Slept great after walking a marathon distance yesterday. The hole that I patched held up just fine. I ate a big breakfast and amped up. Kind of like an athlete before a competition, I had to get my game face on. The first big climb went pretty easy. Imagine the McDonalds arches. Then picture the second arch a little higher than the first. That’s what I had to walk over today. The first one was long and then downhill again before a steep climb to the next and then all downhill into Austin, the next town on my route.
I freaking nailed it. I only stopped once to break and that was at the bottom between the two inclines. It was a beautiful walk too. On the way down the other side of the mountain, you could look out and see the town of Austin and a valley and another mountain range beyond that. It was amazing. A van drove by and then pulled over quickly. A pretty girl hopped out and she said that she figured she’d say hello to a guy that’s walking across America. She was doing a van-life trip from Texas to California to visit a sister she hasn’t seen in a very long time. She has also known loss from an overdose. She was very happy that she stopped to talk to me. I was happy that she stopped to talk to me. If she didn’t have cats with her I probably would’ve asked for a tour of the van (wink, wink). She gave me some water and I continued my walk downhill into Austin.
Austin is a WEIRD town. I am surprised that people still live here. I heard someone say that there are only 180 people living in town. I was suprised that there were that many. They had a cafe though and that’s where I headed first. A nice man named Tim saw my cart and came over to tell me that when I get to Fallon, to call the pastor of his church and get in touch with the treatment program they have there. I gladly accepted the phone number and continued waiting on a server to acknowledge me. The cafe was very busy.
Before the server ever came, a woman sat across the table from me and said hello. I knew who it was right away. I was expecting a visit from Jeanine, a woman whom I met her family members back in Utah. She had gone on a 1600 mile hike in Utah a few years ago and works in animal rescue. She came bearing many gifts. Lots of Hiking food which are expensive. It was a very generous gift. Also some water and a lot of good conversation. She said that she would be riding back in a few days and I was looking forward to seeing her again.
I fixed my tent with American flag duct tape before packing it up. I thought to myself that I might be a redneck if I patched a hole caused by playing with fire in my tent with American flag duct tape. It came out well though. It will definitely get me to where I need to go. Had a bit of a slow start but things were going smoothly. I had a good shoulder to walk on, good weather, and less traffic than I’ve been seeing. I saw a coyote about to cross the road and then retreat back into the sage brush when he saw me. I must look pretty scary… bwa ha haaaaaa!! (my scary laugh)
I pulled over to the side of the road for a quick break. I van pulled over to the side to say hello. Vans are definitely the thing out here. Everyone has one and seems to either live out of it or vacation out of it. It’s quite a good idea and they jazz them up nicely. This one was nice and pretty large. A guy around my age with similar style but longer hair rolled down the window and asked if I wanted some weed. Haha. I actually thought about it but I knew I was going to turn it down. I did politely. Not my thing. He is a weed farmer in Colorado and is making a very good living doing so. I discussed my walk and my cause. He hoped that he didn’t offend me and he didn’t. I have no problem with marijuana. Especially in the states where it is legal. I don’t like it personally and I don’t like when people use too much of it, but I have friends who work very hard and make a decent living who like to smoke a couple of hits at the end of the day before watching TV and then going to bed. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that at all. As long as you can handle it, then do your thing. The main reason I quit usuing it was because it is illegal and not worth the trouble. After I quit for a long time, I tried it again and just didn’t like it anymore. End of story.
I did tell him how bad the overdose rate is in our country and he told me that all he messes with is marijuana which has zero overdose deaths. As far as I know, he is correct about that. Very nice guy. He gave me some cookies. I waited until he left to eat them. I was a little suspicious if they weed in them haha. I took one small bite of one and then waited until the next break to eat the rest. I was having a great day and I didn’t want to ruin it with a weed high. Thankfully, they were just really good cookies and nothing more.
I was smooth sailin. Having a great walking day. I was rolling downhill and a small pickup truck pulled over to talk to me. Matt, a former marine, got out and was very nice. He gave me some information on what I was walking into and some water. He also gave me his number and said that I’d be welcome in his home when I got to the town that he lives in. I should be there in a couple of weeks. Great guy. Glad he stopped.
My goal was already accomplished for the day but I wanted to go more. Tomorrow I will be facing the hardest mountain that I will cross in Nevada. I wanted to get as close as possible to it so that I could just crank up on energy in the morning and nail it. I got as far as I could before the sun went down and found a great spot. Watched the sunset while making a big dinner and then heard total silence. It is an incredible sensation. Especially for a city dweller.
It got down into the 20s. I was surprisingly able to stay warm in my sleeping bag. Not warm but not freezing either. I was ok. Put it that way. I waited until the sun was up before crawling out of my cacoon.
I got a later start than I wanted to but I had no choice. I had to wait for that sun. I had a very hard time getting going this morning. It warmed up a little and there wasn’t much wind so I tried to focus on the good things.
i stopped for a break a few miles up the road. While sitting there, a minivan pulled up and two older gentlemen asked if I was walking the American Discovery Trail. I told them that I have been using it as a guide but making my own path as I go along. They were also hiking it. 80 year old twin brothers hiking the ADT. They were doing sections every year.
Very nice guys. We talked for a while and took some pictures. They were impressed that I was doing it unsupported. I told them I had tons of support, just not out here with me. I was thrilled to have met them and they felt the same about me. Very cool moment.
Not much longer, about 5 miles, a cyclist was coming up from behind. We stopped and chatted for a while. He is cycling from Kansas City to San Jose. Always cool to meet someone like that.
Miles later, I looked over and saw an old tank in the middle of nowhere. It had something written on it. I had to wait until I got closer to read it. It said, “The loneliest tag in the world”. In case you don’t know, a “tag” is a term used for graffiti. For example, “let’s go tagging” or “did you tag that wall by the bank yet?” Anyways, it was clever. I took a picture and went on with my life.
I came upon a rest area that was about 5 miles short of where I wanted to make it to today. They had covered picnic tables. I decided to stay here. When you find a covered picnic table in the desert you use it. So I did.
I hung around and enjoyed lounging around. The sunset was phenomenal. On my top 5 of the whole walk list. I settled in to my tent and tried to warm up a bit. I have a little gas stove that I cook with. I’ve used it for heat before. I just turn it on low and light it and then let it run for just a few seconds and it warms up my whole tent. I decided to do that.
Well the damn thing threw a flame out the size of Texas and I’m lucky I’m still alive. Unfortunately, my tent didn’t hold up too well. I have a huge hole the size of my face in the mesh. Thankfully, it didn’t get to my rainfly. I should be able to repair it with duct tape but I really screwed it up. Pissed me off but what can you do. I was the dummy that lit a fire in a flammable shelter.
Went to the post office as soon as possible and they had my package waiting for me. Now I can continue. I went back and said goodbye to a few people I had met and then left Eureka. It was really cold and was supposed to stay cold all day and then get down into the 20s at night. Oh boy.
I was a few miles outside of town and Carla, big Carla, drove out to give me some hand and feet warmers. She is so cool. She came back a few minutes later with some snacks. I’m lucky to have stopped in Eureka. It is one of my favorite towns so far.
I went farther down highway 50. Just beautiful . The big problem that I was having today was that the shoulder, that I would’ve been able to fit my stroller on, had bumps in it. They were there to help people who fall asleep at the wheel to wake up and stay on the road. Well, I couldn’t walk in the shoulder because of them so I was on the far left of the lane. People didn’t understand why I wasn’t in the shoulder. They didn’t realize my struggle with the bumps. I wasn’t trying to be an asshole by being in the road. I was only following the law.
People were not getting over at all. I honestly think that it was in spite of me not being in the shoulder. assholes. Anyways, I was still enjoying my walk. I didn’t care about asshole drivers. I knew they wouldn’t hit me. Some came really close though.
It was cold and I was not in the zone all day. I saw some tumbleweed roll by. I thought that it was funny. I’ve never seen that before except for in movies. I was tired and found a spot around the 17 mile mark. I could’ve gone more but I was over it.
I set up and ate dinner. somehow I broke my water bottle in the process. ok not somehow. I tried using it to hammer my tent stakes in the ground. a plastic water bottle isn’t a very good hammer. In case you didn’t know.
I gave up on everything. I put my warm clothes on and curled up in my sleeping bag. I had fixed my sleeping pad back in Eureka so I was excited to not lay on the earth for once. but of course, before I fell asleep, I realized it was getting flat again. I’m tired of this thing. I just fell asleep. fuck it.
I got all of my stuff ready. I had to do some repairs to my sleeping pad, restock my food and water, make sure everything was ready for 4 days alone in the desert. I walked over to the post office to get my package so that I could sort stuff out and it wasn’t there again. I would have to wait yet another day here. I really wanted to get going today. I love Eureka but I need to keep going.
I went back to the hotel and sorted out another night. I considered camping but checked the weather and it said it was going to get down to 27 degrees at night. Forget that. I had to move rooms though. I packed up my stuff and when I walked outside I saw a cyclist getting his gear ready.
I asked if he was crossing the country and he said yes. we talked about our journeys for a few minutes. He started in Brooklyn and is going to San Francisco. he’s been taking his time and winding around the country. Really cool guy.
I went over to my new room and decided to walk to the grocery store and stock up on food. I did that and then stopped in for some mexican food at a place called the Urban Cowboy. I had to. Came back to the room and that was that. I figured if I was going to be wasting a day that it might as well be in bed watching movies. so that’s what I did. I really hope my package is there in the morning so I can get out of here.
I was going to take today and prepare for the next 4 days into the desert until the next town. I went to the post office to pick up a package with some cold weather stuff in it and it wasn’t there yet. I would have to wait hear another day.
I went to grab some breakfast from a place called the Roost. I was invited by a nice couple that I met yesterday. I walked up and said hello to Carla and she gave me an amazing breakfast sandwich and some coffee. She also helped me do my laundry. Her and her husband, Hugh were so nice to me while I was in town.
I walked around town and did a little sight seeing but most of the buildings were closed. I went back to the same place I hung out all day in yesterday and stayed for Monday night football. It got wild. I met some more wonderful people. I even ran into a man who was traveling with a friend on motorcycles. He has a daughter who has struggled with addiction. He snuck me a generous donation before saying bye to me.
The people were amazing. The conversations were perfect. I was enjoying myself to the fullest. I stayed until they closed and walked across the street to my hotel room where I fell asleep in 10 seconds. So much for getting stuff done lol.
It was freezing when I woke up. Literally. I had to stay in my sleeping bag until the sun came up. I wasn’t in a hurry so I figured I’d just stay warm in my tent until the sun was up. It warms up quickly out here. I packed up everything and got ready for a short walking day. I had 3 miles of steep uphill and then 4 miles downhill into Eureka, Nevada where I was hoping to find a place to watch football and recharge.
The climb up to pinto summit was tough but I made it. It was a beautiful morning and once I was going downhill I was enjoying being out here. A man pulled over and asked if I wanted a ride into town but I kindly refused and explained what I was doing. He looked at me like I was crazy. Go figure…
I got into Eureka. There was a history plaque that said some guy found gold here and said, “Eureka!” That’s how the town began. It’s still a mining town but it has seen better days. Really awesome buildings though. Even the ones that are closed have a certain beauty to them. A true western mining town. Simple as that.
I find the first motel and it was early but the woman who works there saw me walking up and got excited. She has helped a lot of walkers in the past. She hosted Nate Damm during his walk. I read his book before I began my walk and I got excited about my own journey as I read his stories. She was in his book. So here I was, on my own story now. She was a true angel to the walkers. I knew most of the other names she mentioned as she rolled down the list of walkers she’s met in the past. She is known as Barbie.
She got me all checked in and I went across the street to a saloon (yes, a freaking saloon) to see about some food and some football. I got there just in time for kickoff and stayed there all day. I met some wonderful people. This town is owning up to it’s claim as the friendliest town on the loneliest road in America.
The bartender was a character. I loved her immediately. Just happy and nice. She has had someone that she knew that has died from an overdose. I hung out with her, some locals, and some other tourists all day. I didn’t want to leave when I did but I was exhausted and ready to shower and crash. I slept like a baby.
I am so glad I stayed up last night and waited for the stars to come out. There were so many. I had fun using my phone app to see certain constellations. I saw 3 shooting stars. I only made one wish though. I stayed up pretty late and then finally went in my tent to go to sleep.
I woke up today and was feeling sluggish. I was 28 miles from the next town. I knew if I busted my ass that I could make it. From the way I was feeling, I knew I’d be coming up short. I didn’t really care. I made my goal for the day to be 20 miles and then I’d have an easy day tomorrow. I had 2 mountains to go over also. So I knew that it would be foolish to push myself to make it all the way.
I got rolling at what I thought was a really late start at 8:30. It looked like it was going to be a nice day. I walked through the valley and saw some antelope out eating breakfast. They were looking at and trying to decide whether to run away or not. That’s what I thought anyways.
I went up the first mountain which wasn’t supposed to be so bad but it was. it was kicking my butt. I was just feeling lazy today. A couple of nice guys in a red truck pulled up and talked for a couple of minutes. I had a feeling that they would be the only people all day that would stop for me. I was right.
I reached the top of pancake pass. It was so freaking beautiful! I couldn’t believe it. The valley between this mountain and the next one was long and the road was straight. You could see for miles and miles. With mountains all around. Just stunning.
I was feeling pooped by the time I hit about 12 miles. I knew that I needed to keep pushing though. It would make tomorrow easier. The winds are forecasted to be over 30 mph tomorrow and I’d like to avoid all that if possible. That was my motivation to keep going up the second mountain.
I saw a large group of wild horses. I stopped to take pictures and almost got hit by a car. People are assholes. They didn’t hit me though. So I kept going. Screw em. I was way happier than they were, obviously.
I pushed and pushed and made it to the 20 mile point. Anything from here would be bonus. I didn’t care about bonus though. I was ready to stop. I walked another couple of miles uphill looking for a good spot to camp. I finally found a pulloff that would work just fine.
There was a white van there. I walked over to say hello and announce my presence and to see if they didn’t mind if I camped there. Keith had a plateful of food made for me as I walked around the other side of the van. I grabbed my little stool and we ate and talked about travel stories and how corrupt our government is. My kind of conversation. He had gone on a cross country motorcycle adventure with a friend when he was a teenager. He says it changed him forever.
It was great to have someone to hang out with while setting up my camp. He had a cool set up in his van. Everything he needed was built into the van. A cool way to travel. He still had miles to make and he went his way while I stayed right there. I finished setting up and that was that. I’ve been laying down ever since. The laziest person to ever walk 20 something miles in a day…
I woke up early and laid around for a while until I got the motivation to get up. When I opened my tent, the sun was just about to rise over the mountains and it was just perfect. I did what I had to do and got to walking. Half a mile later I realized I didn’t have my good sunglasses. I walked back and retraced my steps. Nope. Ugh. I hoped they were in my cart for me to find later and I kept going.
It was a pretty walk. I was in the valley headed for some mountains. Just before the start of the incline, I looked over and saw 3 wild horses running along together. Then the climb began.
It wasn’t too bad at first. It was windy though. Not windy like the wind was blowing but windy roads as in there were curves lol. So the cars that were flying by had very little time to react to me. I was doing fine though. At least I was paying attention. I rounded a corner and there was a couple waiting for me to say hey.
Noah and Carol. Lovely people. From England. They were travelers and had been all over. We talked a lot about travel. They were very friendly and said they felt bad leaving me there when we said our goodbyes haha. I told them that I was fine and that I actually loved it. They said they were going to try to get me on BBC TV haha. Perfect!
I went on for quite a while. I got to about 2 miles to the top and it was getting steeper. I heard my phone start going crazy with notifications. I guess I had a spot with service. I looked at Facebook and it was like whoa. I had so many people wishing me a happy birthday. That was awesome but I didn’t have the time or energy to go through them all there. I checked my voicemail and got some good messages from family.
I also got one from a friend I met on the walk back in Colorado. The mayor of Las Animas, Jim Collins. I love this guy! He called to say happy birthday and to also let me know that his town has been taking new measures to battle the opioid epidemic since I went through there. They are scheduled to hand out Narcan to all first responders and to train them how to administer it. They are also having educational meetings on the topic of the crisis specifically. Great news! I am looking forward to seeing Jim and his wife again. Thanks for the call buddy! 🙂
I made it to the top of Little Antelope Pass. I took a little sit down break and ate some energy foods. A man pulls up on a 4 wheeler to say hey. He offered me a water and a gatorade. I accepted them as birthday gifts lol. He told me that tomorrow is opening day for hunting season. THAT explains the tons of traffic that I’ve been seeing lately. Ugh. I knew it was going to pick up later as well. Once everyone leaves work, they’ll be heading out here to make camp for the night to get an early start. Great.
Whatever. I was NOT going to let traffic bother me today. If you are an asshole then you are an asshole. There was nothing that me getting mad about it can change it. I walked on downhill.
My goal was to reach 26 miles again. I got close and totally could have made it, but I saw a really good spot to camp at 24 miles. It was too good to pass up out here where it’s hard to find a place to put your tent. So many spiky bushes all over. The wind was blowing heavy and I found a perfect flat spot on the side of a mound that was protected from the wind and had clear spots for my tent. I chose to stay.
I set up and made food. All the usual routine. The sunset was astounding. The usual as well. Took some pictures and now typing my blog. It’s getting dark. Now that I’m done I’m going to enjoy my birthday. I have some peanut m&ms and a red gatorade. It’s about to get wild out here haha.
I’m looking forward to checking out the stars. I have a phone app that shows me what I’m looking at. It’s clear out tonight and not a light for 40 miles. After that I’ll go right to bed. Then do it all over again!
I went to bed really early last night. I woke up around 5 am. I figured I’d get a head start on getting my stuff ready. I jumped in the shower and stayed so in long that the fire alarm went off. I reached out and turned the bathroom vent on and stayed in the hot water. I knew it would be a long time before my next shower.
After getting ready, I grabbed breakfast before checking out. Then got a move on it. I rolled through the town of Ely. Neat town. Richard Nixon’s wife was born there. They also filmed the climatic train scene in the movie “Rat Race” there. You would know that too if you read the Wikipedia.
I passed by some neat stuff. You could tell it was a mining town. I needed to get some tent stakes and some camp stove fuel before leaving town. I tried a few places but nothing had either. I walked into a gas station to ask the clerk if she knew where I could go to get them. She told me and then she also mentioned that she has lost two siblings to addiction and was thankful for what I’m doing.
I went to the store she told me about and they had it all. I grabbed what I needed and headed for the hills. Literally. The first 20 miles of the day were all uphill. That was my goal today. To make it to the top and then walk downhill until the sun got low.
Leaving town, I had a nice sized shoulder and traffic was actually being nice to me. I had to pinch myself. The hill was long and gradual. Not steep. So it wasn’t that hard. I did have a 4 days supply of food and water to make things heavier but it wasn’t bothering me. I was feeling great!
I looked over and saw what looked like a closed off mine. I grabbed my binoculars and sure enough, it was an old mine that had been sealed shut with a cage that was welded together on the spot. I walked down and up and through trees and rocks to get to it. You know me..
I got up there and it was impossible to enter. Thank goodness because I would’ve gone in if there was a way. Even though the sign posted on it said, “stay out stay alive”.
Right when I got back to my cart, a woman passed by in a prius and swung back around to say hey. she was awesome and gave me a sticker that said “try not to be a dick”. Perfect!!! I wish I had one big enough for all the cars to see as they approach me. She was cool as hell. The only person who stopped all day…
Way later, I realized that I was making great time. I was near the top of the mountain and had plenty of daylight left. I couple of cyclists passed by. Then a few more, and more and more! There was some kind of bike race going on. Some of them were so into it that they only saw me as an obstacle instead of a person. Most of them were nice though. One woman even stopped to talk and take a picture. After all of the bikes passed, then was a wave of support vehicles. Then the clean up crew. Interesting.
I made it to the top of Robinson Pass, which is my mother’s maiden name. So that was cool. I made great time. I still had a good 2 hours or so left of daylight. The views all day were spectacular. The other side of the mountain didn’t disappoint either. I walked and walked down the other side while taking in the scenery. As the sun got low, I started to look for places to set up my tent.
This presented a problem actually, as there was lots and lots of dry and pointy desert vegetation out. The only flat and clear spots had huge fireant hills. I went on and on until it was getting to the point of desperation. I scavenged around and found a spot that I could make work.
There is a saying that goes, “good camp sites are found, not made”. I usually hold true to that. But this time I had to move a few things around to make my tent fit. I guess I could’ve just cowboy camped and nit use a tent but rain looks very possible tonight. Plus, my tent allows me to build up some heat overnight.
I did all that and ate. It was dark by the time I finished cooking. I had to eat with my headlamp on. Before laying down, I got my phone out and tried this new app I downloaded. It’s to see which stars and planets are out there. It even shows me where satellites are moving around in the sky. Perfect app for Nevada. There were a lot of clouds out tonight but I still had fun with it.
In 20 minutes it will be my birthday in Eastern time. I still have 3 hours and 20 minutes here in Pacific time. No way I’ll make it. Hoping to have a good day tomorrow too. Today was great!