A New Adventure

Darwin and I have been back in society for almost three months now. Within those three months we have found an apartment, started working, learned to use toilets again, and have found ourselves part of a daily routine. We get up in the morning, work out, ride our bikes to work, work, ride home, fix dinner, watch something on Hulu and fall asleep on the couch (at least I seem to always fall asleep on the couch).

Before we had even established this new routine, before we had even returned to the AT, Darwin had started blabbing about another trail, The Arizona Trail. He is not one to just sit around for very long without a challenge to work towards. I remember sitting on our couch one morning when he asked me “What do you think about me leaving after we get back from the AT and BIKEpacking the AZT?” I am sure I just mumbled something in return unable to really comprehend getting back on the AT, let alone being on my own for two to three weeks. I did realize in the back of my brain, that this would indeed probably happen. Darwin never says out loud that he is going to do something and then NOT do it.

Fast forward to the present time…Hear I sit listening to the damn high school band practicing at six in the morning and Bowie snoring next to me on the couch. Where is Darwin? starting his second day on the AZT. We drove out Sunday to Kanab, UT where the trail starts. Actually, The Stallion (our van) could not make it nine miles down a dirt road to the actual start of the trail but we were close enough to it. We got set up in our van like the good ol’days where Darwin tossed and turned fighting nerves and excitement.

We woke before the sun rose Monday morning and he slowly started setting up his bike. I on the other hand started packing up the van and Bowie in between boughts of nervous poops. He was anxious about starting the trail and I was anxious about the seven and a half hour drive home by myself. As he double and triple checked he had everything he needed I did the same. I started to feel a little sick to my stomach with the realization that I wouldn’t see my husband for two weeks maybe longer. I had to function on my own, we have never been apart this long without constant communication. What a scary feeling this was.

We said our goodbyes and of course I cried. I clung to him for as long as I could then finally I let go. I watched as he rode off down the dirt road to adventure and then turned to the van where a wiggly Bowie waited for me. I started the van and took off for my own type of adventure. This one down a paved road and not as rugged as Darwin’s but an adventure none the less. I am the support crew for him and his connection to the world and the leading role in my own journey as I learn to live on my own.


(I didn’t take a picture of Darwin leaving due to being all snotty and teary when he left so imagine him riding off in the sunrise, beautiful rock formations around him, dust trail lingering behind his tires…)

Our Last Days In The Wilderness

7/19/16     Random Campsite (Past Nahmakanta Stream Campsite)     24 miles

Holy Cow! We got up at 4:30am and busted out sixteen miles before 10am with The Spaniard! We saw Katahdin for the first time today along with lots of streams and ponds. The trail was beautiful and wonderfully flat. I have never seen any section flatter then what we hiked today. We only have forty-four miles left of the entire trail! I feel bad for all the SOBOs we pass. The hundred miles seems the easiest trail terrain and it is such a treat for us. SOBO’s are really in for a surprise as they continue South.

We received trail magic by some boy scouts right in the middle of the wonderful flat terrain. They had placed fruit cups, cheez-its, peanuts and other delicious snacks in blue bear canisters. It was such a great surprise.

The 100 Mile Wilderness is beyond beautiful. It is everything we have heard about and more. Between the terrain, the beauty out here, and the fact we are almost finished, I Snuggles busted out 24 miles! I am surprisingly not to sore (just a little stiff).

While setting up camp we met a hiker that starting following Darwin the last half of our trail life last year. Darwin and I had been wondering if we would get to meet her as she had recently done a flip-flop making it to Harper’s Ferry heading North then flipping up to Katahdin heading South.

7/20/16     Random Spot     21 miles

Wow! Another twenty miler today! It wasn’t as easy as yesterday but we were still able to do 10 miles before 10am! WooHoo! The last seven miles after lunch wasn’t as bad as this mornings hopscotch. We did have to power up with some coffee mid day to make our final push and took a longer lunch.

Tonight will be our last actual night on the trail. Tomorrow we will camp in Baxter State Park at the Birches. What a crazy feeling! We scored a great spot tonight with Apogee and Plyo on the edge of a beautiful pond. Our tent has a really great “water view”. We are all excited about breakfast at ABOL Bridge in the morning and our last ten miles to the Birches! We are all hoping the weather is good for a Friday summit! I can’t be believe we are so close to summiting!


     (A Look Ahead: This View Of Katahdin Is From ABOL Bridge)  

Jamez Overnight Bikepacking

Trip Report By: Darwin

In preparation for my ride of the Arizona Trail, One last “Gear Shakedown” was in order…

On Sunday Snuggles, Bowie, & I headed 1 hour North West of Albuquerque to the beautiful Jamez Mountains of New Mexico. We drove up to Forrest Road 144 at the top of the mountain. The plan was, Snuggles and Bowie would camp off of the road for the night – while I did a 40 mile out and back of FR 144, meeting back up with them in the morning. Snuggles found a good old “Hunting Camp” spot right off the road, I packed up the ECR and we parted ways for the night.

When we first arrived at the top of the mountain it was a bit cloudy and looked like it would be a rainy day. To my surprise – after the 1st few miles, the skies cleared up and a bright blue color peered its way out. There was no “Real Route” to my trip, just a bunch of riding and getting a feel for how my fully loaded rig would handle. While heading North on FR 144 I would periodically peer off onto side roads and trails – getting as much different terrain and miles as possible. When I got to a 20 mile mark on the road, I decided to turn around and head back towards an amazing campsite that I had passed up earlier in the ride.

When I finally got to camp dark clouds started rolling in and the sound of thunder was present in the distance. I quickly unloaded my SMD Skyscape Trekker tent and set it up. As soon as my shelter was up and all my gear was off of the bike, it started to pour. Luckily I had everything in the tent and my sleeping pad inflated. There was nothing to do but lay there and wait out the rain. I woke up almost 2 hours later… seems like I had fallen asleep while waiting out the storm.

I finished fully unpacking my gear, made a fire in a nearby rock formation and cooked up some dinner. After I devoured a fine meal of  Instant Mashed Potatoes and TVP, I stretched out on a nearby rock to gaze at the starry sky.

When I awoke in the morning, I rode a few miles out from my camp to meet back up with Snuggles and Bowie. Everything seemed nice and dialed in with my Gear Set-Up.


img_0933The Aspens putting on their Sunday’s best for me…

img_0951Finally, Clear Blue Skies…

img_0949Fall had finally come to the Jamez – Slowly making it’s way up the mountains

img_0947The ECR gets a Fine View…

img_0955Perfect Camp Spot for the night

img_0957The Sun sets as the Campfire Smoke Rises…


Darwin’s 2016 AZT Thru-Ride


Surly ECR – http://surlybikes.com/bikes/ecr


SMD Skyscape Trekker – http://sixmoondesigns.com/collections/tents/products/skyscape-trekker


Osprey Escapist 18 – http://amzn.to/2p6Myf4

Ortlieb HandleBar Bag – http://amzn.to/2qCzj6m

Revelate Designs Gas Tank – https://www.revelatedesigns.com/index.cfm/store.catalog/cockpit/GasTank

Revelate Designs Jerry Can – https://www.revelatedesigns.com/index.cfm/store.catalog/cockpit/Jerrycan

Revelate Designs Viscacha Seat Bag – https://www.revelatedesigns.com/index.cfm/store.catalog/seat-bags/Viscacha

Revelate #8 Frame Bag – http://surlybikes.com/parts/cargo/mountain_frame_bag

Bike Stuff

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch 2 – http://amzn.to/2pW3VmP

Gravity Worx badger 50 Carbon Wheels – https://www.grvtwrx.com/abante/plus-size-wheels-carbon-mountain-bike/tr50-wheelset-29er-carbon-plus-rim-wheel-mountain-bike

BlackBurn Outpost Cargo Cage – http://amzn.to/2pWcspX

Lezyne Micro Floor Pump – http://amzn.to/2p6QZX9

Specialized MTB EMT Pro Tool – https://www.specialized.com/us/en/accessories/bags-tools/emt-pro-mtb/106008

Specialized Tactic 2 – http://amzn.to/2pDMx3m


Serfas True 250 – http://amzn.to/2pDVbz0

Night Rider Sabre Rear – http://amzn.to/2qCkEb9

Garmin Etrex 20X – http://amzn.to/2qCoC3G

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp – http://amzn.to/2oNhiFD

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Joby GorillaPod Mini – http://amzn.to/2oc6pM2

PowerAdd Slim 2 Charger – http://amzn.to/2oPVicC

iPod Shuffle – http://amzn.to/2nqtwn6

Sleep System 

EE Revelation 20 Quilt – https://bit.ly/347plA6

ThermaRest Neo Air X lite – http://amzn.to/2nOaOkA

Sea to Summit Aeros UL Pillow – http://amzn.to/2p77UZO

ZPacks Cuben Stuff Sacks – http://zpacks.com/accessories/dry_bags.shtml

Cook System

Sea to Summit Spork – http://amzn.to/2nqpICn

SnowPeak Lite Max Stove – http://amzn.to/2qCt16v

SnowPeak 700 Ti Mug – http://amzn.to/2ocjLHW

ZPacks Blast Food Bag – https://zpacks.com/products/bear-bagging-kit?aff=7

Spyderco Mini Knife – http://amzn.to/2qCPf8s


Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter – http://amzn.to/2oN683m

2 CamelBack Podium Bottles – http://amzn.to/2qwDlxN

1.5 Liter SmartWater Bottle

2 Liter Hydration Bladder


OR Helium 2 Rain Jacket – http://amzn.to/2oN6WoU

Mt. Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket – http://amzn.to/2nVVH9P

OR Trancsendent Down Beenie – http://amzn.to/2oNgjVB

Buff – http://amzn.to/2oc9yLM

Pearl Izumi Barrier Cap – http://amzn.to/2p3MDzk

Pearl Izumi Toe Covers – http://amzn.to/2p6v0zW

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Nike Pro Combat Thermal Tights – http://amzn.to/2nW7N2u

Sock Guy Socks – http://amzn.to/2qwGa1Q

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Entering The 100 Miles

7/16/16     Random Campsite By River     14 or 15 miles

We left Shaw’s this morning to enter the 100 Mile Wilderness. We passed the famous sign telling us to carry ten days of food….we only have six and my pack already feels like I’m harboring a small child. I feel like I can eat all of it (the food that is) in one sitting which is somewhat disturbing. I just want to sit and eat anything and everything all the time; I may have a problem.

I fell three times in the first three miles really busting my ass hard the third time. I inspected the area and have a pretty good size bruise already forming on my cheek. There would be no other appropriate way for me to end this journey with out some sort of battle wound.

Although we left Shaw’s with a few other NoBo’s once we all settled in to our hiking pace the trail became quite and we felt a great sense of remoteness. We passed a few Southies but everyone seemed calm and reflective. Southies seem to be acknowledging they have conquered their first 100 miles but taking in the fact they have over 2,000 more. I could only rehash our first 100 miles on Mt. Albert; what a great day. It feels so long ago….

I tried to focus on what I came out here for last year and tried to remember that this time next week we will be on our way home. Apogee and Plyo are camping along the River with us along with two older ladies out for a section of trail. They all are so happy and comfortable out here. They all must be mad! I am so ready to be done! This is a very bittersweet feeling as we only hike closer to the end. I am a roller coaster of emotions.

Tomorrow we climb Chairback and  few others which all the Southies have warned us about. Hopefully they are again all wrong and it’ll be cake. I have discovered how skewed their thoughts on the trail are. I continuously size them up which I can’t help but do. I understand now how employees at Neal’s Gap must feel like when they see a fresh batch of NOBO’s. I feel like a weenie and a trail elder all in one.

*Saw a dead animal in the river today, it looked like ET from the scene where he is all white and sickly in the stream. It was kinda funny; ugg I’m such a sicko!

*I wanna strip my pack off and run down the trail to the finish line that is Katahdin. I am ready for something else.