Friday, May 28
Twelve days of rest, off trail from the Four Corners Loop was worth remembering 45 years of life my mother gave me. An amazing 19 years of my life was spent with my mother Margaret. She gave birth to me, a kid with a very large head so I was a struggle from the beginning. She reminded me I was a pain in the butt but then said I turned out all right. This is due to her values she instilled in me, values that range from hard work, to telling the truth, to loving, to appreciating others, to good communication and my favorite of all how to make a good graph chart and tabulation of data. I remember she always had a ruler and a pencil making custom tables for her to put information into. This continued up until her passing away. This past 12 days I was looking around the house she had a list of information everywhere she even had a daily list taped to the bathroom mirror reminding her of when to take a shower went to wash her hair and then went to take a shower and then went to wash her hair. It gave me a smile my organizational structure that I have within me, I definitely got from my mother.
She did not stifle my freedom to roam. Allowing me the freedom to roam Denver on my bicycle, exploring every bike path. This allowed me to not to have a fear of the unknown but instead to have a drive or just a longing for what was not known. This is what allows me today to walk into the desert with very little knowledge of what lies ahead. So, the freedom she gave me allowed me to grow into the explore I am today. Thank you mom for this freedom.
Gardening: People who visit our house say to me wow you have a green thumb. I’m going to thank my mom for this also. She was an expert gardener when we were young, growing everything from giant carrots to giant pumpkins, the whole time allowing me to play in the dirt like a child should. She even allowed me to dig what I might embellish as a 15 foot deep hole out by the railroad tracks. There was no fear of lawsuits but when my dad came home from his weekly travels selling slaughter machines, he worried that somebody would fall in this hole and sue, so he made me fill my hole with yard debris. So you may have seen in the past year how I dug a 5 foot deep hole/trench to bury The power cable from my garage to my house. I think people wonder why I did not hire this labor intensive job out. The reason why I dug this massive trench this past year at home, was because it reminded me of digging holes in the ground when I was a child and this reminded me of my mom and the freedom she gave me to dig. Washington Trails Association gave me the nickname “The Mole”. Thank you mom for giving me the freedom to dig.
Spelling: If you have read this, you may have come across an incorrect spelling of a word or maybe even some bad punctuation. My mom gave me the freedom to spell as i chose, and the freedom to punctuate as I wanted to. A story she tells when I would say “ mom you are not my teacher”. I was a very resistant boy who did not want mom instructing me. In fact you’ve probably told me something and maybe I was resistant to it, so I thank my mom for giving me the freedom to spell as I choose, to punctuate as I choose, to do as I choose. I hope you’re laughing about this. I don’t think I was an easy kid to raise and I am the way I am because my mom just kind of gave up on me in a loving way because I think she knew everything would work out. Thank you mom for the freedom of bad spelling. (Note - I am making efforts to actually try to approve my bad spelling habits.)
With my mom‘s passing I cannot conjure up a memory of anything negative. Yes myself and my sister did get grounded for nine months for leaving a message on somebody’s answering machine asking them to pose for Playboy when we were like 10 years old. This memory today actually makes me laugh, I think it’s funny how we received “friends visiting hours” after six months. To embellish on the story more, because I forgot the details, this past week my sister reminded me, it was me who asked her to leave the message on the answering machine because I was mad at a friend. So it was my sister who left a message requesting somebody’s mom pose for Playboy. I did not remember this and I looked at my sister and said Kelli I’m sorry and apologized to her. She excepted my apology. I will always remember my nine month grounding from my mother in a good positive way.
Margaret was an excellent mother she did everything one has to do to raise two awesome kids. She was an excellent seamstress the amount of an amazing Halloween costumes she custom sewed for Kelli and I was out of this world. One year I was the Michelin Man for Halloween, people that know me know I never get cold and I just don’t need to put on extra clothing to keep warm. Can you imagine me as the Michelin Man with about 6 to 8 inches of tubular white stuffing surrounding my entire body. I have never sweated so much in my life. On Halloween it rained and this thick layer of stark white polyester tubing surrounding every inch of my torso, my legs and my arms absorbed the rain and I was dripping in heavy wetness and yes I was warm. I was also expected to carry a black tire with me all day long. The stuffing in the polyester tubes was so dense I remember I can barely sit in my tiny chair at school.
I got so much from my mom, I could go on and on with story after story. I will now stop here with my beautiful view of the red rocks, I will kick back relax at the café, and look at the view with a crying smile because right now I feel my mom is omnipresent within everything around me and I choose to relish this moment and this feeling I am having with her.
Today I am flying back to Cedar City Utah to get back on the trail on the Four Corners Loop. My mother Margaret is currently passing into the hands of God in Heaven. I had an amazing time loving her while in Denver. I will write more thoughts as they mature in my mind. Please keep Margaret in your prayers.
Monday, May 17
My Mother Margaret
May 15th I needed to hike 27.7 miles to reach the Grand Canyon. This was not because I needed to make a permit day, it was because my mother Margaret was admitted to the ICU in Colorado. I did reach the canyon edge right at sunset, causing happy memories of my mom to flourish in my mind.
Eric my sisters husband rushed up from Phoenix, and we arrived back in Phoenix at midnight ready for a flight the next morning to Denver. The flight brought me right over the Four Corners, and over the Sandre De Cristso Mountains. The sight of these locations from the plane conjured up memories of planing the Four Corners Loop.
Many tears have been shed by me, my sister Kelli, and my father David. As I write this and wait my mother is in a procedure to help reduce the buildup of blood and fluid in her lungs. Send your thoughts and prayers.
During my hike I was and still am full of grateful thoughts that exude the love deep within me for my mom. She created two amazing people Kelli and me. I smile when I realize she gave me free will to do as I choose, while also guiding me down the bowling lane so I could get a strike in life. I have bowled a perfect 300 in life, and the guidance from mom and the freedom she provided me has allowed me to say thank you mom, I am thankful, when I smile it is my experiences you gave me the freedom to have that generates my glow for life. I love you.
Right now my experience I am cherishing while also very sad, is being here for my mom’s comfort. I cried today when the priest came in as I held my mom’s hand along with Kelli’s for a blessing. It was nice to hear that Gods hands will be guiding the doctors hands today. My mom is on a very fragile state and I am grateful I am here for her.
People have asked if the Four Corners Hike will continue. The answer is a definite yes. My hike gives so many joy. My dad flourishes on it and he needs this now. If my mother’s condition worsens and she passes she will flourish on it in heaven. I also know you reading this need me to continue hiking. Where I get back on trail will need to restart north of the Grand Canyon for my heat management and my safety. Yes I gave up a hard to get permit, but the Grand Canyon is not going anywhere soon, and it is my mother’s life that is fragile.
The hike from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon was spectacular. I spend the first day hiking 19 miles climbing all day, reaching the top of Humphries Peak 12,634 ft. It was a long day with 6,000 feet of elevation gain, so sleeping right on top was a must. The sunset and sunrise with the characteristic atmospheric mountain triangular shadow cast as the sun set, and as the sun rose was a phenomenon of nature one must see.
The second day was downhill all day. The third day from Flagstaff was the hottest day of the trip. I met a AZT hiker named “Bobby O”. I was so happy to have someone to talk with because hiking and crying at the same time is a challenge. It was comforting to have a caring person with me.
The fourth day from Flagstaff was when the doctor said to my sister that mom’s condition was not good and if this was his mom he would be at her side. I was in an area with good cell service and was in communication with my family. Kelli was flying out the next morning and Eric was more than willing to retrieve his bearded brother in law from the outdoors. At this time I had already hiked 19 miles for the day. Adrenaline gave me the energy I needed to hike 8.7 more for the 27.7 mile day. I am thankful I am The Animal and my body is capable of such a distance.
My mom is wakings up from a procedure where they removed air passage clotting and flushed in a solution that is used in trauma operation rooms that to stop bleeding. I am thankful the doctor spent his time after work doing research on this procedure.
To my mother Margaret - I love you, your grateful son Kevin
Tuesday, May 11
I finished hiking the section of the Four Corners Loop that travels from Forest Lakes Arizona to Flagstaff Arizona. It’s total distance of 147 miles. The number 147 surprises me because for the first three days West of Forest Lakes I was basically following a trail called the Highline Trail. The Highline Trail was a circuitous trail that winds it all over the place and had no intent in guiding me in a straight forward direction. I was wondering if I was ever going to make the Arizona Trail because this trail just wound all over the place. At least there was plenty of water. This would be an absolutely fun trail for a mountain bike rider who wanted to zoom left and zoom right, but for somebody who eventually wants to make it back to Santa Fe New Mexico I was thinking, I really did not map the details such as curves and switchbacks for this trail enough granularity. Instead of what I thought would be 145 miles of walking from town to town, I thought I was going to end up walking 170 miles it felt. So, I’m surprised that my measure distance of 147 miles is only 2 miles greater than my measured distance on the SARTopo mapping software I used. For distance measurement I am using my iPhone pedometer this summer. It’s the only tool I have so it’s the data that I’m accepting. I always feel that the iPhone distance measurements are a little bit short so maybe this explains why my iPhone says I only walked 147 miles and maybe I actually did walk more.
The Highline Trail was truly special, the trail did fall apart in the middle due to a fire called the Dude fire that burned in 1990. The trail was severely affected and the topsoil has worn away leaving nothing but ankle twisting stones. After miles of stone hopping I eventually arrived at the Arizona trail below the Mongollon Rim where a beautiful stream flowed with fresh chlorophyll filled leaves filtered the light from above. The long rest replenish weary body from three days of winding. I was watered, my stomach was full with food, then proceeded to climb up in the heat of the day under the cover of Ponderosa Pine trees to reach the high leading edge of the Mogollon in Rim again.
Later in the day I encountered volunteers installing a sign for the Arizona Trail. They said there was a female hiker in front of me who went by the trail name “Snot Rocket”. This seems like a typical trail name quickly given after watching one action, but I never did meet snot rocket or any of the other reported hikers in front of me.
My sister Kelli her husband Eric join me from Phoenix for on-again, off-again hiking along the Arizona Trail. For four days we hiked between 14 to 21 miles each day as one-off them shuttled their vehicle to the next meeting point, taking turns hiking with me. It was very nice having them along for the hike, enjoyed the company. This was a dry section and their assistance it made it quite easy because the car was stocked with water limiting the amount of water carried along with trail. It felt like slack packing although I would not let them take any of my other gear even though they offered.
At one of the breaks we encountered two southbound Arizona Trail hikers we had some friendly chats then I found out they were both nuclear engineers. They worked at a nuclear plant in Nebraska. This really drove the conversation and hyperdrive because I am a nuclear engineer for the Navy. It turns out they were both Navy nukes on nuclear cruisers which were cut up at Puget Sound Ship Yard. We traded stories they even knew the colloquial term “Four balls manual”. I won’t explain this, but any coworkers reading this blog might get a quick chuckle. I would say to date, from other hikers I’ve met the most lively conversation I had was this one with these fellow nuclear engineers. I accused them of being Bart Simpson and then accuse me of being Bart Simpson.
Eric and I continued on our way and we basically were walking through a beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest, and the open meadows had Irises that were about 3 to 4 days away from blooming. I think Eric was wishing the Irises are blooming at that time. I think when I leave Flagstaff I think I’m going see a lot Irises higher in the mountains.
I made it to Flagstaff Arizona on Monday, May 10. I couldn’t check into my hotel till 4 PM so I spent the day walking around town being a tourist getting my fuel resupply, and learning every awesome place I could eat. There are more places to eat this town in more places to buy beer, and more places to drink coffee than you can imagine. I guess this is a sign of a thriving college town, beer and coffee. Monday evening my friend Forrest Fanara who hiked with me on the prior section join me for a pizza, beer and good conversations.
For my day off instead of actually resting what I ended up doing was renting a mountain bike. My mountain biking, killed two stones! I enjoyed the change of pace and I needed to get way out of town to the post office to pick up my resupply located at the main post office way out of the downtown core. I thoroughly enjoy the mountain biking when I get done with Four Corners Loop I think this is a new toy that will be in my future.
After leaving Flagstaff I plan on climbing Humphries peak which is 12,637 feet. I think I should be able to climb it the first day after leaving town which will give me about 6,000 feet of elevation gain. Tomorrow’s theme is just go up!
I am excited to be hiking towards the Grand Canyon tomorrow, and excited for the rest the trip.
Thank you for reading my blog.
Sunday, May 2
I’m in Forest Lakes Arizona. This is time to rest my leg because the post office was not open on Sunday. I am sitting at a café which is the only place to eat in town, the Smoking Gun Café. Yesterday I had a chorizo omelette with mushrooms, it was very good, and today I had the breakfast burrito which is also very good. I’m glad the only place to eat in town has tasty food. There’s only one hotel in town, which I don’t recommend because it is dirty, but in an effort to keep this blog positive I won’t say anymore. With this said, future hikers should use this town as a postal drop because it just makes sense to shorten the distance to Flagstaff, but do make an effort to not get stuck in this town on a weekend with your food re-supply trapped in the post office. If you do not send a resupply package here the café stop. The burritos will make your stomach quite happy.
My trip mileage total is 602 miles at this point, I walked 77 dry miles from Pinetop. My friend Forrest Fanara drove down from Flagstaff and joined me just outside of Pinetop for a day of hiking. He join me on a day it was snowing and cold. But we enjoyed our 10 mile hike together into the woods, we talked all day and into the night. Forrest surprised me by packing in four beers, two for him and two for me. Having a beer in the middle of the woods in Arizona was quite a treat. I’m very appreciative for his company along the trail.
Arizona is not always dry the first day out of Pinetop it snowed. I’ve quickly learned that when it snows in Arizona the earth turns to mud, this is not just your every day simple mud it is your classic sticky mud. Mud the clumps up and causes you to walk in high heels with five to ten pounds added to each foot. Combine this mud with Ponderosa Pine needles and what happens is you get an extra wide platform under each foot. And then the whole mud pine needle conglomeration decides to detach and live a life of its own behind you through an abrupt separation. This causes the lighter now shorter foot to drop lower than the other foot that still has a thick layer of sticky mud. Ample time is spent walking lop-cited looking for the next downed tree or rock just scrape your feet on, knowing you’ll have an equal amount of mud built back up in about 15 steps. I was quite surprised by my mud fest day mileage, I managed to hike 18 miles, an accomplishment. As the day wore on conditions dried, but then a thunder shower would come through or a new snow shower adding more moisture to the earth returning it back to its level of prior muddiness.
With all the moisture in the mud one would hope to find water but none existed all the water was occupied by clay particles. There was no free water for one to find. I was down to 2 L of water and I knew I didn’t have enough water for continuing on so I chose to go north to the town of Pinedale to obtain some water. Pinedale was quiet at 5:30 PM. I walked the streets nobody was out in front of their house. The fire department was closed down, I’m assuming it was I volunteer fire department otherwise I would’ve asked them. The Forrest Service compound looked close down for the day. So since I still had 2 L on me I thought I’d walk out to US 260 and find a general store. I did see one person pulling into his driveway he unlocked his gate pulled his truck through, got out of his truck to lock up his gate again when I approached him for some water. Honestly I think I surprised him and maybe he was having a bad day because he quickly said no. This did not disturb me because I still had water on me and he did inform me of a general store about 2 miles down the road. So I spent the night sleeping on forest service land. My plan for the morning was to walk down the road to the general store and buy water, but I found it closed. So I chose to go north on another road to an RV campground where I was greeted by two awesome people who said I could have all the water I could carry. At this time I could carry 10 1/2 L and I filled all my bottles up to full capacity. My backpack just got very heavy.
I continued on the westbound road going back to US 260, when I saw a pickup truck abruptly stop and the guy jumped out and ran across the road. I was thinking, wow does that guy have to go to the bathroom and he’s going to the bathroom right where I want to walk. Then I crested the ridge and I saw there was two other people putting out a small fire on the other side of the road started by tire debris. One of the man who is driving a sewage truck and he was thinking he should start spraying sewage on the fire. But another person stopped pulled out a fire extinguisher and this was the trick that got the fire out. I thought I’d have to start taking my pack apart to get the 10 1/2 L out I just put in to start putting out the fire. The police arrived then the fire department arrived, scene secure. I thanked the men for stopping the fire because the winds were blowing in the direction I wanted to walk and it’s really hard to walk through a burning forest. I walked on fully laden with 22 pounds of water, and this would successfully get me to Forest Lakes.
The rest of the day and all the way to Forest Lakes I was on a Arizona state historical trail called the General Cook Trail. When I looked up the history of this trail it basically celebrates how general Cook was responsible for containing the Apache Indians to their reservation. Something in my mind questions this history and thinks it is only from the white settler’s point of view. There are a few signs along the way teaching the
history, but nowhere in history lesson does it include that Native American Apache Indians were forced from their historical hunting and gathering in grounds and how it affected them.
The temperatures are comfortable 72 in this town but I am shivering with the wind, I think I’ve lost a lot of fat on my body I’m excited to find a scale at some point to see what I’ve lost. Some of my muscles are becoming more defined, and my arm muscles seem to be getting smaller along with my chest muscles because I’m not using them. The back of my hands have tanned up quite nicely along with my neck “V” tan that is not covered by my shirt. I’ve been wearing long sleeve shirt and long pants so I have to use less sunscreen. My left foot which hurts every now and then is appreciating this rest in Forest Lakes, but I’m looking forward to getting on with my hike tomorrow morning at 9 AM when the post office opens.
The next section comprising of the Highland Trail and the Arizona Trail, these trails should have many hikers and I’m looking forward to the camaraderie and sharing stories with other people doing the same activity as myself.
Oh, I forgot to mention, one day I saw two herds of elk, some deer, wild horses, antelope and a coyote all within a short period of each other. I really enjoyed watching wild horses on the section.
Signing off from Forest Lakes