Wolverine Hikes

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. In 2017, I hiked the Israel National Trail and the Golan Heights Trail. I was the first to hike the Baja Divide Trail in Mexico but failed miserably to thru-hike the Bruce Trail in Canada. In 2019, I hiked the TEMBR in Ecuador and now, I'm going to attempt to hike 1,150 miles of the North Country Trail as it runs through my home state of Michigan.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in these endeavors.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Dream Job!

I've spent the past few days putting together an application to Backpacker Magazine to become an Ambassador for their Get Out More Tour.  The job includes traveling around the country, speaking at retail locations and outdoor festivals.  Can you imagine?  Getting paid to travel and talk about hiking?

To get the job, I first need to convince them that I'm an experienced hiker.  I could tell them that I'm a Triple Crowner (AT 2011, PCT 2012, CDT 2014) but I'm prouder, still, to have been the first to hike the 924-mile Ironwood Trail as well as being the first to hike the Great Lake to Lake Trail. During those hikes, I interacted with more than just other long distance hikers; I had the chance to influence people I met along the way and encourage them to get out and hike. That led to me being nominated for a Governor's Fitness Award and the opportunity to spread my message about the health benefits of hiking to a wider audience.

I think my experience with public speaking will really help me as a Tour Host. I've been honored to have been asked to speak at the Caroline Kennedy Library a couple of times as well to smaller groups like the Scouts and some hiking clubs.  Coming up, I'll be at the Berkley Library on January 20th and I'll be heading to Spokane, WA later that same month to speak to the Burning Boots Trail Club.

As part of my application for the job, I even filmed a video and posted it to YouTube.

If you think this job is right up my alley, please leave a comment below.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Library Talk

I'll be at the Caroline Kennedy Library in Dearborn Heights, MI on Monday, October 27th at 7pm. I would love to see everyone who follows this blog in person. Please mark it on your calendars.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hiker Hoopla

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Big Finish

When last I posted, Beaker, Strider, Snowplow and I were stuck at a motel in Many Glacier, MT, inside Glacier National Park. We were only about 40 miles from the finish but the snow was relentless. 

We finally set out to clearing skies on the morning of September 11th. We had a 28.5 mile day ahead of us with difficult topography and deep snow. Snowplow lead the way and truly lived up to his trail name. I swear, nothing slows him down. Even with footsteps to follow, I struggled in thigh-deep drifts as we climbed higher and higher. Truth is, the snow made it difficult but not necessarily more dangerous and it added a layer of beauty that I could not have anticipated. The temps were perfect, the sun was shining, I was with friends and hiking on the most spectacular trail the CDT has to offer. We hiked above the last of the clouds. We hiked within feet of mountain goats. We stopped constantly to take pictures (none of which did justice to the stunning vistas all around us). Finally, soaking wet and out of strength, we made it to our campsite. It was well after sunset and I didn't have one step left in me. 

Monument day! We got up early and hit the trail right away. I had planned to savor these last few miles but I was so excited, I couldn't slow down. We hiked up the east side of Waterton Lake to the border with Canada. There, in a small clearing, was a stone monument that marked the official end of this trail. We congratulated each other and took tons of pictures. The tour boat passed by and we actually tried to hitch a ride on it but they ignored us. That's okay, my spirits were so high that nothing could bring me down. 

The trail continued north for a few more miles to tiny Waterton Township where we were obligated to call Canadian Immigrations and ask permission to be in their country. They were very welcoming. 

Now, Beaker, Snowplow and I had to figure out how to get back into America and down to East Glacier. Strider was going up to Calgary and home to Montreal. There was a shuttle but they charged $75 per person and that was not in the budget. We set out to hitch hike, like we'd been doing to get in and out of resupply towns since this hike began. Beaker went ahead thinking few cars had room for three. Snowplow and I held up a sign that said 'East Glacier, Montana' and stood at a three-way intersection for hours with no luck. I excused myself for a few minutes to go dig a cat hole in the woods and, upon returning, found Snowplow gone and the sign on the side of the road. That Swiss bastard got a ride without me! Must be the accent. 

It ended up taking me two whole days and four separate rides to get back to East Glacier. Not sure if it's because people don't like to pick up hitch hikers near international borders or because Canadians are skiddish about giving rides but I'm going to write a whole 'nother post about hitch hiking in Canada.  

So now I'm back in East Glacier. I'm going to hang around for a while and attend the Second Annual Hiker Hoopla being held nearby on September 26th. Then I'll board a train for Chicago to visit my nephew, Brian, and ride home from there with my brother, Rob. That puts me back in Michigan on or about October 1st. 

Even with those things to look forward to, I can feel the 'post hike blues' coming for me. I'll write about that in my next post but if you have any advice on how to deal with them,
please leave a comment.  

The snow made it extra special.

Snowplow blazed a trail for us 
Beaker heading up to the Highline Trail

Louis Prevost aka Northern Strider. A genuine badass, he represented Canada in the '76 Olympics 
It's one thing to see mountain goats through binoculars, it's another to hike with them.

Starting to get sunburn here. The snow reflected the sun right onto my face.

Beaker takes a break 
Beaker and I holding up the CDT bandana
After Snowplow finished, he hopped on a bike and rode to Seattle. 
Back at Brownies. I love this place.

Please visit HillierHikes.com

Thursday, September 11, 2014

And Then It Started Snowing...

 I'm sitting in a basic but very comfortable motel room. No TV in here but it's warm and dry. It even has running water and a fancy flush toilet! Far from the cold, wet, caveman-style existence that I've been living while hiking this trail. The snow is STILL coming down. Big, wet flakes that build and build. Early tomorrow morning, three other hikers and I will stomp through this snow and climb thousands of feet up to the Highline Trail that will take us to the goal we've been working toward for five months: the small monument that lies just over the border into Canada and marks the northern terminus of the Continental Divide Trail. 

Reaching that monument means so many things to me. It will mean the end of this long hike. It will mean that I've earned the Triple Crown of long distance hiking. It means saying goodbye to dear friends. It means I need to figure out a way to get home. It's all I can think about and it's SO CLOSE. I just need to get there without getting injured or dying. 

There are a myriad of risks: hypothermia, frostbite or just feet so cold that I can't walk on them, dehydration because all the little streams that I take for granted will be frozen solid and, of course, falling hundreds of feet to my death. I always try to assess risk by asking myself two questions: Is it possible? and is it probable?  Take bears for example. Is it possible that I could be attacked by a bear? Yes. Is it probable? No. It's just not statistically likely to happen so why worry about it? Now take the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Is it possible that I will die of a heart attack or stroke someday? Yes. Is it probable? Well... Actually... YES! Most Americans die from cardiovascular disease. That tells me I need to worry about obesity, hypertension and diabetes, not bears. Now look at the risk of suffering from hypothermia. I'll be up at 8,000 feet, soaking wet from the snow while the temperature hovers around 23 degrees. Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? Hmmm... Just not sure. It happens to hikers every year. Will it happen to me?

Despite these risks, I'm going. There is no stopping me from at least trying. If we can't get through, we'll fall back and try some lower elevation routes. As a last resort, we'll just road walk up there but we WILL get to that monument. 

I've got a couple more blog posts spinning around in my head. One about all the amazing wildlife I've seen, another one about bears and one about my next big hike. I'll save those for later. For now, I'm solely focused on finishing my hike and earning my Triple Crown. 

If you, the reader, have anything specific you'd like me to write about, please leave me a comment below. In the meantime, I HIKE NORTH!

Beaker looks out over Old Man Lake. 
Me squinting into the sun on Triple Divide Pass. 

And then there's this guy...

I hiked for a (very) short time with this rookie from Chicago. Look at the size of his pack!

(L to R): Me, Beaker, Northern Strider (from Montreal, Quebec) and Snowplow (from Bern, Switzerland) as we toast the final push to the border. 

Please visit HillierHikes.com

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Bob

Martha here. Wolverine will be out of touch for a while as he negotiates the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. Here are some recent pics from his hike.

This is No One Knows. He passed me just south of Highway 12. Very cool/generous guy.  

Cowboy camping in Helena National Forest.  

Rinsing off in the Little Blackfoot River. 

Astro is always with me. 

Guess which boot has 2,000 miles on it? Thanks again to Dianne Foster, Jeff Kindy and Moosejaw Mountaineering.
Please visit HillierHikes.com

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hail Hurts!

The skies all around me were dark. Thunder and lightning in the distance. I hike in the rain all the time so it's no problem but when the hail starting coming down, it hurt! I've hiked in hail storms before, too, but this stuff was the the diameter of a dime! The closest cover was 30 miles back in Butte so I just had to be glad for what the trail gives me.

I'm sure that a long list of 'thank you's' isn't much fun to read but I am filled with such gratitude that I fear that if I don't express it, I will burst. So please, indulge me.

Want to learn to live outdoors for six months at a time like I do? Then visit GreatLakesBushcraft.com. I've hiked with Jeff Kindy and he is a true outdoorsman and a great teacher. Check him out.

I buy all my gear from Perry and the crew at Moosejaw in Ann Arbor, Birmingham and Detroit (yes, a real gear store in downtown Detroit). These guys use the gear they sell and they know what they're talking about. Catch them online at MoosejawMountaineering.com. 

Kellie, Steve and all my friends at the Burning Boots Trail Club.  I plan to join them for the March For The Fallen on September 13th in Spokane, WA.

The backpack made for me by Honor Point has been solid as a rock. Visit HonorPointUSA.com to see all their made in the USA products. Good people.

Thanks to Libby Shaw for connecting me with Fitbit. Really cool technology available at Fitbit.com. 

Randy Step and his crew at the Ann Arbor Running Fit turned me on to Montrail trail shoes. Randy runs more miles in a year than I drive.

The Wolverine Lake Crew includes my oldest and dearest friend, Suzanne Hollyer, her husband Drew Chinarian, Susie's mom Marlyss Hollyer and her friend Jim Bozzi and even Drew's brother Jim and his wife Gina have all been super-supportive of all my crazy hikes.

All my old high school buddies (including the aforementioned Susie and Libby) George Hughes, Jeff Weiner, Ellen Paynter, and Linda Ferrante have all been more than kind to me.

Gary and Bethany Zaborowski and Gary's mom, Pam White have been helping me since the planning stages of this hike.

Trish Drent good care of me at Yellowstone and has been helping me ever since.

Bob 'Beaker' and Chris 'Dragonfly' Turner are my hiking buddies and Trail Angels.

Sabine 'Foureyes' Pelton prepared and dehydrated a month's worth of food for me. I miss her terribly.

Traci Rink, Ron Foon and Katie Rink

Jason 'Hee Haw' Phelps is my brother. He gives me advice and sent me two SWEET care packages.

Other hikers Lisa 'Kaboom' Karst and Josh 'Kitten' Gann.

Tim and Ellen Haas

My Ironwood friends Lee-Ann Garski and Denise Stephens. 

Dianne Foster, Hal Foster and Bill Harmon

The entire Downriver and Friends FB group

My niece Chelsea Hillier, her parents Jim and Patti Hillier, my dear sister Carol Machak and my brother Rob Hillier

My old coworkers Ian Cvancara and Nicole and Dave Smith

Nancy Krupiarz and the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. Please visit MichiganTrails.org

Betsy and Michael Gosselin and Andy "Astro" Lyons

The good folks at the Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Dearborn, Michigan

As always, my housemates and re-supply team Martha Rogers and Sandra Lowe

My sincere gratitude to everyone who has helped me with this hike. Only about 400 trail miles to go. We can do it!

I hike with all of you in spirit

Monday, August 11, 2014


Before I go on a rant about bears, I need some help. I need people to click on that 'donate' button! I've got about 900 miles left on this crazy hike and no cash to mail food and gear. Any help, even a few bucks, is much appreciated.

Now, about those bears: Haven't seen ANY this whole hike. No black bears, no grizzlies. This reinforces my belief that the only thing worse than bears is bear-a-noia. One of the most common topics among CDT hikers seems to center around wether or not to carry bear spray. I carried a small pepper spray on the AT but never used it. I've gone without this whole hike until my dear friend Trish Drent forced me to carry a can of spray. I'm surprised that even some of the truly ultra-light guys are 'spending' 10 ounces or more on a can of bear spray. I'm just not convinced that it's worth it. There are signs that claim there are now 500 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Think about how big an area that actually is and it becomes clear why I haven't seen one. Yet. 

I spent last night cowboy camping (no tent) on the bank of a river in an area supposedly populated by grizzly bears. Slept like a rock. I noticed this morning that people had been fishing and cleaning fish nearby. Still didn't bother me. Until I see some statistics or some solid data that convinces me otherwise, I'll continue to disregard warnings about bears. 

Disagree with me? Want to warn me about bears? Leave me a comment below!

The beard is getting out of control. 

Osprey are everywhere! This nest had two young birds just learning to fly. 

I'm scheduled to speak again at the Dearborn Heights Library. Details soon.

Cowboy camping in bear country. Doesn't bother me. 

My super moon rising above the Madison Range. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hiking With Others

I've been hiking alone since Chama, New Mexico but I recently hiked a little bit with some other guys. I'll tell you about them but first, a couple shout outs:

Gary and Bethany Zaborowski and Pam White: You guys have been great. I really miss hiking with Gary.

Trish Drent: You made Yellowstone a highlight of my hike. Thanks for being such a kind hostess. 

Dianne Foster, Bill Harmon and Hal Foster: Good folks, all of them. 

So, in the past, I've hiked with and learned much from Sabine 'Foureyes' Pelton, Jason 'Hee Haw' Phelps and Bob 'Beaker' Turner. But more recently I decided that I only have one speed and that's Wolverine Speed and I was reluctant to adjust to anyone else's pace. That, coupled with the fact that there are so few other hikers out here, means that I do much of the trail by myself. That has some advantages when it comes to stealth camping and enjoying peaceful evenings but it makes navigation and picture taking more difficult. 

On this trail, I sometimes see other hikers in towns but rarely out on the trail. Leaving Dubois, WY, I hiked for a bit with the Viking. Thirty-four year old Juri Christian was born in East Germany but lives in Iceland. Of course, he hasn't been home in 2 1/2 years - he's been hiking in South America, New Zealand and these United States. He's fast. I have to work hard and stay focused to keep up with him but the conversation alone is worth it. In between puffs of his hand-rolled cigarettes he'll tell you about climbing the Dolomites in Italy or traipsing around Laos. If he's not speaking directly to you, he is intensely studying maps of the trail ahead. He was the first to make it through the high route in Colorado this season and he has a plan to do something only a couple other people in the world have done: hike the Triple Crown in one year. I believe he can do it. 

Once I lost Viking (he sped on ahead), I was passed by Ben and Dash but not before I spent a couple days hiking with them. Ben is from Maine and first hiked half the AT at age 19. He's quiet (at first) and humble (always). I have to be careful with him - if he says a particular section of trail is 'sketchy', that translates to 'impassable' for me. He still chooses risky, high elevation routes even though there are perfectly hikable trails down here. By me. 

Then there's Dash. Also young, also fast. He's a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) grad and he's got his shit together. He hikes at my fastest pace possible while looking down at his Garmin GPS or aligning his map and compass. He's a little aloof but I'm too out of breath to call him out on it. 

Here's what all these guys have in common that I can apply to my own hiking style: All three wear shorts, trail shoes and short gaitors. They don't slow for ANY obstacle. They splash across rivers, they bound over blowdowns and they ignore the views. They eat while they hike, they drink while they hike. I think they even sneak in naps all while hiking at 3.5 mph. Then, they cowboy camp at night rather than set up a tent. 

Me? I'm still in long pants and over-the-ankle boots. I stop to figure out the easiest and safest way to cross a river. I carefully step over snags because I don't want to fall or tear my backpack. I stop to listen to the waddle of a sandhill crane or apply a thick layer of sunscreen. The ONLY way I'm at the same place on the trail is because I take fewer zeros and more direct routes. 

Let me add to my comment above regarding the advantages of hiking with others: camaraderie, speed and insight. THOSE are the advantages to hiking with others. 

From whom have you learned a thing or two about hiking? Leave me a comment and give them some props!

The Viking holds up his shirt. It may be falling apart but it has more miles than I do.  

I love that this sign is shot up. That's Wyoming. 

My heart is filled by the beauty that surrounds me.  

You think I'm losing weight? Look at Ben. It's just part of long distance hiking. 

Wasabi almonds? Who knew there WAS such a thing? My brother Hee Haw sent me this and more in a care package. 

Please visit HillierHikes.com

Sunday, July 20, 2014

This Is It!

Enough of the treacherous, snowy mountain passes, enough of the road walking, enough of the endless, rolling brown hills - this is the trail I've been looking for. But first, a couple of shout outs:

High school friends: George Hughes, Libby Shaw and Ellen Paynter. Thanks for helping me with this hike!

The Wolverine Lake Crew: Susie and Drew, Marlyss, Jim, Stacey and all the kids... Can't wait to see you guys when I get back!

Traci Rink, Ron Foon and Katie Rink: You guys travel the world and you inspire me to do the same.

Perry Keydel and all my friends at Moosejaw: Thanks for all the help in getting me ready for this hike.

Jason 'Hee Haw' Phelps: My old hiking buddy came through for me, again. Thank you, Brother!

Gary and Bethany Zaborowski and Pam White: Thank you for all the gear and supplies!

After going around snow that was too deep in some parts and going for miles with no water in others, I finally made it to the Wind River Range in western Wyoming. This is the kind of trail I've been longing for. Plenty of clean water but not too soggy, well-maintained trail, other hikers to share information with... This part of the CDT has it all! And the scenery? My God, the views! The Cirque of the Towers has to be in the 'Top 5' list of coolest things I've ever seen. Feels like it took forever to get here (3 months and 1,800 or so miles) but it really is worth it. Challenges remain - I hurt my foot when I fell through the snow and jammed it awkwardly into the rocks beneath and I continue to rely (too heavily) on the GPS in my phone to stay on the trail. I used all my battery power taking pictures in the Cirque so I had to bail out early to get to Pinedale to resupply and recharge. I can't wait to get back to the Trail. I have more of the Winds to finish and then I head up into Yellowstone - should be  another highlight of this hike. After that, I'll hike along the border of Idaho and Montana for a while before cutting back east and then north to Canada. I still have many miles to hike and I'm sure there will be obstacles to overcome  but, at this point, I feel pretty good and I think I can see a speck of light at the end of the tunnel. If you've ever visited Yellowstone or hiked in Montana, leave a comment and let me know what to expect. If you want to be part of this adventure, click on the 'donate' button on the homepage and help me keep hiking north! Thank you!

This stupid beard has got to go.  
In the upper left hand corner of this picture, way in the distance, is a mountain pass that I came over the day before. 

Alpine flowers blooming everywhere! They have such a short growing season that they all come out at once. Beautiful!

Astro is with me, in spirit, every step of the way. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Halfway There!

Man, oh man... I have been out there. I mean really OUT THERE. I'll give you the whole story in a minute. First, a couple of quick shout-outs:

Michael and Betsy Gosselin:  When it seems like I can't make it any further, I think of Astro and I keep hiking.

Jack Graham: That backpack you built for me is bullet proof. It's been with me every step of the way. Thank you.

Kellie and Steve and all my friends in the Burning Boots Trail Club: I'll see you guys in September at the March for the Fallen.

To Everyone Who Clicked on the 'Donate' button on the homepage: Thank you for being part of this hike. We're more than halfway there!

I've never been more remote. So far away from civilization. Nothing around me for miles and miles except giant mountains. No phone. No GPS. No altimeter... Not even a watch. Just a map showing the surrounding 3 or 4 miles and a compass. It's a week of difficult hiking in any direction to get out of here. The Trail? There is no trail. It's covered in snow. All I can do is keep moving forward and pray I don't come to a river I can't cross or a pass too steep to climb. This is like some kind of 'hiker obstacle course'. Start with a hundred yards of deep snow. Then maybe a steep climb up loose shale. Next is a tangled mess of giant pine trees that were blown down. Add a raging river underneath it so if I fall, I'm really screwed. It's like a hiker's version of 'American Ninja'. I longed for Michigan's hundreds of miles of nice, flat, compact earth softened by pine needles. I'm proud of myself for making it through with just map and compass but I learned that it's tedious, dangerous and it takes forever.

Crossing from Colorado into Wyoming at mile 1,532 was a big deal for me. Not sure if it's exactly halfway but it feels like it. Two states down and two more to go. I can do this. My body is in good shape. My gear is taking a beating but I think it will last. Got my phone back and Wyoming maps will be in my next resupply box. The trail itself is getting easier with less snow and lower elevations. Seems like there are fewer alternate routes from here on so maybe the path itself will be well-trod.

I'm posting this from my phone and can't seem to add photographs. Look for lots of pics in a seperate post.

I appreciate all the well-wishes and support. I'll take all that positive energy and keep hiking north!


Almost to Silverthorne, Colorado!

North of Steamboat Springs, CO

My Honor Point backpack. This pack has been with me every step of the way and I love it. 

That's Big Agnes (like the company!) in the background. They're HQ'd in Steamboat Springs.

Apparently, Wyoming didn't get the memo: IT'S JULY. Enough with the snow already!?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Real CDT

The motto of the CDT is "Embrace the Brutality". About 8 miles south of the Colorado border, I saw the brutality. I did not embrace it. I ran and hid in my tent like a little girl. Beaker and I were up at about 10K feet when hail turned to rain turned to sleet and that, finally, turned to snow. We couldn't find the trail. Our paper maps were shredding in the wind and rain like tissues. Phones and GPS couldn't find us and we could barely read the screens, anyway. It was brutal. We set up our tents and hid, shivering inside.

Connecting with the trail north of Creede, Colorado was an experience. As I made my way up to the 12,300 foot San Luis Pass, I couldn't wait to see what was on the other side. I finally made it over to find that Colorado didn't know that it was June. Still, tons of snow up there. I began fighting my way through this obstacle course for long distance hikers. There were long stretches of post holing in deep snow. There were some steep shale scrambles to climb, there were raging rivers to ford... THIS was the CDT I had been looking for. It was brutal. And I was embracing it.

The trouble with this kind of hiking is that it takes forever. That means carrying more food. That means needing more battery power. You start early in the morning so you can walk on top of the frozen crust over the snow fields. By early afternoon, you're worried about falling through the snow to the river running... right under you! You have to pause constantly to look at the terrain, look at your map, try and figure out a way around, a way through... I became convinced that there was only one way, a small thread that, if I found it, I could make it through. I passed a series of 'no turning back' type features like glissading 300 feet down the side of a mountain. It was fun doing it but, when I looked back up that hill, I knew there was no way I could go back up it. We try not to do this in long distance hiking. Climbers call it getting 'cliffed off'. Passing obstacles that make it impossible to get back the way you came from is not always the best move but, on the other hand, you have to commit at some point. You have to say, "I'm not going back and I will find a way around any obstacles before me."

I used every bit of gear that I brought. My ice axe, while heavy, saved my butt several times. The Yak Trax on my boots gave me just enough traction to climb up steep snow and the gators kept my feet dry. I ended up being very glad that I carried all of it. Having said that, I think it's time to send it all home. My pack is way too heavy and I don't think I'll need those things from here on out.

I finally came down out of the mountains to the lush Cochetopa Valley. Back to the kind of hiking I really enjoy - big miles, beautiful scenery  and plenty of water. According to the map, I needed to cross this river. Both a bridge and a beaver dam that used to cross this river were out but I was brimming with confidence, having just forded a dozen rivers of equal intensity. I took all the usual precautions: I took off my boots, socks and gators and tied them to my pack. I unbuckled all the straps on my pack. I checked my phone one last time before crossing to make sure I was on the right track. Tucked the phone into the GoreTex pocket of my shell (see the mistake?). I picked a 'bail out' point downstream - something to aim for if a fell in. As I inched closer to the fast water, my trekking pole vibrated wildly in the rushing water. This was deeper and faster than I had anticipated. Right when I decided to go back and give this some more thought, the 'shelf' of pebbles I was standing on gave way and in I went. I swam for the far shore. One of my trekking poles lodged under water and pulled my shoulder down with it, trapping my arm. I had to get my wrist out of the strap and kiss that pole goodbye before I could climb out onto shore, soaked to the bone. Suddenly, a wave of panic engulfed me. My phone! Did that pocket keep it dry? Nope. It was soaked. As quickly as I could, I wiped it off, wrapped it in a bandana and stuck it in a bag of rice. I had heard that sometimes the rice can draw the moisture out and save the phone. I left it in there for full two days. No luck. Getting a new phone on the trail is a HUGE pain. My only hope is that my trusty Resupply Coordinator can replace it.

Having hiked for a while now without a phone, I see that I was way too dependent upon it. Yes, my phone is my only source for communicating with the outside world and I wouldn't hike without one if I could avoid it but I had no choice. I felt terrible about all the pictures and video that were lost. I had a silver fox come within 10 feet of me and I got it all on video (!) but now it's all gone. That's okay, I have the memory forever. I needed to rid myself of the feeling of needing an outlet and going out of my way to charge the phone. I needed to rid myself of the addiction to email and social media and going off trail just to find a WiFi source. I needed to trust my navigation with paper maps and compass more. I had been using map and compass and just using Guthook's app to confirm my location but not having a phone to check makes you trust your compass. Maybe ruining my phone was the Trail's way of teaching me that I don't need it and to stop depending on it so much. Lesson learned. Just the same, I contacted Super Resupply Coordinator Martha Rogers and she is sending me a new one. I will reload Guthook's app and continue the hike.

 Also lost were great pics of my Honor Point backpack, Astro's bandanna, me keeping warm in my Stormy Kromer, etc... Luckily, there's lots more trail to hike and many more pictures to take. Stay tuned for more, soon!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Finding A Way

The deep snow we all encountered south of the Colorado border made everyone revise their plans. Snow makes everything more difficult. This is old, nasty snow from last winter. It's icy and wet with a thin crust on top - you have to 'post hole' your way through it (see the video I posted to Facebook) and you fall through up to your waist when you least expect it. Snow obscures blazes, rock cairns and the trail itself. Navigation becomes even more difficult. You have to carry more food,
more gear... 

My buddy Beaker and some others rented a van and are going to pick up the trail north of here, then come back later to finish this section. Same for my brothers from Warrior Hike - they're flipping out of Pagosa Springs. Some hikers are just going to wait a while until more of the snow melts. Me? I've got to keep moving north. Even if I have to take lower elevation routes or road walk. I HAVE to WALK from Mexico to Canada. So many people are helping me with this hike - I can't let them down. Gotta find a way...

Resupply has been working like a fine oiled machine. Generous folks have been contributing food and gear (thanks for the snow shoes, Burning Boots Trail Club!) and Martha has been getting it to me on the trail. Like Stafford handing off to Bush for a huge gain, I can sprint by the post office and grab my resupply box in stride. Huge thanks to Camp Champaign. 

Shipping boxes is eating away at the budget. If you want to help me with this hike, please click on the 'donate' button. Every bit is appreciated. 

This is a good outline of the entire trail. 

Me at Wolf Creek Pass. Dark clouds loom in the distance. 

Gotta find a way over those mountains!

Getting a big box of love at the post office. Thanks, everyone!

Hiker trash in Cuba, NM. From the left: the Viking, me, Beaker, Samurai, NO2, Doc Rocket and Buffalo Shuffle.