Saturday, June 30, 2012

Carried On Great Winds

Sometimes I go about pitying myself--
And all the time
I am carried on Great Winds
across the sky.
   Chippewa Woman

Look for your other half
who walks always next to you
And tends to be who you aren't.
   Antonio Manchado

These two special quotes have become very profound to me as I embark on my renewed journey. Tomorow I head back to Yellowstone National Park to resume working there, cooking and exploring the marvelous first National Park.

I love the seasonal lifestyle, the people there are so much like me, minimalists, lovers of nature, open and at times spontaneously crazy. I say that with all love.

I'm working on a cook book which includes all the crazy things I did raising my large family, working in National parks with great chefs and cooks, special tips and campfire experiments. I hope its funny, educational, inspirational. I think the culinary world spawns artists, artists who work with food, making masterpieces, pressing limits, throwing out disasters. We've never been easy to understand, taking food and life at face value, changing its properties, sculpting it to our vision.

Sounds heady, I'm sure. Wash, chop, add heat. Thats cooking. A good cook knows when to call it quits or add more. Thats all I'm saying. The new work is in progress, I'm in progress. Stay tuned for my updates. Sunday night I plan to camp near Mack's Inn, in Montana. Monday I'll visit a good friend at Lake. Then, its on to check in on Tuesday.

Can't wait!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leaving A Legacy

Every once in awhile I get a great e-mail, letting me know that all my journals and writings are still being read and inspire people. I hope to keep doing this, especially for women.

The journals she is referring to can be read  by first going to my home page at
You can read my journals from the PCT, Colorado Trail as well.

Hello! My name is Morgan and I felt very compelled to write to you after having just finished your Journal from your 2002 Appalachian Trail experience. I have to tell you, I have been yearning to do this trail myself for years now and you have been such an inspiration to me. I am 23 years old and hoping to start the trail in the next year or two (trying to get finances in order to make this possible) but I have already started to try to mentally and physically prepare myself. I wonder, did you get out of the trail what you hoped for when you first set out?

Brawny, thank you for being you. And additionally, thank you for recording your journey so that girls like me know that they can follow in your footsteps and be strong women. You are my hero, and I just thought you might want to know this. Have a wonderfully day :)

My Reply:
Thanks, Morgan, for your kind words. I would have to say I actually got way more from my trail experience than I thought I would. Even today, I use the lessons, for instance, those of perservance, being friendly and trusting my instincts.
Above all, go for it and don't let anybody co-op your experience.
best wishes
Happy Trails, Thanks to all my readers!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kinda Hard to Believe

I read an  article today about two homeless, penniless men in Fresno, California who some how racked up 1,363 ambulance rides in 2011. Between the two of them, one a 41 year old who has serious issues with his liver, and the other who is supposedly seizure prone, they have cost the tax payers and government nearly $545,000 for ambulance services, and nearly that same amount for hopsital evaluations.

I read this in the Idaho Statesman, June 14th edition, under News of the weird.

Ok, lets break those numbers down. With two men calling the ambulance every day last year, you'd have a total of 730 rides. Somewhere along the line, these dudes must have rode more than once a day.

Each ride must have cost 500 bucks, which is really cheap unless you're not doing any meds or going very far. Humm, weird. Then with hospital evaluations, same deal. Who ever heard of only spending $500 on an evaluation, unless you're doing outpaitient care, not emergency rooms.

What am I missing, is my math wrong? Maybe just a nice little medical care at a walk in clinic would help the dudes. The article says  that neither the hospital or emergency room can refuse service to these cronic abusers, and the article closes saying, that the attempts to disuade them from the trips were futile or too time consuming for the emergency technicians to attempt.

Now for all us hard working Americans with out insurance, and not totally broke, you gotta wonder, what is the answer?

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Bridge Across Troubled Waters

Driving along US 12, a person sees bridges periodically spanning the river. I've driven this route several times before, never actually taking the time to park, get out and walk across. Today I did.
Just before you head down the thimble berried path, a sign greets you. Know your bears, its says. I met a black bear while eating thimble berries along Eagle Creek, hiking on the Pacific Crest trail. That bear had a cub. The cub ran up the tree, touching my pack. That story is in My Journey to Freedom. Since I lived to write this blog, you know I survived the encounter, thanks to my hiking partner, Rainmaker.

I love a good river walk. This roaring river, going by the name Lochsa, with various branches of  various names intersescting it, would be ideal for the adventurous kayaker. Someday I hope to do that too.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rant on the Safeway Experience

Ok, so I'm here in Missoula for an important recheck on my surgery. Staying at the special house, $25 bucks a night for people in my situation. I go food shopping, down to the nearest store.

Its a huge, gorgeous store, and just happens to be a Safeway. I shoulda known better. I hate these type of stores that require a card to get any of the posted deals. You know them, the NON Walmarts, the NON family ma and pa stores. The ones that post the teaser price and in small letters the outrageous regular price should you just happen to not be a card carrier.

Of course, you can sign up then and there, hold up the line, get glares from those behind you wanting to know just what's your problem.

I bought my four items, sans card and was informed I coulda saved $4.67. In my world, $4.67 is real money. I informed the clerk I was not from here, was here for medical procedures, could she do anything. Nope, she replied, just come back later, sign up for a card and get the $4.67 refund.

So, that's what I did this morning, early. Just so happens customer service didn't open until 9 a.m. so I proved to be a real pain, tying up valuable time for at least 3 employees and several customers waiting in line. I got to hand it to them, they did give me the refund. Nice.

It really is maddening, and now that I have their card, along with three other grocery stores of like persuasion, I hope I never have to shop there again. Its simply not that rewarding.

Sorry for the rant. No, I take that back. Not sorry.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wild-by Cheryl Strayed, A Book Review

I just finished reading Wild on the Nook, the e-reader by Barnes and Noble. It was a great experience, both literally and digitally. The e-reader weighs about 8 ounces and has over 250 books downloaded on it right now. My daughter swears by it, having used it to read in bed without disturbing the husband with bedside lights or flipping pages. She takes it on airplanes, allowing her to surf and read multiple genres without carting around a lot of heavy paper backs. There are tons of free books, cheap books and e -books not available any other place.

Now, lets talk about the book Wild. Written by Cheryl Strayed recently, she actually is telling the story of her Pacific Crest Trail section hike back in 1995. She includes poignant memories of her childhood, detailing how her mom died of cancer at the young age of 45. This great loss for Cheryl as one of three surviving children, is blamed for a series of misadventures, including infidelity and divorce.

Now, Cheryl seeks rebuilding and redemption on the trail. Some of us remember the saying, "the more difficult the journey, the more thorough the cleansing." Cheryl's backpack is enormously heavy, an exterior frame common in 1995. She is outfitted at REI and begins her journey at Mohave, jumping sections and ending her journey at the Bridge of the Gods, before crossing into Washington State. She was only 25, turning 26 on the trail.

I enjoyed reading the portions about the PCT, recognizing the places and circumstances so memorable to all long distance hikers. She doesn't sugar coat any of her newbie's mistakes, from shoes too small, not having enough money, leaving behind a treasured shirt after hanging it to dry on a limb.
I loved how she grew to embrace an alternate view of the universe, knowing it both took things away and couldn't care less about our comforts. I call this power the trail gods.

Having to bypass the High Sierras because of record snow, she meets and greets the few rare PCT hikers along the way, clearly chronicling the hiker bond, bemoaning the clear cuts raping the land, the waterless stretches leading to near heat exhaustion.

One of the first female soloists on the PCT, Cheryl had remarkably few bad experiences with hitchhiking and town encounters. Maybe things weren't as desperate back in '95. I don't know. I hiked solo in 2001, starting at the Mexican border. I sure liked having company when I had it, but also felt the same Amazonian Warrior thing she hoped to exude. Its a great mystery, this love hate relationship.

She eventually finds one hiking pole in a free hiker's box, gets a new pair of hiking boots, hikes in sandals duck taped to survive the week of complete dependency, gets laid. Life is sweet when the gods smile.

Read this book if you get a chance. While Cheryl back stories about her father's physical abuse of her mother, the therapist's attempt to discover why she is so detached, the regrettable divorce of the man she loved, there is alot of trail story and history, a touch of legend and lore. Once done reading this PCT account, you will definitely understand the mindset of the long distance hiker. I love that she carried a feather all the way. I did too.

Touching base with the inner wild woman.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Canada Bracing For Wisconsin Refugees

In case you haven't been reading the Borowitz Report, maybe forgetting to check on the latest news over at one of the funniest people on earth's blog, I thought I'd post a link. Tongue in cheek, Andy gives a hilariously serious twist to the sad news we find surrounding our country lately.

Taking time to laugh helps me unwind, remembering all the little things will soon pass. The big things? Sometimes they turn our path. Like they say, life happens when you're making other plans.

I'm hoping to get back on the seasonal lifestyle soon.

Soon election season will be full swing. All the craziness will not matter in the long run because bottom line, the stress of  deciding which is better or worse, the republicans or democrats, will have negative effects on our health and nearly none on politics. We vote, and it all happens behind closed doors, with career politicians wheeling and dealing regardless of the poor man's welfare.

How many think America is better off than 4 years ago? Yet, could we stand any more of republicans?

See what I mean?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dead Man's Pass Rest Stop, Oregon

Driving west on I-84, I pulled into Dead Man's Pass Rest Area. It was gorgeous. I took a hike, heading up this wide gravel road, noting the Cable Route sign while I trod up the steep incline. Expecting to actually see a sign posting that I had arrived, I took some footage of the area, without actually seeing my trail marker.

I'm told that no one hikes this trail. The rest area itself is the pass. Oh well, in the process I reclaimed my memories and smells from the Pacific Crest Trail. The woodland cedar smells, warmed from hot sunshine, toasty odors and pine fragrance. You gotta love it. Of course, the PCT winds its way through miles of dry land, lava flows and mossy overgrowth. Oregon is a marvelo

When you've hiked alot of trails, smells alone can send you into reveries. I got to get out this summer, load that pack with a week's worth of ultralight food and stay in the back country.

I didn't see any wild creatures on this hike. A few cars, people with dogs probably keep wild creatures away. I imagine black bears frequent the area, looking for trash.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Story Behind Gruesome Deaths

The Idaho Statesman, June 10, 2012 Sunday Edition surprised me. Right there on the front page, complete with sketch of a wolf  sniffing a M-44, was a huge story entitled : Wildlife Services' Methods leave a trail of animal death.

One quote from the article stated : If people knew how many animals are being killed at taxpayer expense-often on public lands- they would be shocked and horrified." Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote.

Its not just the coyotes and other "nuisance animals" that are caught in brutal traps, fed capsules containing powdered sodium cyanide (the M-44), snared and killed, its Bald Eagles, bears, dogs, raccoons and fox.   This is just part one of a two part series, which fills two more pages,16 and 17 of section one. I'm proud of Idaho Statesman. They gave a lot of press to an important issue: at what point in time do animals become nuisances worthy of such targeting?
Body Grips are used to catch beaver. This contraptions uses extreme force. 123,631 intentional deaths and 6,591 unintentional deaths are attributed to this Mouse Trap type of killer.

The snare is made from thin aircraft cable, strung like nooses, killing the animals after they fight and induce self strangulation. 155,050 intentional deaths, 3,859 unintentional deaths are attributed to this horrific trap.

Leg hold are buried like land mines, closing on the foot, holding the animal until the trapper arrives. We've all heard of animals chewing off their own foot to escape. 69,869 deaths are attributed to this torture, 2,896 unintentional.

The poison M-44 is a stick in the ground, baited with smelly stuff. Anything comes close enough to tug on it gets the poison injected into the mouth. 81,673 intentional deaths, and 3,213 unintentional deaths are attributed to this tool.

As an animal lover, this kind of thing is disturbing.

Ok, so then what's my point? This data covers a 5 year period. Critics say the unintentional deaths are way under reported. Who wants to report they killed an eagle, member of a protected species? The article says one guy was told to just bury the thing and shut up about it.

Not that we could trust our government reports ever completely. Look at the housing market. We're constantly told it bottomed out. I've been hearing that for two years now.

But what of the ever growing population of coyotes invading the outskirts of town, killing pets and threatening our safety. I say, allow those affected to kill the animal, and bring it in for documentation, if necessary. Let each local district make their own rules. Let the public know what's going on, and become involved in hunting.

Wild pigs are top on my list. I've seen their devastation and know how dangerous they can be. Let hunters go get them and feed the people. That has to be a win win situation. Just be careful for the parasites.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Need An Extra Layer-Don't Forget the Dollar Store?

With postage going through the roof, I've decided to come clean and share a tip with all you gear heads out there.
I know its gonna seem ultra frugal and down right low class, but when you're heading into colder climes and you need that extra shirt of a pair of mittens, check out the local dollar store. Even a pair of nylon socks for a buck are worth the weight. Then just throw them away when you're done.

I did this along the Appalachian Trail, before heading into the Shenandoah's and the Whites. Once finished with those higher elevations, I just donated to the friendly Hiker Box the clothes I didn't need. No reason to pack it up and pay the expensive postage home.

The other day I shipped a friend some ultralight gear. It was so light, yet the postage surprised me. No added features, like overnight, or even insured. You get the picture.

Resupplying along the trail is also very doable, if you lower your expectations and know how to shop the local food marts. Check out the aisles inside most gas stations. There's plenty of food and calories to get you 100 miles down the trail.

I've got a new, crazy book available. Its an E book,  uploaded for both Nooks and Kindles. To the right are links.  For the next month, I'm putting it on sale for only $4.99. Hope the stories both inspire you and make you laugh. I have info on all my recent trails too.

An Ultralighter's True Trail Stories-Beyond the Journey

Happy Trails, may they all be lighter.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Phantom Ranch Year Round Job

Yesterday I worked at an assisted living facility here in Nampa. It was depressing, looking out at all the seniors, frail and seated around tables, looking forward to the meal we had prepared back in a well ventilated kitchen, knowing everyone of us will come to that juncture sometime, unable to do for ourselves if we live long enough.

I kept wondering if this was all I would do for the rest of my life. Work in town, live in town, domesticated and tied down. I wondered if life had changed for me irrevocably. And I wondered, why? Was it just my own fears clipping my wings?

I came home, took a nap. After all, it's been less than a month since my surgery and I was very tired. Everyone on staff understood I was only there to observe, had my restrictions, and was being "reviewed" for future employment. No long term job offer has been forthcoming yet.
What a weird day for both me and the cooks. None of us has ever done that before...test run a potential cook. The administrator said the last cook they hired couldn't even make jello.

Well, that explains it.

So, after supper I checked out the  site and saw an ad for full time employment at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Oh my goodness! I've always wanted to spend a season there. Not sure about the summer, though. But, thinking about it just put such a grin on my face. I was re-inspired. I jumped in the car, went to Walmart and bought ice cream and cookies to celebrate.

I think the seasonal thing is my addiction. Living and working in cool places.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

To All Things A Season

I don't think my life has ever been stranger. Everything is changing, and I find myself wondering what is going on here?

Not only did I break up a long term relationship, move clear across the country, and have an emergency surgery, I am looking for a job in a city and thinking about actually settling down.

Wait Just A Minute!

Some say these things are a natural progression of life cycles. Maybe once all the health issues get solved, I'll revert back to the nomad life style I thought I would choose. But, my family has become more important that ever, and they have been by my side through thick and thin. Is this Me Growing OLD?

Say it isn't so, Joe.

Recently I've been surfing Craigslist, mostly for entertainment, job posting, seeking out some diversion while the healing takes place.

How many of you use craigslist, and have your experiences been good? I'm new to this thing, meeting new people, applying for jobs, etc.
People want photos. I don't have many of me. Probably like most folks, we take photos of others.

Guess I should ask someone to take some? Oh well, I like my shadow photos. A self portrait in silhouette.