Skip to content

Posts from the ‘CDT’ Category

Moving forward (Jeff)

20120214-194217.jpg
It’s been months since we left the trail, and just as long since we last posted.
Since that time I have flown to Wyoming twice, to Vermont, and to Florida.
Nikki and I drove a horse to Texas, crossing the CDT back in Grants New Mexico.
We almost pulled in to eat at the same Mc Donald’s we walked in to how long ago?
Each time I flew over the west I would look down at the mountain ranges.
The Rubies, the Wasatch, the Uintas. Places I have not been.
I would plan routs in my mind, running ridges, looking in to cirques, I imagine the rock the soil. The smell of the sage the crackle and crunch of brown grass stems. I feel that if I could I would leap form the plane, land on a peak and start walking. North.. Always north. It is in-grained now, sun on my back at mid-day. North just feels right.

20120214-194652.jpg
Flying over the Sierra Madre, on the approach to Denver, I look down and I see lakes and peaks that I know. Where Nikki and I spent a morning, walking slowly picking up the quartz crystal spars that littered the ground. The lake is white now covered with ice, snow.
So far the winter has been, well different. But most things are different than thru hiking. On the trail we always knew what was next. Right foot, left foot, the crunch of stone, the soft padding our feet on grass, sleep, eat, walk.

20120214-201422.jpg
Back to the outside world. Auto insurance, vet bills, the truck broke down, more than one set of clothes We need jobs. We need a sponsor!
One of the strangest side effects of the trail has been my dreams. They have become so vivid and clear. I have a hard time watching a movie in the evenings. If I do, I know It will show up in my dreams. Not a big deal if it is Rango. But some sort of thriller! No thank you! I spend a lot of the night counting the lumps in the texture of the ceiling. Listening to the wind calling to me through the window.
My horse is better off though. I ride nearly every day. Derringer mirrors my emotions. Together we learn new things, and become more confident and settled.

20120214-201721.jpg
Leaving the trail has brought perspective and clarity too. I know I want to know more. I want to be able to read stories in the tracks animals leave. To know about not just who they are, but where they are going, what they are thinking, to be able, if I want to trail them all day, for days and may be catch up. To reel in that string that is still attached to the foot than made the last print. I want to heighten my senses. To hear the birds when they are telling each other of the weasel in the shrubs, or if a hawk is coming. I want to share this knowledge with others. To teach in and about the fabulous outdoor world around us.
There is not a day I do not think about the trail and miss it a bit.. But even form this distance it is still guiding me forward shaping my future, and the future is exciting!
Right foot, left foot, sleep and eat!

20120214-202239.jpg

Faces of the trail

When planning this trip I though most about the the places we would see, the challenges we would face, the beauty and the wildness.
A few thing I never quite realize was how much time we might spent in town. But even more than that, the importance of the people on the trail.
Help, rides and , friendship abound. There is no doubt that the solitude is very important, but so is the camaraderie. I want to take a few moments to thank all those who helped us and befriended us. This list is too long and some names I have forgotten. So I will not list you name by name. Every one of you enriched our trip.
Thank you, with a special thanks to our parents for all the phone calls , mailed food and gear. The rides to and form the trail, and the support and encouragement.

Now I want to show a few faces of the trail.
This will be other thru hikers and people we met along the way. You all a special place. In our memories of the trail.

Thank you all!

20110928-205447.jpg

20110928-205459.jpg

20110928-205524.jpg

20110928-205557.jpg

20110928-205612.jpg

20110928-205641.jpg

20110928-205658.jpg

20110928-205736.jpg

20110928-205801.jpg

20110928-205823.jpg

20110928-205931.jpg

20110928-210028.jpg

20110928-210049.jpg

20110928-210119.jpg

20110928-210156.jpg

20110928-210319.jpg

20110928-210415.jpg

20110928-210455.jpg

20110928-210539.jpg

20110928-210708.jpg

20110928-210813.jpg

20110928-210845.jpg

20110928-210959.jpg

20110928-211029.jpg

20110928-211146.jpg

20110928-213807.jpg

Following a Path, by Jeff

20110923-100301.jpg
One of the first misconceptions that I think I had about hiking the CDT was to confuse “thru-hiking” with “backpacking” while on the surface the two might seem to be the same. On closer inspections the differences become glaringly obvious. For example. while pursuing either, one puts on a pack, and walks, one carries food, shelter, and other necessities. It is the mind-set that makes all the difference.

20110923-101240.jpg
Thru-hiker E-Blanket summed it up nicely, one evening Cuba New Mexico over a plate of burritos. She said” I remember back-packing, Now if I get to a pretty lake. I think, boy what a pretty place to camp. I would love to stay here……But It’s only 5:00, I’ve got another 7 miles to get in. So I walk on”
Thru- hiking is more of a life style.
You walk form town to town, resupply to resupply, walking is what you do. You eat bad food, wash your clothes in the sink or wait in the Laundromat in your rain gear, as all you own in tumbled dry. Layer upon layer of callus and blister coat your feet. In thru-hiking the short term goal is set aside for this massive project like the Continental Divide Trail.

20110923-101923.jpg

20110923-101934.jpg
This goal keeps one moving forward, but in truth you might never end up were you would go if you were backpacking. The alpine cirque, the hot spring on the Gila river, If the timing is wrong you will just pass through spending very little time at all. You are a traveler.
Not that this is all a bad think the thru-hiker sees a lot of country that few others hike get to, little pockets of wonder that no ordinary back-packer would purposely plan a trip to see, but are wonderful and even awe- inspiring. This is truly one of the real gifts of thru-hiking. You go where the path leads and find unexpected beauty.

20110923-102402.jpg
I found my self thinking about this a lot as we walked the roller-coaster of a ridge thorough the Beaverhead Mountains. The ridge was a beautiful sage covered spine with views of Idaho and Montana, but the seemingly never ending climbing and descending was taking it’s toll on our energy. How much longer do I want to keep hiking? How much longer can I keep hiking.. Can I quit? I could tell Nikki was wearing-out, but she had not said any thing yet. On this last section, it has been hard to keep the motivation up. But then I think about getting off the trail and I have a hard time imagining it. The thought actually physically hurts. So many other hiker have had to stop this year, because of snow, fatigue, injury or money. It makes me want to dig deeper and keep going at nearly any cost, but I questions the , Why.”

20110923-103204.jpg
Why to keep going or why to leave? I could easily list all the things waiting at home to do, The 20 tons of hay to move, the fences to fix, family to see. I also find the aches and pains of the trip adding up, the sore knees and the tight back. If I keep going without Nikki I could hike faster and Lighter….. But not by that much. If I put in 25 mile days I would be at the border in what, 25 days.. So call it a month, mid October 500 miles of alone. It sounds good at times. I spent 2 weeks in the Alaska bush without seeing another sole. I know I can do it. Though I am not sure that’s how I would want to spend the last part of this trip.

20110923-103623.jpg
The best part of this hike have not been all the amazing places we have seen.
It has been seeing them together. It has been peering under rocks for lizards, finding yet another new member of the Parsley family, and tracking the prints of a grizzly bear nose where she bent her head to sniff the trail. The miles can have a meditative quality to them, but being able to come out of the reverie to share a thought that had been milling around for miles is some thing that can not be undervalued.

20110923-103849.jpg
In the end I found on inspection that the really force pulling me north was not the trail, but my ego.
The desire to prove I could finish one of the long trails, the desire to see how fast I could cover the ground. And I realized that If did that. I might miss the mating Luna moths or a new and strange seed of a plant, the fresh scratches of a bob cat on a tree. The speed and aloneness might get me to the end of the CDT. Then what? The true Continental Divide continues north into Canada before splitting into several forks of the Laurentine and Arctic divides. Would I keep going? I do not think so. So why should I feel compelled to make the Canadian border. The 49th Parallel? Another imaginary line, A starting line and a finish line, an arbitrary divisions of this
life.

20110923-104014.jpg
It could be the lingering feelings of doubt of myself. I feel like in my life I have left many things half or maybe only 90% done. The abandoned Nevada crossing trip, never making it as a ski racer, not ever climbing at the level I wanted to, several NOLS courses that I had to shorten to routes to finnish.
Self doubt.
Do I really think that finishing this trail would make me feel any better about any of that? If my self worth is defined by hiking the last 500 mile of this trail I suppose I might have a problem.

20110923-105208.jpg
Rather than pushing through hard to finnish this year. I think I would prefer to come back months, or years latter. I love this land too much to rush it. The beauty and wildness fill my sole and help me truly be at peace. I will miss the land and the travel. The smells if the pines and sage, of breakfast cooking on our fire. The cool of an afternoon stream. Then the way the wind tastes on an open ridge when rain freckles our packs.

20110923-115325.jpg

20110923-115722.jpg

20110923-031508.jpg
Although a trail will lead you somewhere, the trail itself, is not going anywhere. We have time. It might take thought and indecision. But there is power in letting go of goals and dreams.
So at least for this season, I think I am through hiking the CDT.

20110923-113952.jpg

Dog days

20110906-052412.jpg

Dog days
Summer lingering
Frost on the tent in the morning
Sunburn the left side by afternoon, rivulets of exhaustion run through my eyebrows
Heading North
Fall is coming faster than we are walking
And we are walking into it
Blue birds flock up
Eight ferruginous hawks in one spot, getting ready to migrate south
And we are heading North
Now we also have a dog for the dog days
A long story, unbefitting short prose
He does not shake when the wolves begin to howl
Although the hair on my nape stands up from the
Haunting, eerie melody
A Great grey owl chic stares at us
Those massive, penetrating night eyes
And screeches for its parents to feed it even though it is fulll grown
Teenagers – even in the bird world
The landscape undulates walking the spine of the divide
Unfortunately my energy does not – it seems to stay low
My body is getting tired, walking since Easter and the pedometer racks up
Jeff still has go
The North is so close – we are on the last state – so close
And yet…at least 45 days away from Canada
Mid October, a time of snow
So for now, we head out into the next section
Sore feet, tired paws, but more rested and well fed
New country awaits

20110906-052727.jpg

20110906-053136.jpg

20110906-053705.jpg

20110906-053736.jpg

20110906-053830.jpg

20110906-053858.jpg

20110906-054139.jpg

20110906-054914.jpg

20110906-055038.jpg

20110906-055518.jpg

20110906-055525.jpg

20110906-055618.jpg

20110906-055625.jpg

20110906-055635.jpg

20110906-055653.jpg
That is the last time this young golden mantle ground squirrel will climb a CDT marking post to eat his dinner – stuck with a dog at the base pretending to be wood

The Park. By jeff

20110829-083352.jpg
This land fits like the old jeans that just feel right. Walking on the trail along the Buffalo Fork river, watching small puffs of dust at each step. We look across the river to a spot that Nikki and I camped at , what was it seven years ago with 20 horses. We see a pack of Wolves. Probably the Lava mountain pack. They have five pups. We spend who knows how long watching them. We see an adult come and feed some of the pups.
Seven. years latter, again we have fish for dinner.

20110829-083755.jpg
The next day on the Trail we follow wolf tracks for several miles paws the size of my hands. Even the wolf pups have bigger tracks than the Grizzly cub that crosses the trail. I hunted near here. A solo trip with only Badger and Katie. My first elk. I can remember the excitement and sadness after the ring of the rifle shots had left my ears….

20110829-084327.jpg

20110829-084444.jpg
We hike over a high plateau where we can see most of Wyoming’s mountain ranges, Absarokee, Wind river, Teton, Wyoming Range, Gros Ventre. This in new trail for me. I am very excited to hike in to the Yellowstone backcountry. In a way Yellowstone was home for me as a child. We would come to the park several times a summer. Each step either has memories or questions. Why are there no fish in the Snake River as high as fox park or are they just scarce?
The white hills near the Heart Lake thermal area remind me of the time the whole family went looking for a backcountry geyser basin. My dad ended up leading the way on a sandy hill side glissade. He picked up most of the sulfuric acid from the hill so only his pants had holes eaten in them

20110829-084809.jpg

20110829-084833.jpg
Heart Lake is beautiful. I had never been here before. Now I want to come back. We have along push to get to our assigned Camp. 24 miles from Heart lake to the North end of Shoshone lake. When we cross the Lewis River at the mouth of the lake I am reminded that as a two year old we had taken a canoe trip up form Lewis Lake to Shoshone Lake I slept most of the way I am told sprawled in nothing but a life vest on top of the gear in the center of the canoe. What I remember Is looking down over the edge of the boat, through water so clear I could not tell its depth. Seeing the large black shapes of the backs of fish. They looked huge. like cat sized torpedoes.

20110829-085216.jpg

20110829-085304.jpg

20110829-085315.jpg

20110829-085337.jpg
On mile 23 we enter the Shoshone geyser basin. The evening light and wonder of the place wipes away the fatigue of the day. We prowl among the hot pools and vents looking at the colors that seem too tropical to be in the heart of Wyoming.
My mom tells me that last time we were here the mosquitos were terrible. They are thick still 30 years later. We cook dinner near a steam vent that keeps the biters at bay. Then hike the remaining mile to camp.

20110829-085452.jpg

20110829-085506.jpg Old faithful, as crowded as ever. It is amazing how many people here come form other parts of the world. Well Yellowstone is a wonder. Thank the wisdom and foresight of President Roosevelt. Over 1/2 of the worlds thermal features reside in this northwest corner of Wyoming. We do the crowd thing and stand around to watch Old Faithful erupt. It is magnificent. I was so shaped by this as a child that when I would see irrigation sprinklers quenching the undying thirst of grass. I would press my face to the window of car and shout “Geyser!”

20110829-085613.jpg

20110829-085630.jpg

20110829-085643.jpg

20110829-085659.jpg How ever the 10 miles in and the crowds take there tole on us. I feel far more tired from town than the hiking. Sling our packs and get back on the trail. It leads us through the rest of the geyser basin. Again I am reminded of how special this place is.
We hang our heads over the side of the bridge and look for fish. this has been a ritual for me as long as I can remember. In this place, this bridge, Only it used to be red not brown. We meet an exuberant German man studying a Garter snake, he is fascinated. He asks us to identify it for him. then he pulls out his camera and asks us to Identify several other photos. Then he hikes with us for a bit and then, In gratitude gives us ice cold soda. Hard to refuse on a hot day.
We hike new trail for me to Summit lake. Where we camp with another German Couple who are Hiking the CDT as well We missed them by days in New Mexico before they flipped north. a pleasant evening. Then off again. Leaving Wyoming. Leaving Yellowstone. It feels good to have the warm feeling of home at my back, as we travel on in to Idaho.

20110829-085828.jpg

20110829-
085848.jpg

We hike new trail for me to Summit lake. Where we camp with another German Couple who are Hiking the CDT as well We missed them by days in New Mexico before they flipped north. a pleasant evening. Then off again. Leaving Wyoming. Leaving Yellowstone. It feels good to have the warm feeling of home at my back, as we travel on in to Idaho.

20110829-090005.jpg

20110829-090253.jpg

A Transect of Winds

The Wind River Range

This is as far as my brain really got on this trip – back to the original end destination for a previous epic horseback adventure that ended in chaos.

Hiking into known, deeply familiar territory was both satisfying and disorienting. It felt like Three Peaks Ranch – the lifestyle and job site left last spring- should be the end point…time to go back to work because this is what we do; we get to Three Peaks and go to work.

Surreal to be a guest where, for so many years, we have worked. Fantastic to see friends and feel the cheerful energy radiating off the place.

Transecting the Winds – from South to North, a nine-day slice in two sections, through old memories (this is where that darn horse ran away down the trail, and that is where I saw my first Arctic Greyling fish) to unexplored vistas.

The Winds are still magical, and even after all the country we have covered, and all the time we have previously spent in them, both Jeff and I recounted almost daily that we could see why they were the favorite section for most CDT thru-hikers.

Alpine cirques of snowfields, glacially-carved granite drama, wildflowers and leaping fish on lakes.
On the southern end, we were chasing snorting antelope across fields of sage and islands of five-needled limber pine. Then we disappeared into the thicket of lodgepole pine – a half dead forest of beetle-infested trees that still teems with life among the wartleberry undergrowth and yellow and purple monkey flowers along meadow stream-banks.

Squirrels scold us with their chatter as we head into the high meadows and cathedral peaks of the alpine, along elk trails where their heavy, sweet musk lingers in the air.

We watch the red fins of cutthroat as they leap from ice-blue water – gracelessly belly flopping on their way back in – to catch caddis flys dropping their eggs onto the water’s rippled surface.
Down the Green River – an improbable turquoise hue for water as the glacial till heads down valley, past enormous spruce trees in an ancient, secretive forest where huckleberry ripen and their sweet tang lingers on our tongues.

The high meadows of the extreme northern end of the Winds are drier, a little less mosquito heavy, but in the evening light a grizzly bear wandering across the meadow spooks two adult moose, who canter across our path with huge, ground-eating strides.
Talk about legs!

At night, the burned forest the rings the meadow edge crackles and pops at intervals, as if it is still aflame.

And now, a photographic tour…

20110821-120354.jpg

20110821-120407.jpg

20110821-120427.jpg

20110821-120446.jpg

20110821-120438.jpg

20110821-120744.jpg

20110821-120751.jpg

20110821-121038.jpg

20110821-121144.jpg

20110821-121237.jpg

20110821-121404.jpg

20110821-121422.jpg

20110821-121554.jpg

20110821-121619.jpg

20110821-121735.jpg

20110821-121747.jpg

20110821-121756.jpg

20110821-121803.jpg

20110821-121840.jpg

20110821-122010.jpg

20110821-122025.jpg

20110821-122106.jpg

20110821-122203.jpg

20110821-122218.jpg

20110821-122357.jpg

20110821-122425.jpg

20110821-122417.jpg

20110821-122543.jpg

20110821-122555.jpg

20110821-122607.jpg

20110821-122801.jpg

20110821-122830.jpg

20110821-122923.jpg

20110821-124253.jpg

20110821-124314.jpg

20110821-124725.jpg

20110821-124334.jpg

20110821-124348.jpg

20110821-125033.jpg

20110821-125049.jpg

20110821-125059.jpg

20110821-125204.jpg

20110821-125221.jpg

20110821-125238.jpg

20110821-125246.jpg

20110821-125351.jpg

20110821-125403.jpg

The Winds were full of people. We ran into our first south-bound CDT hikers, (and after roughly a thousand miles, missed the group of three hikers we wanted to see by an hour on a side trail…go figure), and have a few thank-you’s to make:

Thank you Maggie Rose and crew for all your fabulous tread and trail clearing…

20110821-010348.jpg

Thank you Plumber Joe and posse for a cold beer on a really hot stretch of two-track. May all future french bread loaves be kind to your teeth…

20110821-010605.jpg

And, of course, Three Peaks and Crew – go Mighty Mustangs!

The Desert by Jeff

20110814-030546.jpg
Crunch, click, crunch, click, crunch, click.
Our feet and pole tick off the miles in this flat and heated land.
Each day we move, more out of reflex and the compelling unseen force pulling us north. Toward the 49 parallel, the border. The… Then what?

20110814-030740.jpg
Don’t look too far ahead. In this flat land, on this pipeline road we can see our entire day stretching out before us in parallel line that seem to converge. Esher-esk. It seem daunting to see that far into the future. Wake in the cool morning hide in the shade of an overgrown sage. Or our umbrellas at 3:00 eat a hot meal even if it feels too hot to eat.

20110814-031003.jpg

Hike in the glorious evenings light till that too is gone. Sleep, wake, do it all again, and hope that the road might have the slightest bend or curve.
Cow ponds make great swimming holes, we dive in cloths shoes and all so we can hike in the cool of our liquid shirts and shorts.

20110814-031220.jpg</a

These clay roads feel like cement and our feet feel like they have been beaten. The wind cools us but dose not allow us to hike with the umbrellas open. Find the next water. Fill water bags then move on. Wait for the evenings In the red desert the evenings are so magical. Uncatchable light. The smell of cool air. Of water. Of wild country. Crunch, click. You can not fight against a desert, you can only learn to move with it. We are carried across the basin on it's rhythms. Crunch.. Click.

20110814-031409.jpg

Bugs and blowdowns

The last time I was in Steamboat Springs, I road a greyhound bus from Salt Lake City. It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and I had been swinging “Stella”, a sturdy National Park issue pick-axe all summer. The Salt Lake City bus station terrified me – alone and little use to facing the grit and grime of a big city without a parental shield. Heart pounding as I climbed onto the crowded bus, I choose my seat next to a college-age boy because he was reading Harry Potter.
Anyone reading Harry Potter had to be safe – right?

Many years later, Stella has morphed into the more serviceable of my two hiking poles, and Steamboat seems a lot bigger when you are on foot.
I look up at the top of the ski area, where Randy, our former neighbor, took us to see his work station and we got the surprising trill of launching a weather balloon.

No weather balloon this time, sadly, but certainly some extreme weather memories from this last section. Memories of a flash, and not being able to count past one, – forget the one-one-thousand, or one-potato – before the sky split and thunder made me jump like a whipped dog.
And that was on the low route, the alternate we chose to take so we weren’t above tree-line on an exposed ridge.

20110723-042716.jpg

20110723-042730.jpg

20110723-042812.jpg

Not quite as surprising to us as we were to the porcupine that was so busy eating forbs on a steam bank, that he didn’t notice us taking pictures of him from across the steam – six feet away.
When those beady, inefficient eyes finally noticed movement, he flared, raising his back end in a wave of quills and humping away grumpily – backside always present in a wall of pain to anyone dumb enough, anyone slower than a fisher weasel, to try and tackle that defense.

20110723-042924.jpg

20110723-042937.jpg

Most of this section was a hike through dead and dying forests. The lodgepole pines have outlived their lifespan, and fire suppression has caught up. The mountain pine beetle, a tiny, innocuous looking insect, has multiplied into hoards that are devouring entire states, tipping back the balance slowly – creating tinder boxes and unsightly and difficult travel through our national forests during the transition phase.
Hiking through the dead trees in a brisk morning, the etherial fluting lilt of a hermit thrush – like someone blowing through a ribbed straw made of glass – gave the woods an elven feel, as though I’ve stepped into Lord of the Rings. The thrush’s song sounds both lovely and sad, and with a little Tolkien imagination, you can almost feel him singing a lament for the dying forest, and a welcoming of the new forest to come…
More aspens, more open, grassy parklands, light and resources enough to grow majestic behemoth subalpine firs and spruce.

In the interim though, when the dead trees begin to fall, unburned, I wonder about the state of our national forests. How can a government agency, facing huge budget slashing, possibly care for the trails that are becoming impassible? Who is going to want to thrash their way through these trails, barely visible among the “shwack”, and who will want to put more money into clearing, researching and protecting these forests that they no longer visit?

I put my hopes in crews of volunteers, and these Rocky Mountain forests make me want to grab a chainsaw or a crosscut and start the wood-chips flying, but I wonder if that will be enough?

Even the wildlife seems to have a hard time – long legs and all. You can see there scrabbling tracks, but later, in a meadow full of evening lights, we see three bulls grazing, huge velveted racks.
With those things on, this hole forest must be an encumbrance.

20110723-043136.jpg

20110723-043224.jpg

20110723-043326.jpg

The secretive american pipit hides her dark brown eggs under rocks above tree line, and flutters defenselessly with flashy white outer tail feathers to try and lead us away.

We try and hide from the mosquitos. Forget it.
They will suck your blood…

And see our first natural gas rig, out on a sagebrush flat. It is starting to look like Wyoming, and in the distance – visible Wyoming mountains.
Exciting, and the feeling of coming back to country both familiar, and still full of mystery.

Hopefully the next post comes from WY!

20110723-043727.jpg

20110723-043752.jpg

20110723-043817.jpg

20110723-043909.jpg

20110723-043919.jpg

The Bushcooker, a hot idea. By jeff

20110723-035626.jpg
It would not be a backpacking trip if it did not involve some discussions about gear.
One of the pieces of equipment w have been using is the ” Bushcooker” form Four Dog Stoves.
This is a great concept in light weight gear. This stove is designed to burn, alcohol, wood, or esbit, tabs. The stove is beautifully made of titanium, with great welds. It looks kind of like a rocket engine.
Nikki and I have been using this stove for about the last month. We have cooked many many meals on it and in a wide variety of conditions.
So… How well did it work? The feature that I was most interested this stove for was the wood burning. For backpacking I love the thought of not having to carrie fuel. This unfortunately seem to be the weakest area of the stove. Cooking with wood I got the best results in the evening with low relative humidity, very dry wood, and if i used 2 cap-fulls of alcohol to light the wood. When I tried lighting the stove with natural tinder like grass I found that the intake vents would get clogged and the stove would not burn as hot as needed. Some times it would take 30 minutes to boil 1.3 liters of water.
I also had real problems getting the stove to cook hot enough either in the rain, or even on dry mornings when the relative humidity was higher. Some mornings we so frustrating that I gave up entirely.
But this stove is not all bad. As an alcohol stove it may be a bit heavy. But it cranks out the heat. It boil large pots of water with only one fill up of the alcohol reservoir . I also found that I could extend my cooking nicely by starting to add wood slowly while the alcohol was burning, I could get a nice hot wood fire going and really stretch my fuel.
I did not use esbit tabs much with this stove but I did use tabs to light wood fires several times. This was not as effective as using Alcohol but still got a nice little wood fire going.
So my over all thoughts. If one could get the approval to use this stove when fire restrictions were in place, it could be a great way to cook on wood and not build open fires. How ever i do not think that this is likely. As a mixed fuel stove it is not bad but it really helps to light the wood with alcohol.
I was also able to improve the wood burning by using a small piece of tubing to blow on the coals when the flames would die. If you were in a dry climate with out fire restrictions this stove could be the ticket. But then again with out a fire restrictions you might as well cook on an open fire.
So as of now we are sending out the Bushcooker. We plan on cooking on open fires and have an other alcohol stove as a back up. So..so-long to the Bushcooker for now.

20110723-035825.jpg

Rocky Mountain Pilgrims

Sitting in a coffee shop in Grand Lake, CO and feeling ridiculously decadent drinking a mocha.
We just found out about three other hikers who have left the trail for snow, time and money reasons, which makes me pause, both in sadness because I know how much one of them wanted to finish this trail, and also in reflection.
Why are we still here?
It seems such a complicated answer and a points I really think pictures speak louder than words?
With that in mind…

20110718-023014.jpg

20110718-023031.jpg

20110718-023245.jpg

20110718-023309.jpg

20110718-023321.jpg

20110718-023342.jpg

20110718-023401.jpg

20110718-023523.jpg

20110718-023548.jpg

20110718-023601.jpg

20110718-023903.jpg

20110718-023924.jpg
Let me attempt to express that within the confines and infinite possibilities of 26 characters.
We started this adventure thinking – what a great way to see a lot of country.
That has not changed, and more than met our expectations.
Traveling on foot, day after day, the landscape and its inhabitants – furry, scaly and biped – take on a new intimacy. I can be fascinated by an individual flower, captivated by the sight of elk – their constant mewing conversation and the occasional hair-raising bugle, overwhelmed by heady, sweet sell of a field of flowering bedstraw, shaking as we bolt of an exposed ridge-top to escape crackling lightening,
These things I expected – but are no less memorable for expecting them.
The unexpected are the people, the speed of travel, and the rhythm.
Town stops bring a surprising variety of people both interested in what we are doing, and willing to lend a hand.
Unexpected.
I thought the support system that early travelers had was dead – the ability to receive help and favors from the local inhabitants of a place that way people did when they crossed great distances via foot, horse and later wagon trains.
That open-handed and open-home generosity is not nearly as common – the world we live in has become much bigger, faster and more sinister.
But it is still there – people who, unasked, lend a hand, a floor, food and support.
Unexpected.

20110718-024020.jpg
Our fellow trail-travelers have surprised me as well. I have started to think about them as pilgrims.
The CDT a nearly 3,000 mile pilgrimage.
Every pilgrim is here for different reasons, and not all of us – maybe most of us – know entirely why we are here, I think, until we finish.
Athletes in their prime bent on the challenge, the end goal, the accomplishment.
Iraq war veterans finding both community and solace on the trail.
Former aerospace engineers using the thru-hike as their excuse to retire while moving on to the next big challenge – over sixty and still out-hiking us, excel spreadsheet carefully planning out every detail.
Pilgrims, all of us.
So, pilgrim, I ask myself, why are you here? What is your pilgrimage about now, getting close to half-way through this possible journey.
Standing on a ridge-top, marmots whistling in alarm and pikas announcing our threatening presence with a high, squeaky “eeeeeeeeeee”, I almost think I know. The spot we camped last night is barely visible – nothing if you were traveling in a car, or a motorcycle, or perhaps even a bike. Remarkable for foot travel, day after day putting an average of eighteen to twenty miles behind us.
Behind us, but not fast enough that I don’t remember the clash of yellow alpine sunflower against the deep purple of freshly blooming sky pilots
Not fast enough that a painful slog up snowfields doesn’t still ache in my calves, nor the lingering tingle of adrenaline from glissading down a hundred feet of steep snow.
Slowly enough that the smell of wet aspen lingers and I remember the feeling aspen stands give me – anything seems possible in that friendly,yellow flickering light. Later in the afternoon, hunger and exhaustion make me doubt – question motivations, sanity, everything.
Food and rest, and those black moments seem a long way away.
The trail gives you room, time – sometimes too much time – to think about the past and the future without every letting you leave the present…step…step…step
I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my grandparents that passed last year – remembering precious time together,their history which I know so much and so little about.
Enough space to come to some sort of terms with the fact that I have this mysterious disease called MS, and that knowing this does so little for helping me know my future – and being okay that…most of the time.
Time, physical effort, the expanse of skyline to inspire my writing – make me ponder graduate school, step-by-step, and in the next town research it.
All the time feeling the pull of North.
Country unseen, miles to look back upon with a familiarity that makes me smile just to think about it.
Most journeys have ends – expected, unexpected, welcome and un-welcome.
This pilgrimage is still so massive, I can only really think about it in terms of one town to the next – or more appropriately, the landscape between towns. Whatever the next section brings…
Thank you to all of you for your support – the words, gear, help, encouragement…key to keeping us moving, smiling, taking pictures and typing.

20110718-024108.jpg