CHAPTER 5: GATHERINGS Ely, NV to Milford, UT; Days = 12 (5 rest); Miles = 143; People Met = 17 I first learned of Barrett Jordan

via emails sent to me by Dick Bratton, American Discovery Trail Coordinator for Colorado. He keeps track of ADT travelers each year and keeps the travelers and trail coordinators posted in regards to our progress. We learned from Dick's emails that Barrett started the ADT from Point Reyes just a couple weeks ahead of us. Once we entered Nevada I got an email from Barrett himself. He could tell from Dick's reports we were gaining on him and he wanted to make sure we did not miss each other. Meeting other ADT travelers is not a common nor even likely event by happenstance. We were few and far between to begin with; stopovers at different places and the frequency of different routes added further to the difficulty of running into each other. Another person wanted to make sure we did not miss Barrett, Ted Oxborrow, the Nevada Trail Coordinator. Three different emails now made me aware that joining another ADT hiker was indeed possible, something I would not believe could happen before the journey started. Ted wanted to meet us as well. I replied back to Ted that we meet in Ely, since the talk I would give to the Lions Club there pinned us down to a specific place at a specific time. We were just as eager to meet Barrett as he was to meet us. I sent an email back informing Barrett that we were somewhat on a schedule because of the talks I give, but we would be glad for him to accompany us for a stretch and he would be welcome to use our support as well. We played a little email tag from that point on. Then the rendezvous with Barrett, as with most ADT travelers, seemed likely not to occur. As we talked to Ralph and Jann from Belmont on Trail Angel Day they told us an ADT hiker had just gotten off the trail and was spending time in Belmont. We later learned that Barrett's boots had blown out. Considering that we were hiking more miles per day to begin with, we would not get to meet him now that we were about to get ahead.

Or would we? We took two rest days in Ely, spent at the local high school. Paul, the former president of the Lions Club with whom I set up the talk, was also the high school principal. He literally gave us the keys to the school during our time there. We set up our tent on the grounds but had full use of the bathroom, showers and electricity inside. I got a call for Barrett soon after we arrived. He was in Ely and hoping to meet us. I hopped in Ky's van and left to pick him up at a nearby truck stop. Barrett was hiking with his dog Buster, who looked like an overgrown chihuahua. Both Cindy and Ky tend to prefer large dogs, but they both became enamored with little Buster from the start. Barrett came to the Lions Club talk and expressed his interest in my message. That was appreciated, but Buster was all he needed at that point to be on our good side. Others liked the message as well, with one Lions Club member commenting to me in an email that my talk was inspirational and thought-provoking. Unfortunately, Ted Oxborrow was not there; I regretfully concluded we would not meet him. I found out I was mistaken once again, on our first night out of Ely. We were all camped, Barrett and Buster included, at Cave Lake Campground. I first suspected there was something wrong with me when I wanted to quit when hiking out of Carvers; further proof came at Cave Lake. Cindy and I just sat on the shore of this picturesque and refreshing lake (in Nevada!) watching Ky go for a swim. Cindy does not like cold temperatures in any form, staying out of the water was in character for her. Yet I used to break the ice on the surface of alpine lakes for a quick dip; cold was never a deterrent for me. I did not go for a swim because I felt too lethargic, and that had to be due to continuing illness. That might surprise you. How can a person be “energetic” enough to hike 20 miles plus a day while feeling too lazy for a refreshing swim? All I can say in my defense is that hiking is the sort of activity where you can put a well-conditioned body on auto-pilot, particularly on gentle grades. The lethargy is in the mind, and I'm not disrupting my internal stupor any more by the rest of my body placing one foot in front of the other than if I was just sitting still. Through the Nevada deserts I was often in such a stupor. That evening at our campsite I took my Martin Backpacker guitar out of the support vehicle to

practice. I had yet to use it in a talk, but the plan was to perform some of my original music for inspirational emphasis. I was practicing “Humility, Faith, Courage,” the only instrumental piece performed by my band, The Bards of Balance. The message behind the song for my talks was we need the humility to serve others, the faith to believe in others and the courage to sacrifice for others. As the song was the only instrumental for my band, I crafted the song to highlight the instruments, particularly the guitar part. About halfway through the song a man comes jaunting down from the neighboring campground. “I just had to come over and tell you how beautiful your music ….” he started to say, but then looked to his left, “Barrett! How are you?” At that point the jaws of the Connecticut contingency dropped open. The man turned out to be Ted Oxborrow and he recognized Barrett and Buster from having already met them. Ted was at the campground supporting Brian Starks, who was attempting to set a record by hiking/running the Nevada section of the ADT in ten days. He was using his record attempt for drawing attention to Nevada parks; Cave Lake had set up a press conference for him at the campground earlier in the day. Ted was high energy and effusive with praise for us ADT sojourners. He reminded me of Warren Doyle's father, who often greeted his son's hiking companions with “Geez, you kids are great! You're the backbone of America!” Ted singled out Ky for her good work as a fellow support person, all the more impressive compared to Ted's ten days of providing support. Ted is relatively new as a Trail Coordinator. Here's hoping he can maintain that enthusiasm over the course of time. Brian Starks previously had hiked/ran the entire ADT in record time. This meant that together in one campsite we had four ADT travelers and three ADT support persons (including Ted's son Trevor). To put this in perspective, Brian informed us of attempts that had been made to hold ADT reunions in the past and they never got more than two travelers total. Such an occasion might have called for staying up long into the night, swapping stories around the campfire. However, Brian needed an early start for another fifty mile day, limiting the time all four of us spent together.

Very early the next day Ted transported Brian eastward to begin the second day of his record attempt; we would likely cross paths with Brian sometime in the morning as we headed out of Cave Lake. The momentous occasion came at a pass near Cooper Mountain, the highest point we would get to between Cave Lake and the border. While taking a break we spotted Brian chugging up the mountain road. We stood up and cheered his way on up to the pass. I knew he appreciated the cheering section, based on my own previous attempts at hiking records. I once held the record for most miles hiked on the Appalachian Trail in less than 24 hours, 80 miles total. I held the record for only a few months before David Horton hiked 88 miles in one day. This might create the impression that going for records on a long distance trail is a common occurrence. Not so. Warren Doyle held the previous record of 72 miles for about 20 years before I broke it. There's just more tangible gains from setting endurance records in other ways than on obscure trails. I was raising money for a charity with my record hike, and did not raise very much. David Horton invested more time and effort into his endurance feats, including the upkeep of a web site, but I'll wager the tangible rewards were limited for him as well. We said our final farewells to Brian and watched him jog on towards Cave Lake. Perhaps someday we will get together again at an ADT reunion with a decent showing. In the meantime, we still had Barrett and Buster with us. I originally planned for us to fullpack from Ely to Utah, but I needed to be mindful of our new friends. They were not used to hiking as many miles in a day and Barrett carried a heavier pack. I arranged for us all to slack pack instead. Even so, Cindy and I had to slow down our pace a bit, but that just provided more opportunity for conversation. Barrett was forty and hurt by the down economy. Soon after high school he served in Desert Storm. From that experience he learned mechanical handyman skills to go along with his carpentry and computer skills. He ran his own IT business that served agricultural clients. When the Californian weather and economy hurt agriculture, Barrett suffered as well. With little left to lose and plenty of work

skills he decided to hike the American Discovery Trail, trading work for food and money along the way. Barrett and Buster hiked with us until we neared Baker, near the Utah border. From there on to Milford, Utah Cindy and I were doing high mileage days. We were gaining an extra rest day for our flight back home for a wedding on Cindy's side of the family. We said our good-byes, but not for good, suspecting that by the time we came back from the wedding Barrett and Buster would have caught up with us again. The day we crossed into Utah featured the highest sustained winds of the journey. When we later hiked through Kansas we experienced sustained winds that were confirmed to be in the forties several times, which leads me to conclude the head winds we were fighting on our way to Garrison, Utah were around 50 mph. Most of the route was exposed desert and the hiking was quite a chore. In the town of Garrison were a few trees that were bending low from the wind, providing us some perspective for just how tough the wind had made our hiking. In the vicinity of the border crossing we were hiking mainly south and paralleling the border for many miles. The political border also seemed to be a natural border. To the west on the Nevada side was sagebrush-covered desert leading up to high, snow streaked mountains with tree-dotted faces. To the east on the Utah side was grass-covered desert leading up to low, tree barren hills. On the Nevada side major creeks flooded the sagebrush plains, the remnant of the winter's huge snow pack and late rains on 9 out of the 23 days we traversed through the state. On the Utah side was just dryness. Our first evening in Utah, like our first evening in Nevada, featured a beautiful sunset. However, the sunset in Nevada was over Lake Tahoe and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains. The sunset in Utah cast an alpenglow on the red rocks surrounding our camp site near a weathered corral. I seldom write poetry, but the timelessness of the open landscape and setting sun led me to pen the following: A weathered corral, wood and wire, Old memories of herds and herders in the wild west Waves of short grass, green and gold, Ancient memories of native hunters and hunting grounds Red rock mesas, in evening aglow,

Timeless memories of a dynamic landscape Waiting to shape the next passing travelers. Fortunately we had Ky for support; she met us frequently to provide us water as we slack packed our way to Milford. Also we now were acclimated to the desert. At the top of our longest climb during our longest day of this desert stretch Ky informed us the temperature had hit one hundred, while during our ascent I thought it was in the eighties. We even hiked on into the afternoon now. In Nevada we always stopped by 2:00 in the afternoon at the latest and resumed hiking in the evening if need be. Three in the afternoon seemed to be much worse than even two, both in Nevada and Utah, but afternoon hiking in the desert was now tolerable for us.

The day we hiked into Milford Ky was there ahead working some magic for us. Ky found out that Penny’s Diner in Milford had wifi access. She went there to use the wifi and ended up engaging the on duty manager, Lisa, in conversation. Ky mentioned how she would really love to sleep indoors some day. Turns out, Penny’s Diner is the restaurant for the neighboring Oak Tree Inn, a motel chain that survives competition with the big boys through a special arrangement with the railroad. They are located only in smaller, western railroad towns such as Milford. Lisa cleared it with her boss to comp us a room. Only Cindy and I ended up staying in the room. There was a bed for Ky as well, but throughout the journey she preferred most nights to stay in her little “home on the prairie.” One noted exception was when a hotel comped us two rooms. Ky did join us in the air-conditioned room for most of the evening. The great advantage for us of staying at the motel was being able to shower before driving up to Salt Lake City the next day, where we would catch a red-eye flight back home. Never before had we interrupted a long distance hike for a return home and this break came only two months into the hike. Still, Nevada was a challenging state and we used the looming trip home as motivation. Our brief time back home did not turn out to be much of a vacation. First, the weather was worse. We went from 100 degrees and low humidity in Utah to over 100 degrees and high humidity in New York

City for the two days we back east. Without air-conditioning in our home the night was more brutal even in our beds than camping in our tents out on the Utah desert, and our time crush meant we did not spend hardly any time at home except for sleeping in our beds. There was also some tension at the wedding. Some of the folks on Cindy's side of the family were not entirely supportive of our approach to rebooting Cindy's health and my earning potential by taking a 5,000 mile walk across the country. Placing the tensions aside, the wedding was a great way to interrupt a long distance hike. We would witness many inspiring moments of kindness as the journey continued, but through Nevada we witnessed primarily sagebrush. At the wedding we witnessed Patrick and Marissa give their heartfelt exchanges of love; I almost shed a tear. Of course, another perk is eating mountains of exquisite culinary creations without the least shred of guilt for gluttony. Then there was the elation of being together with our three kids at the wedding. They were now of an age where we could all be friends. As a young parent I naively thought the moment of friendship with our kids would come when they became teenagers. I can just imagine some you chuckling as you read that; please don't rub it in. With our youngest about to turn twenty in November the days of us being the enemy seemed to be behind us now. All our kids seemed to be doing well, even our son who at times struggles to find himself. Gathering with our three kids was the single best part about returning home for the wedding. Yet we had a journey to complete, and Nevada would not be the only challenging state. Podcast: Ely Lions Club Photo Album: Photobucket not working currently

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