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.

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