Friday, February 17, 2012

Part Two Preview: The Third in a Five Part Trilogy

A wise man once said, don't defecate where you masticate. He certainly overdid it with the high falutin wordplay, but his point is well-taken. So if you think I'm going to spend the third part in our series, a preview of Utah, making fun of Mormons you are incorrect. I plan on living through the harsh desert landscape the place presents and I'll take all the friends I can get. Besides, one of the joys of this trip has been the opportunity to learn about different people I am ignorant about. I've only met one Mormon to date and since he was drunk on most of the occasions we enjoyed one anothers' presence I'm guessing he had lapsed a bit.
Enough about my friend's substance abuse problems, let's talk about our next state. Utah is a wonderland of canyons and unique rock formations which illustrate just what God can do when provided with a new Lego set and several million years of erosion. The feast for the eyes should leave them sated, but unfortunately the rest of my body requires water, which the land there lacks in abundance. Cities are few and far between in the area of Utah the ADT passes through so I can't always count on human kindness. I have a couple of ideas about how to work past the problem, so hopefully these plans germinate and flower before I find myself a dry mass of bones mimicking the nearby rock piles.
The first dry spot comes quickly, west of Grand Junction/Fruita, even before setting foot in the Beehive State. The next one hundred miles to Moab will be a lesson in isolation, the kind of open space I have not dealt with previously. Should I forge through a great reward waits on the other side: the famous Arches National Park. I've heard good things. The picture up top is but one example of what I can expect if you think to doubt the word of these unnamed people. Like Donnie Brasco told Lefty Ruggiero: "Just trust me." Or something to that effect.
After Arches the ADT heads directly south. I am considering an alternative plan for this part of Utah, but since I may yet be swayed to stay on the original route, we won't get into where I am going exactly. Either way, the central part will be the most populated and I will gladly name a host of tiny places you have never heard of if you like. Salt Lake, Provo, Orem, or any other remotely city-like spot in Utah will not be no the agenda.
I am hoping also to revisit Bryce Canyon, which is not too far off my intended trajectory. My family went there when I was only ten and made some good memories. I rode a mule which insisted on walking on the side of the path where the 4,000 foot drop was. Pebbles dislodged by the animal's hooves fell down the interminable drop and I began screaming and wailing, begging to be allowed to dismount. My cries didn't stop until hours later when I either learned bravery and became a man or lost my voice.
I guess it would be cool to end up back there and perhaps acquit myself more honorably. At the very least the staying power of my screams has dimmed with age.
Bookending the western section of Utah is yet another waterless and peopleless section, known as the Wah Wah desert. Before I can escape the claws of dehydration and heat (did I mention I am most likely doing this bit in August?) I will cross the Nevada border. Therefore we'll have to save the excitement of more desert monotony for our next episode, entitled Walking Across the Face of the Sun Gives Me Blisters.

A special thanks to Nicole Overholt for accompanying me on many a practice hike so far!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rockies and Bullwinkle

Welcome to the second installment in our series previewing the 2012 Wilderness Walk for Wounded Warriors. Today we will discuss the virtues and villainies of the state of Colorado. The main difficult is thickness. None of the other twelve states on my ADT journey is as thick in the middle as Colorado. 776 miles is the stated distance according to the manual, though I will as always deviate from the route when prudent. In the mean time, let's hope the state's insurance plan covers a gastric bypass.
Besides being corpulent, Colorado is also quite tall. The highest point on the entire ADT is Argentine Pass, about fifty miles west of Denver. Climbing to 13,000 plus feet will test my ability to breathe at altitude. I've never been at such a height so my body's reactions to low levels of oxygen are an unknown quantity. The Rocky Mountains continue for hundreds of miles afterward and will likely prove the greatest test of my stamina yet. Let's hope the views are worth the work. Rumor has it they don't suck.
In the midst of all this wilderness lies another danger: big, hairy beasties with a desire to have me dissolve in their digestive tracts. These animals are like teddy bears, but six feet taller and with sharper teeth and claws. I'm reading a book called "Don't Get Eaten" by Dave Smith in order to prepare myself for their territory. I'll let you know how it goes...if I don't get back to you I suggest you quiz Yogi.
On a more positive note, I'll be visiting my friends Ben, Rob, and Kimmy in Denver. Since I have no idea where I am staying most nights this summer, having a couple of days under a roof is a big bonus. If I'm lucky the city's Colorado Rockies will be in town playing the Cubs, so I can finally get to a baseball game. Every other time I've entered an ADT city with a team the hosts have been on the road at the time. Dreadfully inconsiderate, I agree.
Red Rocks amphitheater is another highlight of the ADT. This unique musical venue lies just west of Denver. According to dubious second-hand information I've read on the interwebs, fans and musicians alike seem to concur - Red Rocks is the place you will likely hear the best concert of you life. I'm hoping either At The Drive In or seventies era Led Zeppelin is playing as I pass. Dream big, why not?
I've done a poor job so far of talking about Colorado in an orderly manner. View what you have read so far as you would "Pulp Fiction." Let's elaborate, as I have promised to cut down on unexplained references by 10% this year. In the aforementioned movie acts are not placed in temporal order and the audience is left to piece together what happened when. In this case I'll do the work for you in what we'll call a summation, if it pleases the court.
The first two hundred miles of Colorado consists of rolling hills, never rising above 5,000 feet. The landscape is similar to Nebraska according to eyewitness reports. Once past this section, I'll arrive in Denver, a bustling city of 600,000 according to the last census. The almighty Tim Tebow lives there and I will be required by law to worship his statue for the full six days before passing through the town.
Just west of Denver the north ADT conjoins with the south in a manner best described by consulting page 28 of the "Kama Sutra." Thereon their is only one ADT until Sacramento. From this point the elevation begins to rise drastically, apexing at Argentine Pass. Numerous peaks above 10,000 feet follow for the next few hundred miles. Finally in Grand Junction I will descend from the heavenly heights. I'll be done with the forbidding Rockies, home free, just an easy jaunt to the coast from there...hmmm what's this "desert" thing on the map here?

Next up: A look at Utah in "Part Three of Part Two" or "Why Don't We Just Label These Posts Consistently?"

Thanks to recent contributors:
Sue Donnelly
Paul and Sally Hoover
Justin King
Lesley and Andy Ledford