For those who haven’t met him, no: that isn’t Colin. It’s a venomous gila monster. Heh… But he’s seen a few in Arizona and so I thought I’d dig out a picture.
As many of you will know, Colin “Super-Lightweight” Ibbotson has temporarily forsaken the icy wilds of Scotland for the balmier climes of Arizona, and has recently embarked upon an attempt to walk the Arizona Trail from the Mexican border to Utah. He hopes to complete the trail over a period of approximately 8 weeks.
Colin rang last night via Skype, and told me all about it so far. I’ve already told you about the the gila monsters, and he’s also seen thousands of funnel-web spider burrows (fortunately for Colin, they’re not poisonous to human beings over there), but so far no scorpions.
I was also particularly interested to hear about the food available for breakfast in the two hotels he stayed at before he started the walk, but it wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped it might be. There were no grits, but he did get gravy and a biscuit at the first place. He said the biscuit was a bit dry, but until he eats another it won’t be possible to know whether they’re always like that or if he was just unlucky. Roll on the next breakfast buffet, I say!
Anyway, Colin seemed more interested in the walking than the food and wee creatures. He’s on schedule, and reached Patagonia the day before yesterday. He’ll be setting off back onto the trail when he gets up this morning (he’s currently 8 hours behind us), and expects next to encounter WiFi in about a week.
He’s currently walking through an area where there’s a risk of running into illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border, and various people told him in advance either (i) to worry about meeting them, or (ii) not to worry about them. Confusing. In fact, he had an encounter on his very first night in the mountains!
He’d set up his tarp somewhere, and early in the morning he was lying awake when he heard something creeping around outside. Then he saw a shadow creep all the way round the back of the tarp, and a moment later the figure of a man dressed in jeans and a puffer jacket appeared at the front. Colin sat up and spoke, and the man immediately ran away. Colin reckons he was probably looking for the food bag. Apparently almost everybody over there carries guns, and so the bloke was probably afraid that he might be about to be shot. It’s pretty fortunate that he didn’t shoot Colin!
Colin and I spoke a bit about the fact that this crossing of the border is a holiday for him, but potentially a matter of life and death for the illegal immigrants. He came across a discarded rucksack a few days ago, and when he took a look he found that it was crammed full of food and drinks. A little later he found a discarded blanket. It seems likely either that one of the border patrols had caught somebody, or that somebody had had to dump all their kit in order to get away at speed. It’s all quite sobering.
Anyway, it’s possible that Colin will post over on Andy’s blog at some stage, but his WiFi was a bit dodgy last night and so I told him I’d put an update here. More in due course.
Finally, Phil Turner has arranged a brilliant page where it’s possible to track Colin’s progress via Google Earth. It’s here, and, as I type this, the little red blob that represents Colin’s location is currently nestling in Patagonia.