Going Loopy in the Wild West

State of the Great Loop

I feel that I have some explanations about my goals hiking in the Canyons and Mountains West.

My goal is to emulate Andrew Skurka’s Great Western Loop hike in sections. Andrew did the most incredible thru hike ever, travelling near to 7000 miles in about six months, on what he calls the Great Western Loop – a melange of the great trails in the west. He is one of my hero’s, right up there with John Muir, Henry David Thoreau and others. I know that is quite the statement, but I believe he has a heart for the wilderness and its future. Google it for details at http://andrewskurka.com

The Great Western Loop
Andrew Skurka’s Great Western Loop

My design is a far different style of hiking, doing the loop in big sections, over a period of years. The scope of my hike is a bit longer with more time spent on side excursions and explorations.  I will probably hike over 8000 miles by the time I close the loop.

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Continental Divide Trail at Two Medicine Lakes Glacier National Park 2017

Thus far I have completed the Pacific Crest and the Arizona National Scenic Trails, a traverse of Joshua Tree National Park, a section of The Grand Enchantment Trail between the AZT and the CDT, a section North on the CDT from the Gila Wilderness to Northern New Mexico, and a section on the CDT in Montana and Idaho. This is a distance of about 5300 Miles.  Only 3000 or so miles to go to close the loop!

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Arizona Trail 800 Miles 2015

There is still the Gap between the Grand Canyon at the Arizona Trail to the Pacific Crest trail, (excluding Joshua Tree NP), some big sections of The Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Northwest Trail to complete. I am thinking about mountain biking sections on the  Gap and potentially southern New Mexico on the CDT. After all considered, it is my sojourn on these great trails and why not mix it up a bit? What a future to look forward to!

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Hey Boo Boo I think I smell dinner! This gentlemen false charged me twice, all huffs and puffs and warnings. Like a tourist, I got my camera out before the bear spray. Anaconda Pintlar Wilderness, Continental Divide 2017

If you are paying attention you will note that The Great Loop does not include the whole of the PCT and the AZT.  I elected to hike the entire length of these trails, just because I was there. To  be  honest, to say I am hiking the Great Loop is just a way of creating a goal for myself. Also to create a concept for those following my eccentric excursion , a means to view my progress. In reality, just like so many hikers on the long trails these days, I am simply just out hiking a lot of trail.

You can hover and click over pic’s to enlarge.

I have been using another journal site where you can find more details at:  http;//trailjournals.com/glideon

This last season on the CDT in Montana and Idaho I was rather internal and did not post at all. I hope to share regularly in the future.

But for now, always remember to keep gliding on!  Yours on our nations incredible trails,

Glider aka David Kiel

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So many trails. So many shoes.

Will be back on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail soon. Will be going Sobo (SouthBound) from Bannock Pass above Leadore in the Bitteroots in Montana/Idaho to Cuba, New Mexico. From Cuba I plan to hitch to Silver City, Gila Hot Springs and finish to Mexico.

I’ve been downloading the Guthook and Hiker Bot apps, sorting maps, printing beacon”s data book, and stocking up on shoes.

Walk the River Grand – From Source to Sea Down the Colorado

If you looked at the page listing Journeys Past on my Going Loopy site you would have seen an entry listing the From Source to Sea hike. Here is some past history.

I discovered this link covering the “G.O.D ‘s” awhile back and have been giving it much contemplation.  It was written by Tom Meyers According to Tom Myer we were the 7th and 8th hikers to have thru hiked the Grand Canyon from end to end. Our traverse of the Canyon was just a “segment” of our long expedition which we called: Walk the River Grand – From Source to Sea Down the Colorado.  Many thanks for including us on the list of the GODS, however, the Myers report got a couple of things wrong concerning our endeavor. We were Dave and Bec Kiel, not Keil. We were in the Grand Canyon in 1985. And the overall distance of our walk was not 1700 miles, but closer to 3500 miles. We spent near to sixteen months on the whole project including the cache placing expedition.

A couple of years ago while I was hiking on the Arizona National Scenic Trail I was contacted by publisher Tom Martin. He apparently discovered me through retired Grand Canyon river guide Drifter Smith of Flagstaff. Tom Martin and I had a long conversation while I was at a motel in Kanab recovering from a bad digestive disorder acquired on the trail. .Next a small miracle happened: My x-wife, who I had not heard of or seen for thirty years gave me call. Tom had searched her out and put us together.  Since we have been renegotiating a friendship which is leading toward a joint project writing about our long Canyon Country journey in 1984 and 1985.

Two iconic Grand Canyon hero”s were instrumental in making our long journey from Rocky Mountain National Park to the Sea of Cortez successful. Namely – Harvey Butchart and George Steck. They shared routes and logistics with us on an on going basis during the trip and are a big part of the history of our trip.

Here is an archive I discovered:

Harvey Butchart Log and Correspondence

*Helicopter to 209 Mile Canyon and Kiels at Mead

[July 22, 1985 to July 23, 1985]*

I got to Pearce Ferry by noon and killed time watching two boating parties load onto their vans. The Kiel’s didn’t expect me early so they didn’t show until about 6:00 p.m. I got in a lot of reading and swimming during my long wait.The Kiels had me as their guest for a really fine meal and then we visited for four hours before bedtime about 11. Dave brought the detailed maps of their route through the Lake Powell country and I was really impressed. For one thing, I want to repeat their route up from Dangling Rope Canyon to the bench below the Kaiparowits. The thing that really amazed me was to see how light Bec Kiel is, about 110 pounds, and to think that she can carry a pack weighing more than half her weight.They said that she often started with a pack weighing more than 60 pounds.

Incidentally, the route Harvey was discussing came from Robert Benson’s maps and route. George Steck had shared that route with us.

Contemplating hiking on the Arizona Trail in 2015 and 30 years earlier the Grand Canyon end to end in 1985

Here is the link to Tom Myers report:

https://www.grandcanyon.org/media/2191/2014_gts_tom_myers_down_the_gorge.pdf

The best things in life make you sweaty.

Edgar Allan Poe

 

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park

Another episode on the Great Loop concluded. A mere 750 miles underfoot, done on the CDT in Montana and Idaho in 2017. I hiked from Butte north to Canada at Glacier National Park, and then south from Butte to Leadore in the Bitteroots.

What a rich and fulfilling experience. A season with lungs filled with pristine air (until the fires started). Cool, clear water, and endless hours of exercise, rolling up and down along the divide. Night after night, on the ground, under the diamond stars.

And all of the incredible folks working trail magic on me. It is the trail angels, that I remember best – people working premeditated or random acts of kindness upon us hikers.

Once again I am humbled that I have had the freedom to live – to keep on hiking – on our nation’s great trails.

Keep Gliding On!

Flash Back September 2017 CDT – Warm Showers Biker Hiker Host

When on the Continental Divide Trail at Chief Joseph Pass, Curtis Bunton from Darby, Idaho hailed me over to his truck and shuttled me down to town for resupply. He is a host for the Warm Showers Bike Hosting Network, but also hosts CDT hikers.

I stayed in his house three nights thoroughly enjoying his cooking and entertainment. One eve, with the company of another CDT hiker, he pulled out his Meade collection for a sampling. What fun.

On a pedestal, in his living room, stands his touring bike in regal glory, all decked out for a tour. It is with his input that I was able to put together the elements of a bike tour, including my old, but hardly used MTB, and the dry box, and bag panniers. It is all your fault – Curtis – that I am considering biking the Southern Tier Route!

Thanks to a great Trail Angel. Get out on your bike soon!

Meade Sampling