with Mexico on April 28, and 4265km later, on October 21, he crossed the United States' northwest border with Canada.

Mr Star spoke to the Otago Daily Times last night from Vancouver, where he was recovering from the once-in-a-lifetime trek.

He said the Pacific Crest Trail was everything he had hoped for, and more.

"It was just so wonderful. I was blown away by the diversity and beauty of the environment. Every day brought another magnificent vista. It was stunningly beautiful," he said.

Mr Star's 4265km walk took him across blazing hot desert, over mountain ranges higher than Mt Cook, through bear forest, around wildfires and over snowy peaks populated by mountain lions. He side-stepped rattlesnakes and scorpions, rustled inside his tent to ward off predators at night and occasionally spied a set of eyes watching him from the forest depths.

But save for some blisters, a crook stomach and a head cold, Mr Star wandered the trail unscathed.

He encountered some "dark moments" when overwhelmed by heat and exhaustion, particularly while crossing the southern desert. Thanks to "trail magic" by "trail angels", negative thoughts never lingered long.

"There is a lot of trail magic where people, called angels, have done the trail before or live along it and leave little buckets of food or set up shade for hikers with cool drinks. They really saved me when I was feeling terrible," Mr Star said.

In California, he celebrated his birthday by eating s'mores for the first time and while in Oregon his mother joined him on the trail for a few days.

He lost about 6kg despite filling up on high-energy food including chocolate, nuts, salami and Pop-Tarts.

Most days he walked 32km-40km, although he managed one "40-mile day" on which he travelled 65km. He frequently took "zero days" to rest and ate a tub of ice cream whenever passing through a town.

The last week was a struggle, during which he doubted whether he would finish.

"I was racing to get to the finish before my visa ran out. The weather was getting worse, more snow was forecast and I was really lucky to just squeak through as one of the last hikers before the trail closed.

"It was a really exciting finish and I had been so intent on surviving and getting through that when I got to the end it really hit me - it was suddenly all over," he said.

Mr Star planned to return to Dunedin before Christmas and was looking forward to being home.

"It will be nice to be back in sleepy New Zealand and not have anything to worry about. It's well and truly time for a break now."

- rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment