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Great Peace March Takes a Break in the Desert

April 3, 1986

BAKER, Calif. (AP) _ Weary from walking through desert sandstorms, the Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament took a day off Thursday while officials disputed that internal strife halted the cross-country trek.

″They have been walking for six days, 17 to 20 miles a day, through wind and sandstorms. They’re tired,″ said march spokesman Ben Zeman.

A California Highway Patrol dispatcher, Tine Schmitt, said she was told by march representative Laurie Johnson that internal problems caused the group to stop 15 miles short of the California-Nevada border.

Ms. Johnson called the CHP on Wednesday to cancel a four-wheel drive escort, blaming a dispute for the halt, according to Lt. James Haley.

The CHP vehicle has been trailing about 240 marchers along Power Line Road, an unpaved track that parallels Interstate 15 through the Mojave Desert.

″One tractor we had broke down yesterday evening and we couldn’t use it today. It’s just mechanical problems, not internal problems,″ Zeman said.

Zeman said the group spent Thursday resting, electing a board of directors and organizing camp sites in Las Vegas while repairing the tractor, used to haul a rolling kitchen and gear for the campers.

The march, expected to resume Friday, was stopped Thursday at Mountain Pass, 15 miles southeast of the California-Nevada border.

The marchers are attempting a 3,200-mile cross-country trek to Washington, D.C. The expedition, beset by numerous financial and organizational problems since it left Los Angeles, is intended to rally the nation to end the nuclear arms race.

The hikers are the core of a 1,200-member group which departed Los Angeles on March 1. The organization that sponsored the trek, PRO-Peace, folded March 14 in financial disarray.

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