Miles 3554-4082: Dearth and Excess

Apparently I push my mind too hard on our workday in Fargo, because this evening, after reading something entirely innocuous, I let my brain talk me into terror. It’s quiet out here at Buffalo River State Park, so quiet the wind is a distant whisper, and the creaking of the trees in the wet of the afternoon rain is haunting, otherworldly. I lose my goddamn mind when I hear footsteps in the gravel, see shadows leaning over the tent – I’m in a goddamn horror movie, they’re coming, I don’t wanna die like this. I wake Spesh and we do a sweep of the nearby sites. Nothing. Continue reading

Interlude: Consumption

I’ve been consuming a lot lately. Well, maybe not food, like I probably should be – I’m doing a surprising number of miles for living out of a Subaru, and I’ve likely spent the last week sore as a result of not eating enough. I’m not good with food. But I have a really hard time keeping myself from gorging on social media, mainly to keep up with people I care about, but also to indulge in that singular masochism that is reading the news.

And there has been so much news of late. Too much news to really recount. Continue reading

Stopgap: Canoefuls of Fun

Sooooo I have two posts ready for you – one about last week and one about the political climate we find ourselves in – and both of them are on my computer. In the Subaru. I, on the other hand, am chilling in the Boundary Waters after canoeing five-odd miles today. So you’ll get a post tomorrow and a post on Saturday; but meanwhile, here’re a few things about canoeing you should know before you go that I definitely didn’t learn the hard way, no way no how. Continue reading

Miles 3333.33-3554: Technically

We’re early into Grand Forks for a scheduled workday, settle into Bully Brew Coffee near enough to the university that I think there should be more people – but then, it’s technically summer. Technically. The weather doesn’t want to seem to cooperate, clouding over and just… staying that way. Not raining, but not clearing off, either. Well. That’s one way to get welcomed back to the Midwest, I guess. Continue reading

Miles 1394-3333.33: Open Road

I wake up to the bubbling voices of my coworkers/compatriots, but as I’m wont to do on mornings where we’ll be departing, I spend the first bit of the morning packing everything up – all I’ll have to do is have my coffee, say goodbye, and then Spesh and I are off on the solo part of our adventure. By the time I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made, I zip open the tent to find that I’m alone, all the cars gone but ours. Um.

Continue reading

Miles 0-312: Training Wheels

One of the first things I learn about my new job – after driving in our new ride for the first time and meeting the other teams for the first time and making a family dinner that, despite the fact that it is the first time, actually feels like a family dinner – is that everyone, across the board, is an early riser. For the returning teams, this seems to be partially a function of the relative earliness of events, and for the other new team, it’s more a function of coming from the East Coast and attempting to maintain a normal-for-them rigorous exercise regime; for Spesh, it seems to be a function of either insomnia or his ability to effortlessly fit in. Aaaand then there’s me.

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Start Your Engines

Spesh and I are about to emerge from our training cocoons as Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainer butterflies, so I thought I’d just give a bit of an update before the longer updates begin:

  • I’ll be doing updates at least once a week from here on out; rather than labeling these by days/weeks, as is my wont, I’m gonna label them with real-time mileage from our Subaru. So don’t get confused if you see I’ve “hiked” 1000+ miles in a week. I’m not that awesome.
  • Part of the job is to travel cool places and do cool things, so I’ll have plenty of adventures to tell you about, starting tomorrow. I’m going to try to make Thursday publishing day; anything I publish any other day will be bonussssss awww yisss.
  • More information on the job and what it entails, including links and such, can now be found on The Route page; any questions that doesn’t answer you can ask here in the comments, or hit me up through the Contact page.
  • Also Snorkel wrote a book that I (and many others) contributed to; it’s called Backpacker Long Trails, and it’s already been favorably reviewed on Reddit. It’s ENORMOUS and has all sorts of rad information in it for both beginners and folks who’re looking to refine their technique or go ultralight or or or. I think it’s a boss resource that basically mimics my introduction to backpacking – as very straightforward tips from a variety of people with a variety of styles who all want to see you succeed.
  • Also also apparently they named a dinosaur after Zuul. Real life has conspired to bring together my trail name and my trail shenanigans. (That it’s apparently the ‘Destroyer of Shins’ is just a bonus.)

Tomorrow it’s fun fun fun with a post about training and physical sickness and metaphysical sickness – see you then!

Not-Hiking

I crest a ridge and am greeted by the morning – the sky above is laced with deep, dark storm clouds, but underneath them shines the dawn, the sun hanging heavy just above the lip of the world. Everything’s painted a brilliant orange, the road in front of me threading over rolling hills, slinking off into the distance. I’ve got more than 700 miles to drive today – right around 12 hours – but I wish I could stop and enjoy this. It’s one of the prettiest sunrises I’ve ever seen1. Continue reading