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#183722 - 03/11/14 12:40 PM Walking the Length of Mexico
mexicowalk Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/11/14
Posts: 6
Greetings All!

I'm new here. After searching for a backpacking community to really dive into, this looks like the best option. I plan to be active here going forward!

This post is an invitation to participate in our upcoming journey. My wife and I are planning to walk the entire length of Mexico next year, and weíve decided to accelerate our research and preparation by crowdsourcing through awesome backpacking and hiking online communities. In the Google Drive folder linked below, youíll find a bunch of different documents, which are all open for you to edit. Please contribute any and all advice and guidance you have.

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B1vRVTPBT2bsSU5TRXBRbXJOY3c&usp=sharing

Our walk isnít just for a vacation; weíre going with a purpose. Read the INTRODUCTION document to understand our story and learn how you can get involved.

Itís going to be big, and itís going to be magnificent. We look forward to working with you!

-Mike

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#183723 - 03/11/14 01:41 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
People with a high chance of success in this sort of endeavor are likely not crowdsourcing advice - you get better information by doing your own legwork. In some respects, you get what you pay for. Since this is not a backpacking trip in the sense that we usually discuss here, most of us are not going to have that kind of advice - I'd think a vast store of funds, researching roads (there are not going to be maintained trails, for sure), researching the kinds of crime you'll be up against (lots, I think) and resources to combat that (minimal), and checking with the government agencies would be more use than talking about clothing and gear.

It'll be hot, potable water scarce, and good luck with that. I wouldn't touch that kind of endeavor with a sixty foot pole. I'd drive and spend time hiking along the way. I like my life.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#183728 - 03/11/14 02:15 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: lori]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
What Lori said re crowdsourcing not being the best way to go.


Edited by OregonMouse (03/11/14 08:06 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#183729 - 03/11/14 02:38 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2838
Loc: Portland, OR
I agree with lori that crowdsourcing might give you a few tidbits of information you might not otherwise find, but if you are serious you will rely on your own energies and do your own research, using crowdsourcing only very sparingly.

As for finding "a backpacking community to really dive into", our community is focused almost entirely on backcountry trekking, either on established trails or else bushwhacking without any trail. We're not focused on international travel or road walking, so I'm at a loss to understand why you believe our community is your "best option" out of the entire internet. Maybe you haven't really researched our site. This doesn't seem like a good sign.

I also sense a strange disconnect in how you have approached us. You emphasize your enthusiasm to 'enter our community' and promise to be "active here going forward", but at the same time all I can see that you are suggesting is that we all pitch in and help you out, without offering us much of a clue how your promised future activity will add anything to our group -- except repeated requests to give you advice and assistance. That's OK as far as it goes. We do help people here. But it is good if new members acknowledge when the relationship is very one-sided in terms of potential benefit and show some awareness of this. That's only polite.

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#183732 - 03/11/14 03:01 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: OregonMouse]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I took a chance and clicked on the link. It appears legitimate and didn't trigger any virus alerts.

From the introduction, I can see you are familiar with Mexico and more qualified than most to judge the safety. It sounds like you will be walking mostly on roads.

With your schedule, you will have to average about 20 miles a day with no days off. If you take one day off a week, you will have to average about 22.5 miles a day.

You have a year to prepare, but time is shorter than you think. In my opinion, the most critical aspect of preparation at this time is to start a daily walking program. You should be able to get to the point where you can average 3.5 mph in comfort. This has been shown to be the most efficient speed to walk in terms of energy used, and seems to be independent of height and weight.

If you come back to the board, I'll pass on some more information on walking. I average between 10 and 12 miles a day road walking, and don't take any days off.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#183734 - 03/11/14 03:33 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
mexicowalk Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/11/14
Posts: 6
Gershon: Thanks for the response, I really appreciate the guidance. I know that 4 months would be a very ambitious estimate. We don't have any time constraints getting back, so we won't be rushing. With more time spent long-distance walking in similar terrain, we'll better be able to gauge our rate of travel.
I am 25 years old and my wife is 22, we're in fairly good shape, and will be beginning a scheduled walking regimen to train and prepare. Would you recommend training to a certain speed (say 3.5mph, as you suggested) and getting used to that, or walking and finding the speed that's "right for us?"

Lori: It's disappointing that you've grown jaded after so many similar, yet unsincere and unserious posts. That would be frustrating.
I can assure you that this folder is by no means my primary source of information. I am studying a number of respected books, guides, and other reference materials, studying topographical maps of my entire route, weather data, crime statistics and reports, travel narratives/blogs/posts, government travel advisories, and related films and documentaries both fictional and nonfictional. I'm talking personally to people who live in cities all along the trail. I'm taking courses at my university on wilderness survival, orienteering, and backpacking. I recognize that internet "crowdsourced" information is a collection of the opinions of individual people who may or may not be any more experienced or qualified than I am. I take each post with a boulder of salt, as my and my wife's welfare are on the line.

I am entirely aware of the political climate in Mexico. In my Introduction page, I explain that I lived in El Paso for two years, working every day with the Spanish-speaking population there. I know intimately many people who have been directly affected by the violence throughout the country. I used to read El Paso's Spanish-language newspaper often, noting that the Monday morning cover page almost always included a death toll. In my introduction, I explain my purpose for walking, which does not ignore the risks involved.

The purpose of this Drive folder is twofold: (1) To get information in the specific context of our journey: Tents or boots that are especially good for this kind of terrain or temperature, experiences in the areas we'll be passing through, advice on caring/providing for a donkey in rural Mexico, etc. (2) To hopefully reach others who could be interested in this endeavor. My wife and I certainly are not the only ones troubled by the situation in Mexico, and the world's perception of it. There are certainly other backpackers who have a love for Mexico similar to mine, and who might want to participate in the journey in one way or another.

I didn't mean to come off as a parasite, coming to suck you dry of information. My expressed interest in participating in the community was sincere. However, in light of your comments, maybe you're right, and the purpose of this community is different from what I need.

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#183735 - 03/11/14 03:37 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
mexicowalk Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/11/14
Posts: 6
Also, Gershon, I've been looking at your virtual hike blog. What an awesome idea! I think that would be a great way to track our training for our hike. The Google Maps Street View images are a great touch. Love it!

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#183736 - 03/11/14 03:49 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2838
Loc: Portland, OR
It's good to see a post that reflects a higher degree of seriousness.

I think you'll find that the best approach to our forum is to ask questions that are direct and specific. Just inviting people to shotgun you with as much as they know or would care to say on a broad subject such as 'walking the length of Mexico' is unlikely to elicit as much useful information as a narrower question on a particular subject, for example: what footwear works for this kind of trip and how can I replace it as it wears out?

Edit: I notice you intend to travel with a donkey. Do you have any experience with donkeys or would this be your first time? I ask because, however much this idea sounds intriguing, animals require a lot of specialized knowledge, from the proper way to pack them and the right knots to use, to how to treat a cracked hoof or sore eyes when you are the only veterinarian available. It would not be something to learn on the fly.


Edited by aimless (03/11/14 04:34 PM)
Edit Reason: added a question

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#183741 - 03/11/14 06:38 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
mexicowalk,

I'm using a Fitbit Zip pedometer to track my training now. It is accurate enough on roads and hassle free. It automatically syncs with the computer and logs the walks. Sometimes I carry a gps to check my speed, but most of the time, I don't.

There is little research on long distance walking, and lots of experience, with everyone having a different experience. All of these experiences are valid, so what we are left with are opinions.

I never exercise in a way that results in more than mild tiredness. I'm not a believer in "no pain, no gain." My goal is to prevent injuries that can keep me sidelined for days or weeks. I don't take many days off because that would be boring. It's not the most effective way of training, but it's what I like to do.

Lately, I started listening to audio books to which I added a click track to keep my stride rate at 120 per minute. I adjust my stride length to adjust for hills and how I feel on a given day. This keeps me at a speed of 3.75 to 3.95 mph on a route with varying, but not difficult terrain.

The reason I'm doing this is I have a specific goal in mind. I'm training to do both 100,000 steps and 50 miles in under 15 hours, including breaks. Don't hold me to this, as I don't know if it's possible for me yet.

Do not train to the point of fatigue as the physiological process for fatigue is different for walking than it is for running. For running, fatigue that is not mental is a result of the buildup of lactic acid. For walking, nitrites build up in the muscles and it takes from 6 to 18 hours to eliminate them. In bad cases it can take 2 to 3 days. If you don't completely recover each day, then fatigue will become cumulative and you will be forced to take a few days off, or worse, experience an injury. Your goal in the next year will be to push back the fatigue threshold as much as possible. It is theoretically possible to push it back to over 50 miles a day, but that would take about 3 years. In one year, it should be possible to push it to 25 miles a day on the road.

After the first few weeks of training, walk at a speed where you can breath with your mouth closed unless you have some problem that makes it impossible. This will keep you at a sustainable and efficient pace.

I'd recommend becoming vegan and banning all processed food from your diet. Oreos are vegan, but not recommended. smile Since becoming vegan, my endurance rapidly improved and my recovery time dramatically decreased. There is nothing in decaying animal flesh or in cow titty milk that our body needs. There are many things in these that harm our body. A vegan diet will also give immunity to many of the diseases you may run across in some areas. This is because the conditions won't exist in the colon that allow for the development of the disease.

I have a new blog where I'm posting some training experiences. http://garythaller.com/long-walking/

I wouldn't take a donkey. I suspect the effort in caring for it will exceed the benefit of it carrying gear. Besides, the last couple I heard of taking a donkey across the desert had a baby in Bethlehem.

I'd make each pack completely self-contained with no sharing of gear. There may be a reason to split up due to injury, and you don't want to leave one person short on gear. I think it is just possible to make a long road trip with a 30 liter pack, but I wouldn't go any bigger than 44 liters.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#183746 - 03/11/14 09:35 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I did click on your link, but all that came up were a bunch of little blue boxes with question marks.

I have little experience in desert or jungle hiking and none at all in Mexico, so I can't really be of much help there.

I do have considerable experience horsepacking, though. First of all, the pack animal (horse, mule, burro, llama) has considerable requirements for itself. Your burro will need to carry its food and water and other gear (such as a picket line for night, an extra set or two of shoes, etc.), so its pack won't have much room for human gear. In addition, taking a pack animal is similar to having a young child along--a lot of extra work and time. Which is fine if that's what you want, but do be warned--the burro will slow you down!


Edited by OregonMouse (03/11/14 09:46 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#183747 - 03/11/14 10:03 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
Read your introduction.... Welcome aboard! This could be fun, watching you two prepare for and execute your trip, hopefully blogging along as you progress.
I've hiked south Texas and northern Mexico more than any other place. You have some serious planning ahead of you as that terrain is some of the roughest and most hostile in the world. It almost killed a friend and me from exposure, us thinking we were prepared and experienced, and that little trek was 43 miles! Exposure, water, footwear/care, pack animal or not, are huge considerations. Specific questions will help, since you are using very large brushstrokes here so far, but I understand you must start somewhere. Ask away!
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#183760 - 03/12/14 09:59 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Dryer]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
If I were walking across Mexico from North to South, and using mostly roads, I would ditch the animal and use a cart instead. The cart would mostly hold water.

I also wouldn't use boots, trail runners or sandals, or both.
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I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#183762 - 03/12/14 11:06 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: finallyME]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By finallyME
If I were walking across Mexico from North to South, and using mostly roads, I would ditch the animal and use a cart instead. The cart would mostly hold water.

I also wouldn't use boots, trail runners or sandals, or both.


The Schwinn baby jogger seems to be the best for this. You would want something with big wheels so it rolls easily over a rough surface. Flat tires could be a problem. I'd install a solid tube such as NoMorFlat available from Amazon. There is usually a good selection of baby joggers on Craigslist.

Carts are a disadvantage on roads where there is no shoulder as you are depending on the driver to see and miss you.

This is something worth testing early in the process. You could always buy one from Craigslist and if you don't like it sell it for about what you paid for it. I'd recommend one that has brakes.

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#183763 - 03/12/14 11:49 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I get a little passionate about footwear and I especially disagree when people lump all boots into one category. There are many types of boots and each boot is designed for a different purpose.

Before reading further, take off your shoes and place your heel flat on the floor. The balls of your feet should be flat on the floor. Now take a pair of hiking shoes, trail runners or running shoes and put the heel flat on the floor. Notice the front of the shoe is about 3/8 to a 1/2 inch above the floor.

Now walk without shoes and pay careful attention to when the forward force is applied by the feet. The impact is absorbed by the heel and the forward force starts when the ball of the foot touches the ground. It continues as the toes touch the ground.

Now take a look at this boot.
http://www.danner.com/boots/desert-tfx-rough-out-gtx-8-tan.html

[img]http://images.danner.com/is/image/LaCrosse/26016_DS?$pdp_main_2x$[/img]

When the heel is flat on the ground the sole is contacting the ground. The result is a smoother pace where you don't have to either endure more impact on the front of the foot or hold back a bit.

Wearing out shoes is going to be a problem on a 2,000 mile trip where buying new shoes may be problematic. I have over 1,800 miles on these boots. I keep the soles covered with black Gorilla tape, so they don't wear at all. Usually, I only have to apply a small patch after every 10 to 20 miles of road walking. The Gorilla tape forms what appears to be a rubberized coating on the sole, especially when walking on hot roads.

These boots do not have a soft midsole like hiking or running shoes, so there is no midsole to break down. Instead, the shock absorption is done with an insert that comes with the boot. I just did wear a hole in one, and a piece of Gorilla tape fixed it up just fine. They are designed to be worn with a thick wool sock, but I've found Thorlo synthetic socks work fine. I also found a thick cotton spandex sock that works well.

They are not suitable for running because the front slaps down too soon. They work ok for double-timing.

Some will complain about the extra weight. On roads, this definitely is not a problem, as the pendulum effect of the increased weight makes walking easier.

These boots are comfortable right out of the box and need no breaking in. They don't stretch over time, so the fit you get when they are new is the same fit you will always have. However, in time, the leather molds around the ankles to get a more comfortable fit.





Edited by Gershon (03/12/14 11:49 AM)
_________________________
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#183771 - 03/12/14 03:58 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I haven't clicked on your link yet but off the top of my head I'd say walking the length of Mexico would be no more dangerous than walking across most anywhere in the U.S.

My daughter and her boyfriend rode his adventure bike from LA to somewhere around the middle of Baja last summer and wonderful time.

I've been to Mexico several times and never felt I was in a dangerous situation. Of course, I grew up in some pretty tough neighborhoods, including San Fernando and Pacoima in CA and what's now call the 14th most dangerous in the entire U.S in Rockford Ill, so I know a bit about how to avoid bumbling into a stupid situation.

Street smarts is a good thing to have, but if you've been hanging around El Paso and crossing the border, shoot, that's as tough as anyplace I've been, and most of Mexico too.

I think if it were me, I'd tend to stay more towards the eastern half of Mexico along the coast. Nothing against the west side, but I suspect you'll find water and supplies easier on the east and far fewer desolate stretches.

As far as having a burro along goes, I don't really see a problem with that. They've been used down there for centuries now. They're surely much better suited to that purpose than a horse.

Two mini burros own me and they treat me pretty good. There's a great book you can buy for learning how to care for them and I suspect what it covers would apply to standard burros too. It's appropriately called " Caring for your miniature donkey "

You've already covered what I'd consider the hardest and most important part of what you'll need, and that's learning the language.

This sounds like an awesome trip to me. I'll be sure to follow you online.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#183776 - 03/12/14 05:03 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
mexicowalk Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/11/14
Posts: 6
OregonMouse: I appreciate your response on the burro. My question is (and I mean this sincerely, not sarcastically), if the animal will use most of its carrying capacity on supplies and food for itself, leaving little for human gear, why have people used pack animals on treks like this in the past?

Gershon: Great info on the footwear. I've been looking at boots, mainly Lowa and Vasque brands. I want something super durable (gorilla tape is a great tip), reasonably light weight, and as breathable as possible to combat the hot weather. Any other places you'd send me looking, or characteristics to consider?

Dryer: I'd be interested to hear more about that ill-fated journey in Mexico. Have you written anything up about it anywhere? I'm also interested in your other experiences there. You say the terrain is some of the roughest and most hostile, are you referring to the physical landscape, or the hostility of the political situation(any run-ins with cartels?)? What areas of N Mexico have you been in? Chihuahua, Sonora, Torreon area? Any insider/experience-based guidance would be a great help. I haven't been able to find many Americans who have explored the area.

FinallyME: A cart is an interesting idea. I hadn't thought of that, though it may be a great option if sticking primarily to roads is feasible. I'm in the process of researching whether roads or backcountry are safer. Thanks for the tip.

Question: Does anyone have favorite books/guides/sites that are specific to desert treks? I've got Fletcher's The Complete Walker, but it's not specifically desert-sensitive. I'd like to shed some more light on the challenges specific to the desert. Also, if you're aware of any travel narratives about hiking in Mexico, pass them along. They seem to be few and far between.

Again, I really appreciate the interest and contributions from everyone.


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#183777 - 03/12/14 06:27 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
Quote:
Dryer: I'd be interested to hear more about that ill-fated journey in Mexico. Have you written anything up about it anywhere? I'm also interested in your other experiences there. You say the terrain is some of the roughest and most hostile, are you referring to the physical landscape, or the hostility of the political situation(any run-ins with cartels?)? What areas of N Mexico have you been in? Chihuahua, Sonora, Torreon area? Any insider/experience-based guidance would be a great help. I haven't been able to find many Americans who have explored the area.


Actually, my ill fated trip was on off-road bicycles and included gravel, sand, temperature spikes, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and a flat tire. You never know what the desert can dish out. It can go easy, or it can bite.
Hostile terrain....just that. Very rough, dry, unpredictable water sources, hot, cold, craggy, sandy, gravely, and everything out there green also pokes holes. I've NEVER had a problem with people/politics, and have served on multiple mission trips down there...just like here in the US, there are places to venture and places to avoid. Mostly Chaihauhauan and southeast toward Brownsville, from the Big Bend. Also straight south into Mexico from there. So, I'd stick close to roads and towns.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#183785 - 03/13/14 02:51 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
A cart is an interesting idea.


How about a burro pulling a cart?



Quote:
why have people used pack animals on treks like this in the past?


Burros are still used as work animals, but in order to work them you have to provide for them. So, if your loading one up to take goods to town you make sure they're fed and watered before you go, and you know there are places along the way where you can water them and maybe even let them rest and graze for a bit. When you get back home you feed and water them, groom and mend them, and let them rest before you get to eat, drink, or rest.

A burro in good shape can carry 25-30% of it's body weight all day long. It can carry more than that, up to 70%, for shorter periods. So if a burro weighs 700lbs you can pack 175lbs on him, but that includes the pack saddle and panniers and rigging and pad and all of that too. When it's hot my little burros will each drink 5 or more gallons of water a day. They probably eat about 8-12lbs of hay a day, but they're not working. Burros also have a wide range of things they'll graze on, so that's a plus.

Thing is, you're talking a long trek over an incredibly desolate area. It offers very little in the way of water or anything to graze on. The less there is to graze on the more time they need to graze. These are problems you'll have to solve, and it's why I suggested you travel the eastern side. To be sure, the eastern side will be no picnic for your burro, but it's lush compared to the deserts of central and western Mexico.

That said, this may be the answer to your question:

Early explorers considered pack animals expendable. They used them until they died, and very much expected that to happen. Sometimes those explorers got themselves into deep trouble when their pack animals died sooner than they expected.
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#183788 - 03/13/14 06:48 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Mexicowalk,

I don't even have a close second on a choice for footwear. I'd suggest reading the reviews on the Danner site and on Amazon. For my next boot, I'm considering one of the recraftable boots from Danner, but they would cost over $300.



_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#183790 - 03/13/14 08:56 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
Dryer Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3569
Loc: Texas
I'd like to see the exact expected route of travel. People traveling with a donky in Mexico would be an anomaly these days. It's done, though. BB Nat Park has mules. I use a motorcycle to cover lots of ground on jeep trails and unpaved roads.

And footwear....I haven't worn boots down there (or here) for years. NB Trail Runners have served me well, Bodyglide for any hotspots. Going ultralite eliminated the need for heavy footwear.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#183843 - 03/14/14 11:02 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Dryer]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1719
Loc: Napa, CA
Two books you might look at are both by COlin Fletcher

1000 mile summer, where he hikes the PCT from Mexico north through the desert in the first few chapters, and The Man Who Walked Through Time, which is his hike through the Grand Canyon.

Both have excellent suggestions (and experiences)
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balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#183872 - 03/15/14 06:33 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: billstephenson]
mexicowalk Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/11/14
Posts: 6
billstephenson, Thanks for the idea! Though part of the lure of the journey is having crossed the entire country by our own power. I worry enough about the safety of a pack animal crossing such a long distance of such rough terrain, let alone dragging our lazy butts! Yeah, I'm starting to think the intake requirements of a burro would make taking one with very risky, borderline unethical. The cart suggestion is taking ground. My university has a good engineering department, and I have a few connections there. I'm thinking of putting on a contest for someone to design a strong, superlightweight cart that we could build. Put a $100 prize on it and see what they can come up with.

The footwear debate does seem to come down to trail runners or hardcore boots. We might just have to try both on our shorter treks (10, 30, 50, 100+ mi) leading up to the big one.

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#183878 - 03/16/14 06:19 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
mexicowalk,

I've read credible research that shows it takes less energy to walk with a 20-30 pound pack than it does to walk without a pack. The reason is that without a pack our legs are about 65% efficient. With a pack, our legs are about 85% efficient. It has to do with the mechanical advantage due to the repositioning of our center of gravity. The best place to carry weight is on top of the head like the Kenyan women do. However, I'm not likely to try that method. You should be able to put together a pack including food and water that weighs less than 25 pounds on most days. You will likely find a least one segment along the way where it will be 50 miles between water availability. I'd want to be capable of walking 50 miles in a day before starting on that trip.

I'd suggest reading some journals about the American Discovery trail on www.trailjournals.com. People seem to average fewer miles a day than I would expect. They even seem to average fewer miles than people on the Appalachian Trail. This seems to indicate that averaging 20 miles a day may be harder than it looks. I suspect it has to do with the location of towns being less than optimum for walking. I think stealth camping sounds like a great idea until a person starts to do it. Then, for some, it might not be so attractive.

I'm an early riser, and prefer to get in a good part of the walking before sunrise. I like to start at least an hour after the bars close at 2:00 so the crazies have had a chance to get home. A person should be capable of at least 90 minutes of exercise before breakfast if they did not go to sleep hungry. There is still enough food left in the small intestine to make this possible. You may as well use it before eating breakfast. If you eat before walking, it will stimulate the remaining nourishment in the small intestine to move to the large intestine where it is not available for nourishment. In other words, you can reduce the amount of food you carry if you use your food efficiently.

You haven't mentioned starting training walks yet. It can take many months for all the physiological changes to take place. Sure, many people do things like this without training, but I also read of many people who quit early into a hike like this because of injuries or they just find it too hard for them. Getting up to 10 miles a day can be done in a few months, but getting to 20 miles a day takes much longer. The cumulative effects of walking every day are more than it seems until a person does it.

Although I'm passionate about the Danner boots, I see people on treks with all types of footwear. My only concern about trail runners or other similar shoes is you will have to buy several pairs along the way. If your feet are in shape, you could make do with what's available.

Lori made a good point when she said that people who complete this type of trek don't outsource for information. A big character attribute for completing this trek will be self-reliance. There are many ways to solve the problems of completing the trek, and the sooner you get out and start practicing, the sooner you will learn your personal methods.






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#183972 - 03/19/14 05:00 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
mexicowalk Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/11/14
Posts: 6
OK, here's an update on our gear situation.
After researching a bunch on boots, and going to REI and spending two hours trying on Lowas, Danners, Keens, and several other brands and styles, we both ended up settling on the Vasque Breeze GTX 2.0's. They were the most comfortable, supportive, lightweight, and had the acclaimed vibram sole. They have great reviews online, and look well-made. I even blind-tested between them and the Lowa Renegade GTX's, and chose the Vasque. We have REI's fantastic return policy backing it up, so if they start to have problems after a few months' use, we'll return them for something else.

Yesterday, our Kelty Trail Ridge 3 arrived from Amazon. Haven't gotten a chance to set it up yet, but once our sleeping bags come, we'll give it a test in the yard.

Speaking of bags, we ordered those from REI.com yesterday. My wife just wanted to get a 2-person bag, but for versatility's sake (thanks for the tip, Gershon), we got two that can be mated together. We got the North Face Dolomite 2S and Dolomite 3S. One's a +20 rated bag, the other is +35. This allows us, when the bags are mated together, to flip whichever one on top to provide the level of warmth that fits the climate.
Any tips on sleeping bag liners (homemade? or just buy them?) would be welcomed, as well as guidance on sleeping pads.

I'm thinking of getting the Emberlit Wood-burning backpacking stove. Super lightweight, packs into the size of a dvd case, and looks like it kicks great heat. That, combined with a magnesium striker/flint for starter, will be our cooking platform.

What are your thoughts on hiking poles? One? Two? Used ski poles? Wood? From what I've read, those who are used to them really like them and find them useful, but they seem to have more application in rocky, mountainous areas.

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#183988 - 03/19/14 10:56 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Congrats on getting some gear. I don't think it was me that mentioned zipping together the sleeping bags.

If you are staying on roads you don't need trekking poles. They make walking less efficient. If you occasionally walk on trails, you can make a walking stick or two from a straight branch, or even a broom stick.

I'd suggest listing everything you are planning to put in your pack before buying much more and try to get a feel for the weight of your pack. Anything more than about 25 pounds including food and water is probably too much. There may be times you have to add more water, and you will want that capability.

You can probably find a video on YouTube with instructions on how to set up your tent. The videos are usually more clear than the directions.

The wood stove sounds interesting.

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#183989 - 03/19/14 10:56 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By mexicowalk
OK, here's an update on our gear situation.
After researching a bunch on boots, and going to REI and spending two hours trying on Lowas, Danners, Keens, and several other brands and styles, we both ended up settling on the Vasque Breeze GTX 2.0's. They were the most comfortable, supportive, lightweight, and had the acclaimed vibram sole. They have great reviews online, and look well-made. I even blind-tested between them and the Lowa Renegade GTX's, and chose the Vasque. We have REI's fantastic return policy backing it up, so if they start to have problems after a few months' use, we'll return them for something else.


The Vasques are a good bet. I reccomend them to most newbs, I have friends who hike a *lot* and use them, but bear in mind they aren't all that durable. On mostly road walking they should last well, but if you like them, you may want to buy a second pair and mail them somewhere you can pick them up halfway.





Quote:

Any tips on sleeping bag liners (homemade? or just buy them?) would be welcomed,


Don't bother - hateful things to get tangled up in.

Quote:

as well as guidance on sleeping pads.


Thermarest neo-air Xlite, and a couple extra patch kits.


Quote:

I'm thinking of getting the Emberlit Wood-burning backpacking stove. Super lightweight, packs into the size of a dvd case, and looks like it kicks great heat. That, combined with a magnesium striker/flint for starter, will be our cooking platform.


Assuming you have dry wood available. and you're allowed to burn wood where you are, and have you practiced starting fires with your choice of ignition device? Have you checked to see if burning wood is allowed everywhere on your route? will there be wood available?

My advice -
1) practice at home first, and on some camping trips. and skip the stupid bear grylls magnesium thing and take a couple bic lighters. that's all you need, and if you break it you can buy another.

2) Wood fires where allowed, can often be made as small twig fires with the pot sitting on three rocks. then you don't carry anything, just pick up a few rocks. Where permitted and appropriate, I do this, I don't mess with carrying a smelly wood stove.

3) You can buy gasoline and kersosene everywhere on earth. I'd be taking a multi-fuel stove (like a whisperlite international) that can burn gasoline and kerosene and practicing with it beforehand. Don't take a backpacking stove that needs custom
canisters or other things as it may not be available where you are.


Quote:

What are your thoughts on hiking poles? One? Two? Used ski poles? Wood? From what I've read, those who are used to them really like them and find them useful, but they seem to have more application in rocky, mountainous areas.


Get out and walk, with your pack on, and try them. I use them, and I use two, even on flat ground, but you need to try to find out for yourself. anyone giving you advice on it is just giving you their own opinion, and everyone's different.


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#184001 - 03/20/14 05:12 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: phat]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
I think you will find these statistics of Lion King's hike of both the northern and southern routes of the American Discovery Trail illuminating. http://www.trailjournals.com/stats.cfm?trailname=5876

He hiked 6,170 miles in 425 days, averaging 16.54 miles per hiking day and 14.52 miles per day including rest days.

I like trekking poles for walking on trails as they help prevent falls and make walking downhill on a slippery trail easier. They also absorb the impact while walking downhill. However, my suggestion for use on roads was not based on opinion. It was based on credible scientific studies that showed that the the most efficient way to walk on roads is to keep the upper body as erect and as motionless as possible. If a person was so inclined, the best way to learn the technique is to carry something on their head. This position increases the leg's efficiency from about 65% to about 85%. By efficiency, I mean the fewest calories per mile which is measured by oxygen use.

Since there is plenty of time to walk 20 miles in a day, there is no reason to increase speed too much. After practicing for a few hundred miles, a walker will probably average about 3.7 mph plus or minus a couple tenths. Efficiency starts to decline while walking above or below 3.5 mph, and this seems to be independent of a person's height for reasonable variations around 5'10 inches. I know this is counterintuitive, but that's what the studies show.

It may seem like over thinking to worry about efficiency, but if a person does not completely recover after each day before starting the next day, the effects will be cumulative. The least serious result will be forcing a rest day. The most serious result is an injury which could require surgery in time. In one of my first posts on this thread, I recommended starting to seriously train as soon as possible. It will take a year to achieve all the needed physiological changes in your body. By serious, I don't mean starting with high mileage. I mean starting with what you are capable of now, and gradually increasing your mileage.

Diet is another issue. I don't want to get in the middle of a diet discussion. I suggest reading "Eat and Run" by Scott Jurek who won the Western States 100 five times.

I'm not optimistic about the idea of averaging 20 miles a day. Although people do it on the Appalachian Trail, I haven't found many modern road walkers that can do it. There are modern runners that can average this distance, but most of these have had various operations as a result of injuries.







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#184024 - 03/21/14 11:12 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: mexicowalk]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
A burro pulling a cart is a very feasible idea, but not to carry you and your wife, just your gear and supplies, so keep following that line of thought.

The reason I joined this forum was to learn about lightweight gear and apply that to how I'd pack my burros. The lightweight cart idea is a great one, and there's a lot of tech out there to look at, like those horse racing carts. The same goes with all the gear you'll be using and a cart would be a primed place to innovate for a trip like this.

If it were me, I'd design a cart that would make it easy for me to help the burro tote the load.

A burro might get you further just because you have one too. They have a strong heritage there and I think the locals would be hard pressed not to admire you're embracing that.

A burro might in fact be key to your success.
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#184026 - 03/22/14 06:14 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: billstephenson]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Bill,

When I was in the Azores, many people had little burros that pulled carts. They stood about chest high. Is there a particular type of burro you would recommend?

Overall, it might be cheaper to get someone to go with them and have a bicycle with a trailer. That was a random thought that came to mind as I typed.
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#184045 - 03/24/14 10:09 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Mexicowalk,

To get this thing done, or to decide not to attempt it, I'd recommend breaking it into small pieces and getting to work on planning.

I looked at a walking route on Google Maps by entering Juarez and Cancun. There are two slightly different routes for walking and driving. Both follow what would look like a four lane state highway in the United States. The good news is, there is a dirt "road" along all the parts I looked at.

In the areas I looked, there were rest areas or small stores where water might be available.

The bad news is it is completely open, and there weren't any places to stealth camp. I wouldn't go over the fence as you might find someone who doesn't like it.

I have no idea if it's legal to walk along these roads, and I have no idea how to find out. It may change randomly along the way. I'd hate to end up in a Mexican jail somewhere.

If I were doing this, I'd take a drive down there to see what you are getting into. You may decide it's not doable in the first few hundred miles.

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#184104 - 03/26/14 02:08 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Gershon, I got a pair of Sicilian Donkeys, commonly called "Miniature Donkeys". They are 36" or under at the shoulder and weigh up 350 lbs in good shape. Smaller ones are more expensive, and anything over 36" doesn't make the cut to qualify as a "mini" so bigger ones can be purchased for quite a bit less. Mine are at the big end of their size.

The reason I chose minis is because I wanted them to bushwhack with me, and I figured the shorter minis would do better in the undergrowth here.

They are pretty amazing bushwhackers too. They'll go just about anywhere I can and they'll always pick the route with the least resistance. If they knew where we were going I'd almost always be better off following them than leading.

Though the minis can pull a cart just fine, and a pair of them can be hitched together as a team, on the trip being described here I'd use a standard burro, and maybe two. They're herding animals and do better in pairs than alone, and we're talking a long trip here.

Burros are really better suited for these kinds of trips than a horse. They're a lot less picky about their diet, don't need to be shoed, and have a much calmer demeanor than horses.

Unlike horses, who think all food should be free and available and therefore don't respond to treats, burros will learn fast to do a double summersault backwards if they know there's an edible reward for their efforts.

Every evening Lewis & Clark bray at me to come give them their sweet grain. If I drive around to the bottom of the fenced in pasture they're in and yell for them they'll come running to find me. I play "hide and seek" with them like this. The point here is that they're not likely to wander off far, generally no further than the next bit of good forage, and if they think they'll get some kind of tasty treat when you call them they'll come running to you every time.

I have no idea about the laws for this type of trip in Mexico. When I've been there I've seen a lot of people walking along the roads, and some of them were a long way from any town. Quite a few times I've seen people come out of the fields/forest where they must of been camping and start walking on down the highway. But I've only been in Yucatan, I don't know much at all about the western states. The people and the police I met there were all good to me. That's not to say they won't take advantage of a gringo, but most won't, and the others won't if they know you're on to them.

The best advice I can give for a trip like this is be humble. Apologize for not knowing the language if you don't, and try hard to learn how speak to them in their language, don't expect or even ask them to speak ours. Everyone down there knows about us jabbing them with "Learn to speak english" when they're up here. Generally speaking we're pretty obnoxious about that and they'll have fun returning that given a chance.

When I've been there I carried the pocket book "Spanish For Dummies" with me. I take it out and show it to whomever I'm trying to speak with and say "espanol for loco gringos", and then point to words and try to say them. That's never failed to break the ice. That totally got me out of a traffic ticket in Merida, the officers just busted up laughing and told me to be careful and move on. grin


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#186282 - 07/25/14 10:53 AM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
This is a push cart Nate Damm used in his walk across the United States.

[img]https://www.facebook.com/natewalksamerica/photos/pb.111168758961363.-2207520000.1406299904./321536234591280/?type=3&src=https%3A%2F%2Fscontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net%2Fhphotos-frc3%2Ft1.0-9%2F553580_321536234591280_501933967_n.jpg&size=730%2C548&fbid=321536234591280[/img]
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#186292 - 07/25/14 05:59 PM Re: Walking the Length of Mexico [Re: Gershon]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6372
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I think that, unfortunately, the OP has left the building; his last post was in March.
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