Dirty, bearded and nearly done to a turn, Jean-Pierre Marquant staggered yesterday to the end of what you might call a cooked tour — a 102 mile hike through boiling Death Valley.
“I’m happy it’s over,” said the footsore and weary Frenchman.
Friends who met him as he finished said he appeared in good physical condition, except for swollen, blistered feet and a mighty thirst.
The 28th-year-old former paratrooper began his walk last Wednesday, announcing he still wanted “to show there is still adventure in the States.”
But he lost his cool during a week of air temperatures that shimmered between 115 and 135° and ground temperatures as high as 190–so hot his shoes burned off.
Uncounted dozens of men have died in the long, salt-bottomed Valley — the lowest, hottest, driest spot in the U.S. – since white men first found it in 1849.
Marquant carried an umbrella and wore a 10 gallon hat. He also wore three T-shirts and three pairs of socks to preserve body moisture as much as possible, and kept his mouth filled with damp gauze to prevent it from becoming parched.
His hiking ensemble also included blue-tinted glasses, gloves, short pants and tennis shoes, which were burned to shreds by the searing sand and rocks. He was forced to protect his feet with socks and gauze.
Marquant was met daily by a support truck that furnished him with water, watermelon, soft drinks and clothing.