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.

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!

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!

Hey Boo Boo I think I smell dinner!

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.

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


Bike Touring

I have been on the road touring on my 30 year old Novarro Ponderosa Mountain Trail Bike for about three weeks now. The bike has been in storage for these long decades and was never really used much. In excellent shape. Along with the bike I dug out the following items to work as panniers from the dark corners of my man cave, my storage area: Two waterproof compression duffles made by Seattle Sports for front panniers, a heavy duty water proof camera bag made by Water Shed to use as a handle bar bag, and two plastic water proof ammo can boxes converted for use as rear panniers. Then I ordered a Blackburn front rack, a pair of Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Tires and some heavy duty tubes. Then I put together a tool kit – and low and behold I am set for the road.

Handle bar dry bag, waterproof compression sacks, ULA Ohm 2.0 backpack, plastic dry boxes.
Bike loaded.

Thus far I have traveled from Carson City to the Southern boundary of Joshua Tree National Park, fighting head winds all the way south. What a battle trying to keep a loaded bike on the road with Mack Trucks barreling along from behind in a high wind. I’d rather be on a mountain top in a Thunder Storm.

I am doing short days, making adjustments and figuring things out as I go along. The learning curve has had a ruthless and sharp cutting edge. I am learning and that was the whole idea of trying something new.

Old Goat at East Glacier on the CDT 2017

Can you teach and Old Goat new tricks?

My ultimate destination is rather a blur, but like a true Vacilando I do have direction. I am headed farther south in the California deserts across Joshua Tree National Park, then on to the Parker area on the Colorado River or to Slab City on the Salton Sea.

If I start feeling more comfortable with this bike touring mode of travel, perhaps I will connect with the Southern Tier Bike Route across the Southern states of this great nation to Florida. We will see.

Southern Tier Bicycle Route

Please pray for me, I need all the help I can get.

Yours forever Gliding On!

Bike touring for the winter.

I am hitting the rowdy road on a far different agenda. On a bike! I am out of my element and the learning curve is high. I am deathly afraid of the traffic on the highway. I am used to dealing with bears on the trail and not semi-trucks. Wish me well. I need it.
Keep Gliding On!

Bike Touring
On the Road

Gliding on At last

After a long and lazy winter and spring on the hot spring circuit I am finally back on the Continental Divide trail again.  A beautiful girl working trail magic on me, is giving me a ride to the Trail Head at Elk Park near Butte. Heading Nobo to Canada, then floppin’ back to Butte. Then headed Sobo as far as summer and fall will allow. Never stop Gliding On!

Yours Truly, Glider

End of the Line

The Calm after another electrical storm.

What a strange, wild and wonderful trail we tread. I have reached the end of the line for my autumn hiking season in New Mexico. I stopped hiking in  Northern New Mexico in late September. Having began hiking from the Arizona trail starting May first, I have been on the trail for a long time. I have only hiked about 900 miles this year, but I spent many days on the ground out in nature. I took long stays in most of the trail towns getting a feel for the local scenes and geography. I met many very interesting and helpful people over the past months, but only two hikers on the GET and handful of CDT SOBO’s between Cuba and Pie Town. Because I often carried extra food, I hiked slow days and spent more time on the trail alone without seeing anyone for days on end. Very meditative. Played my ukelele a lot. Really enjoyed having it along.

Echoed the words of Woodie Gutherie. I ‘m walkin’ down the line, I’m walkin’ down the line. I’m walkin’ down the line. My feet will be a fly’in. Let me tell you bout’ my troubled mind.

I found the Grand Enchantment Trail challenging.I feel I had a successful experience hiking from The Arizona Trail to the Continental Divide Trail. North from there, after the Gila Wilderness and all that wading in the West and Middle Forks of the Gila the route used a lot of road. Most of the route finding was far easier on the CDT in New Mexico then on the Grand Enchantment Trail. (The GET is actually more of just a route.) I found the road walking on the CDT sometimes a relief, not having to worry too much about being off track.

Now I am kind of lost in a different kind of way. I have not decided where to continue on the quest of hiking the Great Loop. In the mean time I have staying at the Oracle Chalet Village Motel. Rather squandering my Social Security funds. I have just needed a rest from camping and have been enjoying the amenities of civilization we take for granted. But then how strange to have a TV and to be following our crazy presidential trail. Yikes what culture shock.

Next year I will start southbound on the CDT from Glacier National Park. That will not be until June or July. I am excited to think about that.

Now off to find some hot springs in the desert.


West Fork of the Gila River
West Fork of the Gila River
Mineral Creek Canyon
Mineral Creek Canyon


Home Sweet Home. Camp at Jordan Hot Springs.
Home Sweet Home. Camp at Jordan Hot Springs.
Jordan Hot Springs
Jordan Hot Springs
Cabezon Peak, New Mexico

New Mexico CDT

There are Mexican Grey Wolves in AZ + NM, but they don’t prowl with me. Not with the Lone Wolf.

I have changed my hiking mode this season, being very much a Vacilando. I’m soaking in the local culture and the hot springs!
Not much to be inspired about as far as distance and miles, yet the experience has been rich. To use a cliche: smiles not miles. When will I be in NM again?
Now I am hiking North in September Monsoon weather. The monsoon came late, but there are no problems with water sources. The rains filling tanks and pools.

The long and winding road seems to never end, keeps calling and beauty and adventure are ever present.
Lot’s of mountain bikers riding the CDT bike trail. Shared with them at the Toaster House Hostel in Pie Town. Thinking a bike might be the way to go. What do you think?
Glide On!

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