Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Trail Resources: Behind the Curtain


The No-Name Route is one that I am putting the land first. I have not disclosed too much of the route because I do not want to promote 'me.' Contrary, I want to describe the route as it happens, as it unfolds before me. The simple sentiment behind my process is solely the need to be immersed in some of the most wild places in the U.S. I really do not care if the route gets notoriety. I am not trying to celebrate me being the 'first one', nor am I striving to do what anyone else wants to do. Hence the no-name, not even mine deserves to be associated with it. However, what one person's effort into a new route may show by walking it solo, behind the curtain shows the invaluable resources of trail/route pioneers and caretakers. 

This Winter has been one of extensive research in the extreme environments I am embarking into. I believe more detail and work has gone into this route than the Vagabond Route. Although I am not able to do on-the-ground route planning in the actual environs, I think I've gotten a better glimpse into all the hours and diligent work route-plowers, pathfinders, and trailblazers task themselves to. Because of the deeper route research I feel a greater appreciation and gratefulness towards the ones who have scouted before. I often thought of Brett Tucker this past Winter in regards to his GET creation. How painstakingly he toiled and researched a route to be walked twice. I recall on my GET hike, as part of the Vagabond Loop, the number of ribbons tied along tree, brush and shrub branches in the Santa Teresas. What these little 'notes' told me was that Tucker had been going to that area for years, retracing a walk-able route through very rugged, eroded, and burnt terrain. I found it incredible that one person could put that much work into something that big. The hours of work probably tabulate into the thousands of hours. I became humble because of Tucker's love of the area. 

The No-Name Route is because of hike-inventors and pioneers like Brett Tucker, like Ron Strickland, like the indefatigable map-updaters like Li Brannfors, among others. Wilderness and trails are in a better shape because of these few stalwart fighters of wild places. Routes are held even more sacred, trails are more accessible yet more challenging. We all need the traits of these irascible explorers. When I hike I try to pay homage to these toilsome, exploratory few by holding myself in accordance with LNT, passing along information on the routes and maps in a sacred manner, and providing information and feedback to the resource itself. The symbiotic relationship between wilderness protector, route pioneer, and wilderness is somewhat intangible and unrecognizable in our new day and age of information being able to be accessed so expediently and quickly on the worldwide web. I think as experienced hikers we need to pass along respectable etiquette to the route and/or trail resource provider. I want to pass along how important it is to hold what we have as gold. 

These resources:

   Enhance our wilderness experience by providing info on otherwise non-researched items such as crucial intersections, water info for the shoulder seasons, environmental concerns and terrain tendencies, weather issues, and map publications and files with a 'written' route.

   Enable hikers to visit wilderness areas that may be otherwise unknown to the public by keeping certain places in public memory and even providing the opportunity to accomplish an intimidating route.

   Provide crucial safety information such as route obstacles, the quality and reliability of water resources, town info, bailout points, emergency services, shoulder season info, and most importantly updated map info.

   Promote responsible wilderness travel and stewardship as the resources manage users in an area without over-bearing the land, keeping them on a path and enriching an area by being 'used.'

   In essence, author a written documentation and interpretation in the form of guidebooks and map sets of the trail/route that empowers us to understand our relationship with the land better.

Lastly and most importantly, I would like to pass along much gratitude to Steve Tabor, creator of the Desert Trail and author of the guidebooks, who had an incredible vision to find a route through incredible terrain; George Huxtable for providing me the Death Valley Desert Trail Guidebook; Buck Nelson, the first ‘thru-hiker’ of the Desert Trail, who provided me with crucial water information, contacts for the maps and guidebooks, and general temperament of the route. I truly enjoyed reading Buck’s Postholer journal on the Desert Trail, as well. For my Nevada and Great Basin Traverse I valued the reading of Zoner’s Trail Journal on his hot spring and Great Basin tramp. For the Idaho Centennial Trail, Brian Frankle’s journal has been a crucial resource. By far the best and most personable resource for the ICT has been Stephan Taroli, who has put in hours upon hours of work in a map set, guide, and tips. Also, his general conversation on the ICT has really given me an insight into what I can expect. Finally, Li Brannfors has once again provided me with valuable information. His PNT map set is so amazingly good. Of course, I cannot forget about my Bearclaw who had to put up with me this Winter as I got obsessively focused on the upcoming No-Name Route. Without her support this would be a severely lonely endeavor.







Tuesday, March 31, 2015

No-Name Route Gear List

Could I have made my gear lighter? Yes, I certainly could have. However, I do feel there is a certain amount of love and pride that goes into getting the most out of your gear, to taking extra care of gear that takes care of you. Some items, mainly my sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and my down MontBell jacket, I could have bought newer lighter items that would save me between .5-1lbs. My sleeping bag and down jacket are on their 3rd thru-hike. Also, I forsook a lighter tarp for the quality of Yama Mountain Gear. Besides, some gear and the people behind the gear represent a philosophy that I want to represent, like Yama Mountain Gear.

Below is my gear list for the No-Name Route, which consists of extreme environments. I decided on a typical 3-season gear list. I will be seared on desert flats one moment only to hit freezing temperatures at higher elevations within merely a half a day. For the beginning of the route I will carry extra water storage capacity because of the uncertainty of the flowing of desert and canyon springs, extreme drought in SoCal, and vast distances between re-supply stops and water sources.


Gear List
Shelter & Sleep System
ItemManufacturerModelWeight (oz)
TarpYama Mountain GearCustom Cirriform 1P Cuben9.4
Stuff SackYama Mountain GearCuben Fiber Stuff Sack0.3
Stakes (8)Gossamer GearTite-Lite2.6
Ground SheetGossamer GearPolycryo1.4
Sleeping PadGossamer GearNightLight (torso length)4.55
Sleeping BagMarmotPlasma 3024
42.25
Backpack, Food & Hydration
ItemManufacturerModelWeight (oz)
BackpackGossamer GearKumo (modified)13.1
Pack LinerTrash Compactor Bag1.5
Water BottlesSmartWater2 - 1L Bottles3
Water BladderPlatypus1 - 2L Flexible Water Bladder1.3
Water TreatmentBleachmini Dropper Bottle0.5
Water TabletsMSRAquatabs0.1
Stuff SackYama Mountain GearCuben Fiber Stuff Sack, L0.4
Spoon0.2
Food Dish & CupZiploc2-Cup Container1.5
21.6
Clothing in Backpack
ItemManufacturerModelWeight (oz)
JacketMontBellUL Down Jacket8.7
Wind JacketMontBellDynamo5.8
TightsArcteryxrunning tights5.1
Socks (1)-pairSmart Wool1/4 cushion2
Bandana0.5
BeanieCustomHomemade1
23.1
Other Items in Backpack
ItemManufacturerModelWeight (oz)
Stuff SacksYama Mountain GearCuben Fiber Stuff Sack, 2 S0.4
First Aid Kit*1.3
TP0.3
Toothbrush0.2
Soap/ToothpasteDr. Bronner'smini Dropper Bottle0.5
HeadlampBlack DiamondIon1
Average Section, MapsVarious2
Phone and CoverAppleiPhone 64.8
Phone ChargerAppleiPhone 61.8
UmbrellaMontbellU.L. Trekking Umbrella5.5
ID, ATM card0.3
18.1
BASE WEIGHT (oz)105.05
BASE WEIGHT (lbs)6.56
Clothing Worn
ItemManufacturerModelWeight (oz)
ShirtPatagonia4.7
Tank TopPearl Izumi2.9
ShortsAsics3.7
UnderwearEx Oficio2.3
Sunglasses1
VisorPearl Izumi1.5
SocksSmart Wool1/4 cushion2
ShoesLa SportivaWildcat 3.028.8
InsolesCustom2
Trekking PoleGossamer GearLT4S4.6
53.5
BASE WEIGHT (oz)53.5
BASE WEIGHT (lbs)3.52
**The gear below will be used during limited 'body hardening' and dry/hot periods
Occassional Gear
ItemManufacturerModelWeight (oz)
SunscreenBanana Boat 30spf0.3
LubeHammerSeat Saver0.3
Body PowderGold Bond1
LighterBicmini0.3
Water BladderPlatypus3 - 2L Flexible Water Bladder3.9
Water ScooperSawyerHandmade0.3
Bug Repellant3
Wind PantsMontBellDynamo2.6
First Aid Kit Contents
ItemManufacturerModelWeight (oz)
Blister PreventionLuekotape0.3
Anti-diarrhealImmodium AD0.2
Antiseptic OintmentTecnu 2 - First Aid Gel0.2
AspirinCritical CarePowder Pack0.1
Anti-inflammatoryIbuprofentablets0.4
Safety Pin0.1
1.3
TOTAL WEIGHT (oz)1.3

Monday, March 16, 2015

State of Wilderness and the Impact of Thru-hiking

I left Los Angeles, many years ago, because I saw the severe encroachment of the urban sprawl envelope the once beautiful surrounding hillsides. There became no place to truly roam free. You had to go elsewhere. Although I have since found beauty within that bulging metropolis, especially during my LA urban thru-hike, I left to develop a wilderness ethic. I believe that my ethic is stronger because I grew up in that urban environment. As I saw suburban housing tracts takeover natural grasslands, oak woodlands, desert expanses, and lush waterways I coined the term 'free dirt' as in rid the land of the concrete that binds, as in connect with the wild without human obstruction. As I am venturing on a route this year exploring public lands seldom visited I think of our overuse on popular trails and ponder the 'voiceless' wilderness and other wild places no one wants to go to visit and explore. Some places are even non-existent in public memory save for a few hardy individuals who choose their own path and keep wilderness alive and valid.

I feel we have a responsibility to walk, to explore. As I say that statement, we have a duty to not neglect our farthest to reach places. Our 'home' should spread wider than our walk to our vehicle or our jobs or around town. Our 'home' should also extend to the least popular places. Even as the Big 3 gains in popularity, which explores vast public spaces, many parts of the wilds remain neglected and overgrown, absent from public memory. This holds even more true out in the wide West. While the corridor of the PCT and CDT receive more boot prints, other wild places seemingly become farther away and the vestiges of trail vanish.

 

As thru-hikers we need to be the voice for wilderness. I get a sense there is a 'me' attitude in the community when in essence why we experience the wilderness is for ourselves and in the spirit of wilderness. Rick Potts, former Chief of the Wilderness Stewardship and Recreation Management Division for the National Park Service, wrote in an article:

The danger to wilderness is no longer from recreationists who are coming to wilderness, but rather from the vast majority of Americans who are not visiting wilderness.

I feel it is my duty as an American, as an adventurer, and just a plain human being to go into these faraway places and wild areas. In a way, I feel I am keeping the 'no-name' wild spirit alive, that I am validating the existence of wilderness in our world, because it is the freedom of our world. Within my career of thru-hiking I feel to be an explorer and a steward of trails and routes first. Public attention for what I'm doing serves no purpose, only my actions and my respect out in the wild. As I see hikers looking for that public attention or trying to be the cool kid, as I witness public arguments between reputed hiker figures, as I see things getting 'easier' for hikers with not-so-random trail magic, I think of the places faraway and the respect these wild places deserve. To explore means going where the herd is not, to explore means branching away. I think love can 'overkill' and 'over-populate' an area, while apathy and irrelevance can diminish the memory and love we have for a wilderness; wild places fade into the 'no-name.' If we do not use wilderness we will lose it.

 
Why has a lapse in wilderness ethic shifted to a more social experience? I have a theory. When the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) passed it put a lot of young people to work. A lot of those young adults served in AmeriCorps, in particular the Conservation Corps around the states that put those same young adults at work in our public lands. They were working in places faraway from local society. They worked and lived in the woods with a crew, a family if you will. Our job economy was pretty feeble at that time, yet ARRA employed thousands of young adults everywhere. During their service tenure, transformational experiences of great magnitude shifted the lives of adults that otherwise may have been left with a bleak future. I was one of them. I say to this day, a season in a Conservation Corps is very similar to a thru hike. So, fast forward about 6 years later and ARRA ended and Congress decided to cut back on AmeriCorps. Around that time, our job climate was in the shits even worse than before. Also, long distance hiking was gaining some popular momentum with books being published, bigger social media presence, the blogosphere, and speed record attempts. I correlate this popularity of long distance hiking with the U.S. experiencing a 'European shift,' in which young Americans forsook the tradition of graduating college, starting a career and a family, working until retirement, and finally traveling and exploring in the 'golden years.' With this shift, young Americans have been seeking some sort of transformational experience. Couple that with a jobless economy in which highly educated people cannot find work, then traveling seems like a plausible endeavor. Whether riding a bicycle cross-country, volunteering overseas, thru-hiking, etc. the common thread among the adventurists is the transformative experience one obtains.

My theory is not to naysay a transformative experience or to not hike a popular trail. In fact, I encourage folks to follow their dreams and live a life off instinctual impulses. My theory, if anything, is a call to action to spread the love. I may sound like a curmudgeon but these transformative experiences can happen anywhere and not solely on the Big 3. I have to say it: The land comes first. Wilderness comes first. The one thing I can say I have learned the most from long distance hiking is balance. Another valuable lesson that I cannot leave out is that wilderness has taught me that my actions have direct consequences. If we overload the popular corridors then more money gets filtered to those areas. Hiker and trail associations get bigger, hiker impact on trail becomes more crucial and noticeable; a veritable highway is developed. I see an eerie parallel to overcrowding our main corridors as urban development encroaching on wild lands. In contrary to overfunding, little used areas receive hardly any funding and become less accessible and overgrown. Only the seldom trail crew or a backcountry horseman clears the paths. Small trail associations go defunct or scrape by on the passion of the folks protecting the trail. But the job is too immense. We end up losing what we love. What stings even more to me is, nowadays, the access to receive thru-hiking tutelage and ethics is ever the more accessible, yet 'how to act' is not held accountable by other experienced hikers. A lesson or the awareness of the climate of the trail becomes a hiker rant. I am not looking to settle the field and condone actions, I am looking to hold thru-hiking in a special light. I am striving to protect our wilderness by being in wilderness. I think of all the ones before us that have enhanced our experience by simply following their heart into unknown territory. The trailblazers who had the vision and bushwhacked a route before it was a path; the researchers of places, maps, and local lore; the authors of guidebooks who painstakingly tabulate valuable information; the naturalists who investigate and scrutinize the world around them microscopically; the mapmakers who constantly read the land and translate what the world is communicating to us on paper; the wilderness fighters who protect what we love; the no-namers, the wildland firefighters, trail builders and trail grunts; all the work and workers going into a route is beyond comprehension. Yet we often choose the most popular path. The gist behind this is that people are seeking that transformational experience at the wilderness expense.



We take for granted the land and the wild by protecting it with closed arms and hugging it close to us thinking if we do not tell anyone then it will always be ours, when in fact, if we do not speak out loud and stand as stewards of the trail and the wild then it will vanish and be used up by big industry. I think, as thru-hikers, we need to be the assertive voice. We have an opportunity to answer the call of wilderness as it sits on our shoulders beckoning us with signs to recover it and to bring its true meaning and value to light before the greedy hands take over. That transformational experience will always be there. Wilderness and those faraway places, on the other hand, may not be. Understanding that our actions affect the land first and not our social constructs will help us make conscientious choices that balance out our land use and land neglect. 

I often think that in order to hike one of the Big 3 you must give back to the trail in the form of service. Maybe in order to get a long distance hiking permit 8 hours of trail work must be performed by the hiker on that particular trail with a certain timeframe. Understanding is gained through education, especially through experiential learning. Maybe then we can truly respect the wild places. Maybe then we can understand how much effort goes into the trails we love. Maybe then we will develop a wilderness ethic. Maybe then our furthest faraway places will be preserved through love rather than neglect and apathy.








.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The No-Name Route

I am in search of the 'no-name.' I want to explore empty places on the maps, voids appeal to me unexplainably. Vast spaces on the map instill a curiosity that seems unable to be quenched; essence over existence. Most of all, I need obscurity; I need wilderness.

When I see an open landscape I see an open canvas, a chance to create. In fashioning a route I want to create something that would be worth walking twice. I am searching to connect landscapes and biospheres with a route and/or trails that push thresholds, my limits, and fulfill my ascetic pleasure. I seek those wilder places to obtain lonesomeness, to obtain a higher spirit where I can blend in with the world around me.



Assessing my needs accurately and realistically will help me enjoy my experience and create a route as a 'piece of art.' Water availability, food levels, impending weather, adequate shelter, and crucial assessment of skill level all should influence which direction I decide to take. Imperative out in the wilderness, or the middle of nowhere, is situational awareness and stress management, both physical and mental. This situational awareness empowers me to be a part of the landscape moving with the flow of nature.

So when I do see an open landscape I do see an open canvas. And not only do I envision a chance to create, I believe in freedom. We are blessed to live in a country where we are free to roam wild places , where our own two feet paint a picture. Few hikers create or pioneer a route. Most hikes are related to other's hikes that want to re-create an experience another hiker has had or most hikers choose a trail based on popularity. What about creating your own in an unknown area and letting your skills guide your way, your heart and head shine the light, absorbing Nature's flow, and feeling uninhibited by the randomness of wilderness? What about the no-name places, the big, empty holes on the map?

I know of a small faction of hikers in the no-name guild. And I bet there's a few others who are so unknown they are indefatigably underground and unnoticed. The goal of notoriety is non-existent and, much like the faraway places they go to, have a deeper sense of adventure and an insatiable perseverance to go beyond what they know they are capable of. Above all, a wilderness ethic oozes from their persona; they know how to act. 


Before you go out for a long distance hike think of your wilderness impact and the influence of wilderness on you. Fantasize about places where people do not go. Try to envision an empty place where you fill in the spirit, where you pioneer a story. Strive to create a piece of art that validates the personality of the route taken. 

I am embarking on a 'no-name' route this summer, for the pure joy of immersing myself in a profound wilderness is a necessity to me, as well as stepping into an unknown essence. Which way would you choose: the easy way, the sensible way, the most challenging way? The most unnamed way? The battle of the head and heart begins.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tips for Thru-Hiking as a Couple



Attempting a thru-hike on any long distance trail is challenging to say the least. Whether you meet a friend along the way, start with a companion, develop a love interest or start with your significant other, the hike will push your thresholds, patience, and endurance. However, the rewards of accomplishing such an ambitious endeavor are beyond anything you could imagine. One word that comes to mind: sacrifice. The trail heals and provides but above all it reveals and exposes truths. Bearclaw and I attempted a trek on the PCT hardly knowing each other. I had previous partnerships on trail, however, the previous two were incredible friendships that I developed during the trail, let alone a love partnership starting from scratch. Together we came up with some characteristics and tips we feel are crucial to any partnership on trail, in particular with a significant other, or a marriage you might say.


The first set are 3 traits we feel are needed to exist in any partnership on a long-distance hike. The second set are tips for couples. Since we were so new with each other in the beginning we developed our relationship on the fly while on the trail. The environments and conditions we were in stressed our relationship to the max. Most couples who tackle such a task have had years to get to know each other, time to establish needs, boundaries, and wants, as well as time to experience hiking together. We threw ourselves into an extreme situation because of our extreme belief in each other. We made it out together and have forged a life to look forward to that is filled with adventure, love, and most of all selflessness.
 


3 traits for a solid foundation of any hiking partnership:
Pace | Whether slow or fast hiking together can be a very enjoyable experience. It helps when the pair are on the same page and can enhance each other’s abilities. Nobody wants to ‘wait.’
Goals | Having the same goals and intentions will help determine your ‘flow’ and method of accomplishing such an endeavor like a thru-hike. From wake-up hour to town stops to food choices having someone to compliment you will help you achieve something great. Remember, keep your goals simple and attainable. Also, keep expectations in a realistic manner.
Sense of Humor | Fart noises, burping, morbid sarcasm, inappropriate jokes that push boundaries, anything to help lighten the mood; what will aid in a better time out on trail is if you can laugh with someone. What a great feeling to have a tough situation and know that you and your partner could laugh it off on account of the same sense of humor.

5 tips for couples while on a thru-hike:
Boundaries | Establishing boundaries will go a long way in alleviating stress. Discuss the boundaries and expectations prior to trail. Communicating clearly without offending or hurting someone will help you get through situations that arise. Keeping emotions from getting carried away will help a pair be successful.
Forgive | The trail will wear on you and your partner. You’ll have to look at that person in the eye moments later after a tough spot and say, ‘It’s ok.’ We all have different methods to process our own shit. It helps to let the other have the stage when it is time for them to vent or heal or blow-up; grant the other some grace. Just forgive, trust us, the relationship will become closer and the bond stronger.
Flexibility | With goals, pace, itinerary, food, rest, injury, gear, weather, etc. so many possibilities arise while on trail that you do not have any control over. Plus, having flexibility gives you room to breath to change and adapt your plans to fit your needs. Be flexible with everything and with each other.
Responsibilities | Share the responsibilities of carrying a shelter, retrieving and carrying water, in camp set-up, and meal preparation. Share the in-town responsibilities of laundry, post office errands, grocery shopping, etc. If someone pulls more weight than the other person it can become very frustrating. Share the responsibilities and you’ll share your experience better.
Give Space | Plan side trips, hike mornings apart, anything to give each other room to reflect, calm down, and decompress. Giving space allows tense situations and moments to pass. A lot of emotions on trail are fleeting and usually one moment you’ll hate the other while the next you are laughing in unison at the dorkiest thing ever!


Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Moose


After a 2007 failed PCT attempt due to a vicious bout with salmonella, I went back to work in an outdoor leadership program in Montana. For 3 years, I aimed to get my wilderness skills better, to get my head straight, to prepare for another attempt at the PCT and a lifestyle I wanted to live. Up until 2007 I struggled to find the courage to live the life I craved. While the conflict of loving my job in Montana and the urge to go out on the PCT remained ever-present, the impetus to again attempt the PCT laid in the path of a severe injury and a moose. After the incident noted below, I was restricted to a neck brace for 3 months with fractured vertebrate in my neck. In the process of mending I began to reflect and ponder the life I had lived and the life I yearned. I kept thinking: "I don't want to be 40 saying I wish I would have."

The broken neck and the moose prodded me into the life I love today, into a life of wandering, of enormous goals and adventures, into freedom, into courage, into exploring the curiosity of life and self, into powerful relationships I am grateful for (including a wonderful wife), among other meaningful things. I cannot help but think of people I hear everyday afraid to live the life they dream of, afraid of what others will think of them. All I can hope for is that a 'moose' will come along and push them over the edge. Even as I write this, I am envious of the ones who did not need a 'moose.' Those are the people I truly admire. But I can tell you this: it is never too late.

Get out and live. Live bravely and true to yourself and your beliefs. 
Dream big, act big.
Below is the account of a close encounter with a moose during the Devil's Backbone 50m adventure race outside of Bozeman, MT in July of 2010. I wrote the race director to tell him of the event as he had heard of the crazy situation I was involved in from others. All along my neck was broken from a silly event the previous week. I have yet to recount this story in a blog entry mainly due to a little feeling of shame and embarrassment. However, lately in my life I have been thinking about how thankful I am for those events below solely for the fact of the path that I am now on is no one's but the path that I have chosen, that I will fight for the life I truly aimed to lead.

6 months later I ran a 50k when the neurosurgeon told me that I should never run again.
5 more months went by and I trekked the PCT.

"Hey Tom,
Yep, needless to say, I am pretty much in disbelief. I had a fall a week ago last Saturday and landed weird on my head, neck and shoulder area. I felt a crunch/tear but I figured it was a pulled or stretched muscle in my shoulder/neck area. I kept working out in the week and felt okay by Friday, though the mornings were and are the worst part. I'd thought I'd be okay to race but, boy, was I wrong. I was in pretty good pain--trouble breathing, numbed left arm, tingling arm, etc. I dropped halfway up the Hyalite snow wall and headed back. About 1.5 miles from the trailhead I ran into a bull moose. Big, young bull with 2-3 ft paddles on each side. We met on the trail about 20ft apart on a blind corner. I was in pain hiking quietly down the trail with my head down and my mind was completely out of sorts--frustration, pain, anger, etc. I backed away and he began charging and chasing me. I took off back down the trail towards Arch Falls. I stopped after running a 100yds or so. I checked to see if he was still there; he was and he charged me again. I wasn't quite scared yet, just trying to figure a way out of the threat.
I ran again--there wasn't any 'good' enough trees to climb up and I was starting to get  freaked out. I took a fisherman's trail towards the creek hoping to get to the other side to stay wide of the moose, thinking he was trying to scare me. WRONG! I crossed the creek, scoped him out and he was slowly making his way to the creek. He then saw me across the creek while poking his giant head through the willows and charged again. I tried scampering up one tree but it was too small for me to get up and the branches kept breaking. I tried another tree and the same thing happened. Plus, I lacked the strength enough to grapple hold from the neck pain.
Then, I noticed the bull was about 20ft from me in the creek coming at me fast. I booked it upstream through the thick forest. Now I was really, really scared. I ran for I don't know how long jumping over downed logs, up and down swales, and fighting brush until I saw a big snag with big limbs near a huge log spanning the creek. I could feel his presence behind me and the whole time I thought he was about to club me in the back of the head. He was that close! I reached the log and looked for the moose. He was coming up the creek right up the middle of it. I climb the big snag about 12ft in the air, the whole time feeling like my arm was going to pull off from the injury. The moose stopped underneath me and stayed there for about 20 minutes. Blood dripped from scrapes that I had gotten from attempting to climb the trees. He turned around and went back the way he came and went into the willows/brush. I scaled down the tree after a 45min. wait, then scouted for him on the log. Once I figured I was clear I headed back towards the trail. I was not going to go back down the trail where I met the bull. Keep in mind, I had no positive idea of where he went.
So, I looked around frantically trying to find a way back to the trailhead. By now I was in so much immense pain that I new it was important for me to get to a hospital. I spotted a cliff band high up and figured the moose wouldn't follow me up there. I also thought the moose was near the creek and wouldn't be able to hear me crunching through the woods so far above him.  So, I scampered up towards the cliffs and traversed above the trail and creek back towards the trailhead. I was so shaken up I ended up about 1/2mile past the trailhead in the brush above the road, my legs and arms scratched from the scaling and sliding down trees, and my neck and back wrenching in pain. I went to my vehicle, drove to Billings to the walk-in clinic and once they got the x-rays back they sent me to the ER to get a catscan. The results are a fractured c6 and c7 vertebrae. I see the neurosurgeon tomorrow who'll hopefully say I don't need surgery. For now, I think I have to put running on hold until I get better, which means dropping some races...

Crazy day and a crazy story. I apologize for the long diatribe. I am happy to be walking and feel very lucky and at the same time mad...
 
Thanks
Ryan"

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gossamer Gear Blog Entry


A few months back while on the Pacific Crest Trail I did a guest post for the Gossamer Gear Blog entitled "Thoughts on Walking Straighter."



In my effort to gain more efficiency on trail I began investigating the way we walk. To read more about this topic click on the article link below. 

http://gossamergear.com/wp/tips/thoughts-walking-straight