When planning a trip abroad, most people don't have to worry about encounters with snakes and bears.

However, for Chris Murphy, this is a potential scenario he has to consider as he prepares to take on a massive six-month hike across the west coast of America.

On May 8, the Bridge of Weir man will embark on his journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile-long hiking and equestrian trail that stretches from the US-Mexico border to the US-Canada border.

Chris, a seasoned hiker, has spent many years preparing for the trip, which will take him through diverse landscapes, from deserts and mountains to forests and national parks.

The 32-year-old told The Gazette: "I'll be starting in southern California and going through 700 miles of desert, which involves walking through some of Death Valley and the Mohave Desert.

"Another section I'll be passing through is the High Sierras, which is about 500 miles long and extremely isolated. At one point, I'll be going around 10 days without seeing a road or building.

The Gazette:

The Gazette:

"I'll need to carry my food in bear canisters for all that time, so my bag will be really heavy during this part."

On average, Chris will pass through a town every seven to 10 days, which means that everything he needs to survive in the wilderness will be stored in his rucksack.

He said: "I'll be carrying the lightest gear I can because as soon as I add all of my food and water in there, the weight will almost triple.

"Water is the most important thing. As long as you know where the next stream or water point is, that's all you really need to need to know. 

"Other than that, you just follow the map."

Along the way, Chris will face extreme weather conditions, difficult terrain and dangerous wildlife.

However, despite these challenges, Chris is excited about the adventure ahead.

The Gazette:

The Gazette:

He said: "I know it will be tough in the desert because of the heat and I'll be doing maybe 60 miles stretches without access to water.

"However, I'm well-prepared, so I'm not too worried about it.

"I've done a lot of hikes across Scotland and Europe, so I've not had to worry about wild animals too much until now.

"In America, I do need to be careful about snakes and bears, but they are only in certain sections."

Chris will stay in contact with his family throughout the six-month trek, with his 28-year-old brother Jack set to join him for the second half of the journey.

The challenge is also being used as an opportunity to raise funds for Diabetes UK, which is a cause close to Chris' heart.

The Gazette:

The Gazette:

He said: "My brother who is coming out to meet me is diabetic and I've got a few other family members who are diabetic, so I thought it would be a good idea to raise awareness while I'm doing it.

"I work as a carpenter with First Class Floor Fitters and the team are going to give 50p to Diabetes UK for every metre we lay for the whole six months I'm hiking.

"While I'm doing it, I should have a phone signal every couple of days to send a text or make a quick phone call back home.

"I do have a satellite phone with me all the time for emergencies. If I just hold in the button for three seconds, a helicopter will come, but I've never had to use it."

Chris, who recently completed the Pyrenees High Route along the French-Spanish border, has been going on hikes by himself and with his friends since he was a youngster.

The former Gryffe High pupil said: "I got into hiking through the Bridge of Weir Scouts, which I was part of until I was 16.

The Gazette:

"After that, I started doing a lot of Munros and then we started camping when we were doing them.

"Every year, the trails I've been doing keep getting longer. Me, my brother and my mate walked from Fort Williams to Cape Wrath, which is half the length of Scotland.

"Over the 16 days, we only passed one town, so that was probably the first big hike we ever did and I've probably done hundreds of hikes now."

The Pacific Crest Trail will be Chris' longest hike yet and he has been eager to take it on since before the Covid pandemic.

He said: "I've been researching this hike for around seven years.

"I had my permits, Visa and flights, and I was just about to go when we went into lockdown.

The Gazette:

"Now I feel like it's something I have to do because I've been waiting for years.

"I've organised all my work around this hike and tried to stay away from big commitments because I'm just determined to do this."

Chris is also keen to encourage others to consider going on their own hiking adventures to meet fellow travellers and witness amazing views of nature.

He added: "I don't think anyone will ever know what it's like to do a hike until they actually go out and do it.

"For me, it's a great feeling when you are on your own in the middle of nowhere, have no towns or people around you for days, and just totally relying on yourself.

"I think everybody should go out and try it. You have to be confident but, even if you're not, it will make you confident."

To show your support for Chris' fundraising efforts, visit www.justgiving.com/page/2650miles.