I Don’t Think a Simple Thank You Will Suffice

When Jake and I left Jasper we told few people. Why? We were afraid we wouldn’t make it past the traffic lights at the end of town…What if we broke our ankles on Day 6? What if Jake and I fought on Day 12 and refused to speak again to each other? What if we just didn’t like it? What if…? We had never done anything like this before and so we had no idea what would happen. And if no-one had any expectations, it wouldn’t matter if we only made it to the traffic lights. We could just sneak back into town and none would be the wiser.

The further South we went, the more and more people became interested in our adventure. It always amazed me how many people cared and wanted to hear our stories. We have received many kind comments/emails and received a massive amount of support. THANK YOU EVERYONE! Here are some people we would like to specially mention:

David Harrap (Dad), Nancy Taylor (Mum), Mike Alleyne (Dad), Janet Gulbransen, Rebecca Conti (Sister), The Alpine Club of Canada, Marilynn Gulbransen, Steph and Pete Robinson, The Waxers, Allie Strel, Mike Mcmillan,  the employees at Anderson Dorn & Rader Ltd, Elizabeth Harrap, Jill Seaton, Doreen Lennie, Debbie Goodridge Quinn, Nicole Caron, Rick and Sarah Strel, Greg Van Tighem, Dr. Mark Mahler at Jasper Dental Clinic, The Dorks (Park/Dolan Family), Jasper Elementary School, Carmen and Jeff Alleyne (Nanny and Granddad), The Monettes, and Jim Alary.

Also, for those interested here are some links to our adventure in the media. Gulp!
http://globalnews.ca/video/1752892/former-ubc-students-hike-5500km-to-mexico/

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/BC/ID/2645632749/ (8:30 minute marker)

http://www.vancouversun.com/touch/story.html?id=10691584

http://www.thejasperlocal.com/and-they-would-walk-5000-km.html

http://www.thejasperlocal.com/the-world-at-their-feet.html

http://www.fitzhugh.ca/jasperites-conquer-the-great-divide/

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And the Boy Returns

Yesterday we went to a barbers shop (after waiting in line for over 3 hours. Dear goodness! Better be the best haircut we’ve ever got!). We entered as men and left as boys. After the haircut it began to sink in that the trip was over. No longer will people come up to us in the street and ask what adventure we’re on. No longer will I have kids come up and tell me how much they love the beard. No longer will we stand out. We’re just Average Joes. Even though I was ready to stop walking, it’s always sad when you realize a significant part of your life is over. Nevertheless that also means another chapter begins (and if that chapter involves a cruise with never-ending-buffets, you know it will be AWESOME!). image Before the chop. While we waited, people kept asking the barber, why he was allowing bums into his store…oh dear (I mean would bums have Osprey backpacks?! Come on!). I won’t miss people thinking your homeless (even though we don’t have a home, we’re not homeless! At least in a “conventional” sense). image image image image Mothers lock up your daughters, Jacob is coming to town. image

Oh Hello Moustache…image Liam is under there somewhere…I think. image Ahhhhh! The horror! Look away – it’s not done yet!image

It’s a close shave!

image The men are gone, and all that’s left are these whimpy boys. I bet they couldn’t even walk 10 miles! image Boy-Face Liam with a “winning” shave. Was it worth waiting 3 hours for? Darn right it was! image Jake with a ‘sporty’ moustache. He was the loser of the 252 day crib bet, so he has to have this fung-Imean delightful moustache for 252 days. Although we are clean shaven and “respectable” looking,  soon afterwards, we had a bum walk up and offer to share his food with us. So maybe we still look like adventurers? Score!

Finally – The Land of Far Beyond!

In the last hours of the last month of the last year, two figures limped across the Mexican border into Puerto Palomas. It has been an awesome adventure, the likes of which Jake and Liam probably won’t see again. To think that the trip is over is unthinkable.  To think that this is Mexico is absurd.  To think that we walked 5400 kilometers over 252 days to get here is outrageous. We have no idea how life off the trail will be. As Frodo said (more or less), “How does one pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you realize there is no going back. There are some adventures that go too deep that have taken hold.” I guess we will just have to see what happens. Thanks everyone for all the well wishes and the support! It’s amazing how many people have been interested in our story and have sent us kind words! I hope you all find adventures of your own – whatever they may be!

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Nearing the end. It’s hard to imagine that 8 months of walking is coming to a close…

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1/2 mile! OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!

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The Mexican border guards. We did it. We are here. So surreal. The guards all took selfies with us. Neato!

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Celebrating in the hotel room. We bought the best champagne Walmart had (which was 10 bucks) to celebrate! The only thing open was a gas station. So our celebratory meal was a can of tuna…not quite what we dreamed of for 8 months…Oh well. At least we had the bubbly!

Getting to the Land of Far Beyond

Here are the pictures from our last couple weeks in New Mexico.  Enjoy!

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I think the picture speaks for itself. However, soon after we came across a hiker. The first since the middle of Colorado. He was lost, disorientated, and in a tee-shirt, with temperatures plunging to -15. We took him to the trail head, where a search party had assembled to look for him. Worst part was, he was a fire fighter. If this is how our emergency responders are…it doesn’t bode well.

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Walking in a sun-burnt country.

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Good Ol’knitting-while-hikingimage

A typical view in central New Mexico. Beautiful country, eh.

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A broken windmill. The landscape is littered with them. They once supplied the area with water, for cattle, but the water table has dropped too much and many are no longer in use. Making it all the more merry for hikers. Who needs water anyway’s…gulp!

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The Travelers Toaster House in Pie Town. Unfortunately we arrived when all the places in town, which sold pie were closed for the season. I still haven’t gotten over it…

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The Zuni Lava Field.

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Walking across a lava field. The only time on the trip we walked on fire!

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Doing “the arch” in front of an arch.

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400 miles?! Um, excuse me? That’s only 3000 off for some. *no big deal*image

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Look who joined again! Liam’s dad just couldn’t get enough of ADoorStepAdventure the first couple times, so he joined for a third.  Apparently he has been training by hiking up and down Bear Hill with dictionaries in his backpack.

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An alligator tree. Here’s a fun fact – makes excellent excellent firewood. Perfect for a cup of tea and roasting Pop-Tarts.

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In the last eight months, you failed to mention you owned a grocery store Jacob…What else are you keeping from me?!

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The Gila Cave dwellings.

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Franz the German hiker joins again!

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A cave drawing with Liam’s dad.

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Mexico should be in sight…somewhere between the Land and the Sky. Get the mojitos ready!

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A new cactus. Vicious!

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Hitching blue into Silver City. Hope there is a buffet open! Woot Woot!

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Christmas dinner in Silver City. We shopped hungry and grossly over bought. Hence the 4 cakes and pies.

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You failed to mention that you were kinda a big deal Allie Strel…

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Some wonderful Trail Angles. We stayed a night with them in Mimbres. It was a wonderful change from snow and cold. They made us pancakes and sold us wool. I could have moved into their spare bedroom and stuffed Mexico! But that just didn’t seem right…so we marched on.

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The fire lookout on top of Hillsborro Peak. We slept the night in a near-by cabin. Hardly any rats!

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Mexico! Dead ahead!

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The further south we go, the more vicious the vegetation becomes. Everything seems to have the soul purpose of tearing flesh from the bones. All is covered in prickles and pain. Be wary leaving the trail, if you’d rather not get prickles up your trousers.

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Fences are everywhere. Unfortunately they are always barbed, which aren’t the most hiker friendly. Ah well – matches the vegetation!

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3 miles from the border of Mexico, we met Dick and his Wife. Dick has hiked the CDT and GDT over a couple years. He was the first we’ve met that had. Neato!

Two Hundred Rivers to Cross

Well 205 to be exact. Last week we went through the Gila wilderness in Southern New Mexico. The route follows the Gila River and crosses it over and over and over again. I’m sure it’s refreshing in the summer when it goes above 30 degrees. However, it was frightfully cold in December. I could have snapped my ankle and I wouldn’t notice.

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The beginning of the 200 crossings.

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The canyon was breathtaking! So much wow!

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Neat, eh?

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The frost between crossings. It got to -15 degrees at night. Brrrr!

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I did whatever it took to avoid that liquid nitrogen!

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Here comes the sun. De de do da

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We are in flash flood country. Exciting!

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The Mines of Moria? Perhaps?

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Some greenery. Finally!

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And in our coldest hour we found a hotspring. Thank goodness! We got to melt the frost on our runners! Yay! It was absolutely tremendous!

The Joys of a Backpack

After awhile you become quite attached to your backpack. Like a turtle and his shell, it becomes your home and a dear ol’friend. During this trip, we have had many different sizes of backpacks. When we left Jasper, our bags were 100 pounds. Some days they went down to 20 (not often enough though). The following is the story of our backpack.

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For our food drops during the ski section, we attached a sled to our backpacks making manuevering around little more difficult...

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We even had to ford creeks with the blasted sled!

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We have to go how far with this ball and chain? Can't we just fly instead? No? Sigh.

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Trying to get up on Day 2.

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Still trying...

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Third time the charm!

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Being large and in charge, made things difficult. ..However, you never have to worry about someone stealing your backpack, I mean who would steal 100 pounds? Even if they did it might actually be reliving. And when you're the same size as a bear, no need to fret about them as well

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Are we there yet?

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Bit by bit the backpack got smaller. I think we are at 70 pounds here! Yay!

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Nothing like desert walking with snow shoes.

Days of Thinking

Most days are spent hiking from dark to dark. We don’t usually have much time for anything else other than walking.  Except thinking – we may even have too much for that. Somedays my mind drifts to the following short article written by a fellow mountain man – Rick Collier. He was one of the most accomplished Canadian mountaineers and climbed all the mountains along the Great Divide from the USA border to Saskatchewan Crossing in Canada. In total he climbed over 1350 summits. He was killed in climbing accident near Jasper two ago at the age of 71. Like Rick, I also struggle with organized sports, preferring to slog and bushwack my way up a mountain slope or survival ski down a glacier. I seem to enjoy suffering or at least always find myself seeking it out.

Early on I realized that tennis, baseball, or any sport requiring the careful management of a spheroid was beyond my capabilities; indeed, most activities demanding agility and coordination were best left for more competent others.  However, I was exceptional at something quite different — suffering.  Give me sweating, gut-it-out, muscle-aching recreations and I excelled – long-distance running, cycle touring, multi-day ski trips, mountain climbing.  By age twenty I understood that this was not merely some S&M neurosis:  bushwhacking through a remote valley or hauling my carcass up the rubble and cliffs of yet another unremarkable summit was transfiguring; I was clawing myself out of the boxes that imprison us all – education, job, debt, responsibility, others’ expectations – I could breathe and smell and taste exquisitely, and, for a time, “see into the life of things.”

That passion has embraced me now for fifty years, inspiring me through untold kilometers of running, cycling, hiking, and skiing and up more than 1200 peaks.  I still lack the finesse to lead 5.12 rock or dry-tool my way to a detached icicle; more important now are the hoary marmots, the golden glacier lilies, the rolling, intricate alplands, the tangled crags, the brilliant snowfields, and the eagle soaring in the azure skies.

What luck it is that I still have “world enough and time” for new adventures and new explorations – for the secret valley and the curious grizzly, for the unnamed lake and the hidden couloir, and for the many still unclimbed mountains of the Rockies. – written by Rick Collier

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Bush whacking along the Wood River (BC) in May. It was thick, steep, and really slow going. At the end of the day, I had a whole pine tree down my snow pants.

RACING RABBITS –WATCH OUT ROAD RUNNER

Grinny thought he’d flag down the train to get to the Land of Enchantment. But he was facing the wrong way and the train never stopped .

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So they had to walk .

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… and travel by horse.

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Finally, the last of the mountains. And there it was , THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT  on the other side–(no wonder Grinny is smiling . . . )

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WATCH OUT ROAD RUNNER: THE RACING RABBITS ARE COMING TO NEW MEXICO!!

New Mexico: The Land Of Enchantment

Well we did it! Our final US state! I just can’t believe it – the end is in reach (sorta). New Mexico is still large (the 5th largest state) and we have 1000 kilometers to go. Nevertheless,  it’s exciting times! Here are a few pictures of our last couple weeks:

Some snow shoeing in Southern Colorado. Blah!

Some snowshoeing in Southern Colorado. Blah!

Although this cabin had a rat feces problem, it was most welcome in the snow and cols.

Although this cabin had a rat feces problem, it was most welcome in the snow and cold.

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The snow is getting high! Yikes!

I don't even remember where this is...Colorado? Yes, lets say that.

I don’t even remember where this is…Colorado? Yes, lets say that.

Breakfast at camp.

Breakfast at camp.

We had a three day highway walk. Highway walking is the worst. Going to the bathroom is difficult as cars go by every 2 minutes and it's dead flat. What little water remains is heavily infested with cow, and camping is a problem. Everything is private property and since everyone is gun crazy, a farmer could shoot you for using a small rectangle of their land for our sleeping pads. The pavement is also very painful, I even tried walking with no shoes on, but that was much MUCH worse.

We had a three day highway walk. Highway walking is the worst. Going to the bathroom is difficult as cars go by every 2 minutes and it’s dead flat. Practically no trees. What little water remains is heavily infested with cow, and camping is a problem. Everything is private property and since everyone is gun crazy, a farmer could shoot you for using a small rectangle of their land for our sleeping pads. The pavement is also very painful, I even tried walking with no shoes on, but that was much MUCH worse.

Having some roadside fun.

Having some roadside fun.

Passing a dispensary.  Marijuana is legal in Colorado. This wooden shack was in the middle of no-where. One side was a cafe, the other sold pot.

Passing a dispensary. Marijuana is legal in Colorado. This wooden shack was in the middle of no-where. One side was a cafe, the other sold pot.

Hitching from Cumbres Pass to Chama. It was in the back of this truck I realized that I haven't been warm since the beginning of September.  Brrrr!

Hitching from Cumbres Pass to Chama. It was in the back of this truck I realized that I haven’t been warm since the beginning of September. Brrrr!

The joys of meeting other long-distance hikers. We met "Kickapoo" in Winter Park, Colorado. She sent us a package a food in Chama, some dehydrated goodies with jokes (What do you call a pile of cats? A meowtain!)

The joys of meeting other long-distance hikers. We met “Kickapoo” in Winter Park, Colorado. She sent us a package of food to Chama, some dehydrated goodies with jokes (What do you call a pile of cats? A meowtain!)

Omg! Omg! New Mexico! Yay! Happy dance! Happy dance!

Omg! Omg! New Mexico! Yay! Happy dance! Happy dance!

Selfie!

Selfie!

Brazos Ridge. Our first summit in New Mexico.

Brazos Ridge. Our first summit (86th total) in New Mexico.

Canada Creek (but spanish sounding...)!

Canada Creek (but pronounced in a spanish way…)!

We ran into hunters, who gave us left over turkey from US thanksgiving! I love hunters!

We ran into hunters, who gave us left over turkey from US thanksgiving! I love hunters!

Oh solid ground - Thank goodness! Jake kissing ATV tracks.

Oh solid ground – Thank goodness! Jake is so happy he is kissing the ATV tracks.

Entering New Mexican Enchantment

Entering New Mexican Enchantment. Stunning!

There are positive aspects about being the very very dead (very dead) last people on the trail - we get the left overs. Food from mail ahead packages of people who never showed up or quit the trail. Free grub! Yay!

There are positive aspects about being the very very dead (very dead) last people on the trail – we get the left overs. Food from mail ahead packages of people who never showed up or quit the trail. Free grub! Yay!

I like New Mexico!

I like New Mexico! So much colour!

The Rio Chama. This was the first decent river we had seen since Northern Wyoming.  Oh boy!

The Rio Chama. This was the first decent river we had seen since Northern Wyoming. Oh boy!

The CDT in New Mexico.

The CDT in New Mexico. Good thing we have snowshoes,  those sage bushes look daunting!