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Hiker forced to end benefit trek

A foot injury has forced Paul Rose, one of two Pacific Crest Trail hikers raising funds for Homes for Our Troops, to give up his quest to complete the entire 2,650-mile journey from Mexico to Canada.

Rose, 23, and Matt Walker, 22, both hailing from Westlake Village in Southern California, were featured in a Mail Tribune article on Aug. 5 after they reached the Greensprings summit.

They raised about $25,000 before they stepped out on their hike for the nonprofit Homes for Our Troops, a national group helping build homes for disabled veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Homes for Our Troops has been building handicapped-accessible homes since 2004 for severely wounded soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and will soon be handing over house keys to its 40th veteran.

Rose was scheduled to fly back to Los Angeles this morning. Walker returned to the trail today to continue the effort for Homes for Our Troops.

"Unfortunately, my trip is over — Matt will be carrying the torch now," Rose said Thursday.

Rose explained that after they reached Lake of the Woods last week he awoke the next morning to a severe pain in his right foot.

The two hiked about 15 miles that day but the pain was too great for him to continue, he said.

After they caught a ride back to Ashland, Rose had his foot checked for stress fractures. None were found, but the pain may be caused by microfractures which are more difficult to detect, he said, noting he has had problems with his feet in the past.

The two had spent the past week recuperating in Ashland, thanks to good Samaritans in the form of the Jo French family and the Albion Inn. But a seven-mile test hike proved his foot was not up to the task of completing the PCT challenge, Rose said.

"I think 1,700 miles of hiking has caught up with me," he said of completing the trail throughout the length of California.

Walker and Rose, who became friends back in high school, are college students who plan to pursue careers in music.

A third member of their trio, Scott Williams, a Navy veteran who served in Iraq, hiked through much of the Golden State with them but had to step out of the long march for health reasons.

To learn more about their hike, visit the Web site www.trekfortroops.com. For information about the group they are supporting, visit www.homesforourtroops.org.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.