Burnley man's 2,650-mile hike nears end

Former St Theo's student, James Trafford, is walking the Pacific Coast Trail from Canada to Mexico.
Former St Theo's student, James Trafford, is walking the Pacific Coast Trail from Canada to Mexico.

A Burnley man ‘pushed to the limits’ is on the verge of completing the severely imposing 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail hike from Canada to Mexico.

The intrepid 25-year-old James Trafford has 800 miles remaining on his colossal trip, and is currently plowing his way through the treacherous Sierra Nevada as he heads south towards the Mexican border, having averaged a staggering 30 miles per day since setting out from Hart’s Pass in Washington, not far from the Canadian border, on July 12th.

James is undertaking the mammoth trek to raise funds for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association UK

James is undertaking the mammoth trek to raise funds for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association UK


James is attempting the colossal trek, which will take him the length of the west coast of America, in the name of the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association UK (PWSA UK), as he looks to raise money to help support those suffering from Prader-Willi syndrome, a congenital disorder resulting in learning difficulties, growth abnormalities, and obsessive eating.


“James has had some issues with his feet, back and hip joints due to the tricky conditions he is dealing with along the trail,” said his sister, Liz Wilkinson. “Some of the terrain is really tricky and, despite having appropriate equipment with him, it is taking its toll on his body.


“He is carrying around 25kg of kit and food daily and in total, he will cross 57 major mountain passes, with climbs of up to 13,000ft, so keeping himself injury free is a priority at this point.”


The hardy James, who lives in Australia, has already tackled over 1,800 difficult miles over unforgiving terrain, suffering an uncomfortable back injury and stress fractures in his foot in the process. The hike - which is the equivalent of walking to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and back from Burnley - has taken James across three US states: Washington, Oregon, and California.

The hike has taken James through three US states and involves him walking 30 miles a day.

The hike has taken James through three US states and involves him walking 30 miles a day.


James’ fundraising effort has understandably received global praise, with messages of support coming from the UK, USA, Australia and most recently, France, as he continues to inspire PWS-sufferers and their families. PWS currently affects just one in 15,000 children born in England and is incurable, with treatment focusing instead on symptom-management, namely dealing with excessive eating and behavioural problems, making a balanced diet paramount.


“Parents of children who suffer with PWS have sent photos and letters for him to collect at campsites along the trail, as well as food parcels and care packages,” continued Liz. “It has been overwhelming to read their stories and well-wishes, and I know James is so grateful for them. It keeps him going.


“One family even travelled for 3 hours to meet him on his hike, just to say thank you! It’s in those moments that I realise the importance of what he is undertaking.”


On Saturday, 15th October, the same families within the global PWS community who have thrown their support behind James’ gargantual fundraising effort will be hosting a #PartyForPWSA in honour of James’ undertaking of such an emblematic challenge, with all funds raised going to PWSA UK via James’ very own JustGiving funding page, which currently stands at just over £2,500.


Having already run in to the classically extreme American weather conditions on this latest stretch, James has been slowed down somewhat, as the first signs of winter begin to rear their heads. In his latest blog, James says:“Winter is coming and it’s not a game; the Sierra can be hit by some terrible storms, with reports of four feet of snowfall overnight. I need to get a move on.”


James is aiming to complete the ultra-hike by early November. His ultimate fundraising aim is to raise £10,000 for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association UK, and is receiving all donations at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JT-PCTHike-2016 .