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.

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