I ran 26+ miles this day and saw a black-tailed jackrabbit, kit fox, and a zebra-tailed lizard. I passed by Fort Churchill State Park and saw some old ruins from the mid-1800s.
I met Dean at the end of the day and we prepared to sleep in the back of the truck. It was day 35 and this was the first night that I had a fire on the trip! It was a pleasant experience, but not one I would work for every night.
Dean drove ahead 27 miles and dropped my backpack behind a dirt mound near Sand Mountain State Park and Hwy 50, so I ran all day and made it to my backpack right before dark. Thankfully I made it the whole distance and was able to get to my stuff! That could have been uncomfortable!
(So you all know, I generally construct this blog from journal entries along the way… so it is funny to me to read that on 4/26 I am complaining about my air pad deflating on me… considering that I am STILL complaining about my air pad deflating on me as of day 86 when I am writing this blog haha) (I have purchased a new one and will have it in less than a week thankfully!)
I spent several hours crossing extremely long valleys along Hwy 50 and finally managed upon an antiquated little place called Middlegate. Part gas station, part motel, part bar/restaurant, it encapsulated “old west” to me. Everything from the old crusty dollar bills hanging from the ceiling to the dilapidated front porch all gave the impression that this establishment hadn’t changed much over the last few years… or decades.
I walked in and immediately grabbed a Coke and an ice-cream bar. The cowboy behind the counter didn’t pay me any attention, so what appeared to be a regular patron, jumped behind the counter and said “I’ll take care of you, I saw you walking down the road…” Thank heavens because that soda wouldn’t have made it another minute if I had to wait on him.
This is how I sleep sometimes… I have nightmares where I wake up in a cold sweat and the can is still in the little mesh pocket, but it is CRUSHED. or worse. There’s DIET COKE IN IT.
Turns out, Greg (the cowboy behind the counter) earned a degree in Wildlife Biology from Arizona State University back in the day and happened to know what my alias/trail name Amplexus meant. Always a weird and funny conversation to start into. (For those of you who don’t know, many hikers take on trail names when they do long distance trails. Mine is Amplexus – the Latin word for embrace.) “That’s not weird” you say, well Amplexus, more thoroughly refers to the way male frogs “embrace” female frogs when they mate, thus the funny biologist humor that I have enjoyed since college.
After a couple days of long desert roads, I rolled into a small ghost town called Ione. The wooden sign at the entrance says “the town that refused to die,” but frankly when there are 6 people that currently live there, and no form of commerce… I believe the town has breathed its last. Either way, Ione was interesting. I camped in a small park with a swing set and enjoyed the cold water flowing from the pump spicket.
I met Chuck, who is the caretaker of Ione, and who shared some interesting stories with me. He used to run the “Ore House Saloon” (that was originally built in 1864) and told me that the town use to be run on the large generators that you can see in my recent video. He told me that the man, who basically owns most of the property in Ione, use to own a wolf and a cougar and house them in two small fenced areas behind the house near the park! He told me that somehow they ended up getting into the same cage and that the wolf put that cougar to rest. Craziness!
I left Ione and came to Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. Berlin was an old mining town (as are many in Nevada) and I learned more about the mining operations from the 1860s-1900s. You can see some of the structures from Berlin in my Nevada video. The “Ichthyosaur” part of the state park was a little more off the beaten path, so I did not venture on the hike to see these fossils, but basically, there were over 250 ichthyosaur fossils found in this region and one of the largest in the world (at 50 feet long). This is what an ichthyosaur looks like…
After a few days of hiking, seeing a northern harrier and her nest
and discovering what I called an “unlucky rabbits foot” (because I immediately got off trail as soon as I found it – and ended up walking about 4 miles round trip off a side trail/stream)
I realized that I was going to have to do 25 miles to get into Carvers, NV. Well, I needed some extra motivation, so I decided I would assure myself that I was going to eat well at the Chinese buffet in Carvers… HA, Chinese buffet. There was ONE gas station in Carvers.
5/3 – 5/4
As I was sitting in the Shoshoni Market (gas station) in Carvers, I ended up spending a good deal of time at a table there trying to make phone calls and catch up on e-mails. I finally decided I needed to try to get to the grocery store in the nearby town of Round Mountain, so I walked outside the store and prepared to ask the friendliest looking person I saw.
Fortunately for me, Erick Merritt started the conversation for me. “You’re making some good distance, aren’t you?” I was a little confused because I didn’t know if he was being sarcastic because I felt like I had been a bum sitting in the Shoshoni Market for about 3 hours that day… “Yeah, I’m trying…” I replied. Then he proceeded to tell me that he had seen me days before when I was near Middlegate! I shared about my trip and he offered to take me to Round Mountain to get some groceries.
He introduced me to Pastor Jack and Carol Miller of Smoky Valley Community Church and I ended up spending a couple nights at their house as I tried to catch up on offloading media for the blog that I am only no being able to write! I attended church for the first time since leaving Georgia, and was able to briefly share with the congregation about my experiences.
It was an absolute blessing to be able to worship with other believers. There were probably 15-20 people in the service that morning, the music was played over a speaker system from a CD, and “Planning Center” may as well have been the dinner table the night before. The simplicity of this opportunity to worship brought me to tears. It was refreshing.
I left Round Mountain and hiked up Mt. Jefferson. This day was my second extremely challenging day on the trip. It seems that when I am about to hike through snow-covered areas, I happen to also have to do it WHILE another snowstorm is blowing through… I literally was navigating from rock cairn to rock cairn and could not see where the trail was. Below you will see a couple photos of what these cairns look like. They are basically unnatural rock piles that indicate that humans have created a marker for navigation.
After uttering the words “What have I done…” and having stomped in place for a couple minutes as I tried to update my phone GPS to determine how close I might be to the summit of Mt. Jefferson, I finally just started repeating “lets go, lets go, lets go” and just kept marching up the mountain knowing that it was equally bad if I were to turn around at this point. With nearly a half pound of ice in my beard, I finally made it off the mountain and praised God for getting me through that uncomfortably cold situation. (If you would like the full experience, go sit in your freezer for 8 hours, pour water on your face, then read this section again).
Today was an interesting day. After dropping my glove half way up the first mountain I climbed (then opting to walk back down and retrieve it out of fear from the icy situation I had been in recently) I discovered a small black-tailed jackrabbit curled up in the middle of the trail! Sadly, this rabbit had died (what I assumed was the night before) because of the cold temperatures. Sympathetic to its demise, I decided I would make a few kooky videos of me doing magic tricks (where I pull a rabbit out of my hat…) I know. Heartfelt.
Having to estimate my location (because I had not have cell service in several days at this point), I finally found a faded sign that faintly read Green Monster Canyon. I headed off the mountain, only to somehow detour on a wildlife game trail and ultimately spend the next 5 hours blazing my own path down the mountain in search for the road that I knew I would cross if I kept bearing east. I will have to say that I was disappointed in Bear Grylls and Les Stroud because they both failed me… One of the survival techniques they promote is to follow water down until you reach civilization. Well I knew I wouldn’t reach civilization, but I didn’t realize that the stream I was following would eventually DRY UP before I even got half way down the mountain! Blasted desert water conundrum.
After discovering that Fish Lake was more like Fish Watering-Hole (with wildlife and cattle hoof prints encircling the entire perimeter and the fact that there were birds with 2 inch legs that were WADING 50 feet into the center of the “lake,” I opted to pray I would find running water in the next mountain range I would walk through.
I walked away from Fish Lake and managed to find water! (Flowing from a well that you can see in my Nevada video). After losing the “trail” again, I found myself turning into a human bulldozer and plowing a path through the dense mountain mahogany trees in a fit of rage because I was making negative time in my pursuit of Duckwater, NV. I have enjoyed seeing the Elk, pronghorn and wild horses that this area has to offer.
Envirothon! As I walked through a very remote valley that was surrounded by mountains, I saw a truck! No way! Other humans DO exist! Fortunately for me RJ, his wife and small daughter were out on a leisurely drive to scout out property where his father would be running cattle. As it turns out, when I mention that I have partnered with the North American Envirothon, RJ tells me that he used to compete in Envirothon in high school! Awesome! I didn’t expect to meet an alumnus! For anyone who is reading this and does not know what Envirothon is, please take a look and help me pass the word around! www.envirothon.org
Shortly after departing from RJ and family, I crested a mountain top and discovered a Big Horn Sheep skull! Totally cool find.
This was almost the end for me.
After leaving Moore’s Station the day before, having what I assumed would be enough water to get me to Duckwater, NV, I began probably the toughest day of my life so far.
I was already dehydrated because my water had begun to run out much faster than I had anticipated the day before (mostly because of the heat). I knew I had to get into Duckwater before the small store closed around 4:30, so I got up at 5:00am and packed down my things. At this point, I had been without cell phone reception for 8 days, I had only seen people once, my spoon was broke, my compass was broke and my sunglasses had broken. I set off towards Duckwater with two squirt bottles of water and a backpack that had grown heavier with my acquisition of two mule deer sheds, a partial elk shed, a full elk shed, a wild horse skull, and the big horn sheep skull… HEAVY
After walking about 8 miles that morning, I had depleted one of my bottles of water. This was not good. At this point, my chest was pounding like I had been sprinting since 5:00am as my heart was pumping thicker and thicker blood through my system. My throat was painfully dry because I had basically spent all morning licking my water bottle only enough to wet my mouth, but not enough to wet my throat (much less my stomach).
I could tell I was getting weaker and I was wearing out faster. I had already stopped one time to take my pack off and just try to recuperate some strength. I basically spent 20 minutes licking crystal light off of the face of my watch because it would make my mouth salivate. I couldn’t eat the beef jerky or cheese I had left because it was like chewing chalk due to the dryness of my mouth.
I put my pack on and walked another mile into a canyon in the mountain range that separated me from the Duckwater valley. It was at this point that I realized I needed to make a drastic change in my situation or I was not going to make it. I sat my backpack down on a rock ledge, sat down in a small crevice, then ended up having to lay down on the ground because my body was so exhausted and sore. Fearful that I would pass out and ultimately put myself in an even worse position than I was already in, I decided that I would abandon my backpack and hope that I could figure out a way back to it later.
With no service, and having deviated from my route in order to make a straighter line to Duckwater, I knew that if anything happened to me, no one would not be able to find me. With a mixture of fear, pain and exhaustion, I broke down with the thought that I would meet my end the day after Mother’s Day and 2 days before my 27th birthday.
Anxious and uneasy, I began to climb that last mountain range with a half bottle of water in my right hand and, well, a half bottle of not-water in my left hand. I trudged up the mountain like a zombie, heart pounding like a racehorse, body moving like I had been hit with a tranquilizer dart.
As I crested that mountaintop, all I could repeat was, “I’ll show you what my God can do.”
I saw Duckwater. Geez was it a long ways away. I also saw a shiny silver cylinder and some black dots between the small reservation and me. I deduced that these were cattle and what I was hoping would be a water trough. (You can see the faint road and the green patch that is Duckwater).
I descended from the “pancake” mountain range (which is a little of a misnomer because it was not a pancake, rather the mountains had layers in them where there were 15-20 foot ledges I had to navigate down and basically boulder my way to flatter ground. I finally made it to the bottom and snapped a quick photo back (you can see the layers).
This was about a 10 foot ledge, for perspective.
With literally 5 drops of water left in my right hand, I reached the cattle trough. WATER. I made it. I laid there on the ground near that trough and sipped 5 bottles of water (because it hurt to swallow), then I finally got up and walked down to the town. With the help of a kind woman (who I probably scared to death by knocking on her door and begging for a ride to the store before it closed), I made it to the store and continued to drink liquids and proceeded to get checked out by an EMT.
WHAT. A. DAY.
5/14 – 5/17
I spent the next several days with the Huston family and recovered from my dehydration event. They were kind and bought me Coca-Cola, a steak, ice cream and a cake for my birthday! It was a nice treat.
5/18 – 5/19
You would think that I have a pretty solid system for how I go about doing things while I am hiking. For the most part you are right. But when you strap your camera to a tree to film a little walking scene, then you find a small snake and get distracted… sometimes you walk off and FORGET YOUR GOPRO IS STRAPPED TO A TREE. Dangit. 15 miles later… well, I am going to hope no one takes it (on the random jeep road I was on) and I am going to hope I can get a ride back with someone who has a truck… Thankfully, I was able to do just that! Whew.
Today I made a few new friends. As I was sitting in Ely, Nevada waiting to rendezvous with my friend Brittani, I met a Kiwi (guy from New Zealand) named Andy who was bicycling across America! He offered up the floor of his hotel room, so I joined him because I had no other offer! At the hotel, we met another Kiwi named Rod, who was motorcycling across America! What a strange conglomerate of people! We all went down to Arby’s and had a birthday dinner for Andy and then shared stories from our trips.
5/21 – 5/22
Today I got to see my friend Brittani Stanga! She flew out from Georgia and rented a vehicle to help me be able to run for several days. We ate at a place called the Cell Block Steak House and I enjoyed being able to catch up!
I ran about 18 miles today and ran by some charcoal ovens (the large stone structures that I ran by/out of in the Nevada video). We went back to Ely and met up with my friend Lloyd Langhammer and ate dinner and played pool. It was such a nice break from the typical routine. (As a side note, I met Lloyd while I was thru-hiking the AT in 2011. I was hiking in Vermont at the time. We kept in touch and he decided to make a trip up from Las Vegas to catch up!) It was a fun evening and we MEN completely outplayed the women in pool. Completely. Hands down. Langhammered the nail in their pool coffins. Seehog tied their skills and branded them with a pool cue.
Ok, I took that a little farther than I should have. Forgive me ladies. (The women actually beat us by default because I scratched on the 8 ball in the “win all” match.) WHATEVER.
5/23 – 5/26
I spent the next couple days running and meeting Brittani periodically through the day. I admit that my goofiness began to come out more when I was in the presence of a friend (or perhaps it was company period), and so I filmed the scenes with the watermelon, the Danger Lizard, and my attempt at a promotional jingle for the state of Utah.
Until next time friends… Welcome to UTAHHHHH!