Hawke's Bay man Thomas Winlove was told the first 700 miles of the USA's Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) was fairly easy. His answer: "It's not".
Winlove along with friend and Wellingtonian Brent Thurlow are tackling the 4270km PCT in a bid to support the CatWalk Trust and "hiking for those who can't".
The pair have set up Givealittle page to help raise funds and awareness for the trust, which is dedicated to supporting world-class research and innovation in spinal cord research. They have so far raised $2267 for the cause.
"So far we have hiked over 900km and what we have seen and experienced has been nothing short of amazing.
"The first 700 miles of the trail is considered the 'desert section' and almost everyone thinks this part of Southern California will be mostly easy going and flat - it's not.
"It's one of the most up and down sections of the trail and we have hiked up into snow when climbing two peaks of over 3000m elevation. But we have also had days of 30C, so it's been a mixed bag."
Winlove said the biggest challenge during the hike so far were the aches and pains in their legs and feet, not to mention blisters.
"We started out hiking about 25-30km a day when we have a full day on trail, we are now doing 40-50 km. This definitely puts strains on the body and we are having to manage these as we go. But we are definitely finding it easier each week."
What started off as the two of them, has now ended up as five, as life long friendships and meeting like-minded people seemed inevitable.
"We've been hiking with a group that we met on day one and two. The five of us have now been hiking together for over a month. The demographic on trail is so wide spread but everyone is here to do the same thing, hike from Mexico to Canada on a single uninterrupted trail, this creates a strong connection and community feel to the people on trail."
Winlove said the generosity of the locals from different towns and villages had been mindblowing, with people offering them places to staff, food and water or simply giving them a word of friendly advice.
"As we are absolutely loving this experience, there are people all around the world who can only dream of doing something like this because they have some kind of spinal cord injury.
"This is one of the reasons we have just hiked for over a month and 900km and plan to continue for another 3300km all the way to Canada, to help raise awareness and money for The Catwalk Trust."
To make a donation go to https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/hiking-for-those-who-cant.