Hitching to Pinedale–Just a bit early

“This looks like a ride,” I thought as the older van with a bike rack on the back of it rumbled down the dirt road towards us. I was standing at the entrance to the Green River Campground with Magpie and Stoaked. We’d decided to try to hitch into Pinedale earlier than planned because the traditional hitch route into Pinedale requires a 10 mile walk in off trail and then back out again. Rather than do the extra 20 miles, we decided to try to get a ride off a more remote stretch, but one that didn’t require any extra miles. The van picked us up and brought us all the way to Pinedale. 

It was great couple out for a vacation around the Wind River Range. They even took us a bit out of their way to get us into Pinedale. Two great dogs, so I got lots of pets in on the way to town. 


I’m going to end up skipping a bit of trail (50 miles) because of how I came out. I’ve already told Michelle this is a place we have to come back to. Two- fold reason for not going back. The hitch-It’s easier to get a ride when you’re standing by the roadside with two females. Second, I’m right in the eclipse zone. Prices are skyrocketing and people are getting ready to freak out on the 21st. I want to get south of the zone and escape some of the bedlam. I’ll still have an almost complete eclipse in the Great Divide Basin. 

The Basin is a desert. Long miles without water, and plenty of cow dung mixed in. I’ll be eating my water. It’s been wet and cold lately, so I’m ready for a bit of a change. 

Colorado will be on the horizon as I finish the Basin. Rawlins, WY comes first though and will be the next place I can post. Remote and sparsely populated area for the next 200 miles. 

See y’all on the other side of the desert. 

Rawlins bound with Steamboat Springs, CO just a jump after. 

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on

Tree

Hurting in Dubois–Heart and feet 

Each downward step caused a sharp pain to shoot up my ankle. Ironically, going uphill didn’t seem to bother it nearly as much. When my foot extended downward and needed to absorb the blow from stepping down, it occasionally caused me to cry out. 

A couple of weeks ago, I’d accidentally kicked a rock into the same ankle. It had been tender for a couple days but hadn’t bothered me since. During a river crossing three days ago, I slipped and smacked it against a submerged rock. It hurt but just about everything does on the trail. I forgot about it till after I stopped for lunch. When I started to walk again, I quickly realized I had a bit of a problem. Ibuprofen it was to get me through the day. Some more that night. And still more to hammer the rest of the 30 miles into Brooks Lake Campground where Michelle and Maggie picked me up. 

Currently, I’m taking a couple of days off to see how it heals. There’s a pretty good bruise and blood pool right on the ankle. 

Mileage and my love

On the plus side the terrain in Wyoming is much more conducive to making miles. The rain and cold chased me into one 30 mile day and a 25 mile day followed.  

I’m still not finding a good groove with walking. The last 300 miles have been a sequence of pushes to get to wherever Michelle is going to be as fast as I can. I’m running towards her, and I know that streak is ending. She’s going to have to head back to Michigan after this stop in Dubois. That puts me in an emotionally fragile place. 

One thing I’ve learned on this journey of self-discovery is that I really don’t like being separated from her. It sucks. 

That and my ankle are making me seriously consider calling 1000 miles good and heading back to Michigan.  

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on?

Tree

This was called Parting of the Waters. The creek split in two with half headed to the Atlantic and the other to the Pacific. I spent the night here after gratefully finding a fairly flat spot after a long cold day in the rain. Six hours of drizzle at 40 degrees had soaked me to the point where I struggled to get my fingers to undo the buckles on my pack. 

Upper Brooks Lake. I know I’m just a couple miles from meeting up with Michelle and Maggie again!

Lima to Old Faithful Village–Running for Wyoming

#¥!&$&%^*!!!!

When I saw the Subway on the corner I knew I might still have a shot to make my 30 miles. I was about 20 into a miserable bushwhack and road walk of a day. 

It had a started the night before. 

“It’s 100 miles, not 88,” I thought and swore silently to myself. “That’s going to add another night unless I add on a big day tomorrow.” I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t realized it was 12 more miles to a road in Yellowstone after I entered the park. 

My Mistake

My phone app ended at the Idaho/Wyoming border, and I hadn’t loaded the next one. “That’s what you get for being a fool.”

As I poured over my paper map, I quickly realized the mistake and made a few mental computations. I could still make Yellowstone, but it was going to take a big day along with a longer run into the park than I anticipated. 

It was four miles from where I was camped to the start of the Mack’s Inn cut-off over to Yellowstone. The cut went almost straight east to the park rather than following the Divide north through the Sawtelle range. I’d already decided to take the cut and save 70 miles to get to Michelle and Maggie quicker.  I’d have to walk most of the 34 miles of the cut in a day to still have a chance to make the park at a reasonable time. 

Making the cut

The five mile bushwack up Hell Roaring Creek was not fun. There was intermittent tread and knocked down grass where others had passed, but most of the time I just had to pick my way up through the canyon to the ridge. What I expected to take  me until 10:30am took until noon. 
The trail became solid as I reached the ridge line and became even more pronounced as I began to descend. Quickly it intersected a popular ATV road and my speed downhill incensed along with the amount of dust in the air from the vehicles and bikes whizzing past me. I was able to go into mental zone that doesn’t usually happen on the trail when I’m constantly making sure I’m in the right spot and haven’t lost the trail. The road was impossible to lose. I even closed my eyes a few times!

Bound to cover just a little more ground

When the Subway came into view, a super large fountain drink and 12 inch club were calling my name. Fighting dehydration all the time has made me a fan of a 32oz and above Dr. Pepper. It’s a habit I’ll need to break immediately upon ending this trail run, but for now they are glorious! 

Another two miles down a busy highway I crossed a river filled with tubers and canoeists. Another quick stop at Mack’s Inn provided me with a Klondike bar and a Powerade. Fuel to make another 8 miles. 

Easy stretch of pavement and then a long gravel uphill on Moose Creek Road would finish out my haul across the valley and get back up on the next ridge line. Beautiful sunset with the all the smoke in the sky. Pushing my first 30 on the trail kept me positive even as my body began to rebel. As darkness crept in I decided on a roadside turnout for a camp. It was flat. 


A moose popped out of the woods just as I layed down. She was not happy I was in her spot. She hung around for over an hour chomping and snorting at me. She finally left and then the rain started. I got up quickly and set up my tarp for the little bit of spit that came down. 

Grinding it out

Morning broke and I was walking by 6 to hammer out my 20 or so by 5pm. A little bit of gravel road followed by a long 12 miles of blah trail through a burned section of Yellowstone. The anticipation of hitting the Wyoming border fueled the morning walk, but once I’d made it the grind through the old burn was tedious. I don’t usually listen to music while walking because I have to pay attention to whether I’m on trail or not. Trail was plain, so the new CRB album, Behold the Seer, went on and I zoned the miles away. 

Michelle, Maggie, and Stoaked (She’s traveling with M & M while healing a hip injury and trying to get back on trail) were waiting for me as I broke the woods and entered the Biscuit Basin area of Yellowstone. Hugs and an olive pepperoni sandwich along with a cold electrolyte beverage finished off this section. 

Wrap-up

I made the hundred mile run in just over 3.5 days. Didn’t make it in until 5pm because I thought as I started out from Lima that it was only 88 miles until I could meet up with Michelle and Maggie again. 
Trying to get Maggie to write a blog post from her perspective. Who’d like to read one of those?

It was my first stretch of consecutive 25 mile days; it hurt. Twenties are comfortable now, twenty-fives are doable, thirties definitely hurt, but my legs are strong and getting stronger. Stringing more and more of the 20+ days together is now the goal. 

I think I got a shot at making this thing. Eight hundred miles in with two thousand to go. 

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on

Tree

P.S. I put on a pair of size 34 waist pants this morning. That hasn’t happened since 1993. 

Ask the Tree Vol. 4 Addendum

I’ve been kicking around my response to Vol. 4. If you missed it, you can read it here. 

I realized as I was walking along that I missed adding a few key pieces to why I started long haul hiking and why I’m still doing it. 

Ego, Adventure, and a Little Bit of Crazy

I left out an important piece in the ego. In addition to time, money, and health when attempting to walk more than 2000 miles, I think you have to believe you can do something that most won’t or can’t do. 

Thoughts like, “I’m tough enough” or “I can do this thing that most can’t” has to be part of the why. I’m not sure how that rolled into  my Appalachian Trail hike, but I know it’s for sure part of why I’m walking now. I needed to prove to myself that I still have the stones to get a trail like the CDT done. 


If I’d been born in an earlier era, I’d see myself moving west like Pa Ingalls or hunting for gold in the Yukon. Instead, I have the most remote wild trail in the United States for an adventure. It’s a chance to turn corners on the trail and see new sights. To walk sometimes for days at a time without seeing anyone else. To learn to trust my own ability to find my way through whatever confronts me on the trail. To have an epic adventure of a lifetime. 


Possibly being a bit crazy is an essential part of attempting to hike more than 2000 miles. I don’t think I’m really crazy, but I’ve been told that by a number of people. And if I’m being honest there are times when I’m crossing a ridge in a thunderstorm or setting up camp in the dark when I do ask myself, “What are you doing out here?”​​​

Often I go back to my lists to stabilize my thoughts and to remind myself of what I was thinking before I left for this adventure. I wrote the lists to prepare psychologically for the trail after reading Zach Davis’ book Appalachian Trials. 


This attempt at a mid-life accomplishment is also about self-discovery at 50. What does run through my head as I’m walking down the trail? And in what sort of proportions? That, my friends, is where I’ll be headed with Ask the Tree Vol. 5. 

For now I’m hanging in Lima with Michelle, Maggie, and a mix of other NOBO and SOBO hikers. Steak tonight and back to the trail in the morning. Going to push hard for Yellowstone (90 miles) over the next 3.5 days to be able to meet up with Michelle and Maggie again. They’re going to take a side trip to Grand Teton National Park while I’m walking before we check out the geysers together. 

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on

Tree 

Lima and my love

Burgers and a reunion 

Landed in Lima (pronounced like lima bean) on the 31st about an hour before Michelle and Maggie made it in. I had an easy 8 mile walk to make I-15 where Mike, owner of the Mountain View Motel, picked me up as he was dropping off other hikers. 

After checking in I walked across the street and ordered a cowboy burger (1/2 pound with cheese, bacon, and ham) and a Pepsi and began my patient wait for the arrival of my love and my burger. Maggie sent me a text that she was hungry, so I ordered her up a burger too! The burgers and Michelle and Maggie arrived at the same time. 


We spent the rest of the day talking while I sorted out gear and drank Oberons (electrolyte mix). The local bar/steak house is closed on Monday’s, so Michelle purchased frozen chicken breasts at the Exxon Station, serious, and made a chicken noodle dinner in the parking lot. Stoaked, a thru hiking friend, came by. Drink and food were shared. She was waiting for her hiking partner, Magpie, to come in off the trail. 

Around 9pm the call came in from Magpie that she was approaching I-15. Michelle and I volunteered to go get her. We had a nice drive up through some gravel roads and the metropolis of Monida, find that on a map, to pick a tired, dirty, and thirsty Magpie. She’d miscalculated water and had a long dry run down to the road. 

Turning 50 and taking a zero day (8/1–Happy birthday, Jerry!)

Five days on the trail and you know my body hurt. It being summer, I took off my shirt, and I tried to wash off some of that dusty dirt.

Even though yesterday was a short day, my body is beat up. I’ve been pulling lots of 25 mile days and need a good rest to recuperate and clean-up. Usually, I like to have a short day into town, and then power out the next morning. Keeps me moving down the trail. That’s also why I’m late on posting a blog piece. Fourteen hour walking days, with quick in and outs in town, haven’t left me much time to write. 

Follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram for more frequent tidbits of progress. 

Today though will be further cleaning of gear and a visit to the steak house to celebrate my birthday. 

Another blog post to follow today to catch up on the last 200 or so miles along with an addendum to Ask the Tree Vol. 4, been thinking about that one, and a couple of new insightful questions that I believe will allow a deeper peer into trail life. 

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on 

Tree
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Bannock Pass–Waiting for a ride. 

I could see the vehicle on the road, how far away I couldn’t tell. Running down the hill with a full pack wasn’t the best idea, but it was Bannock Pass. The town I was trying to get to was 14 miles away to the south on that dirt road, Idaho Hwy. 29. Leadore had my box at the post office and a possible room or at least a shower at the city park. I went for it. Flying down the hill over sagebrush and rocks, I gave it what I had. 

I missed by two minutes. I was close enough to see and hear the truck clear the cattle guard. That was a big let down. I’d stopped for a break about three miles up trail, twelve miles into my morning push to get to Bannock, if only I hadn’t stopped I would have been on the road. 

I’m writing this 45 minutes later and no vehicle from either direction has come through the pass. At Bannock Pass you can see no human structures. It’s in the middle of the middle of nowhere. 

I can walk the 14 mile to Leadore, but I don’t want to and it blows the easy day out of the water. So for now I’m waiting and hoping to get lucky soon. 

Update

At 2:15 after being at the pass for almost three hours and not having a vehicle go past me in the right direction, I headed down the hill on foot. Big thunderheads were rollling in and it was time to get off the high spot. 
Not a mile down the road a fracker coming back from North Dakota picked me up. I had my thumb out as he was going by, but when he wasn’t slowing down, I cupped my hands in a begging motion, and he pulled over. Took him a few minutes to sort out his stuff, so I could get in. But man was I grateful. He took me right to the PO in Leadore which luckily was open 15 minutes later than it’s closing time, so I got my mail drop. 

I walked to the Leadore Inn and got the last available room. I was quickly embraced by Sam, the owner, and his friends on the porch. Multiple electrolyte beverages flowed my direction as we watched the vehicles and the clouds flow by. 

All is good in the world. 

Kindness matters 

Truckin’ on

Tree

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