Face the Dawn

Matt is walking home from San Francisco

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Retrospective: Gifts

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GiftsIn the last harried days before I flew to San Francisco to start this trip, I received some gifts that I want to mention so that the givers know how they were used and how much I appreciated them.

My friends Roy and Gina gave me a compass, explaining that they didn’t want me to get lost. I attached it to my pack and it rode there until I pulled the eyelet out of the casing one day. After that I kept it my pocket, so I could pull it out and consult it easily. It was a handy quick-check of my direction and a useful reality check on TAMI, whose compass went out of calibration at some critical moments.

Bob and Kirsten gave me a laminated waterproof picture of Jizo, the protector of travelers (and unborn children and firefighters), and a set of buddhist rosary beads along with a handwritten card containing great wishes for me on the journey and some relevant and useful advice, including the memorable injunction: “Defend your feet” (!). The beads were in my pocket every day of the trip and the picture of Jizo extended its protecting power from the top pocket of my pack.

M!ke’s help was very welcome. Any time I get to spend with him outdoors is a great time, and he gave me a big boost when I really needed it. I know it wasn’t easy for him to free up the time to come out to Death Valley, and I greatly appreciate it.

But the gift that sustained me and occupied my mind most was the gift of Lori’s support. From the time many years ago when I first began to talk about this trip, she always voiced her support for my dreams and she never stepped back from that attitude even as it became clear that it was really going to happen and that it was really going to affect her. While walking, I spent some time rummaging around in my past vainly looking for a girlfriend or partner or wife who would have allowed me this trip, much less helped me along the way. Lori, of course, managed it without actively encouraging me to leave …

And then there was her logistical support. It seems that I am a high-maintenance walker, since she received quite a few long lists of things I needed, acquired them, and shipped them off to post offices along the way. She accompanied me on two long expeditions to cache water and food in the desert, and came out to meet me several times. I doubt I could have done this without her help, and I likely would not have done it had she said a discouraging word or displayed a cloudy sky all day.

not the dressThis made it clear that’s she’s really the woman for me, and helped me decide to propose marriage to her, which I did in New Zealand in December 2008. We plan to marry in September 2009. She claims she is not getting married in this dress …

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March 6th, 2009 at 3:26 am

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Interlude: H-O-M-E

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I’m home.

I’m not quite used to this indoor life yet, but it’s scary how fast it all comes back. You would think that a life-changing event would, well, change my life, but apparently the real lesson here is how quickly we adapt to whatever context we find or place ourselves in. That includes being back in my old home made new.

This homecoming was somewhat anticlimactic because of being pulled off the road by my mother’s death — that was a real, full shock re-immersion in modern American life, but after two weeks I was pretty well acclimatized. Then going back out to western Arizona and starting the last 8-day stretch home felt like a vacation, like an interlude instead of the completion it really was.

I’m not really complaining. This way Lori and I had a chance to get used to me being back even though there wasn’t much normalcy to our lives during those two weeks. It took and is taking some real adjustment from both of us, but I think this is easier than just being gone for three months and then just being home.

Of course, we are busy preparing to turn things upside down again by running away to New Zealand for almost three weeks. But once we return in early January I expect we are both going to want to stay put for awhile.

I will continue and complete the narrative of the trip home, and I have a few special blog posts in mind, so keep tuning in and I’ll get the updates out as fast as I can.

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December 8th, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Posted in Arizona,meta

Call for all walkers redux

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Tomorrow I go on a caching expedition and on Saturday November 15 I begin walking again. I figure I will be camped on Copper Basin Rd between Skull Valley and Prescott Friday night, November 21, and will walk the remaining 10 miles or so into town on November 22.

Again, everyone is welcome to camp or walk with me anytime during these last 8 days. My route is:

– Alamo Crossing Rd to Chicken Springs Rd into Wikieup.
– South on US93 to Burro Creek Crossing Rd, across Burro Creek to Burro Creek Rd to AZ97.
– AZ97 to AZ96 across the Santa Maria River, past Hillside to Kirkland.
– Kirkland Rd to Skull Valley, east on Copper Basin Rd to Hassayampa, north to the Aspen Creek Trail,
to Middlebrook across Highland to Carson, around the corner to Bertrand and to my house the back way past the studio.

I would love to have you join me for all or part of the route, especially the last day. You can try me on my cell, but if you have no luck, call Lori — she’ll be up on the details.

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November 13th, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Posted in Arizona,meta

Interlude: lacuna

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Last Friday I got to the top of Sitgreaves Pass and called Lori, who told me that my mother had died that morning. I walked two more days, then came home to prepare for the trip to Indiana for the funeral. I plan to pick up the walk sometime the weekend of November 14, and I will post my itinerary and hope that many of you will plan to walk some of the last miles into Prescott with me.

I hope to use some of my time with net access to get some photos up and make some minor revisions to the blog posts.

Thanks for all your good wishes and thoughts.

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November 4th, 2008 at 4:14 pm

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Interlude: Call for all walkers

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I will leave Bullhead City this morning, starting the endgame of the trip home. I am now about 200 miles away,

If anyone is inclined to come walk with me, this is the time, since I plan to arrive home on the 15th or 16th of November unless I get impatient and decide to come in sooner, which could happen if I get a lot of people to join me, since that means I can walk with just a day pack.

My proposed route is:

Silver Creek road out of Bullhead City to Oatman Rd, east on Navajo Dr to the I-40 frontage road, then south to Yucca.

South out of Yucca to Alamo Crossing Road, then NE on Chicken Springs Rd into Wikieup.

South on 93 out of Wikieup to Burro Creek Crossing Rd, cross Burro Creek and continue on to 97, then east on 96 through the Kirkland Valley to Skull Valley then east on Copper Basin Rd into Prescott.

My last night out I intend to camp along Copper Basin Rd and have an easy 8-12 mile walk into town. Anyone who wants to camp and walk with me is very welcome, and anyone who wants to meet us along Copper Basin Rd or the Aspen Creek Trail is also welcome.

Call me if you want to make arrangements to join me (or if you’re feeling lucky, just come out and find me). I should have cell reception along the I-40 corridor, and possibly along 93. After that, it’s pretty dicy until I hit Skull Valley …

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October 30th, 2008 at 9:31 am

Posted in Arizona,meta


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A brief pause in the narrative to let you all know that I am now in Death Valley. Lori joined me here yesterday and cousin Mike gets in tonight. Tomorrow Lori will head home to Prescott and Mike will stay and walk with me for 5 days or so — it’s beginning to look like I will hit the Colorado River around November 1st.

Your comments are always appreciated, and your good wishes keep my spirits high.

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October 14th, 2008 at 11:48 am

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Off the Reservation

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From my comfortable room at the John Muir Lodge in Kings Canyon National Park, I am preparing to set out into the Range of Light tomorrow. My desert gear is boxed up to send to myself at Lone Pine on the other side of the mountains, my bear canister is packed and my gear is all set to go.

In a way, the walk really starts here — in a day or two I will finally be on unpaved trails and traveling through spectacular mountain landscape. I probably won’t see a human until I hit the High Sierra Trail five days out.

After the mountains, time takes on a new meaning as dawdling and waiting for autumn to come to the desert takes the place of my hurry to get over the Sierras before the first big snow.

I feel good about staying in a lodge which was dedicated on John Muir’s 162nd birthday as I prepare to cross the mountains which were perhaps his truest home — and then on into a desert landscape where I feel very much at home, and where John Muir never went, to my knowledge.

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September 22nd, 2008 at 6:52 pm

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New stuff

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I’ve built out the site a little — check out the interactive map of the route so far (“Map of the walk so far” under Blogroll on right-hand side of the blog pages). Can someone try it out on IE and tell me if it works or not?

It will probably be close to two weeks before I can do more, but I should be able to get some new posts up in a week or so.

keep the comments coming — it’s great to hear from you!

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August 31st, 2008 at 4:58 pm

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