Friday, May 29, 2009

Susan has written another poem even though she just wants to disappear.

By Susan Alvarez
copyright 2009

The morning awakens, the shadows give way
Each day a beginning, each day a new day
The sun rises slowly as birds sing and dance
Each day a beginning, each day a new chance
Eyes open slowly and brain does engage
Each day a beginning of new pain and rage
I look all around, hither and yon
Each day a beginning where life could go on
I'm waiting for something to comfort my soul
Today's the beginning of getting me whole

My pack is packed and I'm off tomorrow morning.

I picked my friend Be Hope up under the I-10 freeway at 4 pm today. He hiked from Anza over the San Jacinto Mountains and on down to the pass at the I-10.

Yesterday I bought a new Osprey EOS backpack. Today it is packed with 3 days' of food. Tomorrow, I'm joining Be Hope as he hikes the 54 miles to Big Bear.

See ya.

Be Hope, having just crossed the 3 miles of desert from Snow Creek, arriving at the I-10 underpass today.

Me trying to get a photo of my new pack without using a flash. Impossible.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

11:50pm and home from another Thursday in Sherman Oaks.

Photo of Ray on our drive home tonight taken with my cell phone.

Thursdays are always long. On Thursdays we drive in to the San Fernando Valley to meet up with our sponsees and attend our Thursday night Just the Black Print meeting.

Most Thursdays we usually drive in to LA around noon and return home 12 hours later. Ray had a dentist appointment with an oral surgeon in Encino at 2:30pm. Today we drove in at 10am. This earlier departure gave me just enough time to stop first at the REI in Rancho Cucamonga to shop for the Osprey EXOS backpack I've been wanting to buy. I tried the backpack on and liked it. I'm not sure there is enough cubic inch capacity for all I normally carry in my McHale backpack. But Ray bought the Osprey for me for as an anniversary present. Our 19th wedding anniversary is May 31st. If I find I can't get all my gear inside, I'll return it. But I'm excited because the difference I'll save in weight between my normal backpack and this new one is 2 pounds. Each year I say I'm going to carry lighter and each year the fear of not having what I think I might need (like way too much food), drives my pack weight up.

I'm anxious to try this pack out and see how it feels. On the way into LA I mentioned that I would like to make up the section of hiking I missed in 2007 from the I-10 to Big Bear (54 miles.) I went on a tour bus with this thinking and now I may join Be Hope and backpack this section to Big Bear with him. I left a message on Be Hope's cell phone today saying I would like to join him for a few days if that is ok. Be Hope is the PCT backpacker I dropped off in Anza a couple of days ago saying I'd pick him up when he reached the I-10 freeway. I had no plans to hike with him, only to assist him with his food resupply.

Anyway, Be Hope called and left a message from the trail tonight saying he was on Fuller Ridge in the San Jacinto Mountains. It appears he might be further along than we anticipated. Maybe he will arrive at the I-10 freeway under-pass Friday night. I'm supposed to meet him Saturday at noon. Now that I have it in my head that I want to join him on his hike I'm hoping he arrives on Friday so we have more time to hike the miles to Big Bear. I have to be off the trail Monday night. Ray said that he'd pick me up. I have to be off the trail on Monday so I'm ready to drive into the Baby Meeting in LA on Tuesday with others.

Like I really need to add one more thing in my day. Aren't tour bus rides fun?

To be continued......

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Two, no three, no four highs today.

First high: I have been on the site for a number of years now, always hoping I will reconnect with some old friends. Yesterday I received an email saying James Duncan had visited and checked out my profile on the site. Could this possibly be the same Jimmy Duncan that was my heartthrob at University High?......The same Jimmy that had the cutest 1957 T- Bird? The same Jimmy whose car long ago would be parked in our family driveway at the end of our late night dates....... the car that made my Dad nervous......the car that made my Dad remain standing looking out his bedroom window, until he saw his daughter get out of the car, heard the house front door slam shut, until he knew his daughter was safely home in her bedroom. Alone.

Great memories, first loves. I hope this is the same Jimmy. I am waiting back to hear. I responded with an email to James Duncan asking him what his first car was, before I open further communication.

James Duncan

Second High: I found Laurie Excell's photography website as a link on Scott Kelby's blog. I want to do one of her photography workshops....the workshops where we photograph bears in Alaska or Chase Storm to photograph. I now subscribe to her blog posts and can't believe her life and her photography.

Third High: Again, I found out about this photographer, Eddie Tapp on Scott Kelby's Wednesday Guest Blogger post. Every Wednesday Scott has a guest blogger. I am blown away by Scott's guests' essays and photos. Eddie's blog was another uniquely informative essay.

Fourth High: "My" teacher, Carol Leigh, you know the photographer I have been taking online classes and workshops with the last year and a half, is such an example for me. I follow her photography blog daily and can't believe her commitment to practicing what she teaches, her artistry, the daily commitment to exploring her never ending, unlimited talents. She just keeps practicing seeing and produces the freshest, most uniquely-her-own, work.

Life is good and thanks to all who contribute to motivating me to get more and more out of this good life.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Into self and out of one day!

On my 6 am walk this morning, I found myself powerless over focusing on my shadow.

At 11:30am I picked up Be Hope at the Palm Springs airport (a current year PCT hiker who was getting back on the trail.) After lunch, after organizing and mailing off a Big Bear resupply box, and buying trail food and having a deli sandwich made (big enough to last for 2 dinners!), I drove Be Hope to the trailhead he had exited from when he had to go home and resume teaching his classes. Be Hope had started the PCT on March 11th. Personal matters will probably call him off the trail again, but hopefully not before reaching Kennedy Meadows.

Be Hope was filled with excitement. His excitement is contagious. I'd only met Be Hope a couple of months ago hiking into Warner Springs. I'd given him my card in case he needed help while on the trail nearby the Palm Springs area. Well, he called when he was ready and knew the date he wanted to get back on the trail. I offered to drive him back to the trailhead near the town of Anza.

He cached water on Hwy 74 and bought and left extra water for hikers where he got back on the trail at the Hiker's Oasis in Anza.

He was going to carry food from Anza to Big Bear. I suggested he let me pick him up at the I-10 frwy to spend the night, shower, clean his clothes and pick up the remaining food for Big Bear he left here once he knew he had me for his own personal trail angel.

Ray met Be Hope and was very impressed with what a nice man he was. I agree.

Happy Hiking Be Hope. You sure do know how to enjoy yourself.

I'm thinking of trying this pack out. Tailwinds used it and loved it. It's the Osprey Exos or something like that. I told Ray I wanted it and he said he'd buy it for me for our 19th wedding anniversary May 31st (Cupcake's birthday!).
There were 369 hiker's names listed so far for 2009.
Hiker's Oasis still has about 5 - 7 2.5 gallon containers of water plus 4 or 5 more gallons Be Hope left.
The smile on Be Hope's face made me smile. This man is happy to be back on the trail.

Be Hope is a trail name. It just dawned on me his trail name came from his real name.....Barney Hope.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hiking the golf course with my pack.

I have too many hobbies/interests. I need a lot more hours in the day to maintain balance and moderation in all areas of my life.

Comments on some of my interests and how I'm doing in the area of self care:
-Food/eating has to head the list of interests. If I'm not eating good, I'm not a happy camper. I have been excellent in the area of eating to live, as opposed to living to eat. I've been planning, shopping and making good clean food for Ray and me for 175 days now. No sugar, no white flour, writing down and emailing the 3 daily meals and two snacks to Xochitl every day for the 175 consecutive days and I feel good. I'm afraid if I don't send in my food, I'll go back to my old ways of eating. I've been feeling in balance emotionally as the result of changing my food choices and my relationship with food.
-Exercise. Hmmm. I could always do more. I've been carrying my backpack a couple of times a week hiking about 2 hours. I walk around Mission Hills CC a couple of times a week. Certainly not enough exercise to get me ready for the July 17th backpack I'll be doing. Oh, I'm also doing sit-ups nightly with the hope my stomach muscles will help strengthen my back.
-Photography. Not good here at all. I seem to have put practicing taking photos on hold. But I paid attention yesterday when I blogged that I hadn't picked up a camera lately, so this morning I clicked off the shots below and other shots this morning while climbing up and down the hills on the golf course. The golf club workers, getting the traps and greens ready for the 8am shotgun, were laughing at me climbing up to the tops of a hills, turning around, descending them, only to hike up the same hills again. The goal is to hit all hills on the fairways.
-I subscribe and am monthly automatically deducted for the cost of online access to photo lessons and don't even do the lessons.
-Golf. I've been going out with Ray a couple of times a week around 5pm where he helps me with my golf as we play about 5 - 7 holes. The weather has been really beautiful at that time. We've been lucky to have temperatures under 100 degrees lately.
I'm trying to get my old stiff back ready for our 4 day trip to Pebble Beach where we will use the two rounds of golf given to Ray by his sponsees a year and a half ago. Thank God I made and paid for the expensive golf room for two nights before the market crashed.

I do have a thing with taking photos of my shadow. Pretty place we live in isn't it?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A wonderful guest blog by Vincent Versace on Scott Kelby's blog.

How well this photographer communicates what I am learning in life and hope to someday learn in my photography (If I ever make time for my photography!).
Here is the link to Vincent's guest blog:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

And yet another poem by Susan.

I'm Dying
by Susan Alvarez
(copyright 2009)

I’m Dying

Moments of despair that crash like a wave
I can’t tell if I am sane or depraved
Thoughts of you run so deep through my mind
It feels so bad as if God were unkind

How could you leave me here all alone
You promised a life with God and a home
I can’t shake the feeling this is a mistake
Take me dear God just give me a break

The love that I feel it has no where to go
As if my world’s broken and the speed’s set to slow
I’m scared and I’m angry, I’m sad and depressed
I want to stay covered so deep in my bed

Please send me some strength so I can live on
I feel weak and so helpless I wish I were strong
This is a nightmare and I can’t wake up
It’s all an illusion, I guess that I’m stuck

The tears run so freely and stream down my face
I’m lonely and hungry for your sweet embrace
I can’t seem to find you as hard as I look
Where have you gone leaving me on this hook

Just break my heart open like an egg on the floor
Let the pain ooze out oh please let it pour
I think I am loosing my feelings, myself
My world was so full now I feel there’s no wealth

Friday, May 22, 2009

Another poem from Susan.

I asked Susan to write daily. She asked, "What would you like me to write on?". I responded, "I can't, we can." The following day I received her poem in an email.

I Can't, We Can
by Susan Alvarez
copyright 2009

I can’t stand the silence of my barely beating heart
We could talk about it and find a place to start
I can’t stand the anguish that flows inside my veins
We could stand together and find a way to change
I can’t stand the loneliness that’s here to grab my soul
We could grab each other’s hand, ask God to make us whole
I can’t stand the anger that’s torn into my life
We can walk together and get through any strife
I can’t stand the sadness it will take me away
We won’t let you wander, you cannot go astray
I can’t stand the emptiness it’s hollow like decay
We can fill that empty spot return the night to day
I can’t stand to tell you I’m dying deep inside
We can see the darkness just behind your eyes
I can’t stand to ask you, I need you oh so bad
We can help you through this pain, we’d be very glad

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A gift arrived today from my wonderful friend, Tailwinds.

Yesterday I received a note from Tailwinds letting me know she was sending me a surprise. She wrote that she knows art is a very personal taste and that buying art for someone else is risky. She went on to say that she had no doubt that what she bought me was meant for me.

In the relatively short time Tailwinds and I have been friends we have shared extensively with each other in general conversations and during the 8 one to two hour long phone sessions sharing with each other the intimate self searching work and fantasies we wrote about in the task's section of the Artist's Way. During the 8 weeks of sharing personal thoughts and memories, She and I both probably mentioned at least 5 times that we would really like to live in a mountain cabin, by water.

Tailwinds is friends with the artist H. Lee Dempsey, Jr. While at his home not long ago, pursuing his dream in retirement, she saw him working on his latest ink and watercolor painting below. Tailwinds said that she knew immediately "That's for Gottago". I love this water color. I have never had anyone buy me art before. Everything about this work is me.

#13 HIGH CAMP by H. Lee Dempsey, JR.

Thank you my very special friend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Last year's photo of Sandi's husband, Jerry (left), with Harvey.

Sandi's husband has been in the hospital the last 4 days with another bout of pneumonia. Jerry is disappointed he wasn't able to sell Poppies with Harvey outside Pavilions today. Jerry and Harvey have been selling Poppies 5 days during the Memorial Day weekend at this location twice a year for as long as Ray and I have lived here in the desert.

While marketing, I ran into Harvey seated at the table outside Pavilions today. He's missing his buddy. Hopefully Jerry will get out of the hospital tomorrow and be able to catch a day or two of selling Poppies this Memorial Day Weekend.

Hope you feel better soon Jerry!

By the way, I have started a Twitter on this blog site. Look for it on the right hand side directly above Friends' Blogs. The idea to tweet (is that how you say it?) came to me when Jerry recently went into the hospital, again. I thought this would be a good way to keep friends up to date with current important on how someone is doing that has been sick, etc.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ray in Chiropractor's office.

Ray has a pain in his lower back much like the pain he had one year ago that Dr. Dawson cured.
Dr. Dawson says my pain problem is complex. Great.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Paula on 5:30am hike this morning.

Look at the sweat on Paula's face. That's what caught my attention.
It's hot out there on our local killer hill. We hiked this killer hill called the Bump and Grind yesterday also, but at 6:30am, much too late to hike these days.

When it gets hot here in the desert around this time of the year, people try to be done with any errands by 10am.

Thanks for the two great hikes Paula.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

1pm lunch break below Mangas mountain on Day 2, April 29th.

(These two journal entries and photos from the trail would have been a lot more fun if they'd been sent from the trail. But what the hell, I'm kinda cute aren't I?)

Tailwinds spotted a cell station atop Mangas mountain so yesterday's journal will be sent off along with today's photo of me on our lunch break. Our elevation is 9268 feet. Being at this elevation takes my hunger away. Kinda.

Gotta eat now.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

CDT section hike - April 28, 2009

I had blogged on my phone from the trail while on a CDT hike a couple of weeks ago but the blog entry wouldn't go through. Now home, I am trouble-shooting why my phone wouldn't send these phone trail blogs. After lots of failed troubleshooting, I just took the battery out of the phone and then put it back in again. I tested sending the blog entry and what do you know!!! - here is what I'd intended to send from the trail.

I will be posting this entry and and maybe one or two more here on my blog as I typed the first few entries on my phone and I don't know how to get the entries off my phone without posting them here. But I intend to post the 5 or 6 trail journal entries on my website under my CDT 2008 Adventure.

Tailwind before we hit the trail inside my jam packed car with all our gear.

Day 1 on the CDT with Tailwinds

Tailwinds graciously offered to backpack the 91 miles from Snow Lake to Pie Town I skipped last year when I was backpacking the state of New Mexico. Once I backpack these miles I will have backpacked all of New Mexico.

Yesterday, all day, was spent dropping off Tailwinds' car at Snow Lake. This was not an easy feat and because it was so time consuming. I hope I remember in the future that I don't want to skip sections on a long backpack again.

We also cached food and water for ourselves. Water is scarce on the trail in NM. Why we cached food rather than carry it for 6 days is simple....because we could.

Tailwinds and I left the Toaster House at 6:40am after having spent the night with Mrs. Gorp, Stumpknocker, Mike and Andy (north bound CDT hikers). Don and Nita, Pie Town residents, keep this second home of theirs for any and all hikers and bikers to stay in while on their adventures. The Toaster house is right on the CDT. Old toasters hang in front ot their home.

Neither Tailwinds and I are trained to do long miles carrying our heavy packs so we were overjoyed that our bodies held up today for the 16.4 miles we hiked. Now at our campsite (by 3:30pm!) we can barely walk without looking like we are terribly injured, but we are proud of the miles we did never-the-less. Our tents went up, dinner prepared even though it was only 4pm, and are now off our poor feet inside our caves for the night. I can tell Tailwind is already asleep. I'll close my eyes once I finish typing this journal entry.

Road walking is hard on the body. That was our trail today, a dirt backcountry road.

The weather was perfect, often overcast and breezy.

A highlight of the day was meeting a thru hiker named John. When I introduced myself by my trail name Gottago, John excitedly told me that my husband had given him a PCT bandana in Wrightwood in 2007. There are only a very few (maybe 30 or 40) CDT hikers who backpack the trail each year compared to the how many hike the AT and the PCT. What a coincidence to have run into John.
It's time for me to crash now.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

A poem Susan wrote the other day.

Susan's life mate, Rick, died of a masssive coronary heart attack a couple of weeks ago. Rick was Susan's love, her rock, her everything. Susan is lost.

Susan is a beautiful writer who doesn't usually write much, until now. The poem you'll read below, written by Susan in about 5 minutes the other day, is a sample of the gift of writing she has been given.

Photo taken: August 17, 2006

by Susan Alvarez
(copyright 2009)

I wonder where the memories go
If they fade away
Deep within a subconscious tomb
Never to see the light of day?

Your face is growing hazy
My tears not brushed aside
I might be going crazy
Some part of me has died

I’ve never known this feeling
that burns inside my soul
I’ll never be the same
I wonder if I’m whole

I wake to find the morning
has come and leaves me here
In sorrow and in panic
It’s all so very clear

I try to plant my feet
so deep into Your ground
I know You have the answers
You know this pain I’ve found

God send me mighty angels
So I can rest my head
My heart so badly broken
Perhaps it’s me who’s dead

I know I must walk through this
and find the light again
I know your love is mighty
My God, my love, my friend

So keep me close beside you
and walk me through these doors
my empty heart is bleeding
and lying on the floor

I have no arms to hold it
or legs to walk myself
I’d rather be an object
and sit upon a shelf

But alas your love awaits me
and I will reach my soul
I’ll follow every bread crumb
you leave to make me whole

God thank you for your patience
for loving me in spite
of all the wayward journeys
I’ve followed in my life

Please wrap your arms around me
and keep me off that shelf
my world’s still full of wonder
about you if nothing else

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jim is 36!

L-R Ray, Jim, Jim's brother, Matt, and Perry hidden behind.
Ray and I picked up Perry in Palm Desert and we drove into the San Fernando Valley yesterday. We met Jim and his brother, Matt to drop Perry off with them.
I asked if I could take a photo of everyone right then instead of at the meeting later. Ray has just given Jim Jim's 36 coin.

Matt, Jim, Perry and Ray

Jim and Perry. Perry had just given Jim his birthday card.

Perry and Jim

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Gottago playing.

Five and a half days of dirt washed away in seconds. Aaaah. Cold but wonderful.

I couldn't wait to finish our NM section hike at the exact point where my trail partners, Cookie and Paul, and I missed taking the creek to Snow Lake and hiked up the wrong creek the previous year. Long before I arrived at this spot I knew I'd strip down and get in the water at the confluence of Gilita Creek and the Snow Lake outlet/Gila River. I also knew I was going to ask Tailwinds to photograph me (once I was clean) holding up this year's PCT Class of 2009 bandana.

At the end of each trail day after setting up my tent, I would spend the last half hour of light looking around for some camera playtime. I looked up and noticed my shadow (I can't pass up taking a photo of my shadow) and knew I liked how my shadow looked on this tree.

p.s. Today was the day I could shower and get my sutures wet. Getting clean is such an attitude adjuster on AND off the trail. I'm over feeling sad about my face being cut on and feel hopeful my scar will be barely noticeable in the near future.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Endangered Mexican wolf sighting about 8 miles north of Snow Lake, NM.

I still haven't had time to go through all the photos I took while on the backpack with Tailwinds two weeks ago. But here are 3 photos from the last morning of our hike. I'm posting some of my last day photos first because seeing a wolf for the first time was the highlight of our 93 mile, 5.5 day backpack from Pie Town to Snow Lake.

Our last day of hiking was a 9 mile section north of Snow Lake. This is where we heard early morning wolf cries, noticed wolf tracks on this two track jeep CDT trail/road, and early after beginning our morning hike, actually saw our very first ever wolf sighting.

This is what the two track CDT trail/road we were backpacking on looked like. For miles and miles in all directions, all we saw were grasslands. We first spotted our wolf on the right side of the road, loping toward and then across the road, heading east/left, from about as far away as the pictured tree. He repeatedly loped on a bit, stopped and stared at us for about 30 seconds and then loped off again. He disappeared out of sight as he loped into a ravine about a 1000 yards or more away. As the wolf entered the ravine, an elk hurriedly ran out of the opposite side of the ravine, obviously not interested in keeping company with the wolf.

The wolf gifted us with more entertain as he ran back out of the ravine, in our direction, but safely well ahead of us. Loping and staring just as before.

All in all we had about 30 minutes of prime time wolf viewing before he left our sight. The wolf was not only far enough away for his and our comfort level, but he was far enough away that capturing and in-focus, unblurred photo was impossible with the small Canon, Powershot A640 I was using.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Another cancer surgery!

I'm paying the price for all those years in the sun sun bathing, playing tennis, paddle tennis, running, golf, horseback riding, hiking and backpacking.

I was a little freaked today (and so was Ray who was in the surgery room with me)after this surgery. The emotional stress knocked me out for the rest of the day after having been in the doctor's office for 3.5 hours. Much of that time was waiting to see if after the first cutting I'd need more cutting which I did need. But all the yucky cells are gone.

I came home and watched TV and slept the rest of the day. Ray brought some Tylenol home for the pain after the Novocaine wore off.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Last Friday and Saturday with Paula and Katya.

Ray took this photo of Katya, Paula and me before leaving for dinner at Tipico's. Katya spoke at the ABC Club one block away from the restaurant. Katya gave a great talk.

So I'm eating clean right? As is Katya, Ray and Sandi (who joined us for dinner and the meeting). We're at the Mexican restaurant where the chips and salsa arrive as we are seated. On the food plan you get one grain or starch with dinner. Hmmmmm. I'm starving. I want to eat chips, NOW. But then if I eat the chips I can't have the tortilla with dinner. While going back and forth in my head..."Chips or Tortilla?"....I decide to lay out chips on the table in a circle the size of a tortilla to see how many chips I could have if I decided to choose to eat chips. Paula thought that was funny. I was quite serious! The tortilla won. Actually, I had two tortillas with my Fajitas dinner!!!!!

Katya feeling her oats heading up the Bump & Grind hill. Paula and I were dying in the 95 degree heat.

A nice lady took this photo of us on our way down from the top of the Bump & Grind hill.

Down from Bump & Grind, on the walk back to the car, I asked Katya if she wanted to carry my pack. She said, "Carrying it makes me walk funny."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My friend and backpacking partner has written on our New Mexico trip.

Ok, I'm cheating... Because I have not had the time/made the time to type up my journal entries I am posting my trail partner, Tailwinds', journal entry I've copied and pasted below from her journal. Check back over the summer to read some more of Tailwinds' journal writing. Tailwinds is a wonderful writer.

Forgive me Tailwinds for letting you do all the work.
Here is the summary from Tailwinds' journal:
New Mexico is a special place for me. I spent one summer there in the 1980s and later bought 7 acres of rocks and cactus near Abiquiu just because I fell in love with the land.

So when Gottago invited me to hike 92 miles of the Continental Divide Trail with her from Pie Town to Snow Lake in central New Mexico, I jumped at the chance. I do not plan to thru-hike or section hike the CDT but this was an opportunity to get some on-trail pre-hike training for the PCT this summer and spend time with Gottago. It was also a chance to get back to New Mexico.

Gottago and I met at ADZPCTKO last year and hit it off immediately. She has thru-hiked the PCT and is currently section hiking the CDT. Through emails and phone calls, our friendship deepened and grew. Through the shared experience of hiking, the bond has strengthened.

The short version of my recently completed (April 28 – May 3) CDT section hike with Gottago:

Miles: 92

Trail tread: Roads, cow trails, cross country, rocks, blowdowns (Wagontongue Mountain)

Terrain: Grasslands, mountains, rocks, canyons, dry stream beds

Weather: Ideal for hiking. Low 30s at night (final morning was 32 degrees).

Animals: Turkeys (heard gobbling, saw giant turkey tracks), mountain lions (prints), bears (prints),coyotes, elk, deer, no rattlesnakes seen or heard, one Mexican grey wolf who played with us for about half an hour the last day

Other hikers: At the Toaster House in Pie Town we arrived the night before starting our hike to find Stumpknocker, Mrs. Gorp, Mike and Andy. Andy was from Holland, MI – just about half an hour from my home in Grand Rapids. On the trail we met John, northbound.

People encountered on the road: Don “Those Maps are No Good, You’ll Never Get to Snow Lake Using Those” – a local rancher who offered to put us up one night when it looked like thunderstorms were moving in; Marvin who gave us Gatorade; turkey hunters who gave us good water information; Barbara from Quemado; Peter and Jean Ossorio from who offered help and information about wolves.

Best Thing That Happened: On our last day, Gottago and I woke up to hear a wolf howling in the early morning. The wolf tone is lower than that of a coyote with no yipping. We hiked off the divide where we had camped and into the grasslands leading to T-Bar Canyon. This route is recommended by Jim Wolf (no relation) for the scenery and is an area into which endangered Mexican grey wolves have been introduced.

We were looking at animal, people and tire prints in the dirt tracks when Gottago pointed to a lone grey wolf who was watching us. Curious, he watched as we approached, then he loped off to our right. A little later he crossed the tracks in front of us and disappeared into a draw to our left. An elk then ran from the area into the trees but the wolf didn’t bother pursuing it. For the next half hour the wolf played with us – crossing in front of us, once coming towards us, but never very close. Finally he tired of the game (those darned two-legged animals are so slow!) and we didn’t see him again. Last year I spent every day compiling Gratitude Checks for the goodness that came my way. Gratitude is too small a word for this event.

Worse Moment: Doing a face plant and spurting blood from a newly created hole in my nose.

Why I Love Gottago: Generous, giving, easy to be with, fun, disciplined, great energy, inspiring in every way, and best of all – always learning and growing.

Gear Review to follow.


I will be posting photos and posting journal entries at some point. Really.