The Adventure Within the Adventure

So, there’s been a side story happening on this journey and it’s time I let it loose.

I met someone amazing this summer. One early July morning in West Yellowstone, I walked into a bike/coffee shop (Freeheel and Wheel) to be a mooch. A grumpy one at that. I was trying to find a local to get a package to Old Faithful Inn for me, since the post probably wouldn’t beat me there. A handsome, smiley fellow, we call him Craig, was not only unannoyed, but genuinely interested in my quest. He found me a friendly local to carry the package down within minutes and we exchanged numbers after a quick date at the Taco Bus later that afternoon. We hit it off, but I didn’t really realize what an impression it had made on me until I walked out of town.

It changed the game, somehow. I was thinking about quitting up to that point, but something about the way he took so much interest in what I was doing, reminded me of why I was out there in the first place. I was pretty interested in his life adventures, too. He mentioned he was running the Beaverhead 100k that following weekend. A race I’d been thinking about a ton, having just come through the area. Turns out he’s a fellow Minnesota native, as well. There were some unique parallels between us, him in West Yellowstone and me in West Glacier, both loving the hell out of life and running around mostly solo.

I called him after Beaverhead to see how he did for the 100k (which was really well) and found that talking on the phone was incredibly natural. So next thing you know, we’re calling each other in every town. And within weeks, I’m running my tail off through Colorado to get to his first 100 mile race.

I made it! I hiked all of Colorado in 3 1/2 weeks so that I could rent a car and pass through his neck of the woods a day before his race. His dad, a couple great friends of his, and I were his crew last weekend. And man oh man! What a thing to see. He was unbelievable. I ran the last stretch with him and could barely keep up. It didn’t seem possible that this happy guy, rock hopping and loving life, had just run 90-some miles and was coming up on hour 28 with no sleep. It was amazing.

I spent a few days with him after his race. In which, he walked around like nothing had happened. Then we went up to Helena together and he walked a bit of the CDT with me and sent me on my way. He’ll be coming up to Glacier next week for the big finish.

Needless to say, I’m hooked. He’s been a great inspiration for me on this trail and I’m embracing this adventure with the same giddy, wide-open arms that I’ve had on this walk. For reasons I cannot explain, it’s just been one-big-fat YES!

And here he is.

And here he is.

I Came, I Saw, I Faceplanted (A Colorado Story)

I made it. Colorado is complete and it’s been something else. I’ve never spent so much time above tree line! I’m going to remember it always. For the challenges, the spectacular sites, the learning experiences, and the friends! It’s really just one long, spectacular trail along the spine of the continent, and I’m incredibly grateful to have experienced it. I’ve never spent so much time exposed. So much time in the elements and it’s really taught me a lot. It’s a lot like life, honestly. I’m thankful to be out there and wide open, fully aware of the dangers, but saying yes, just the same.

Here are some photos.

The San Juans

The San Juans

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The Colorado Trail High Point

Sara-Tide and I at one of our road crossings

Sara-Tide and I at one of our road crossings

Slack Packing:)

Slack Packing:)

This is the kind of advertising that really works on me!

This is the kind of advertising that really works on me!

Chris my hitch-buddy

Chris my hitch-buddy

This lovely place is just a half days walk from Silverthorn. Who knew?

This lovely place is just a half days walk from Silverthorn. Who knew?

Things got a bit technical

Things got a bit technical

And I loved it!

And I loved it!

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This view really got to me. I think it's the time in the hike where I'm getting sentimental.

This view really got to me. I think it’s the time in the hike where I’m getting sentimental.

Ah, sweet, merciful trail marker. How I missed you.

Ah, sweet, merciful trail marker. I missed you so.

Dan and I have a special bond....the bond of being a fat kid!

Dan and I have a special bond….the bond of being a fat kid!

Beads! Another great run and hug across a parking lot at the joy of running into each other! Grand Lake, CO.

Beads! Another great run and hug across a parking lot at the joy of running into each other! Grand Lake, CO.

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Carol, the angel of Grand Lake. Thanks for the hospitality!

Carol, the angel of Grand Lake. Thanks for the hospitality!

Here is an example of the kind of ridge one must bail down from when lightening comes.

Here is an example of the kind of ridge one must bail down from when lightening comes.

My last Colorado coffee break.

My last Colorado coffee break.

And the view

And the view

Adrienne's birthday party! So glad I could make it. (We are eating ice cream cake out of our hands. It's better that way)

Adrienne’s birthday party! So glad I could make it. (We are eating ice cream cake out of our hands. It’s better that way)

The Fun State

Greetings from colorful Colorado. In the last week and a half I’ve had a really great time. I’ve made it almost half way through the state, which means I’m booking it. That feels great! Colorado has been both beautiful and friendly. I saw more other hikers on my first 10 miles along the Colorado trail than I have all summer.

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The San Juans are beautiful! Its just one glorious walk above tree line for almost every mile of the 120. The views were vast and colorful and for the first time all hike, I was able to average 30 miles a day into Lake City.

Camp in the San Juans

Camp in the San Juans

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Lake City was the first hostel I’ve come to on the trail. Right as I limped in to find a bunk, my friend Spoonman popped out the front door. I dropped my things and gave him a big bear hug. We caught up for the next night and morning. I got to have a home cooked meal with him and his friends (one of which owns the hostel) and we stayed up around the camp fire playing songs and howling at the moon. It was wonderful.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get much better, my friend Sara-Tide showed up and surprised me. She has a bit of time between jobs and has come to do road support with me. I call her Sara-Tide because she was Tide Walker on the AT when we met back in 2011. She and I hiked from North Carolina to southern Maine together. Which is practically the entire trail. I don’t know that there’s anyone on this planet that I’ve walked with more, and it’s been great to have her.  On the AT, her and Stephen and I had a little group you might remember, Dumbledore’s Army. We were all Harry Potter fans and split the 7th book into three pieces to carry and read along the way. Those were good times. These are too! With Sara’s help I’ve been able to get in some big miles. And today were taking off from Salida to go do another 50 to 60 miles before she has to take off.

Salida is a neat town. We had dinner down by the river with a friend I made while hitch hiking, Chris. It’s fun to watch all the dogs play and the people rolling in the river tides right downtown. We’re in a 1.2 star hotel today, I’ve got my feet soaking, and I am excited to get back out there. It feels amazing to get to see Sara at road crossings each night. I feel light and happy and fast as hell, the excitement of getting to camp with Sara-Tide is a great motivator.

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There are so many good things on the horizon! Soon I’ll be to my good friend Dan’s house. Adrienne and Heidi will be coming out for a possible trail run with me. Then it’s all those ski towns, and a walk back into Steamboat. I’ve gone over 2,000 miles this summer. The end is drawing near. Thanks for all the love and support! Long may we walk!