Monday, August 3, 2015

Cult of Time Travel 7 and 8

Two more vids up of time travel along the Tahoe Pyramid Raceway.  I have learned a lot about the community and its problems with regards to homelessness and drug use since my last post.  Here are some interesting reads regarding these complex issues:

County accused of illegally seizing property of homeless

Nevada is No. 1 in violent crime – what's the economic price and what can be done?

Law that lets addicts have needles aims to halt spread of deadly diseases

Reno Police Start Clearing Homeless Camps Near Truckee River Corridor

Reno Police Shoot and Injure Pit Bull That Attacked Officers


Since the police have come under attack for clearing out a homeless mans belongings under one of the bridges along the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway this past April, they have taken a hands off approach to policing the bike path for the first part of this summer. That is all about to change now. Couple that with the fact that we have the highest crime rate in the nation, the location of the Northern Nevada Hopes near the bike path and the fact that the Washoe County Sheriffs Department no longer has funding for their clean up crew along the Truckee River and you have the perfect recipe for all the lawlessness I have observed while pedaling along the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway. When I first returned home after my failed Strange Loop attempt I was dismayed and shocked at what I was seeing and what seemed to be tolerated along the river here in my current hometown. I have reached out to Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and have received many opportunities to get involved with the clean up along the bike path. I will keep you all posted on how that goes.

I am fixing to go out on a ride later this afternoon and am interested to see if the clean up resulted in a removal/ eviction of many of the permanent residents I have been noticing this summer. I did notice on my last ride last week that the Reno Police where actively out along the bike path on motorcycles patrolling and evicting people from these permanent homeless camps along the river. I would also like to add that I completely disagree with the lawsuit brought against the Washoe County Sheriffs Department for cleaning up a homeless camp right on the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway. The trash, needles, broken glass and dangerous dogs associated with these camps is unacceptable. I am over 6ft tall and I feel unsafe every time I pedal the bike path. Washoe County currently spends 1.2 million dollars annually on several homeless shelters here in Reno. My impression of the homeless along the bike path is that they are homeless by choice. I would make the case that based on my observations along the bike path they are out there so that they may do drugs. I don't believe a lawsuit against the Washoe County Sheriffs Department is productive for the bike path and is counter productive to insure citizens safety along its route.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cult of Time Travel 6!!!

Been spending lots of time traveling out on the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway lately.  You never quite know what you might see out there.  Wildlife, maybe a penis, but definitely a few sketchy drug deals.  Just about every other day someone is melting down on drugs.  Some of the camps are getting pretty established near the Grand Sierra Resort.  From a cyclist perspective the thing that is a real bummer is that the camps end up being lots of trash and riparian habitat destruction because eventually the campers move on yet leave all the garbage they hauled out behind.  Broken glass and needles being some of the worst kind of trash.  It is interesting over time that it appears that the businesses out at the end of the path in Sparks, NV have taken a pretty hard line on the no camping deal.  Yet right in Reno in our city parks this behavior is tolerated.  Many of these camps have been growing since I got back home in May.

There are some of these homeless people that are pretty inventive and I see them regularly pedaling the path with their gear on their bikes much like someone would if they were bike touring.  I have built a rapport with a couple of them.  However, the camps nearer to Reno are inhabited mostly by druggies.  They are quite aggressive and scary in my opinion.  Definitely unpredictable.  There is a couple times I have come out from under a bridge to see someone in a meth rage.  Interestingly enough these folks are in the same spot non stop.  Why this is tolerated along the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway in Reno and not in Sparks is a mystery to me.  One day I was surprised to see families going to a ball game at the stadium downtown walking by a man under a bridge who had just shot up on some intravenous drug.  He had his entire kit laying beside him on a blanket and families had to carefully escort their children around this scene.  Crazier yet, this is 2 blocks from the Reno Police Department.  Many of my neighbors in our neighborhood in Old Southwest have learned to call the police and say the key words: There is a drug deal occurring in my front yard and I THINK I SAW A GUN.  The gun part being key to getting the Reno Police Department to respond in a timely fashion.  Basically in my hometown if there isn't blood on the ground or a weapon involved your probably not going to get a response.  This same policing method would jive with what I see going on 2 blocks from our downtown police station here in Reno.

The thing that disappoints me with this approach to the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway is that I believe people should feel safe 2 blocks from the Police Department on a bike path.  People routinely commute ( I am getting to know some of the regulars ), walk their dogs, walk, run, ride bikes with their kids, go birding and even use the path as a way to get to the ball game.  People shouldn't have to feel threatened to enjoy this gift to our community or deal with non stop broken glass and needles.  I greatly appreciate the volunteers out picking up needles and messes that are left behind in the camps.  I have even seen one homeless person who routinely picks up after the other homeless people.  I would also like to point out in my opinion most of the people living out along the Tahoe Pyramid Bikeway here in Reno a few blocks from our police station are out there to get high on drugs.  I originally thought people were mostly drunks, but the volunteers picking up needles made me realize the vast majority are intravenous drug users.

In the midst of all this I just try to stay positive and hope someday someone in Reno takes a more hard line approach to cleaning up this wonderful bikeway along the Truckee River.  Interestingly enough there is quite a bit of history along this route.  I am sure the early pioneers that traveled this same route as part of their westward migrations would have never envisioned the drug addled zombies that would be plodding along the same path in the future.

There is a silver lining to this rant.  I am going to get involved with one of the clean up crews.  I had no idea this was a regular thing until I read the article above.  I do disagree with the assertion that no blame should be placed with the homeless for trashing the trail.  It is obvious that they are the ones trashing the trail.  All it takes is a routine pedal of the bike path to watch the trash accumulate at some of these camps.  LNT ethics aren't a part of the homeless mindset.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tahoe Pyramid Raceway

Been spending lots of time out on the Tahoe Pyramid Raceway.  Ends up being about 17.5 miles round trip and I have been fun seeing the wildlife, birds and characters along the path.  Ive also been using an app called Strava to log my rides.  I used to do this by just tracking a rout on my GPS, but now I can do it from my future phones tracking function and have it posted to Strava instantly so that I may keep all my training info in one place.  Saves me some time having to keep track in a spreadsheet.  If you use Strava and want to connect on that find me here.  Above is a video of one of my rides out on the path.  This was my first time using iMovie in a while.  Boy that is some crappy software!  I finally re - learned how to use it though.  This first vid above is long, so the other ones will be much shorter.  In this video though is some cool deer footage.  I had been seeing it regularly, but I think I finally caught it off guard with my boombox blasting.  The thing that did occur to me watching it though is how much our continued "growth " is fragmenting what little wilderness character is left in these urban areas.  The deer literally had no place to go to seek safety other than to continue to run down the path.  Another reason to drive slow and carefully as at any moment an animal that is being chased may explode on the scene in front of you.  I like the little California Quail that are flushed by the stampeding deer.

I've been developing this character I call Krud Dog.  Krud Dog likes to dominate the Tahoe Pyramid Raceway and has deep roots in Sparks, NV.  Krud Dog is a gear head too!  He has been doing some quick video reviews of some of the gear he uses while time traveling.  Speaking of time traveling, Krud Dog weaves some how to on that subject into his reviews.  Part of this is due to the fact that I find most video reviews lacking or over hyped.  These are no bull shit of real products that work day in day out.  The perfect balance of weight/ durability / $ / solution to the environmental crisis we are creating through the over consumption of our planets limited resources.  This first video review below is of the Patagonia Lightweight Travel Mini Hip Pack.  Patagonia is an awesome company, whose owner Yvonne Chouinard has been a constant and inspiring defender of our planets wild places.  It is a no brainer as an outdoors person and environmentalist to support his vision and initiatives.  Lots of people including myself like to complain about the situation, but I am realizing the real opportunity is to offer solutions to the environmental crisis.  Anyway check out this video if you get a chance and if you like it and want to see more content like it from Krud Dog then make sure and like the video, comment and share it!  Krud Dog sure would appreciate it!!!  Oh yeah and here is a link to the time I got to meet YC!

So Im just having fun with this type of content from Krud Dog. That doesn't mean I am abandoning being serious or that there won't be useful information covered in these videos. If you are interested in the Cult of Time Travel though, stay tuned for more exciting content to come! Got lots of ideas on the subject and lots of gear to cover!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

TEDxDavidson Academy

This is a TEDx talk I gave at Davidson Academy here in Reno, Nevada a few years back.  It ends up the footage from the talk was damaged (not just mine but all of it from the event ) and it took almost a year to restore it and produce what footage survived.  There was a flood at some point on the UNR campus that caused all kinds of data corruption, not just this event.  That is why there was such a long delay in the production of these videos.  Please forgive the audio and video quality, but if you turn it up it you may hear what I am saying.  Here is a link to the videos of the other speakers at the event.  I have watched a few of Keoki Flaggs other TED Talks and think he is a really engaging speaker.  His video from the TEDx Davidson Academy is below.  If you get a chance and like any of the videos make sure and leave a comment or share it with your friends!

Strange Loop Live Tracker

Above is my live map of the Strange Loop.  Note the post date is well into the future to accommodate being live and at the Tippy Top of the blog from now until my completion of the route.  What does that mean?  It means all the posts that will be during the adventure will feed in below this post.  So don't be fooled if you arrive at the blog and see this still parked at the top.  Just look below this post and you will see whatever new posts there are from out on the Strange Loop.

How does this Strange Loop Live Tracker work?  I carry a satellite messenger that feeds my exact location into the map.  At any moment you will be able to see my location represented by a little orange bubble on the above map.  I have used this service in the past on the BLC to Bering Sea trip and last year again on the Tippy Top Tour.  A refresher on this map is important though.  First cyan lines are segments of the Strange Loop that will be walked and magenta lines will be navigated by bicycle.  Also, to fit 16,000 miles of route into Google Earth I had to simplify the maps data points down to 1 per mile.  What does that mean?  It means the route superimposed on the map isn't as accurate as past maps have been.  That means at any given time you may see my little orange bubble off the route a little.  I was studying a map in Arizona yesterday and noticed a more straight forward route down a wash, so there will be times during the trip that I intentionally will be a little off route.  The terrain I am walking through may necessitate route changes on the fly as well.  High water and wildfires come to mind.  The above map may be toggled to satellite map, which is my personal favorite.  With that map you may drill down and see in real time the terrain I am walking/ cycling through anywhere on the route.

The satellite messenger may be used as a rescue beacon as well.  That was never my intention for purchasing the messenger.  I do have the service set up on it and if I was in need of rescue I may use it that way.  That is a nice additional feature in case of an extreme emergency.  My primary reason for carrying the satellite messenger is to show anyone exactly where I am and that I am in fact doing what it is I say I am doing.  The messenger doesn't lie.  So walking 3 miles an hour through the route isn't something anyone would want to try to fake.  Nor pedaling cross country multiple times at 15 mph.

This service has been one of my major expenses this year for the Strange Loop.  It costs me several hundred dollars for the service to host the map live.  This service takes my information being sent in from my messenger and feeds it into the Google Earth map.  On top of that I have to pay several hundred dollars more for the subscription service with the satellite messenger manufacturer.  On top of that I have to pay for service for 16 months!  Long story short it is costing me nearly 1,000$ this time round vs. 300$-400$ like in the past.  Yikes.  Since this is my last big trip, I decided it was worth it.  In the past it has proven useful for folks to find me in the field.

One last note.  If you haven't had a chance to navigate to the FSTPKR facebook page ( couldn't change the name to never came back) , never came back on twitter or my Instagram account you will be missing out on many of the real time updates during the Strange Loop.  I am currently packing 108 mail drops and only have time to throw a quick photo up or tweet.  This will also be the case during the Strange Loop.  I may only have enough cell signal to get out a quick tweet.  If you get a chance and would like to be more engaged with this trip than the occasional blog post head on over and follow along.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Human Powered no more but still the Strange Loop

In the last 4 days I:

A. saw numerous avalanches occur
B. broke my titanium spoon
C. had guy lines on shelter and leash on my ice axe chewed through by squirrel 
D. nearly hit by lightning 
E. wallowed through 2ft of fresh snow on snowshoes 
F. struggled to maintain 10 mile days
G. all of the above

In the last 4 days I've had the worst hiking conditions I've ever had. Even the hitch hiking was class V. Like standing in the rain for 2 hrs to begin a 4-7 day section of continuous snow travel. I kept thinking " it's one thing when your 2 days become 4, but when your 4s become 8s..."

The lighting experience was a first. I had already had some lighting I decided to sit out below treeline. 3 days ago I was caught above treeline when another band of hail blew through. I naturally sought cover in a small clump of trees to see if it was going to throw lightning again. It was cold standing there in a small clump of trees for 15 minutes in the wind driven hail. Finally after not even hearing thunder I decided to finish walking the ridge. Right after gaining the ridge I felt something itching my head. I thought it might be the hail hitting my hood. I reached up to brush the hail from my hood and felt an electric current instead ( light buzzing ). I ran back to my clump of trees. 

"The exiting storm dropped over a foot of snow in portions of the Southern Mountains, and around a foot of new snow in portions of the Central and Northern Mountains. Winds have been strong enough to drift this snow into fresh Wind and Storm Slabs, and have created some tender cornices. Loose Dry and Loose Wet avalanches in the storm snow, although generally small, will also be likely on steep slopes today. These Avalanches will be easy to trigger today in the new storm snow.
Avoid avalanches using cautious route-finding, conservative decision making, and careful snowpack and terrain evaluation. Storm Slab avalanches will be possible on steep slopes where more than about 8 inches of new snow accumulates. Triggering Wind Slab avalanches is possible below ridgelines and downwind of terrain features. Keep in mind that even small avalanches can have nasty outcomes in high-consequence terrain like gullies, above cliffs, or slopes with other obstacles. " - Colorado Avalanche Information Center 

Yesterday morning after I gained the ridge above my camp I heard rumbling across the valley from me. There was a brief 30 minute window of sun so I stopped to dry my sleeping gear. While standing there I witnessed several avalanches go through a gully. The aspect that was active happened to be the same as the Knifes Edge. I eyeballed the actual divide above me which was a safer alternate to the Knifes Edge. It had several new cornices from last nights snow. I made the assessment quickly to drop down to Williams Creek.  My Williams Creek alternate also saved me some mileage so it was both a safe alternative and timesaver. 

On my way down to Williams Creek I heard more avalanches rumbling across the valley.  Climbing back up to the CDT proved laborious as I was now wallowing through 2 ft of sticky snow. As I neared the top of the valley it had started to snow more in earnest. I got to a point where I was looking for my next path of least resistance to the divide. Lightning cracked on cue. I began to think about where I was going to sit this one out and looking at the terrain ahead on my maps. It ended up being another section of continuous ridge walking. Basically it didn't drop below 11,000 ft for another 10 or more miles. 

Honestly since I left Wolf Creek Pass I've had a wide mix of emotions hanging over me ranging from morbid to complete awe and respect for the divide. I've been humbled by the most adverse hiking conditions I've ever walked in. I actually lay in bed at night unable to sleep because I obsessed about the terrain I might have to travel through tomorrow. My primary concern was avalanches.

Below the divide in a bowl I turned my back on the human powered triple crown. The hiking conditions are such that I'm putting myself at undue risk and not assessing the hazards with the respect they deserve. I've been moving forward for so long that out of exhaustion I take the path of least resistance. That decision could be fatal. 

When I turned my back I was entirely un emotional about the decision. 12,000 miles of human powered adventure had hit a wall. Waiting it out for 2 weeks in Colorado isn't going to make a difference with regards to the snow pack. At the exact moment of this decision it was snowing in earnest. Since the CDT in Colorado doesn't go below 10,000 ft very often,  I'm committed to doing the remaining mileage of the state as snow travel. My gear, in particular my snowshoes weren't letting me down. I was so exhausted I didn't even want or need to justify to myself quitting the Strange Loop. I walked non stop out of there just trying to descend below snow line so I may sleep warm for a night. Ended up having lots of blowdown and river crossing just to get off the divide. As I got down below snow level and started to see green living things I started to have regrets about my decision, but that reasoning collided with the avalanche danger which was ever present.

I managed to get down to a campground and was happy to see a truck and trailer there. I later met the campground hosts who offered to run me the 30 or so dirt road miles into Pagosa Springs. They had even had 6 inches of snow in the valley floor at 8,000 ft. Now that I had transport arranged I had even more remorse. I had come 12,000 miles and almost a year and somehow had nothing left in the tank to handle what Colorado was throwing at me.

I slept warm and dry though last night. I was also happy to be alive and to hear how stoked the robins were for the sunny day. As I set there sipping my coffee it occurred to me to see what my finish date would be if I hiked 35 mile days from my home in Reno back along the un walked portion of the Strange Loop. If I left Nevada mid June I could finish back at Wolf Creek Pass by mid October. Ok that could be workable. What if I took some of the CDT alternates that a friend used when he yo yo'd the CDT? That could possibly mean finishing Colorado before any serious snow started to fly. 

Sorry for the long explanation or excuse depending on your view of my now flawed masterpiece I was working on. I say that with great admiration and respect for those of you that have been part of the Strange Loop. From those of you who have given me encouragement digitally or who have been able to help in whatever way by chance on the trail. The Strange Loop has a ton of soul and character compared to any adventure I've ever been on though. I'm not willing to just quit the idea of navigating all of it. In fact it is now just like all of the other triple crowns in one go in that it would rely on me flying back to Reno ( no longer human powered ).  From there I could take a few weeks off from the Strange Loop. Then I could leave home again to complete the 2nd half of the loop allowing for more favorable hiking conditions. 

Honestly I can do whatever I want because in the end the Strange Loop is my trip anyway. It isn't a speed record or anything. I did set out with the intention of doing the entire route without relying on vehicles. I too am a thru hiker in style in that I like to walk point to point. Now my trip more resembles what is called in hiking parlance as a flip flop ( which I've never done before ). I'm still visually and spiritually connected to the landscapes the Strange Loop visits. I still want to document wildlife along the route as well as photograph the remainder of it. 

Friday I fly from Durango back to Reno. I will be abandoning my ambition of a human powered triple crown. In 2 or more weeks I walk out my front door one last time to finish the last miles of the Strange Loop because it's the next best thing. I've said before ultimately to finish something like the Strange Loop Mother Nature has to conspire in your success. Mother Nature didn't with regards to the human powered triple crown meets Colorado. I'm okay with that.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Colorado MP 11,397.8

Ive made it to Salida, CO on the Continental Divide Trail. I've been here tweaking gear and recovering from the last section - Cumbres Pass to Wolf Creek Pass. The elevations in the last section are anywhere between 11,000 to 12,000 ft . The first 2.5 days was either rain / sleet / snow / hail / sun. No particular order either. Sometimes I'm warmest at the very end of the day. Which isn't saying much.

Clothing wise for the last section I had a bare minimum to stay alive and moving forward comfortably. I was very fortunate to have had a major gear switch in Chama, NM. I owe that decision to an email I received from Garret Christianson. He suggested having snowshoes and ice/ axe sent to Chama. That also made me become aware of the fact that I'd be dealing with a different animal on the Colorado portion of the CDT. So thanks to his advice I didn't need to carry snowshoes any longer than necessary , but instead got them when I absolutely needed them.

Plowing through a foot of fresh snow on Mt Taylor was one thing. It is post holing through long sections of last winters snow that is time consuming and exhausting.  Cresting the Los Pinos I got first look at what lay ahead for me in the last miles of New Mexico and the first miles of Colorado.  The small storms I was being hit with further south in NM where producing quite a bit of fresh snow along the divide in CO. In fact I've now been told several times by locals that this is an extremely wet spring. Colorado in particular is getting all of its precipitation this spring.

My first real snow travel was across the Brazos Ridge in New Mexico. That section had a little bit of everything as well. Formidable stream crossings, rain/ sleet/ snow/ hail mix and long sections of post holing up on the level Brazos Ridge. Here is a brief post to my facecamp page:

" Chama, NM

This last section was pretty rough all the way. Climbed up out of 84* weather in the desert into a daily mix of sleet/ hail/ snow and rain all mixed and in no particular order. I ran into a fellow who got his car all the way up on the divide ( some Toyota Sedan jobbie ) and stuck it hi centered off the road / snow bank to boot. Got a waypoint for his location and phone number. He had tent/ provisions and water so he wasn't going to die. However his belief that someone would happen by was naive. Especially in this weather. Then I had a wild time crossing Rio Vallecitos which had swollen w/ the precip. Almost blew out at the far bank and of course no sense for self preservation just sincere worry for my camera equipment and electronics. Then I stumbled upon search and rescue looking for another man now missing for 3 days in the area. He left his car on foot to go look for elk antlers. I gave search and rescue all my guys info so I did my part to help avoid another tragedy. Then it was up onto the Brazos Ridge w/ the same precip mix noted above and 35 mph winds w/ lightning and thunder. Plowed through waste deep rotten snow ( from all the recent precip and above freezing nights ). Was down mentally at the end of a solid 3 days moving non stop w/ no lunch breaks because it just wasn't nice weather to stop in. I went down to get water in my bucket at a freshet and noticed some coyotes down valley making a fuss. Looked up above me about 20 yards away and a black bear sow w/ 3 cubs was moseying by. She and two of the cubs cinnamon and one very blonde. The wind was to my advantage so she never noticed me, but one of the cubs did and raised up on his hind legs to get a better look at me. It is moments like that that are the reason I'm out here. So eventually made it to CO and Cumbres Pass. Got a ride to the hotel I had planned to stay at. Got key to my non smoking room and went up. Unlocked the door and first thing I see is an extinguished cigarette on the bed then about 20 beer bottles scattered around the room. So I asked one of the waitresses if there was a more hoity toity establishment in town. Chama Trails Inn is home tonight and tomorrow and I couldn't be better off. After coming what I just came through a goods night rest is important. Plus I live in the dirt by choice but I ain't gonna sleep in someone else's filth. "

When I finally am able to hitch into town to seek rest and respite from the weather the last thing I want to do is to pay for some runaround. The things I accomplished while in Chama allowed me to come through the last section with the bare minimum of comfort. Once I finally was settled at the Chama Trails Inn I ordered a Hilliberg Akto and a new Western Mountaineering Megalite. Those 2 purchases were crucial to my sleeping warm and dry. I'm just using the rain fly of the Akto so it's pretty reasonable weight wise. To accompany my new shelter purchase is my version of an ultra lite deadman anchor system. So I'm carrying 2 sets of stakes: one for camping on dry ground and one for snow. My Megalite emergency purchase was because my old one is finally thrashed. I realized later on that what would help the old one out a bunch is applying a spray on DWR since the old one has long washed off. The new bag is twice as lofty as the old one and it doesn't get wet as bad due to condensation from my exhaling while I sleep at night.  I also managed to get 2 free contractors trash bags. These I've come to use to line my pack and keep my gear dry. Someone had left a few in a hiker box on the AT this past fall in Maine. Keeping my gear dry was very important for that leg of my trip. It is now too. Plus I've learned to use them like an aditional ground cloth when camping on wet or snow covered ground. Clothing was basically everything I had on the AT from Salisbury, CT to Dalton, GA.  I'm walking in my boots w/ tall gaiters. Carrying my micro spikes and ice axe as well. I was hoping by some miracle I might not ever need my snowshoes, but coming through the South San Juans put an end to that dream. The nice thing though is that my TSL snowshoes are wicked light and work really well.

It is with all of these tweaks to my gear that I undertook the most formidable section of the Strange Loop so far. I walked only 4 miles north of Cumbres Pass in light snow to the 10,500 ft level before I put my snowshoes on for the next 100 miles. The only time I would take them off would be a short 1 mile section of trail where I wore my micro spikes and used my ice axe to ascend / descend some no name pass. I've only used the micro spikes on glare ice, but they work really well for snow travel. Those and my ice axe made me feel more comfortable in that terrain than any system I've used previously. I'm glad I have boots to kick steps with now too.

The first day I climbed up in 25 mph gusts and sharp granular snowfall to a plateau at a little over 11,000 ft. Once up there I just wanted to get down out of the wind and driving ice crystals. The trail doesn't go down though. Guess that is why it's the divide. I had to stop every few minutes and check my GPS to make sure I was heading the right way and quantify my efforts. My wiener got real cold too! I am using a lightweight soft shell pant. The pockets are mesh though so the icy snow was blowing in on my left thigh and penis. Finally I noticed I was feeling pain and I think my penis was getting frozen to the metal zipper of the pants ( I wasn't wearing my underwear as they were tucked away w/ my sleeping clothes). I addressed the situation immediately by putting my old spray masters on. Good thing I had just switched to those from my Houdini Windpants. My windpants were marginal getting to Chama! My thumbs were cold even though I had dry fleece liners and waterproof shell mitts. 

Lucky for me 30 minutes before dark I came down off the plateau into the safety of treeline.  I sure was happy to have my new 4 season shelter to climb into. My feet were cold though and that continued nightly in this section. During the day my feet were mostly wet and I could only keep them marginally comfortable with my Seal Skinz socks. 

Another issue with my gear selection was my stove omission. No warm fluids or food in my belly. Nope, instead I would be putting in cold food and liquids which only made me colder. Plus I needed to take into account campsites with free flowing water nearby. 

Snowshoes were necessary to me crossing the last section in 4 days. My itinerary called for a 2.5 day crossing, so I consider myself lucky to have made it out in 4. In addition to the snow travel taking longer the altitude requires more physical effort and a need to stay on top of my fluid and electrolyte replacement. My 3rd day out I was cooked by the sun/ glare off the snow. I got to camp with a good headache going and I had drank a gallon of water that day. Most of the day was spent at 12,000 ft though. Being on snowshoes daily and in particular descending steep faces caused some significant foot issues. My boots have some rivets I don't even lace that are right over the flex point of the boot. When descending steeply the problem was exashorbated by the added pressure and the fact that my feet slide forward in the boot. One of my little toes had a painful open wound day one that caused some grief. My feet felt beat up all around after limping into Wolf Creek Pass.

The Divide was pretty intense terrain to travel through in this last section. The trail stays at a relitavely high altitude of 11,000 - 12,000ft. In addition to that low temps and adverse weather conditions made it such that I was constantly adjusting my layers to stay warm. Traveling through potential avalanche terrain is an issue too. Snowshoes are a horrible choice for crossing slopes that could slide since there is no automatic release like there is with ski bindings. In this case the snowshoes would act as anchors dragging me further under the surface of the slide. The other issue is I'm traveling alone so self rescue is my only option should I become entrained by a slide. There where a couple convex slopes above terrain traps I had to cross that definitely had my heart pounding. After one pass I went to extreme effort to go around many features that had potential to slide. The weather conditions contributed to a better chance of avalanche potential due to the load of the recent snow resting on top of a melt/ freeze crust. Later on the input of intense solar radiation when the storm cleared out contributed to the potential for loose wet slides. I've had the chance to read the avalanche forecast during my rest days in Pagosa Springs. After the storm cleared and it was warm lots of loose wet slides occurred.

With all of these factors weighing heavy on me I and the additional fact I'm continuing to fall further behind my itinerary. I started to become fixated on my finish date and the fact that many services are closed early October on the Pacific Crest Trail. After careful reflection on all of the consequences that are involved with that I decided not to get too worked about it. My finish date is still an entire spring/ summer / fall away. Plenty of time for something else to go wrong that may require immediate attention so why get worked up about the last peice of the puzzle? 

As I got closer to approaching Wolf Creek Pass I started to formulate solutions to the present problems   ailing me. Below is a list of problems and what I came up with for solutions:

PROBLEM                                                          SOLUTION  

cold nights in camp                                          start using stove again 
falling behind itinerary                                       ok for now, plan on having to make it up when terrain/    
                                                                        weather allow for it
                                                                        abandon the birding daily which allows more time for                    
                                                                        walking and no longer carrying the binoculars and 
                                                                        battery pack ( saves a pound)
feet beat up                                                     take rest/ layover day , purchase liquid bandage for 
                                                                        blister, carry 2 sets Seal Skinz so I can have dry feet 
                                                                        ( have ability to wear a pair as the other dries )
                                                                        pad snowshoe binding system ( bubble mailer and duct
cold feet in camp                                             Integral Designs Hot Socks
low daily mileage ( hi teens)                              purchase more food for each section 
traveling alone in avalanche terrain                   continue to use as much caution as my route allows
                                                                        be aware of changing conditions/ warming after recent

Upon getting checked in my cozy room in Pagosa Springs, getting a warm bowl of yellow curry tofu and long hot shower I started to formulate the above checklist. I became less focused on what lie months ahead and as of now unknowns. Instead I focused on solutions to my discomfort and broke down into manageable bits how to get through the next section vs worrying about the trail 4,000 miles ahead. I was seriously entertaining the idea of failure as I proceeded through this first section of Colorado. Thankfully the landscape was so serene and beautiful that I didn't want to go home yet. I've come nearly 12,000 miles for some of the best wilderness of the entire Strange Loop.

The remoteness of the landscape in the last section made me acutely aware of my own mortality. A different kind of spooky than being chased down the AT this past winter by its icy grip and long dark nights. Along the spine of our continent I think frequently about the reality of being rescued should I injure myself out here. The wilderness corridor is much wider than the other 2 trails and the distance between resupplies/ roads is greater. In fact on the Divide when you do get down to a pass    (usually the lowest the CDT even goes at an elevation typically above 10,000 ft), you may wait an hour for a car to go by. This ever present awareness of my remote location combined with environmental factors made me think frequently that I could possibly die out here. I'm not suggesting that I'm aloof or naive about the potentialality of that happening. The more I thought about it the more beautiful the Divide became as I looked upon it through the lens of its ability to be deadly. It helps define who I am as a person to test my skills in a remote and potentially mortal landscape like the spine of our continent. Should I be successful in my endeavor to close the loop I've begun nearly a year ago I have no doubt Colorado and the entire CDT will stand out as some of the most memorable and valuable experiences I will have had on the Strange Loop.

"In the neuter austerity of that terrain all phemomena were bequeathed a strange equality and no one thing nor spider nor stone nor blade of grass could put forth claim to precedence. The very clarity of these articles belied their familiarity, for the eye predicates the whole on some feature or part and here was nothing more luminous than another and nothing more enshadowed and in the optical democracy of such landscapes all preference is made whimsical and a man and a rock become endowed with unguessed kinships." Cormac McCarthy - Blood Meridian 

There is a reason no one has ever connected the 3 major trail corridors in the fashion I'm attempting to do them. Because it's hard! Yeah, go figure. I realized pedaling to Prudhoe Bay and back a few summers ago that wether the mileage is achieved by walking, pedaling or canoeing... Any route longer than the longest of our long distance trails in America requires that much more focus. It also requires that much more to go correctly too. I was exhausted just from having watched traffic for 8,000 miles on my bike. Or to continueally giving the icy cold waters of the Yukon River my full attention for 45 days. Especially when I was floating 70-80 miles a day. I'm in 4,000 miles further than I've ever gone and I've still got the hardest 4,000 miles left to go. Success is far from guaranteed and I need to be even more vigilant now than I've had to be on the entire route. Yet after spending several days in Pagosa Springs off trail, I can't think of anything better to be attempting other than this current endeavor. It is those past accomplishments where my chances of success were the slimmest that I reflect on with the fondest of memories.