As a seasoned hiker, Chris Murphy is no stranger to braving the great outdoors.

However, the Bridge of Weir man pushed himself to the limit this year by undertaking a massive 153-day hike across the west coast of America.

On May 8, Chris embarked on his 2,500-mile journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, a hiking and equestrian trail that stretches from the US-Mexico border to the US-Canada border.

The 32-year-old started his trip in southern California, which involved walking through some of Death Valley and the Mohave Desert.

Chris told The Gazette: "In the beginning, there was 700 miles of the desert and I definitely wasn't used to anything like that.

"That was the first big challenge, going maybe 20 miles without water in the heat with no shade.

"It was brutal if I'm honest."

In mid-July, Chris was joined by his 29-year-old brother Jack for the second half of the trek.

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Jack said: "For the first 100 miles, I didn't have decent shoes and ended up losing one of my big toenails.

"It was very painful but once I got new shoes, I didn't have problems with my feet."

While camping, the brothers had to regularly deal with wildlife approaching their tent during the night.

Jack said: "You could hear bears outside breaking branches and breathing heavily right outside your tent."

Chris added: "You would rarely see one during the day, but at night, they would come sniffing around.

"They were black bears, so you just needed to make noise and turn on your light to scare them off, but we had to deal with that pretty much the entire trail.

"The deer were also a pain as they would come straight up and hover around your tent at 3 o'clock in the morning, and you wouldn't have a clue what was outside."

Another challenge faced by the former Gryffe High pupils was their planned route being diverted many times to avoid numerous forest fires in northern Oregon and Washington.

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Chris said: "At one point, our options were to either turn around and go back 60 miles or take an alternative route that would be an additional 70 miles.

"We decided to take the alternative route, which involved being covered in smoke pretty much the entire time with scarves around our faces. 

"It was pretty tough and we were meeting hikers who had turned around as they couldn't handle it.

"You're having to make a lot of hard decisions and the entire time you're looking at how much food you have left."

The brothers' diet during the trek mostly consisted of Ramen Bomb, a combination of instant noodles and instant mashed potatoes.

As well as filtering around five litres of water each day for drinking and cooking, the pair had to ensure that Jack's medication was always kept at the correct temperature.

Jack, who has type-1 diabetes, said: "We would have to dip the insulin bags in the streams we walked past to keep them cool during the day.

"There were long stretches without any water, so I was a bit worried about the insulin overheating.

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"Then, at night, we had to put the insulin bags inside our sleeping bags to stop them from freezing at night."

Chris and Jack were able to enjoy a few days of respite in August, when they were briefly reunited with their partners, as well as their parents, at Yosemite National Park, in California.

During a visit to Glacier Point, an overlook that provides a spectacular view of Yosemite Valley, Chris was delighted when his girlfriend Kayleigh accepted his marriage proposal.

He said: "I always had the idea in the back of my mind and a lot of time on my own in the desert to think about it, so I just decided this was the right time to do it."

The brothers' trip eventually came to an end in mid-October after they successfully completed the Sierra, a mountain range in California.

Chris had originally planned to tackle the region earlier in his journey but was forced to wait due to dangerous weather conditions.

He said: "There was 30ft of snow in some places, so pretty much every hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail this year had to skip round the Sierras. 

"Once we got to the Canadian border, we went back down there. 

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"We had massive climbs, five to six thousand feet in elevation, and had to cover big miles as well because the weather was starting to turn.

"While the Sierra section was probably the hardest thing I've ever done, it was the best section of the whole trail and by far the best hiking I've done in my life.

"I'm very happy we finished there and got to stop at Mount Whitney, which is the highest mountain in the US."

Chris used the trek as an opportunity to raise funds for Diabetes UK, as he has several family members who are diabetic.

A JustGiving page he set up before his journey has raised more than £5,900 – well beyond its £5,000 target.

Chris added: "I'm very happy with how much we have raised.

"I would like to say thanks to everybody who supported me along the way and those who have donated, as that kept me going when times were tough."

To show your support for Chris' fundraising efforts, visit