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.

P1090937
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!

P1100678
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!

P1100363iii
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.

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

Advertisements

Bike Tour Preparations

I have been in Yucca Valley, just North of Joshua Tree National Park for several days now. I participated in Thanksgiving Day feeds here because I did not want to spend the holiday alone. The locals were extremely generous in making sure everybody got a turkey dinner. Wonderful.

Meanwhile, I have been using the library here extensively, researching the Southern Tier Bike Route. It seems people pedal it via several different combinations of road. Some using a lot of freeway. That sure is a departure from my backpacking days in the Wilderness.

Southern Tier Bicycle Route

The Adventure Cycling Association has a set of maps depicting their version of the route, which is supposed to be bike friendly and safer than other routes, but longer.  I think I am going to purchase their digital download for my phone. I have a set of AAA maps with the route highlighted. From surfing previous cyclists journal sites I am amazed at how many miles that people ride per day. Some doing regular 90 mile days. I think if I can hit forty miles a day it will be a challenge, particularly because the winter days are getting so short.

When in Lone Pine, California I rummaged repeatedly through my gear, thinking I have way too much. Indeed, one of my rear dry box panniers is nothing but dry food, and one of my front duffel bag panniers cold weather clothing that I have not had to use yet. Well, I will eat the food down and the clothes will no double get used in the coming winter months.

I was thinking my load was heavy when I see Mike pull up to the fast food restaurant next to the park where I was hanging out. He had the biggest Arkel Panniers made, and on top more stuff piled. I was astonished that he said he thought he was carrying about 125 lbs. of gear.  He has been touring like this for 14 years and knows what he is doing. He does short days however, not concerned with schedules at all. My gear comes to about 30 pounds, without the food. I feel that is heavy. The food weighs about 15 lbs., but that is a diminishing load.

Mike’s bike.

As I get more accustomed to knowing what distances I can pedal, I will start carrying  only a couple of days or less of food between towns. Crossing the Mojave, one has to carry a lot of water. It is cooling off now, so that will be less of a concern. Thus far I was doing relatively short days, with a dry camp between towns, so I had to carry water for a dry overnight camp and to continue on the next morn. There is going to be more of this in Arizona and New Mexico.

I have been constantly tinkering with the bike trying to get a comfortable seating position. The old school flat bars are way to low. I have adjusted the stem up as high as possible. I am having some nerve damage at my finger tips due to the pressure of my hands on the bars. I need some different bars. I have had one flat so far. The Mojave Desert is trashed these days and covered with invasive weed plants making for nasty burrs and prickly’s.

One of my main concerns has been what the availability of camping sites will be. Particularly from Louisiana to the East.  I am used to the wide open West with millions of acres of public lands where one can stealth camp with relative ease and no fees. The farther East on the route the public lands give way to private property. I cannot afford to get motels, and even RV parks can be rather expensive. I guess that is part of the Adventure – to make it up as we go along.

I have signed up to the Warm Showers and the Couch Surfing hosting networks and downloaded their apps onto my phone. These are organizations that hook bike travelers up with hosts who are willing to share services like a bed or camping, a shower, maybe a meal. I have heard of some bike tourers using these services nearly exclusively.

Indeed, Curtis Bunton of Darby, is a Warm Showers host, who helped me while on the CDT last fall. He has been mentoring me with texts over the past days helping me to figure things out. (Look at a previous post, as we sample Meade at his house).

My next move is a bit of a quandary. I need to plot a route to get to Arizona, to the South and the East of Joshua Tree, to connect with the Southern Tier route.

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

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.

P1100694
Handle bar dry bag, waterproof compression sacks, ULA Ohm 2.0 backpack, plastic dry boxes.
P1100698
Bike loaded.

Thus far I have traveled from Carson City to the Northern 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.

P1100662
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
Southern Tier Bicycle Route

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

Yours forever Gliding On!
Glider

 

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.
Glider
Keep Gliding On!

Bike Touring
On the Road