Wednesday, June 30
In four days I hiked from Spanish Fork Utah to Kamas Utah. Each day I covered just over 20 miles and each day was a little bit different. The first day involved walking past an amazing hot spring called Fifth Creek Hot Springs. I spent almost four hours relaxing in the warm, actually hot water and socializing with other people enjoying themselves in the blue colored water. It was awesome to sit there and listen to a couple speak in the language of Portuguese, a beautiful language. After the hot springs soak was complete around eight in the evening I hiked on further to find a good camp for the night.
The next day involved climbing up to the crest of the mountains and following an ATV trail many wonderful miles north. The views down to Strawberry Lake to the east, and Utah Lake to the west were awe inspiring. I positioned myself in a convenient spot where I could wake up and walk down to a mountain pass called Daniels Summit. Just before I reached the area of habitation, I saw two moose. So maybe I should’ve thought there could’ve been a wildlife fence in my future. I decided to go cross country to cut an acute corner off, but this resulted in me running into a ten foot high wildlife fence. It rerouted me just like it was intended to reroute wildlife. Yes well I fences do work on The Animal. I had breakfast, but when approaching the place I was wondering if they were actually open. I asked him are you open and they said yeah maybe for another week unless we get new customers. After eating breakfast I think the best way they can improve their customer base might be to improve their breakfast. I did give the lady a good tip, but the breakfast didn’t sit well with me and slowed me down for the rest of the day.
Later in the day and walking slowly all day I did run into sheep herder from Peru. He said he was watching over 1000 sheep. I kept walking into the evening, this was a very challenging day because basically I walked up hill all day long. The scenery was beautiful and a good portion of the day I was on a cross country/animal path that went up a beautiful valley. I reach the top of Heber Peak at 10,207 feet just in time for a phenomenal sunset. I was tired and decided to spend the night behind a very good wind shelter. The sunset was one of the best I’ve seen on the trail so far. I did a long Facebook video of the sunset and many enjoyed the beautiful views.
Since I went uphill the majority of the entire day, the fourth day hiking would be entirely downhill for all practical purposes. This allowed me to cover almost 20 miles by 4 p.m. The hitchhike into Kamas was a piece of cake, I got a ride in about five minutes. When I arrived in Kamas I learned there was no hotels. You would’ve thought that I would’ve research this prior to the trip but I just assumed there would be a mom and pop hotel in this town. The downpour of rain started and I was wondering where I was going to sleep. I had some slices of pizza from a local pizza restaurant, the only thing open, and determined to the closest lodging was in Park City Utah, about a $25 Lyft right away.
I got a ride from a Lyft driver that needs to take driving lessons, he was from Brazil but I’m not really sure where he learned to drive because it was quite jerky. Upon arrival in Park City it dawned upon me this is a ski town and ski towns have ski bums and ski bums don’t have a lot of money so where do they stay they stay, hostels. The $64 room for the night Definitely beats $200+ dollars for a hotel, and there are people who are willing to socialize. The local hostel which was nice clean and amazing. When I walked in the first thing I was offered was green chilies enchiladas, and Tomales from people who lived in Albuquerque New Mexico. Present were people from Mongolia, the Czech Republic, Washington state, California, and New Hampshire. Many of them were taking “golf course management” internships at the local golf course. It was awesome to learn the different types of careers people create for themselves. The second night in a hostel involved wonderful conversations with people that ranged from mathematics in high school, to climate change, to mental health, to hitchhiking. This is the advantage hostels have because you meet people who want to have phenomenal discussions.
I spent the day having breakfast drinking coffee, and I got an amazing two hour massage. I visited the Wasatch brewery and had a delicious IPA. I took time visiting art galleries and sat on Main Street on a beautiful park bench writing this journal. It turns out on my day off I ended up hiking 10.1 miles just in town.
The big thing that surprised me today, I would like to say thank you to the generosity of people. My breakfast this morning was covered by my server I said you don’t have to buy my breakfast and she said, I want to because she was so amazed with my hike I was accomplishing. I was really surprised my server bought me breakfast. It was a delicious scramble that had Brussel Sprouts and marinated pork with spinach and eggs. I was so surprised that she bought my breakfast. I walked away actually forgetting to tip her. I called Maria to to tell her how awesome people are, and she asked, did you tip her. I realized I didn’t (oops), so I took all the free cash I had, ran back to the place found her doing your job for others and gave her a nice generous tip.
The plan for tonight is to go find a canned microbrew bring it back to the hostile, do some more socializing with people staying there tomorrow I will Uber back to Kamas pick up my food supply, and head back to the trail. My next section is just over 145 miles long one of my longest sections yet, and it probably has a lot of elevation gain so this might be one of the hardest sections I do. I am walking all the way to Vernal Utah.
The Four Corners Loop is turning out amazing the trail magic just keep showing up and every day I walk with a smile because life is good I just have to walk around and look at stuff.
One last thing, I was asked a question today by a lady in an art gallery, she said “what have you learned while on your hike“. This was a very challenging question to be asked by a stranger. I will spend the next nine days while walking through the Unita mountains thinking about this very good question.
Thank you for reading,
Friday, June 25
I’ve been hiking the Four Corners Loop for three months now. I have traveled by foot almost 1400 miles. I think I have just over 1000 miles remaining to reach Santa Fe New Mexico where I started. Please consider this a letter to you, yes you the reader and all the people who I have given awe along the way. I would like to be humble, and just say this trip is easy and all one has to do is hike around and look at stuff. In actuality, sometimes I do find it a struggle, physically and mentally. Overcoming my struggle through my drive and determination I can only hope this helps you overcome struggles you could be dealing with.
I mention this because next to my hotel was a very inspired gas station attendant, who said to me she is in recovery from being homeless, from having alcohol and drug addictions, and she was going to share my adventure with the people helping her recover. This just put a huge smile on my face because each day I probably touch move and inspire somebody who’s following my journal or somebody who my venture gets shared with. Thank you, the reader (you), the follower, the person who is living the my adventure vicariously through my photos, my feelings and my emotions for allowing me to create value for you.
When work granted me the six months off to go on this adventure I communicated to my employer that part of my goal was to create value and a positive experience for others. My experience with a gas station attendant today and many people who I meet along the way tells me I am doing what I said I will do. I am thankful to be able to have the strength and energy to put a smile on so many peoples faces. Knowing I put smiles on peoples faces gives me energy to keep marching forward. The heat is taking its toll on my body and energy I vicariously get from you with the excitement you receive flows back towards me and allows me to continue moving forward.
Experiences that were special between Ephraim Utah and Spanish Fork Utah, an 80 mile distance range from beautiful sunsets, hundred mile vistas, meeting a Peruvian sheep herder, and watching a hummingbird investigate my backpack. I could’ve spent hours watching the sheep herding dogs keep the flock of sheep in one small group, but I had to move on because I was driving the sheep down the hill upsetting the sheep herding dogs. Well going around the sheep I determined what an epic bushwhack was like descending the thick, steep vegetated hills of Utah Mountains (don’t bushwhack in Utah stay on the trail, trust me). Every person I met along the way I stop and have a conversation, learn about what brought them out into the beautiful mountains and I share my journey with them. This last section I was pretty much on a dirt road called the Skyline Drive. This is very drivable by just about any vehicle. So if you are vacationing in Utah I do recommend driving the Skyline Drive.
The Animal - Kevin Koski
When one hikes for many months there is plenty of time to think and reflect. When hiking in to Ephraim Utah I learned about a new national holiday. Juneteenth, this day celebrates the emancipation proclamation, and how two years later black Americans in Texas learned that they were free and no longer slaves. It took over two years for this news to reach Texas, to learn that they had their freedom. The question I have is why did I never learn about this until three years ago, when Texas began celebrating it in 1980 as a state holiday. It is probably because I am white and did not take time to learn or was not provided the opportunity to learn about equality issues black Americans face up to this day. I have never had a close black friend and my activity of choice “outdoor recreation / hiking / mountaineering” to me appears to have participation mainly from “well to do caucasians”. Yes I am not everywhere at once, but through years of hiking I rarely see black people hiking and enjoying the mountains.
While walking one experiences a natural freedom. I am free to move, stop, listen, choose, and think. Today I choose thought, and I choose to share it with you. At dinner last night, I was talking with local man who worked 80 hours a week drilling for water. I told him I am a golden rule person. I like to treat people how I like to be treated. Here I am having the easy life just walking and looking at natural beauty. What I am doing is amazing to me and I am grateful to be able to share this with you. I do believe that equality issues are still present today for black Americans, people, humans like me who appreciate nature. The question I am asking myself is how can I create an equal access environment for black American nature lovers?
If we all did the same thing it would be a crowded world, so not everybody wants to go to the mountains get dusty and dirty and make their muscles sore by climbing the highest peak. I feel there are people out there who do you want to do this who do not have the access I have been offered my entire life. I feel this is an an equality issue. Economic equality pays a huge part in this. Every time they raise national park entrance fees it makes me think how does the single mom afford to take the day off, to fill a car full of gas, to drive to the national park, to pay a very high entrance fee allow young children an experience that was and is common for me throughout my life. Access to our public lands I do not feel is equal or has obstacles that prevents many black Americans from using the public lands they own that they were given freedom to enjoy.
As I write I see no singular answer comes to mind that could solve what I see as an access issue to our cherished public lands. My college motto is “Acta-non-verba”, actions not words. I can choose to take action because I have been thinking about how I do not see black Americans hiking for years now. It is not because nature lovers do not exist within this demographic, but I really think it’s because we still have systemic equality issues with in the United States.
It warms my soul that the Juneteenth holiday was created because it keeps equality issues in our collective minds and in our conversations. Properly chosen words can lead to golden rule like actions and create a better world for black Americans.
When I return to Washington State I will get involved in fostering access to our public lands we all own. Since I feel I have been isolated from the black community in Bremerton if you know people who would like to be taken for a day in the mountains for an awesome hike through our beautiful woods the please feel free to share this information with me and them so we can help our entire community enjoy many beautiful days in the woods to come.
My last section on the Four Corners Loop was roughly 125 miles from Capitol Reef National Park to Ephraim Utah. This was the hardest section I’ve had so far mainly due to the heat. I did reach the high country of 10,000 and 11,000 foot mountains which helped out with the heat but it was still 85° up at 10,000 feet as I walked through an epic heat wave. My body needed a good rest which I am getting and I’m looking forward to getting back on Trail on Monday.
Friday, June 11
The latest section of the Four Corners Loop took me from Escalante Utah, through Boulder then on to Capitol Reef National Park. It took me a total duration of eight long minutes to get a ride to the town of Bicknell Utah for my resupply. I’m hoping the return trip back to Capitol Reef will be just as fast. This is the closest town to Capitol Reef that had a post office I could send a package to, so I’m glad I sent my food here because there isn’t even a grocery store.
I’m going to make this report a little bit shorter than the others because I’m tired. I hiked 17.9 miles today all before 12:30 PM. I started hiking at five in the morning and pushed myself really hard so I could have plenty of time to get a ride before the post office closed.
The entire 90 mile section absolutely blew me away. I think I have taken more photos on this section than any other section so far. There was definitely less Facebook videos because I was in canyons and did not have cell service. I hiked through Escalante canyon, Death Hollow, Paradise canyon and the Grand Wash. My route took me through splendid wind sculpted sand stone sculptures of nature. The ground also harbored many interesting round igneous black rocks, and flat iron rich black plates. Not only was I in many canyons, but I also crested 10,000 feet on the side of Boulder Mountain in lush Aspen forests.
So pictures are worth a thousand words, I recommend visiting the Four Corners Loop Facebook page for more photos. You will see canyon after canyon after canyon. Sculpted sandstones, beautiful colors in the rock, blue sky, sunshine, wind (ok you won’t see this), heat, and lots of smiles and wow coming out of my mouth. I think I have a sore neck from looking up so much since I was in so many deep canyons with high vertical walls.
Tomorrow when I leave, I will head up Spring Canyon in Capitol Reef National Park this is a canyon with vertical walls that runs over 25 miles. I’m really looking forward to this canyon. With this said I would like to say good night thanks for reading and I need to get a good nights rest so I can have energy to continue on tomorrow.
Saturday, June 5
“Nero Day” reflections from the town of Escalante Utah.
Yesterday my legs propelled me forward for 19.8 miles most of which was in the heat of the day. I strolled through the desert with general is ease, trusting my foot placement so I could allow my eyes the freedom to gaze up and wander like a young child. Speaking of children and slowing down, how do you slow down a young boy? The obvious answer is a creek and rocks will work. Yes, I acted out my childhood this past section playing in Henrieville Creek in a futile attempt to stop the flow using creek bed rocks. I am an open book, and I admit I created three hours of memories playing in the creek at 45 years young. My whole body was immersed in the life giving desert elixir, clear flowing sun warmed water. My face smiled as I lay in the water watching the shadows changing along the cliffs above.
The trail is getting hot, so frequently I take a siesta during the hottest portion of the day. During my siesta I’m thinking, does the Four Corners Loop have the scenery necessary to make it worthy of a National Scenic Trails designation. I see some amazing things, but are these amazing things separated by long stretches of sandy arroyos, or long stretches of Pinyon Pine or Junipers. There are so many junipers the Gin industry should never have a flavoring shortage. May be it is not for me to decide, or is a decision on this even necessary because each person who may follow me will experience trail life through their eyes.
For me “trail life” is an experience in “living in the now”. Over the past three days the moment of “now” can be summed up as spontaneous generosity coupled with quality conservation and awe.
The NOW this past few days in the order of occurrence is as follows:
Post Office conservations
A cold bottle of water.
A large bag of home made jerky, cheese, a banana and oranges.
Birthday suit swimming in my first lake (irrigation pond).
Listening to my mom’s brass bell jingle with each step.
Swatting slow moving biting flies, satisfaction guaranteed.
Creek dam building like a 14 year would enjoy.
Sipping white wine on ice with western Massachusetts trail angles.
Talking “through hiking” with Moonwalker who reminded me of the talkative one from the movie Mall Rats.
Talking with two groups from Raleigh North Carolina at dinner.
The locals recommendation to hike Death Hollow.
Enjoying a Pilsner in the heat.
You reading this, I thank you.
Speaking of now after two Pilsners my bladder is full so now I must go. Thanks for the time you spent reading this.
The Animal, FCL 21
Wednesday, June 2
After being at home in Denver Colorado for 13 days, being with my mom during her passing away, I was needing to get back on trail. Trail time would allow me to collect my thoughts about the loss of my mother. My mom also clearly told me she wanted me to get back on trail. If you have been reading this blog you’ve read many posts about how I cherish my mom. To continue with the excitement of the Four Corners Loop, I’m going to transition back into describing my experiences of my walk.
I’m resting in Cannonville Utah in the only hotel in town, a town that does not even have a diner. So for dinner I had canned Raviolis and Vienna sausages, microwaved to a hot tasty perfection Gordon Ramsay would be proud of. On top of this I added cheese curds, but they were not the squeaky cheese curds that makes poutine such a delicious dish. I am in this town because the town I mailed my resupply to 3 miles down the road has no services only a post office. My dust laden body desperately needed a shower.
I hiked to total of 70.6 miles since getting back on trail. I started at wire pass which is a very popular entrance into Buckskin Gulch. Wire pass and Buckskin Gulch were truly amazing. I see why this area is so popular it was amazing being in the worlds longest slot canyon. There were a few thunder clouds to the north so I chose to take the short route out of the slot canyon and travel upstream. This allowed me to travel up and over some sandstone features that were very similar to The Wave. I managed to hike all the way to the Paria Contact station in the first day.
On my second day out I was fully laden with 11 L of water. I needed this much water because the Paria river looked somewhat salty because there was salt encrusted earth everywhere and I really did not want to drink salt water for dinner. The beginning of the Paria river was a broad wide canyon with blocky red sandstone features all around. The bottom of the river was full of cottonwood trees and it was a very nice place to hike. During the warm parts of the day, or I should say hot parts of the day I took siestas generally from one to almost 5 PM to allow the atmosphere to cool so it becomes more of a manageable hiking temperature. One of the siesta points I was under an overhang rock near the jeep road. People kept pulling up asking if I needed any help one of the cars even offered a PBR which I took them up on, and as they drove off a root beer must’ve fallen out of their car they did not see on the ground. So was awesome to get trail magic in the form of a PBR, a root beer, and they also gave me an orange. It was worth packing the empty aluminum cans through the rest of the river drainage.
The third day going up the Pari River I entered part of the canyon that was more narrow and then I entered a part they got wider where I ran into some people and I looked up and the guy that gave me a ride all the way from Kanab to Wire Pass was standing in front of me, I can’t believe a person that pick me up hitchhiking was the same person I ran into in the middle of nowhere. Small world.
The fourth day continued up the prior river where I saw petroglyphs and steep red sandstone walls with the bottom of the river covered in cottonwood trees. I enjoyed hiking through the water the entire day and I also had to spend my time avoiding quicksand. This day the red stonewalls giveaway to even larger white sand stone walls and I saw more petroglyphs as I traveled.
If you’re near Cannonville Utah stopping by Kodachrome State Park is worth your time. I entered this part because it was a good known water source and I was amazed at the beautiful colors in the sandstone sculptures if you want to see something amazing without the crowds then I recommend Kodachrome State Park in Utah.
From from Kodachrome State Park I did an up and over / cross country route and I came off the highlands using a key route that I spotted via satellite photographs. I’m giving myself some kudos here for nailing the only possible route down through some cliff bands using nothing but satellite imigery information. I really do have a six cents in route finding. As I’m walking, i can say to myself I remember looking at this from the satellite there’s even individual bushes I remember from looking at the satellite imagery in the section.
Tomorrow my resupply package should be in Henrieville and I will continue on hiking to the town of Escalante Utah. I’m looking forward to the awesome organic grocery store in Escalante. Their sandwiches were amazing when I drove through there last year.
I’d like to sum up this section with some thoughts about my mother. When my mother was passing away I played her a song On Eagles Wings. Wow was this this song as the British say an “earworm” for the last five days. Now I just need to give somebody a “tune coodi” because I do need another song to be stuck in my head so please somebody get On Eagles Wings stuck in your head so I can get a new song stuck in my head. I also carried a brass bell from my moms house with me, it was nice to hear the bell jingle, but I determined the bell jingle does not scare away rattlesnakes.