Following The Boot Marks Of Those Before Us

Sometimes when life gets frustrating, it is good to look back and review the things that you’ve done and things that inspire you. Going back to the basics you can say. I needed some inspiration on life this week and I looked back on my favorite author Helen Hoover. Most people have never heard of her and she only wrote a handful of things late in life but what she wrote and why she wrote it is amazing.

I stumbled upon Helen several years ago when things with Darwin and I were just beginning to stir. I remember putting in a random search for wilderness books, life outdoors, or something like. I then began thumbing over a few books on a bookshelf and pulling out the bright red cover of “The Years of The Forest”. The inside dust cover gave me the brief summary of the book (as did the title) but I was really struck by the fact the book was about a husband and wife; Helen Hoover herself and her husband Ade.

I was entranced as I read how both Helen and Ade stuck it to the man and quit their  jobs in Chicago. Helen just quitting hers over the phone, left to stay in a modest little cabin along the Minnesota-Canadian Border. Helen documents their struggle to survive their first few years dealing with a lack of money, food, a crumbling shelter, and health issues 50 miles from the nearest town. Helen and Ade left Chicago in their mid forties without an exact plan but once the decision was made to leave the city for a full-time life in the wild, nothing was changing their mind.

Helen reminds me that Darwin and I are not doing anything new. So many people question us and think we are living our life frivolously, not paying our dues to society. Whatever! Many people choose to leave the comforts the nine to five provide such as big screen t.v.s, flushing toilets, and heat for the life of entertainment in the woods, a whole in the dirt, and the warmth of a fire. I feel we are simply reliving history, following the trail left by others before us.

Helen and her husband made the choice to leave their life in Chicago in 1954 and lived in their cabin for 17 years until society closed in and built up around them. Ever since I cracked open that first book Helen has stayed with me. I had many thoughts about her along our hike on the AT even referring to her in my journals having “Helen Hoover” moments. When things get tough and frustrating for us it’s comforting to remember Helen and Ade as their lifestyle was even less heard of back then and harder.

We share a lot of similarities in our lives thus far and I find that very comforting.  Although Helen died two years before I was born, she feels like an old friend. She is my inspiration to keep pushing, keep writing, keep drawing, and a reminder the universe will provide what we really need (minus the cats).

Who inspires you?

**If you are interested in learning more about Helen Hoover, you can easily find her books online and occasionally at your local library. You can also click the following link for an article on Helen and Ade: Helen Hoover

(Helen and Ade in Their Cabin- picture from the Minnesota Historical Society)

A Seven Day Adventure and I Wasn’t There

I picked Darwin up from the CDT on Sunday. I left not knowing exactly where he was and had no cell signal. After a week without him and driving 40 miles in the wrong direction, I finally found myself driving down a dirt road that he was at the end of. I immediately was relieved to see him standing there. At the same time I couldn’t help but notice he was not as excited to see me; I was the end of his adventure.

I listened to him and Toasted Toad a fellow CDT Thru-Hiker laugh and share stories with me of the events that occurred over the last few days. I watched them consume a large amount of chips, oatmeal cream pies, and beer that I gave them as trail magic. They showed me around the digs they shared the night before at this little hot spring resort in the middle of nowhere; the place didn’t even have an address. I found myself longing to be apart of their adventure but I could only listen, the adventure had passed.

We dropped off Toasted Toad and watched as he headed out into the desert for a seven day stretch of nothingness. I couldn’t help but notice how Darwin’s shoulders slumped as Toad left. The first few hours of the trip home were nothing but stories of Darwin’s week on trail. I listened and tried to play out scenes in my head but the truth was I wasn’t there, I could not fully understand.

We stopped at a dinky little convenient store right outside Gila National Forest. There we were able to provide more trail magic to three other CDT Hikers. Darwin gave them information on the trail ahead and I again only listened to the four of them share stories. I enjoyed the smell of dirt and sweat they put off, the ease in which they moved with their packs, their unmistakable hiker look.

As we continued home I listened to more stories but found myself with nothing to share. “I watched a funny YouTube video,” I said to him and immediately felt embarrassed. I had nothing to show for my week while he was away. I didn’t get sunburned, I didn’t go hours without water in the desert sun, I didn’t meet a hermit or climb a mountain. I recognized it then I had only existed this week, Darwin had actually lived.

After this past week I now feel I have a better perceptive on the non-adventuring spouse. No matter how much planning or pre involvement a hiker includes their significant other/spouse in, there is always going to be a void between them. No matter how many stories I listen to, videos I watch, or fellow CDT hikers I meet, I am never going to be apart of Darwin’s adventure because I simply wasn’t there.

Darwin included me in the pre-planning for his trip. I went on training hikes with him, we discussed gear and food together, I drove him out to the CDT, I enjoyed his pictures and stories he shared during the hike, I drove back out on the CDT to pick him up, I met fellow hiker trash, I provided trail magic, and have since enjoyed seeing Darwin’s eyes light up as he tells me details of his section hike. I see him get transported back when we watch the videos he took, but yet no matter what I will never be able to really understand or connect with him when it comes to the events of the last week.

It wouldn’t be fair if I could fully relate to something I didn’t experience first hand. Darwin came back changed from his experiences as one always does not matter the time spent on trail. As with any healthy relationship you should be able to have your separate experiences and your experiences together. Am I a little depressed because I missed hiker life? Absolutely! I also recognize it was my choice not to go with him. I didn’t slug on my pack and hike.

Darwin has had a lot of questions left on his videos about including a spouse or significant other in trail life when only one person is hiking. I feel that this is not something that will make or break a relationship no mater what the distance. Will your significant other be changed when he or she returns? Without a doubt, but this shouldn’t be a wedge between you.

For the hiker: Share your stories, show pictures and videos, talk with them about plans before, discuss the adventure during when possible, have them meet up with you on trail,  and share your thoughts after the hike, train together, etc.

For the stay at home significant other: Listen, ask questions, read into and research the trail they are on, look up the places they send you pictures of, send them care packages, follow them via gps, etc.

If your making the choice not to go with your spouse or maybe you can’t go with them for whatever reason, make the effort to involve yourself when and where you can. A thru hike or adventure of any kind should never pull a couple apart it should make them bring them together. Just as with anything in a relationship both parties have to make an effort to make it work.


(Darwin and Doug at Doug’s Hermitage) 

Theo The Travel Trailer’s Innards

Day #11

I got a text from Sierra about an hour after getting off work. Theo’s tarp had been blown off and she couldn’t get it back on. FUCK! I grabbed my keys and headed over while the skies darkened and it began to sprinkle. I hauled ass and arrived just as the wind really started picking up. It had been raining on and off all day but from what I could tell Theo was relatively dry inside. We were able to get the front tarp back up. I put as many bricks as I could find on the roof to keep the wind from taking the tarp off again. I can only hope the weight of the bricks doesn’t cave in the roof. Once Theo was tucked in under his tarp, I headed out just as the rain really started coming down.

Day #12

The goal for today was to continue attaching the innards of Theo to his outies. Darwin would build the framework of our kitchen counter and drawers. (Sitting at home the night before, we thought this approach would give us something to attach the outside wall too thus making Theo more stable and square)

For some reason when we arrived, we focused on pulling up the linoleum around where our bed will be (in the very, very, very distant and beyond future) instead. I think initially we felt the linoleum needed to be ripped out since we were going to replace it anyways. Once a majority of it was out, I attempted to scrape up the glue left behind using a power scraper. This was an absolute joke. I only ended up carving into Theo’s floor. The glue was unmoving and I am pretty sure it was laughing at me. After viewing my collection of divots left in the floor and leaving behind a few of his own, Darwin decided sanding would be the easier and more successful route. Indeed he was correct and we had a smooth glue free floor in about twenty minutes. I silently stood outside, hands on hips like a lawn ornament.

We set down and contemplated the next move. After discussing the pros and cons, we decided that the bed would be built in permanently. Before restoration, the bed could be folded up into a couch and extended to a bed when needed. We decided it would be easier for us to always have the bed as a bed. This would also create more storage space in the long run.

While sitting there, we also decided more paneling was needed in order to build the sidewalls of the kitchen framework. The paneling Darwin previously got for the closet/shitter wall ended up being janky and hard to work worth. We packed up a few tools to return and a piece of the old paneling and headed out for adventure in the isles of Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Day #13

Today I only occasionally lifted the smallest of fingers to help and only when asked. I came prepared with media work to do and felt very productive and useful. I set with my back towards Theo the entire day. Poo Poo to you Theo! Darwin built the two sidewalls of the kitchen framework using some of the pieces we ripped out as guidelines. Theo’s insides kinda look like they did before. A day of success for both of us.


Darwin’s 2017 CDT Section Hike


ZPacks Arc Blast –


SMD Skyscape Trekker –

Sleep System

EE Revelation 20 Quilt –

ThermaRest Neo Air X lite –

Sea to Summit Aeros UL Pillow –

Cook System


Sea to Summit Spork –

SnowPeak 700 Ti Mug –

ZPacks Blast Food Bag –

Water Filtration

Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter –

2 – 1L Powerade Bottle

1 – 1L SmartWater Bottle


Black Diamond Spot Headlamp –

GoPro Session 5 –

Joby GorillaPod Mini –

PowerAdd Slim 2 Charger –

StickPic –

iPod Shuffle –


OR Helium 2 Rain Jacket –

Mt. Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket –

OR Trancsendent Down Beenie –

Nike Pro Combat T-Shirt –

Kuhl Renegade Hiking Pants –

Nike Pro Combat Thermal Tights –

Darn Tough Socks –

Exofficio Briefs –

Columbia SilverRidge Lite LS Shirt –

Buff –

Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Shoes –

Dirty Girl Gaiters –


SMD Silver Shadow –

ThermaRest Z Seat (ass pad) –

Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Ergo Cork –

ZPacks Cuben Stuff Sacks –

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