Here is my new CDT highlights video:

To read in order, please START AT THE BOTTOM! Thanks! 

December 1, 2008 It’s 26 below zero at my cabin outside of Fairbanks. Sunrise is at 10:23, sunset is at 2:57. Hiking across the Chihuahuan Desert of southern New Mexico last May seems like a long time ago!

A few thoughts and stats:

  • Total distance was about 2,714 miles.
  • Average miles per day overall: 18.7
  • Average miles per day during full days of hiking (not counting days spent partially in towns for resupply, etc): 21.4
  • Most miles in a day: 33
  • Number of “Zero Days” (days I didn’t hike): 8. Three of those days were travel days.
  • Pairs of shoes used: 6
  • Bears sighted: about 6 black bears and 8 grizzlies
  • Favorite stretches: There were many magical places along the way, but the best long stretches were the San Juans, the Wind Rivers, and Glacier.
  • Scariest moments?
    The night I was sleeping in the open and the black bear walked up so close to me I could hear him breathing, and then when he returned an hour later when I was just falling asleep and he was so close I could smell him!The day I fell violently downhill into the rocks when my foot got caught on an old rusty piece of barbed wire in Montana. I was really afraid I had broken my arm and broken some teeth. The only damage was a swollen forearm.The night when I had just gotten camp set up and a bear was patrolling just out of sight, grunting and smashing trees. (The next morning I found a willow meadow that had been just out of sight and when I saw a bull moose immediately knew it had been him and not a bear at all.)

October 22, 2008 It’s a beautiful sunny day here in Buffalo, WY. I recently returned from a mule deer hunt where my good friend Melanie and I each got a nice buck in a quality hunting experience. We’ll finish cutting and wrapping the big supply of meat tonight.

On a long hike like the CDT a person has to rely on others to a certain degree. There were many people who were very generous with their help, and I’d like to thanks some of them below. Since there’s so many I’m sure I’ll forget to mention some this first time through, so please forgive me (and remind me) if I’ve forgotten to mention your assistance.

    • Jim and Louise Hunter drove me hundreds of miles during my “flip” from Cumbres Pass, Colorado to South Pass, Wyoming. It took a great deal of time and expense. They also welcomed me into their home and provided me with many good meals. Thank you Jim and Louise, I really appreciate it!
    • Ken Coe my old smokejumper Bro, kept an eye on my cabins for me back in Alaska. He shipped many boxes for me, forwarded mail, trimmed trees, and was simply invaluable in many ways. As usual Ken performed above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks Ken!
    • Jim Griffin my smokejumper Rookie Bro really helped me out. He, along with his wife Lora dropped off a food cache for me along the trail in Montana, put me up in their home, set me up with lots of great food, internet access, laundry, shuttled me around, and simply made a great “zero day” at their home near Whitehall relaxing, fun and productive. Jim also took me out on a great float fishing trip when I passed through on my way to Wyoming. Thanks a lot, Griff!
    • Marlys Nelson my mother, shipped numerous packages of books and DVDs for me while I was away and did it with her usual efficiency and accuracy. Thanks, Mom!
    • Nita and Don in Pie Town, New Mexico, were fantastic. They let me shower and do laundry at their “toaster house,” drove me around town helping me find my missing package, and gave me a place to stay for the night. Fantastic, generous and trusting people. Thanks so much, Nita and Don!
    • Kathy, the Pie Lady from the Pie-O-Neer Cafe in Pie Town. Kathy was another great person in Pie Town. Also helped me with finding the famous Lost Package, and set me up with wonderful pie and good meals. I’m not sure what it is about Pie Town that makes it so friendly. Actually, I guess I do know, it’s people like Kathy!
    • Nean, aka Let it Be gave me a place to stay at his hiker cabin near Pagosa Springs, CO. Nean has hiked the long trails many, many times and has helped out countless fellow thru-hikers. Thanks for the hospitality Nean!
    • Jonathan Ley produced the maps that I and most fellow CDT hikers use as their primary navigational tool on the trail. It’s a huge amount of work and his maps are an enormous savings in expense and time and contain hundreds of nuggets of information. Definitely a “must have.” Thanks Jonathan!
    • Courtney and Danny at East Glacier, Montana, gave me a ride into East Glacier for food supplies, then treated me to a fine meal. Thanks guys, it was great meeting you two!
    • Addy and Joe whom I met in the Scapegoat Wilderness, were great people. Joe, aka known as “Skippy” is an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker veteran and is planning to hike the PCT. He cooked a fantastic meal for me and the crew the night I camped near the patrol cabin. Addy was also very kind to me. Thanks to both of you!
    • John Lyons another smokejumper Bro, sent me supply package which chased me around for much of the summer. This package included an awesome selection of freeze-dried backpacking food that I am usually too cheap to buy for myself. Gracias Juan!
    • Dr. Steve Baker, aka Bubba yet another old smokejumper Bro, sent me a wonderful care package. The chocolate covered macadamia nuts were perhaps the best trail food I ate the entire summer. The rest of the package was loaded with exotic and delicious food from Hawaii. Steve, I am unworthy, but thanks!
    • The many drivers who gave me rides while I was hitching to town and back to the trail. Many of the names I never got or have forgotten, but I can assure you your kindness will not be forgotten. One name I remember was Ken out of Salmon who drove me well out of his way. There was also the fellow who gave me a ride from Monarch Pass after I had stood there for six hours, the hunter who shuttled me far out of his way down to Leadore, Idaho; Alasdair Boyd, the movie location scout, who drove me from St. Mary to Kalispell; Chris? who drove me from Polson clear to Jim Griffin’s front door; the fellow just back from Afghanistan who gave me a ride up to MacDonald Pass, and many, many more trusting and generous souls. Thanks for helping me out, folks!
    • Scott and Anne were Montana hunters who sat me down at their campfire, listened to my stories then sent me on the way laden with goodies. Thanks to you both!
    • Mags, Fiddlehead, Spirit Eagle, Haiku, Sly, Yappy, Slow and the many other fellow hikers who offered me advice and encouragement before and during my trip. Thanks folks!
    • Melanie Hunter
      the most important of all and my best friend, who mailed packages, answered emails and did a thousand other things to make my life easier and my hike more enjoyable. She also hiked with me three times during the summer. Thank you, Melanie!
    • October 7, 2008 I’m in Wyoming getting caught up on my off-trail life and it feels good. I’ve added many photos, so please scroll down and check them out. I will be adding more information this month so check back again soon!
      October 1, 2008; Buffalo, Wyoming Wow. It’s over, another great adventure of my life. I had to wait most of the day in Waterton for a shuttle across the border. I spent it doing laundry, eating and catching up on news. While waiting for the shuttle, I ran across a person hiking in Waterton Park. I saw his hat that said “trail crew.” When asked, he said that he worked on the Appalachian Trail sometimes and that he had thru-hiked the trail in 2001. “Really?” I said, “What’s your trail name?” “Louisiana Bear” he said. It was then that I recognized him. “We shared a room at Elmer’s in Hot Springs! You gave me your extra food!” I said. What a small world it is. I made it to St. Mary late that afternoon and it took me a another full day to hitch to Jim Griffin’s house. The last fellow gave me a ride right to Jim’s door. I’ve added a number of new photos below, and plan to expand some posts and add more photos, so please check back. Have a good day!

      Canada Border, CDT

      September 23, 2008; Waterton Park, Alberta, CANADA! Last night was the wettest night of the whole trip, by far. After a long day of rain and snow yesterday it snowed most of the night. Everytime I’d wake up I’d hit the tent to knock the snow off. I could see fog inside the tent when I’d flick my light on. But I was warm enough if somewhat soggy feeling. Finally, as daylight arrived I crawled out of my tent with all my warm stuff on and my hands in my pockets, and looked around at the mountains with tops in the clouds and the snow still falling. Almost immediately I heard a thudding sound and a snow-covered grizzly came running past only 11 paces away! After walking through falling snow for a few hours the weather started improving. The clouds began lifting and sunlight flooded the newly frosted mountains of Glacier. It was absolutely beautiful in nearly any direction. I walked for miles along the shore of Waterton Lake and finally, after 145 days and over 2,700 miles, I looked ahead and saw the obelisks marking the border. The only sound was the wind in the trees and waves lapping the shore. That and voices and the low rumble of an engine. A tour boat had appeared out of nowhere and the guide spotted me walking along the shore. I could hear bits of what he was saying: “thru-hiker,””approaching the border,” “all summer.” People lined the side of the boat, cameras clicking. “Where did he go??” “there he is, behind those trees!!” So my imagined solitary moment of triumph was unexpectedly shared with a gaggle of excited strangers. I self-consciously crossed the border. I made it! When the boat had left and all was quiet I sat and looked out across the lake to the stunning mountains along the lake. What an amazing summer!! I’ll be posting much more, along with many photos and video clips in the next few days. Thanks to all and enjoy your day. (Posted 9/26)

      Mule Deer Buck

      Mule Deer Buck
      Fifty Mountain Campsite
      Last camp, moments after the grizzly ran by!

      Bighorn Sheep Ewe

      Bighorn Sheep Ewe, Glacier National Park

      Glacier National Parks Cliff

      Climbing in Glacier

      Fall Colors, Glacier National Park

      Fall Colors, Glacier National Park

      Service Berries, (Blue) with Mountain Ash Berries

      Service Berries, (Blue) with Mountain Ash Berries

      Dead Mountain Tree

      Skeletal Tree
      September 17, 2008; East Glacier Park, Montana The End is Near! It’s day 140 of the hike. Approximate miles walked: 2,597. Miles to go: about 100. Since I posted last I’ve seen a lot of beautiful country, including the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Scapegoat Wilderness. I’ve seen lots of game. Fifteen bighorn rams in one group, goats up in shear cliffs and big bull elk. I also saw four grizzlies in about three hours one day in the Scapegoat. Two of them were startlingly close, but were so intent on digging up roots that I backed up without them ever knowing I was there. In the midst of these sightings I was trying to thread my way down these snowy cliffs, which was also exciting. I followed my “be cautious and live to hike another day policy.” There’s been snow on most days, but the most I’ve had to walk in for new snow is about 12″. There has been a night of all-night rain, and a day of all day rain and snow. The last three days or so, though, have been spectacular. Last year most NOBO hikers had to “roadwalk” around some beautiful country in the area, but this year it’s been wet enough so when the clouds have lifted the views are spectacular. My favorite stretch has been along the Chinese Wall, vertical cliffs running for many miles in “The Bob.” Awesome. People have continued to be great, with a couple of kind rangers in the Scapegoat inviting me to a fine meal one evening. Thanks Addie and Joe! There was also a creepy guy who appeared at Benchmark Wilderness Ranch an hour or so after I had picked up my food drop box. He told Beverly, the owner, that he was Bruce Nelson and there was a box for him, if she wanted to see his ID!! Be heads up for a pseudo hiker with a long diagonal scar on his face, and possibly still carrying a big pistol on one hip and a bear spray on the other. I don’t know what his story is, but he is, at best, a wanna-be thief. Well, it’s been interesting to see new kinds of vegetation as I head north, and the fall colors are coming on strong. The mountains of Glacier are visible from town here. I should finish about September 23. Then it’s to Whitehall to visit the Griffins again, then to Buffalo, WY to visit my best friend Melanie. It’s been a great adventure. I’ll be posting more, and adding many photos, sometime in the next three weeks or so. Thanks for visiting! Buck

      Chinese Wall, Bob Marshall Wilderness

      Chinese Wall, Bob Marshall Wilderness



      Bear Chewed Sign Bob Marshall

      Grizzly-Chewed Sign, Bob Marshall

      Scapegoat Wilderness

      Snowy Cliffs in the Scapegoat Wilderness

      Grizzly Bears, Montana

      Grizzlies, Scapegoat Wilderness
      September 5, 2008; Helena (MacDonald Pass) Montana Fall is here! On the night of August 31 it snowed so there was a good ground cover up high on the morning of September 1. I’ve been walking in snow up to 3″ deep on the divide since then. I’m sure it will melt off but it sure shows how it’s best to not push the hiking season too late. Leaves are starting to change, especially noticeable are the blueberry leaves, turning the same shades of red as in Alaska. Late in the day on the 1st I heard a bull elk bugle. A herd was moving down the mountain parallel to me. When I got close I whistled in a bugle-like fashion and the bull immediately answered. As it got dark I could hear him bugling nearby. I saw many bear tracks in the new snow but haven’t seen one in awhile. I haven’t seen another thru-hiker in a while, either. By my rough calculations I’ve covered about 2,350 miles, and have about 350 miles left to hike to the Canadian Border. I’m making good progress, still covering 20+ miles on almost every full day of hiking, occasionally doing 25-30 miles in a good day. Trips into town are welcome breaks but slow down the daily averages considerably. Jim and Lora Griffin were extremely helpful when I stopped at their place in Whitehall. They have been the #1 “Trail Angels” so far, and I ended up walking down the trail laden with fresh fruit, as well as scones and brownies baked by Lora. Thanks! Melanie drove up over Labor Day weekend and she and Jack joined me for a day’s hiking which was fun. When I hit MacDonald Pass it began raining. But it stopped just as I stepped out on the road. I barely had time to get my “Helena” sign unfolded when the very first car stopped to give me a ride into town! Montana has been nice. Wonderful scenery and friendly people. I’ve spent a lot of time here through the years and really feel at home in this area. With a little luck I’ll finish up the hike in about three weeks. I may or may not have time to do an update before I hit the border. Best of luck to everyone, and thanks for “stopping by!”

      August 30, 2008; Whitehall (Pipestone Pass) Montana I’ve made it to my old smokejumper buddy Jim Griffin’s place in Whitehall, Montana. Things have been going great. I did 80 miles in three days of the last stretch which is a fast pace for me in the mountains. The whole section was about 146 miles total. The highlight of the last stretch of trail was the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. Beautiful country indeed, featuring dramatic mountains and mountain lakes. There were some stretches with a lot of climbing, however, but there were also some very mellow stretches. Jim and family dropped off a food cache for me near a trailhead along the way which lightened my pack, and boosted my calorie intake. It was also loaded with goodies. It felt like Christmas! One day I heard the thunder of hoofbeats and I hurried ahead, expecting to see elk but it was a band of goats, mostly or all nannies with kids. They looked at me then thundered off for the cliffs. Good thing I wasn’t a wolf because they weren’t very fast compared to an elk! According to my calculations I have about 430 miles or so left to hike. There was a dusting of snow one day and there was a cold front that made for a couple of chilly days. Cool days are perfect for hiking hard and that helped my hiking speed. I’ve added a few new photos, below. Enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!

      Black Timber Wolf, Montana

      Black Wolf

      Bull Elk

      Bull Elk

      Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

      Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

      Mountain Goats

      Mountain Goats


      Montana Fossils
      August 22, 2008; Salmon, Idaho (Chief Joseph Pass) Let me start this posting by giving you to answers to some questions I’m most commonly asked when running into people. You can probably guess the questions:

      • I’m hiking the Continental Divide Trail.
      • The Mexican Border
      • About 20 miles a day or a bit more on full days of walking.
      • At the Canadian Border at Glacier National Park
      • Almost 4 months so far.
      • Hopefully I’ll finish at the end of September sometime.
      • Yes, I’ve seen about ten bears or so.
      • I’m hiking alone.
      • Nope, no gun.
      • My pack weighs about 20-30 pounds, usually.
      • This is my fifth pair of shoes.
      • I guess I’ve lost about 13 pounds but I’m holding at about the same weight.
        Oatmeal, Poptarts, granola bars, pasta, rice, peanuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, chocolate, jerky, tuna, ramen, and just about any food that doesn’t have water in it or come in a heavy can. I also eat a lot it towns!
      • Yes, it is fun. Fun and a huge amount of work!
        • Since just after Macks Inn the trail has run mostly right along the Continental Divide. It makes for very nice views but is also a lot of work at times with all the climbing and descending. I’ve seen quite a lot of animals including elk, deer, mountain goats and antelope. One night I was sleeping out under the stars and was just falling asleep when I heard breathing. I sat up and there was a bear just over 20 feet away. Seems he was just walking down the ridge and had stumbled onto me. When I yelled at him he ran a short way then disappeared when I yelled again. I figured he’d be back because of that pause, and sure enough, an hour later I heard something. He was so close I could smell him but that time I yelled like I meant business and he was gone for good. It was a younger bear, looking for some free chow, no doubt, but not looking for trouble. A couple days later I was walking down the trail and spotted a black animal nearby and immediately thought “bear!” But then I saw it was a black wolf, with another one that spotted me right away. The first wolf grabbed a mouthful meat and trotted off towards the first. I got my camera out and walked quietly down the trail. I ended up seeing about five black wolves and got some photos and video clips of them. I have great luck seeing wolves! The weather overall has been great. There was a some strong winds and cold rain and sleet yesterday afternoon, but it ended about the time I got to the road. (Luckily I got a ride fairly quickly because it was already about 7 PM.) Unlike Colorado, I haven’t been chased off the ridges by lightning yet in Montana/Idaho. The days still are running quiet warm, even hot with fairly mild nights now, but you can still feel fall in the air at times. I’ve been eating some ripe berries and some of the ground plants are starting to turn. The wildflowers are past their height but there are still beautiful pockets of them. One of the many passes I’ve crossed is Lemhi Pass, where Lewis and Clark first crossed the Divide. What made that spot additionally thrilling for me was the gift of a complete bag lunch by a tour group! Just about everyone I meet is super nice, but I still often go for days without seeing a soul. There is a lot of stunning high mountain scenery. Often, when I see the ruins of a cabin in a breezy mountain meadow I think about the old pioneer song that went “Come, come, come away with me, where the grass grows wild, where the wind blows free.” Thanks to all the people along the way that are helping to make my hike possible. Have fun, everyone.

          Lima Peaks, Montana

          Lima Peaks, Montana

          Camp in Wildflowers

          Camp in Wildflowers

          Sunset on the Continental Divide

          Sunset on the Divide
          August 10, 2008; Lima, (Monida Pass) Montanta Estimated mileage to date: 1,863 miles. Estimated miles remaining: 800. Montana is a big state to hike through! From Yellowstone I hiked to Macks Inn for resupply and then up to the Divide again. This stretch of trail weaves along the Continental Divide between Idaho and Montana and is considered by many to be the toughest part of the trail. One reason, I believe, is the route is so indirect that progress isn’t quite as evident as it is at other times. Perhaps the most difficult part is trail finding. Sometimes there’s no sign of the trail even when a guy is standing on it and there’s been at least one case of egregiously poor signage sending everyone, at least most folks, the wrong way! There’s been some thunder storms around but only a wetting rain or two during the day and some light rains at night. The wildflowers have been outstanding but have peaked by now, I think. I’ve seen some indication of fall in some of the ground plants, and ate my first ripe huckleberries yesterday. A few days ago I came to a cairn marking the most remote source of the Mississippi River, with the brook eventually emptying into the Beaverhead and from there to the Missouri and the Mississippi. There’s been quite a few stone flakes from Indians making stone tools. The day before yesterday I jumped two big herds of elk. There was a wildfire in Yellowstone that wasn’t really a factor, but three days ago I saw smoke coming up down the drainage and was happy to have a little experience in deciding if it was safe to proceed. It was. Turns out it was a fire that has been allowed to burn for a month or so. I’m amazed it wasn’t bigger but there has been a little humidity recently which has kept it tamped down. It’s been fun to look off into the distance and see some familiar country where I’ve fished and hunted with my old smokejumper bro Jim Griffin. There’s a couple of other CDT hikers here in town. It’s always fun to exchange tales from the trail. All the best to everyone!
          August 4, 2008; West Yellowstone, Montana It has been a nice stretch of trail over the last few days. The weather has been very good. One night a big grizzly walked right by my tent but I didn’t know it until I saw his tracks in the morning. The next day, after I’d made it into the park, I jumped a grizzly at close range. I heard his “woof” but didn’t see him until he cleared the brush and was running up the mountain side. I made good hiking progress, making it to the border of Yellowstone Park exactly 3 months after I started the hike. Melanie met me at Heart Lake and we hiked as far as Old Faithful, today, after camping a couple of nights along the way. The walking has been unusually good, and it was fun to walk through some geyser basins with no one around, a far cry from the hubbub at Old Faithful. I went into the Inn there for the first time though and it was really impressive. This morning we ran into the first southbound thru-hikers (SOBOS.) Enthusiastic and fine fellows. It’s always fun to run across fellow thru-hikers. There were no rooms available in the Park, and we didn’t want to stay in the “concentration camp” campgrounds after camping in the wilds, so we just drove to West for laundry, showers and pizza, and internet access. Melanie is going to walk with me through the geyser basin north of Old Faithful tomorrow and then head home. I’ll hike beyond the park border tomorrow as no backcountry sites are available in that area of the park. Thanks to JL and Bubba for the “care packages!” Take care, all.

          July 30, 2008; Togwotee Pass (Dubois) Wyoming Hi Everyone! I’ve spent nearly three months on the trail and have covered over 1,600 miles. The Wind River Range was awesome. My good friend Melanie and her little yellow dog, Jack, hiked with me for about six days which was great. The mountains were amazing with a completely different character than the San Juans, for example. The Cirque of Towers is perhaps the most impressive sight in the American Rockies, and Squaretop Mountain, to the north, may be my favorite peak. We had three big meals of trout which was real treat. Jack enjoyed the leftovers. The wildflowers seemed to improve each day. My camera had a software glitch towards the end, but imagine mountain meadows with thigh-high daises, along with blue, violet, purple, white, pink and red flowers in profusion all against a spectacular mountain backdrop. One day I was hiking down the trail and saw a big black dog trotting down the trail towards me, followed by an equally large gray dog. When another big black dog appeared I knew it was wolves! When we made eye contact they bolted for the timber. It was very dramatic. Two hours later I saw a black bear that never saw me. A surprising lack of elk in the Wind Rivers, however. Well, not much time on the computer. Going to head back to the trail. The next stop is Yellowstone. Enjoy your summer!

          Cirque of Towers, Wind River Range

          Cirque of Towers, Wind River Range

          Hiker and Dog, Wind River Range
          Melanie and Jack, Wyoming Mountains

          Wildflowers in the Wind River RangeWildflowers, Wind River Range

          July 19, 2008; Colorado Springs, Colorado (From Cumbres Pass) It’s been 2 1/2 months on the trail now, and I’ve covered an estimated 1,456 miles. The San Juan Mountains are behind me now, a much anticipated mountain range where the issue of deep snow was central. As you may recall, I hiked all of New Mexico and at Cumbres Pass did a “flip” up to South Pass, Wyoming, to give the snow in southern Colorado more time to melt. I hit deep snow much earlier than expected, starting in Southern Wyoming and continuing through northern Colorado. It was all worth it, however, because I got to backpack through the San Juans. They were spectacular, with wildflowers, long stretches of trail right on the divide itself, and the type of scenes that appear in coffee table books of mountain settings. Since the last update the trail has been at an average elevation of about 11,500 feet, climbing to well above 13,000 feet at times. Needless to say, much of that stretch was above the treeline. According to my guidebook, since Lake City I walked 180 miles and climbed over 34,000 feet. Snow was still an issue, but only for short stretches where deep drifts and cornices still remained. They tended to be in steep spots so I had to be careful, but it proved to be fairly easy to kick steps, posthole, or simply walk around them. Wet snow and meltwater did result in wet feet for much of the time. There were hundreds and hundreds of elk. 110 by my rough count in one group scattered across a snowy mountainside, and I saw many groups of 50 or more. There were also a few moose, ptarmigan and coyotes. Afternoon thunderstorms became more of an issue, commonly forming about 1:30 and lasting to perhaps 5:00. Usually there would be some rain and hail with a great deal of rumbling. If there were ground strikes nearby I’d get off the crest and put up my tarp for a bit to wait for the storm to pass. It dropped to freezing most nights but mornings were usually clear and it would warm up quickly. Most full days I’m still covering 20+ miles. Town stops necessarily reduce the average mileages, of course. In Lake City, a CDT thruhiker from last year gave me a ride back to the trail. I ran into Lucky by chance in a cafe. The next day I met Rambler, who did the same “flip” up to South Pass that I had done. I hiked with him off and on for three days or so. In Pagosa Springs thruhiking legend Nean put us up in his bunkhouse. When I got to Cumbres I tried hitching for an hour or two, but when I heard the steam engine whistle, decided to take the train to Antonito. Jim Hunter picked me up in Alamosa and we had a good trip on the scenic route back to Colorado Springs. My good friend Melanie met us here. Today we drive up to South Pass and Melanie and her dog Jack will hike with me through the Wind River Range. It should be great!

          Cumbres & Toltec Railroad

          Cumbres & Toltec Railroad

          Continental Divide Trail

          Trail on the Divide

          Stoney Pass

          Camp at Stoney Pass

          North San Juan Mountains

          North San Juans

          San Juan Mountains

          North of Stoney Pass

          Nebo Lake

          Nebo Lake

          Hunchback Mountain

          View From Hunchback Mountain

          Elk Herd

          Elk Herd
          July 6, 2008; Lake City, Colorado I really enjoyed Salida. I ate over 1/2 gallon of ice cream while I was there and cruised around town on a rented bike. A fine fellow at the bike shop gave me a ride to a good place to hitch from and I soon got a ride back to Monarch Pass. From Monarch Pass to here there was snow in places, but not a problem. It was just old drifts the were quite easy to get through. There are thunderstorms most afternoons, now. Oftentimes they miss, but when they don’t I get off the crest down into the trees and wait it out under my tarp. It’s kind of fun. Yesterday, though, I lost several hours when I had to retreat twice. Today I just made it across Snow Mesa after walking above treeline for many miles, and had just started to descend as the thunder started to boom. I’ve been seeing some more herds of elk, up to about 40 in a group. Deer too, with the biggest group being three or four bucks. This last stretch has been the best scenery of all so far, with high rugged mountains accented with snow and spruce trees and often carpeted with yellow, white, blue and red wildflowers. Yesterday morning I made a slight detour to climb 14,000+ ft. San Louis Peak. I hadn’t realized how popular it is to climb Colorado’s “14ers.” There were 4 or 5 of us on the summit. A few miles from the road I ran across two hikers and knew they had to be “thru-hikers.” They were, Damien and Adam. They’d just come through the San Juans. They said the trail was buried under snow for about 60 miles. I am hoping that much of that snow will have melted by the time I get there! They said it would be a tough hitch from Spring Creek Pass. As I got down to the road I heard a car coming. I quickly pulled out my “Town” sign and the guy, and his mule trailer, pulled over and gave me a ride into town. Well, that’s the highlights that I can think of. It’s quite an adventure!


          June 30, 2008; Monarch Pass/Salida Colorado Looks like I’ve only got a few minutes on the internet. I’ve been “on the trail” two months and have covered an estimated 1,159 miles. I got back up high in the mountains at Copper Mountain, not long after having a delightful chance meeting with trail legend Mags just out of Silverthorne. There’s been deep snow in places but it’s passable. I’ve found two pairs of abandoned home-made snowshoes up high so other folks have been struggling in places, too! I bought a pair of snowshoes in Leadville and have used them but may not carry them for long but instead replace them with crampons and possibly an ice axe if I run into steep, icy areas. I hadn’t seen another CDT thru-hiker in a month, so was delighted to run into Heesoo one day, then Sharpshin and Strix the next. Sounds like a whole lot of snow in the San Juans so I’ll have to play it by ear. I’ll stay up high in the mountains as long as I can, however. I camped at treeline one evening and the next morning climbed Mt. Elbert, at 14,433 the highest peak in Colorado. A walk-up climb, but I was the first one up early in the morning so had the mountain to myself and the views were spectacular. I’ve been seeing more awesome mountain scenery, along with wildflowers, elk, deer and one mountain goat.

          There’s been many 12,000 foot passes to cross. The night before last a fisherman treated me to several brook trout which was a great gift as I was low on food. After 6 hours(!) of trying to hitch in sun, rain, sleet and hail I got a ride into Salida last evening. It’s been challenging but a great adventure!

          Snow Cornice

          Snow Cornice

          Near Monarch Pass

          Near Monarch Pass

          Summit of Mt. Elbert

          Mt. Elbert
          June 20, 2008, Silverthorne I forgot to mention I’ve now walked, according to my calculations, just over 1,000 miles out of about 2,800 miles total. Today I’m taking my first true “zero day” where I do no miles at all. The only other day I didn’t do any miles was the day of the shuttle to South Pass, but since that was a travel day I don’t consider that as a true “zero.” Got lots done today. I washed my loyal old Feathered Friends down bag (with “down soap” of course) and dried it in a dryer on low and am putting the finishing fluffing/drying by hanging it in the hot sun and wind. I got a large pizza while I was waiting at the laundromat and also swung by a sporting goods store and got a monocular to look at the wildlife, look for the trail on distant mountain sides, read faraway trail signs and the like. A lady there said her husband was clearing a section of nearby trail last week and there was still seven feet of snow. Most people agree that there is crazy amounts of snow in places still but lots has melted in the last week and more is going daily. Last night I did my other laundry and sorted out maps and guide book parts that I don’t need and mailed them today. I always try to sort and re-sort to try to avoid blunders in the need/don’t need piles. Of course, eating vast amounts of calories was one of my major duties. On this last long section of road walking I was again amused by how I tend to be considered “counter-culture” by passersby. It’s the people on motorcycles, bicycles and with roof-racks covered with mountain bikes and kayaks who wave and give me the thumbs up or “peace signs.” Tomorrow it’s back up into the mountains to see just how deep the snow is around here!

          June 19, 2008; Silverthorne, Colorado Not much time on the computer, as usual. I’m on the computer here in the library. I made the long hike up to Rabbit Ears Pass from Steamboat. In the wide open spaces on the south slopes there were some bare patches, but the snow was still deep in the shade. The last few days have been warm, however. I did another stretch “off the crest” hoping to give the snow some time to melt. There was a good thunderstorm early this morning but it didn’t rain much. Haven’t had to deal with much rain on this trip I’m happy to say. But most days thunderstorms have been building up though they’ve been skirting me so far for the most part. Not many stories to tell as I’ve been doing lots of road walking. Tomorrow, though, I’m heading up high to see how the snow situation is at the 11,000 foot level. People continue to be very nice. Have a good day, everyone! Buck

          June 15, 2008; Steamboat Springs, Colorado I just walked into town having covered about 900 miles total. Lots going on here. I hit what you might call a “perfect storm” in navigation south of Rawlins. It turns out about the first two days worth of topo maps south of town had been lost when some of my maps blew away. And it happened that this was time when I made the mistake I hoped to avoid, by getting my guidebook portions in the wrong package. So southern Wyoming was missing. My plan was to just head south until I got back on my topo maps. The first night it snowed in sage country. The next day was nicer but then an ugly storm blew in. I’m not sure what the definition of a blizzard is, but it was below freezing and snowing so hard in a howling wind I could only see about 50 feet. About five cars went by and four of them asked if I wanted a ride which was very kind of them. Anyway, most of the roads weren’t identified with signs, and to add to all of that my GPS failed! First time I’ve ever had that happen. It has stopped picking up satellites. Anyway, the skies cleared enough so I could identify some landmarks and I got back on the trail. The snow got deeper and deeper up high. I made a “winter camp” that night in the deep snow and built a fire for the first time on this trip. The next day the snow got even deeper and it became impossible to follow the trail. Although I could often tell from my maps when I should be on it I was wasting a good deal of time navigating, floundering through three feet of snow and just generally working ridiculously hard. Usually I could stay on top of the old snow but I’d often punch through, too. I knew I had day after day after day of deep snow ahead of me, and as it warmed up I’d be “post-holing” even more, so I elected to drop down to a lower route and follow roads. It only took about two hours to get below the snow line and it was a different world. It went from a desolate winter setting with blowing snow to new green leaves and wildflowers. I’d only brought enough food to get to Encampment, Wyoming, but after taking stock of what I had and looking at the very un-detailed maps I had covering the area off the actual CDT trail, I decided to make a push for Steamboat Springs. That evening I talked to a guy out exploring in his 4WD and he said there was a store or two along the way. The weather has been perfect the last two days. Highs in the 70s and a cool breeze. I saw many elk the morning I got into lower country, with numerous calves. There was one bugling in a fairly large herd of about 25 animals which seemed very unusual for this time of year. There were also deer and antelope. I didn’t know about bridges across the river ahead of me, but a guy out working on his irrigation directed me to a ranch bridge nearby. From then on it was smooth sailing. Along the road into town were countless beautiful homes, many in picture postcard settings. I camped one night in a “white picket fence” of leafless aspens. One next to my camp had “September 11, 1940, Heading to Wyo today.” carved on it. I was pleased yesterday to hit a restaurant for breakfast. I was hungry and have lost about 10 pounds, so I ordered two excellent breakfasts. The waitress told me summer was running a month late. Down the road three hours later I ate a big lunch at another restaurant, then stopped for the obligatory ice cream at a little store nearby. Now I’m here in Steamboat. I will be buying supplies and a new GPS and try to figure out the snow situation ahead of me. I really want to avoid the deepest snow and of course time is working in my favor with nice weather predicted for the next few days. Basically all is well and I’m driving on. Happy Father’s Day!

          Wyoming Snow

          Snow Drift in Wyoming

          Spring Aspen Trees

          Aspens near Columbine, Colorado
          June 9, 2008; Rawlins, Wyoming Hi Folks. On the 5th Jim Hunter gave me a ride all the way to South Pass, Wyoming. Thanks Jim! As you may recall I’m going to hike from South pass to the New Mexico border to give the snows in Colorado a little more time to melt. It was raining for much of the drive to South Pass, but that area in the foothills of the Wind Rivers was still fun to see again after many years. I couldn’t help but wax a bit philosophical thinking that I was working as a firefighter in the area 30 years ago, with my life course still largely unknown. What I didn’t know is wildland firefighting was to be my career and a good one it was, too. I picked up some maps in South Pass then headed southwest. It started raining and blowing and a cold rain it was. It would rain off and on the next day too and it’s been chilly ever since. I’ve been wearing my balaclava and down jacket most of the time which is remarkable because usually it’s easy to keep warm while hiking. Needless to say the Red Desert wasn’t very dry. Or hot. The hiking was quite easy and I saw countless Pronghorn antelope, deer, a few elk, and numerous wild horses. The wild horses were beautiful and would often spot me from great distances and come galloping over before turning and running past with their long manes and tails blowing in the wind. I think I’ve only seen two hikers in the last three weeks out on the trail, but I saw three in one day along a windy ridgetop. Two were finishing a thru-hike of the CDT they’d begun last year and another was just doing the Red Desert. This part of the hike has been the best marked of all, although many markers were blown down and it was sometimes a mile in between them. Most of the route was on jeep roads where I never did see a car or jeep the whole time. I found my first arrowhead in Wyoming right on one of those tracks. Man, it has been windy. One day I saw two mounted cowboys hustling for miles across the desert along with two active specks I knew were cattle dogs. An hour later while taking a break they rode right by me herding about 20 cattle. I was sitting out of the wind and they never saw me but I was suprised they were actually cowgirls. I had a ziploc of maps blow away never to be seen again, but luckily it was maps I’d just “used up” while walking into Rawlins except for one of northern Colorado printed on the back. But I’ve got my guidebook to cover that piece of trail. Well, gotta go. Bought a new pair of shoes here and will be hitting the trail in the A.M.

          Red Desert Wild Horse

          Wild Horse; Red Desert, Wyoming

          Snow Camping

          Medicine Bow Camp

          Wyoming Great Basin

          Red Desert
          June 4, 2008; Colorado Springs, Colorado Today is a day of transit. Louise Hunter picked me up in Chama this morning and brought me to Colorado Springs. I spent the day getting cleaned up, shopping for groceries and gear, getting a haircut and doing things like adding photos to this page (see below!) Jim Hunter will shuttle me to South Pass tomorrow. A big thanks to both of them as it is a big problem solver for me all the way around. Since I left Ghost Ranch the terrain and weather have varied between hot desert and cold, snowy mountains. Believe it or not but I’m not really a beer drinker. However one day I found a beer, battered but intact (and imported!,) that someone had lost in a brook a while back. I lay in my warm down sleeping bag in the cold evening air, sipping it at the end of a 27 mile day. As I looked across a high mountain meadow in the beautiful evening light an elk wandered by. And such are the magic moments that make the experience so worthwhile. There are many miles of “trail” in New Mexico that are along little-used roads. One day, out of water, I heard a truck coming down the road. I lay my empty water bottle by my side as a subtle hint and the driver pulled up with his horse trailer and two ranch kids in the back. I saw him lean out the window and say something to one of the kids. As they stopped, the boy walked back, opened the cooler, grabbed something and they all drove away. It was only about 8 more miles to water, however. I crossed the New Mexico border yesterday and made it to the paved road at Cumbres Pass, a truly beautiful setting. My recent hitching luck held and I got a ride into Chama immediately. There I enjoyed a pint of ice cream, a large meal of very hot but excellent Mexican food, washed down by another pint of ice cream. No risk that I’ll be gaining weight this summer. Well, I’d better work on the photos. Thanks for visiting!

          Meadow, Northern New Mexico

          Meadow, Northern New Mexico

          Cooke's Canyon Grave

          Grave from Apache Wars, Cooke’s Canyon
          May 30, 2008; Ghost Ranch, New Mexico I am, as you can see, at Ghost Ranch. It didn’t sink in until I saw a sign that this was once Georgia O’Keeffe’s home. This is a very nice place, and one thing I like is 24 access to a computer. I’ll finally be able to get (mostly) caught up on email! This last stretch of trail has been one of the best watered. It was a long but fairly steady climb to the San Pedro Parks Wilderness from Cuba. I stopped at the Circle A Ranch along the way to check it out. Nobody was home but it was very nice. Sharpshin and Strix had their tents set up there in the yard but I had seen them as they were getting shuttled into town. They are the thru-hikers I’d run into in Grants and earlier in Cuba. I saw a cinnamon colored black bear near the bottom of the climb, a little roly-poly fellow a year old, I’m sure. He was running pretty fast. I followed a beautiful stream up the mountain, and at the top there were spruce trees, scenic meadows, and plenty of snow! Luckily it wasn’t continuous snow but it was thigh deep in places. I camped just below the high point of the wilderness. A distant thunderstorm flickered in the distance that night. (Had it been close I wouldn’t have camped so high.) I was at about 10,500 feet and it froze hard that night. I was concerned about deep snow coming down the north side but although there were some tough stretches it got better fast. Ran into some more elk. I saw my first red/pine squirrels of the trip and later my first magpie of the trip. Later in the day I had some problems with a combination of disappearing trail, misleading trail descriptions, and plain map-reading confusion. Once again I didn’t lose much time and miraculously discovered one error by coming across the only spring in the area when I was out of water. Last night I camped under a giant ponderosa at the bottom of the drainage near a nice brook. Here’s what a typical day is like for me: I wake up when it’s starting to get light and the birds start singing. By about 5:45 I’m packing whilst eating a little breakfast, and by about 6:10 I’m walking. When I’m up high I usually start out with gloves, warm hat and my rain jacket on, but I’ve soon taken them all off and have added a bandana to wear as a sun shield for my neck and ears. I walk most of the day, taking breaks as needed. Guidebooks and maps are deployed frequently while I try to decide if I should follow the cowpath going NNE or the old jeep road running NE. The GPS is the tie-breaker and helps sort out lots of confusing situations. Once I day I cook a hot meal. I try to cook mid-day while at a water source. Around 6 to 7:30 I find a nice campspot and “call it a day.” I forget if I mentioned that a couple told me that it is the biggest snow year in 30 years in the San Juans which is a week ahead of me! Exactly what I didn’t want. I already knew that would be a problem though, so had been planning a “flip-flop” up to South Pass, WY, to give the snow a while to melt as I head south back to the New Mexico border. Jim and Louise Hunter have graciously volunteered to shuttle me which will eliminate the headache of a complex and time-consuming combination of hitch-hiking and buses. I just finished eating my second dinner at the dining hall. I love this place! Have a good day, everyone.

          CDT Trail and Downfall Trees

          Rough Trail!

          Cactus Flowers

          Cactus Flowers
          May 27, 2008, Cuba, New Mexico Things are going well and I’ve made it to Cuba with over 500 miles of trail completed. There were a couple of days where there was enough rain to make a difference, especially up high where it was snow! Coming over Mt. Taylor at a little over 11,000 feet it was cold and windy with knee deep snow in places. It was hard to believe that it had been that wintery a day later when I was again walking in the desert heat! There have been stretches of very good walking. I’m also getting in much better hiking shape. Two days ago I made 33 miles and yesterday I did 26 miles. Those mileages will go way down when I get back to snow and/or harder walking, of course. I’ve only seen one rattle snake so far. He rattled then retreated. It’s interesting how dark the elk are this time of year. I’m more accustomed to seeing the more “bleached out” elk of fall. Saw two bulls with antlers about 2 feet long already. I’m sure some of the daily highs have hit 90 degrees but it’s a dry heat, usually combined with a good breeze or even a wind so it’s easy to take. Daily planning tends to revolve around water. There might be only one water source along the trail in a whole day’s hike and it’s important to know where it is. Water is, of course, vital for cattle, wildlife and people. Most of the old log cabins along the way were built near springs. Ran across Sharpshin and Strix today as I arrived in town. I also ran across an interesting couple one evening. They were traveling north with their horses. They’d work at a ranch each summer then make the long cross-country trip to southern New Mexico to winter. Each year they’d complete their annual round-trip migration. There has been some awesome mesas and old volcanic cones and petrified wood to see. The light in the morning and evening on the rimrock country is really beautiful. Well, lots to do in town!

          Rattle Snake Diving for Cover

          Rattle Snake Diving for Cover

          Rimrock Country

          Rimrock Country

          Desert Camp near Ojo Frio

          Desert Camp

          Mt. Taylor

          First Deep Snow, Mt. Taylor

          May 22, 2008; Grants, New Mexico One more piece of trail behind me! I’ve now backpacked more than 400 miles. Every day the mission is to see and enjoy things I encounter as much as possible while cranking out the miles. Most full days of walking I’m doing over 20 miles a day now. Town stops make for shorter days mile-wise, of course. The clock is always ticking for the winter snows of Montana. If things go well I hope to finish by mid-October, but if you look at the map there’s still a long way to go. 1/7 of the trail done, though! I saw two more CDT thru-hikers, with trail names of Sharpshin and Strix, checking out of the motel as I arrived so that’s about 5 total that I’ve seen. Very few other backpackers except in the Gila Wilderness. This last section has been a lot of walking along quiet roads but also included the Zuni-Acoma trail across lava fields which was many miles wide. The stone cairns marking the way were mostly placed there hundreds of years ago. Drinking water was a big issue on this stretch, too. At one point I was completely out and lucked out by hitting the clearest cattle tank water I’ve encountered yet. Of course I treated it and I was mighty glad to have it. Seeing cows is a good sign of nearby water and a spinning windmill is a welcome sight. Grants is about 6,500 feet or so in elevation, I think, so it should have been no surprise when it started snowing as I started walking this morning. It changed to rain which has come and gone the rest of the day. Wind is common in New Mexico and it had a real bite this morning. Along my route a few days ago was an old Indian ruin, so I explored the area and found a big rock with several very impressive petroglyphs. I also started seeing pottery shards. A few here and there and then so many that I had to be careful not to crush them. Many still had beautiful geometric designs on them. That evening I camped and I could see several from my sleeping bag. I also found a very nice black projectile point. All were left where they lay. One story I forgot to tell earlier is when I was at the border at Palomas, just on the U.S. side. It was one of the greatest concentration of law enforcement I’ve seen in the U.S. with several Border Patrol vehicles, several Border Patrol working the entry point, numerous military personnel and of course a fence all along, currently being beefed up. I watched as an illegal, having found a hole in the fence, sneaked through the weeds in broad daylight and successfully entered the U.S. I guess he knew “the drill” and just waited for a gap in the patrols. Well, I have to wash clothes, shop and answer emails. Have a good day, everyone!

          Collared Lizard

          Collared Lizard

          El Malpais

          El Malpais, Zuni-Acoma Trail

          Ancient Pottery Shards

          Ancient Pottery Shards
          May 18, 2008; Pie Town, New Mexico Things are going great. I’m here in Pie Town with the friendliest folks around. A fellow CDT hiker, Hermes, was scheduled to get into town the day before me and agreed to pick up my package at the Post Office here. We had a glitch and it took most of the day to find it, but thanks to “Trail Angels” and fellow hikers Big John, Mushy; and Truman, I now have my package and they are letting me use their computer to update my site. The weather has been overall very good, dry and sunny. One afternoon though it started hailing then snowing and raining and it got very cold and wet. It was good to get out of the weather, under a tarp and into a dry down bag because it was very wet and cold. I’m doing about 19 miles a day and am holding up well so far. Had an adventure hiking up the Gila River with literally about 100 fords total. Beautiful river with towering cliffs. Should have had a fly rod. Seeing lots of elk now. Talked to another hiker who saw three yearling cougars. The walking has been varied, with some trail, some cross-country, and quite a lot of very quiet back roads where it isn’t uncommon to see only a car or two a day. Many huge stands of beautiful Ponderosas. Last night I stayed at Nita and Don’s place. They are true “Trail Angels” and allow hikers and bicyclists to use their house when passing through. Awesome. Kathy at the Pie-O-Neer cafe was also super nice and helpful. Mountains and desert. This is a beautiful state. Gotta go, will try to do more updates when I can!

          Gila Cliff Dwellings

          Gila Cliff Dwellings
          May 9, 2008; Mimbres, New Mexico I’ve only got a little bit of time on the computer but things are going great. I spent a few days walking across the desert where one of the biggest concerns was getting good water. I found a spring used by Victorio the famous Apache which was one good source and the only free flowing water in the Florida Mountains. I also hit a number of windmills when the wind was blowing for more good water. I saw hundreds of petroglyphs at one area and it was simply amazing. Found lots of graves covered with stone from people killed by Apaches in one pass and an old cartridge from that era as well as hundreds of chips from arrowhead makers. Yesterday I climbed up to 10.000 feet and the last few days it’s been delightful being in the trees including big ponderosas and Douglas firs. I’ve seen antelope, mule deer, hundreds of quail, lots of wild turkeys and many unfamiliar birds. I’ve been walking about 18 miles a day. The knees are doing fine and the main limitation has taking it easy on my feet until they get toughened up. Following the route is a challenge and I spend much of the day with map in hand but haven’t had any real problems. That’s all the time I have but wanted everyone to know it’s going well and I’m having fun. I hope all is well with all of you. Responses to emails will probably be delayed by a week or two if not more!

          Cliff Dwellings

          Cliff Dwellings

          Gila River Crossing
          Gila River Crossing

          Grinding Holes

          Centuries Old Indian Grinding Holes

          Petroglyphs in New Mexico

          Petroglyphs in New Mexico

          Petroglyphs North of Deming

          Petroglyphs North of Deming

          New Mexico Windmill

          Getting Flowing Water from a Windmill Pipe
          May 1, 2008; Deming New Mexico I got up at 2:15 yesterday morning and walked down to the bus station, again. It was a warmer (about 56 degrees) and windier morning. The bus was a little early but he made sure I was the guy getting on and the lady at the station also made sure he’d picked me up! It was an interesting crowd at the Gillette station. The bus had a movie, featuring “Dumb and Dumber.” I laughed. I couldn’t help it. Trees were blossoming in Fort Collins and Greeley and it was a very nice day. I bought some food at a 7 Eleven in Denver, and sat in the shade in a nice quiet spot. In about 15 minutes I was surrounded by friendly winos discussing jail time, fights and other adventures. Down the sidewalk passed the fellow in flowing black robes, black lipstick and mascara who had gotten on in Greeley. The Denver station was nice and the crowd from then on was probably of higher quality than I am. Spanish was the predominant language. Unfortunately my bus was canceled and rescheduled for two hours later. I learned my lesson and stuck around however, and lo and behold the replacement bus left in about 30 minutes. I got a few snatches of sleep on the way to El Paso. It was fun to see the changes in the land, vegetation and building style when the sun came up. At one point I told myself “It’s like looking at another country.” It was then I realized that the river was the Rio Grande and I was looking at Mexico. I barely made my bus in El Paso but here I am in Deming. There’s a new shuttle to Columbus that I plan to take at noon. At about 1:20 this afternoon I’ll walk the three remaining miles to the border, turn around and start hiking north. Updates will be intermittent. I just happened to be let off across from the library just as it opened!

          Tres Hermanas and Cactus

          Cactus and Tres Hermanas Mountains

          Pure Water

          I was delighted the wind was blowing and the windmill was pumping because there was a packrat floating in this water tank!

          Mexican Border

          Mexican Border
          April 29; Buffalo, Wyoming 2008 Yesterday I wrapped up the final preparations. I weighed my pack with a quart of water and three days of food and it weighed about 24 pounds. Jack (the dog) and I walked approximately 7 miles round trip to the bus station as a one of my training hikes and most importantly to determine how long it would take to walk to the bus station early this morning. I got up at 2:30, started walking at about 2:50, and got there with plenty of time to spare. After waiting 20 minutes in the cold I mentioned to the lady there that I was waiting on the bus, and she said it had come through about 40 minutes ago! The bus had come far too early, and left, and that was that. I made a bunch of phone calls to see if my ticket was still valid. I got passed around and no one really wanted to take responsibility for anything. Jefferson Lines, the culprits, said to send them a letter! So tomorrow morning I’ll get up at 2:15 and hope the bus doesn’t come through even earlier. ?The best laid schemes o? mice an? men / Gang aft a-gley.? A very small problem in the big scheme of things, and just an example of why I preferred starting the trail early in the season to allow for the inevitable glitches. So now my goal is a starting date of May 1, a fine sounding date to start hiking.

          April 27; Buffalo, Wyoming 2008 I’ve got a bus ticket for the LONG ride to Deming, New Mexico, via Denver and El Paso. Starting at 3:50 AM on Tuesday, April 29, and arriving in Deming about 8 AM on the 30th. After what will hopefully be a quick hitch to the border, I’ll start walking north. I’ll probably get lunch in Columbus, New Mexico and leave there with about three days of food to get me to my first resupply point about 54 miles away back in Deming. A major goal for the first stretch will be to carefully pace myself. A common problem with those starting out seems to be pushing too hard and blistering still untoughened feet. Updates here will be random depending on internet access and when I arrive in trail towns, but they’ll likely average about one a week.

          April 16; Fairbanks, Alaska 2008 I have been preparing for weeks to leave for the CDT, but these last few days have been extremely busy. So many details to iron out; for the trip, for personal business and for Buck Publishing. Happily I’m having to deal with a rush of orders spurred by a glowing review of Alone Across Alaska in Backpacker Magazine. I fly to Wyoming on Friday, April 18. I’ll spend about a week in Buffalo before heading for New Mexico to start the trip.

          April 6; Fairbanks, Alaska 2008 Time has gone quickly. I’ve been very busy. On March 31 I officially retired from smokejumping. Being a smokejumper was a defining experience in my life. I’ll look back on those years happily, and I happily look forward to upcoming experiences.

          I’ve just about completed last-minute gear purchases, things like lightweight guyline cord, gloves, a new compass and sleeping pad. I’m selecting towns for two or three maildrops (maps, food, batteries etc.) in New Mexico, but will wait for the other states until I have a better feel for how my hike will progress. I’ve got my maps gathered, having printed up Jonathan Ley’s maps, acquired state road maps for the big picture and purchased the DeLorme maps for the northern states and Mapsco maps of New Mexico for a mid-scale view.

          Surprisingly, perhaps, most of my efforts are going towards arranging my personal affairs for months spent (hopefully) on-the-trail. For example, finishing up my taxes, arranging for someone to look after my property and rental cabins, making sure my bills will be paid and my books and DVDs will be shipped by someone competent. All that, too, is going well, but it’s a big, time-consuming task. It will make the relatively simple life on the trail this summer all the more pleasant, just as returning to the comforts of home after the trip will make the everyday luxuries more appreciated.

          March 18; Fairbanks, Alaska 2008: My preparations are going well. I fly south to Billings a month from today (April 18) and I’ll spend about a week in Buffalo, Wyoming before starting my hike from the Columbus, New Mexico, terminus. There are three choices of where to start the hike at the south end, and I have chosen the CDTS “Jim Wolfe” route.