T minus 4 days. Rolling down US 2

Not much backpacking prep going on right now. Just getting some road miles towards Montana. Stopped in Grand Forks, ND last night. Althea posed for a photo with me before we set out this morning. 

Just 350 miles or so today to Lewis and Clark State Park outside of Williston, ND. Michelle’s brother, Aaron, and his family live there, so it was a good end point for today. 

Thinking of the trail

A few hikers are navigating the trails in Glacier National Park. Photos show a bit of snow still at the passes and on north facing slopes. Looks like I will start with micro spikes and an ice ax. 

Just a few days away. 

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on


T minus 5 days. On the Scale, the Ferry, and the Road

I won’t scare you with posting a before I walk photo. I will have one taken though, so I can post it at the end of my walk. Before and after photos can be pretty funny. A long walk will drastically change your body. Hiking 2800 miles will put on some serious stress. When I get back, I’ll have testing done to identify any deficiencies, so I can address them immediately. 

I will put my 238.6 pounds out there. I have to be careful not to lose too much weight too quickly on this walk. Protein is a specific concern. I’m taking several eating precautions to try to slow down the inevitable. 

Beans, rice, and cheese

This dinner staple is full of protein. I’ll be eating it three to four times a week. Before you say, “You’ll get sick of that,” please remember you’re talking to the guy who can eat Vidalia onion and tomato sauce sandwiches for a month straight. Food is food for me on the trail. I’m happy that I’m just eating. 

Nuts and nut butters

Peanut butter and cashews are staples. Peanut butter ends up on tortillas for lunch and in peanut noodle dinners. Cashews and almonds show up in breakfast, snack, and dinner mixes. 

Oil and butter

Lots of my pre-packed meals have individual .5 oz packets of olive oil. When I don’t have those to add to each meal, I’ll buy butter. A plastic container holds a butter package fairly well, and the calories are awesome to add to each meal. 


I have whole powdered milk in each mail drop. Whole powdered milk is good stuff. Three heaping tablespoons makes a creamy cup of milk. I will add it to my oatmeal and my Carnation Instant Breakfast packets. 


On the SS Badger headed across Lake Michigan. Took a scenic route through Wisconsin and spent the night in Duluth. 

Now waiting for petco to open because Althea “Bad Dog” Toldme chewed the zipper on her crate and rendered it useless for containing her. Margaret might have had a bit of lax supervision going on at the time that facilitated the infraction. Both were almost summarily executed at the AmericasBest Inn, but Michelle intervened before I could get it done.  

T minus 7 days. It’s Money Time

Maggie wasn’t happy she wasn’t in yesterday’s photo, so here’s a beauty of her in feral condition. It’s what thru-hikers look like after a month on the trail. Going to miss that pumpkin head while I’m walking.

Scrambling like crazy.  Gear is finally checked and checked again and checked again. 

Shed tears as I said, “Good-bye” this afternoon. Incredible people I worked with at Walkerville Public Schools. It was a fantastic 21-year run. 

My gear list is up at The Trek. Check it out. No dollar information going up from me. No way I’m telling what the prep for this thing cost. Still a bit heavy, but hopefully I’ll drop the spikes quickly and be able to let go of the fleece. Spice kit is probably a bit much. It will drop weight and I’ll see what I want to replace. I was surprised at how much my rain jacket weighed. Everyone of those little things adds up to a lot of weight.

I mailed my return permit for Yellowstone back with the required signature.

Threw some tortillas into the last two mail drop boxes to be sealed. Tortillas are amazingly compact and last a long time without spoiling. Boxes through south Colorado are sealed and addressed. Who knows what happens after that. 

Tomorrow we hit the Badger, a car ferry in Ludington, to head over to Manitowoc and the start of the drive west to Montana.

It’s money time. 

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on



Some Friends Wanted Addresses

HERE THEY ARE. Finally, I know.

CDT Spreadsheet Data

This is a link to a spreadsheet with my estimated mileage, days, date, and address data. If you’re going to send a package or letter, please look here to see how it should be addressed. All addresses are United States Postal Services (USPS) unless marked as United Parcel Service (UPS). The spread sheet will be updated with an ACTUAL DATE as I move along the trail. I will not be changing the estimated date column or anything to do with the daily mileage. Not messing with the formulas while on my phone.

Zero Days

When there’s no walking scheduled for the day, it’s called a ZERO. Usually, there’s a lot of walking around town involved, but no trail miles. I’ve only scheduled one zero at East Glacier at the end of the first week. I’ll take another 10 to 30 zeroes or nearos (close to zero trail miles) to rest and recuperate, but I’m waiting to decide on when while I’m walking. The days off could drastically affect the Estimated Arrival date, so watch the actual date for the best idea of how things are going.

Mail Drops

I’m so sick of boxes and maps. I’ve never put together as long a hike as this one, so I’m figuring it out as I go. Everything is boxed through south Colorado. I’m hoping Michelle will get me through the rest of the way. I’ve put together meals and have items laid out, but I don’t have a great idea of how much I’m going to be eating or how fast I’ll be able to move. She’ll be able to shove stuff in a box along with the next set of maps. Mistakes have been made I’m sure, but I’m just itching to get to the trail.


I haven’t been able to walk but a few quick 4 to 5 mile jaunts, so I’m not going to be hitting this in quite the shape I was hoping for. Regardless, the day approaches and I’ve gone so far down this path, there’s no looking or wishing for anything else now. It is what it is.

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on


Ask the Tree. Volume 3. Laundry and Underwear. 

Underwear seems to be the question of the day. Or should I say 7 to 10 days? Simply put, you get dirty and stinky on any long haul hike. Some might even say vomit smelling worthy. 

Layers: A backpacker is going to carry a number of layers to be prepared for weather. A base layer, what’s next to the skin. Mid layers to supplement the base layer while walking or sometimes in camp. Insulating layers to provide warmth when not walking. Outer layers to offer protection from wind, rain, hail, and snow. 

I prefer wool base layers. Wool wicks sweat away and does a decent job providing protection while damp. Wool also does not absorb odors as much as synthetic materials which is important when traveling up to two weeks between washings. I’ll be wearing a long sleeve lightweight wool t-shirt and a pair of wool boxer briefs. The long sleeves provide some sun and insect protection. Going with a boxer brief adds chafing protection. A pair of nylon with a bit of spandex long pants is what I wear for cooler weather with a nylon running short for warmer weather. 

Mid-layers: I carry a nylon windbreaker for insect and wind situations. It’s harder for insects to bite through nylon. A lightweight hooded fleece goes in my pack for mornings or cold days. 

Outer layers: A heavier rain jacket for the times the hail is pounding down along with a light silnylon rain skirt that goes to my knees covers my temperate weather outerwear. When it starts getting cold in Colorado, I’ll make some adjustments. 

Insulating layer: A mid-weight down jacket reserved for camp use only after I’ve walking. 

Socks: Two wool pairs from Darn Tough. One on my feet, the other drying from having been rinsed the day before. I’ll add a third pair of sleeping socks when I hit Colorado. 

Extras: I also carry a pair of wool gloves and two hats: A wide brimmed sun hat and a wool hat that covers my ears. 

Laundry: Laundry is an interesting subject. On a walk like this, you don’t ever know for sure when you’re going to get the chance to wash clothes. I’ll rinse items in natural sources where it doesn’t cause a problem. By that I mean, if there’s flowing water or a larger lake, I’ll rinse socks, shorts, underwear, myself and carry on. If it’s a water tank or a spring, I’ll be going forward in the same smelly condition.

When a laundry mat opportunity presents, I’ll wear my rain jacket and my rain skirt and put everything else in the washer. Try not to imagine a 6’8 hairy guy in a bright green rain jacket and a brown semi-transparent skirt doing his laundry. 

Sometimes I’ll land in a town where no laundry service is available. If I can get a shower, I’ll often start with all my clothes on to get as much grime out as I can. If there isn’t a shower, it’s sink washing time. Neither of these methods is satisfactory, but each gets most of the dirt and sweat out which helps alleviate chafing. 

Most of the time it’s 7-14 days between these opportunities. Ha! Opportunities. 

Kindness matters

Smellin’ on


T minus 16 days. Spreadsheet work and (still) Packing Boxes

Food, maps, shoes, and Aqua Mira

Planning my mail drops has been a chore. I finally got up in the dark and did some spreadsheet work with mileage and days to attempt to put some sort of sanity around the edges of the madness. Knowing at least approximately where I’m going to be and how long it’s going to take me to get there, let’s me figure out where to send food, maps, shoes, and Aqua Mira. I talked about food a couple of posts ago. 

Shoes are being mailed out about every 500 miles. I’ll see how that goes. A trail runner is my preference. Right now I’m choosing to wear Cascadia 11s because they come in a size 15D. I’m also thrifty and was able to buy 3 pairs of last year’s model for around $90 a pair. I’m not sure what I’m going to do for the second half of the journey yet. Waiting on what’s going to happen to my feet. They tend to flatten out after you walk 20 miles a day repeatedly. I have a couple of options, but none I’m thrilled about. That’s what happens when you might need a 15EE. 

MAPS are an important learning piece for me (LIFETIME LEARNER). I’m going a bit overboard because I don’t know what I’m doing. Maps from Jonathan Ley and Bear Creek Survey will be in my hands. Both sets are being sent to me because of lack of experience. I’m hoping to figure out quickly if I prefer one set to the other. Then I’ll be able to ditch one of them. Yogi’s Books is where I purchased printed maps along with a guidebook. I have all the electronic stuff to stay found, but one of my goals is to become proficient with a map and compass. I just don’t want to carry more maps than I have to at one time, so I have to determine where I’ll need the maps and if I have a mail drop set in that area. 

Aqua Mira is what I use to treat my water. I’ll be drinking from streams, lakes, stock tanks, or puddles. I know how to be selective in water sources to minimize the chance of ingesting contaminated water, but often I’ll be drinking from the same sources as the “slow elk” as good old Ed Abbey called them. That water has to be treated. I prefer using chlorine dioxide to a filter. In my experience filters are heavier and they often clog or freeze. Just a personal choice. But Aqua Mira is not readily available on the trail, so I have to ship it. Which means I have to at least have a pretty good guess as to when I’m going to finish the previous supply. 

I hope to have the mail drops finished tomorrow because next weekend needs to be a gear finalization. AND I need to post mail drop addresses, so I can pick up all that incredible stuff you people are going to shower me with. 

A great next question came up for Ask the Tree. “How far off trail do you need to go to get to a post office/resupply? How long does it take? Does it add miles/days to your distance/time?” Thanks Bryan Young! I’ll be answering that question tomorrow in Volume 3. 

Kindness matters

Truckin’ on