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On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA

11-03-2014 , 12:53 AM
Damn what a great thread! Need more updates.

I think you'd like George Saunders' work. Check out tenth of December.
11-03-2014 , 09:53 AM
Originally Posted by bob_124 On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA
Damn what a great thread! Need more updates.

I think you'd like George Saunders' work. Check out tenth of December.
Thanks bob! I was wondering if you had found this thread. I almost PMed you cause I remember you showing interest in my other adventures.

Yea I burnt out a little on updates. Funny timing for a bump, I'm actually sitting here debating doing one last hike for the season. I'm leaning against it. I just feel like I'm done for now, like a cell phone at 100% battery still plugged into the charger.

I'll probably make trip reports of some of my old hikes and post them here throughout the winter. Looking through pictures on my phone, I realized I'm starting to forget specific hikes I've been on, so it'll be nice to have them recorded somewhere.

Thank you for the book recommendation, I'll check it out!
11-03-2014 , 10:53 AM
Glad I found it. I actually went back to your old thread to look for good hikes. I'm traveling and hiking at the moment myself--nothing too serious, maybe "dirtbag lite"--and am currently in Montana. Feel free to follow me here: Any recommendations for hikes in the Nevada/Arizona area?

Hadn't found this thread because I rarely go to this subforum. But I probably should, since Digger's blog is my of my faves. Where are you now? Have you been hiking for the last few months, or did you take a break?

Definitely check out Saunders. He's similar to DFW in certain ways but less depressing and dense. Some of his stories are available for free here, pm me if you want others: I'd start with Puppy.
11-04-2014 , 01:02 PM
^^ I decided to do one last hike after all. Currently doing the Virginia Triple Crown near Roanoke, VA, finishing tomorrow. I haven't done much hiking the last couple months. My car has become a pain in the ass. I'm going back to DC after this to get it dealt with and work til Christmas. Probably gonna get a seasonal job as a driver helper for UPS. I had a lot of fun doing it a few years ago. Riding in the jump seat on the truck, running around delivering packages all day suits me. Plus everyone loves to see the UPS man. Will probably grind Bovada some as well.

As far as Nevada and AZ hikes go I don't have all that much experience. Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire have a bunch of good short hikes. In AZ there's the Grand Canyon ldo, Horseshoe Bend isn't much of a hike but worth seeing. There should be a bunch of good stuff around Page, AZ. Throw in some southwest Utah too. Can never go wrong with Zion NP. There's a place called Buckskin Gulch between Page and Zion that looks pretty awesome.

Will definitely check out your thread. Safe travels
11-05-2014 , 06:53 PM
The Virginia Triple Crown

With a three-day window of good weather coming, I decided to do one last hike for the season, and probably one last hike on the east coast for a long time. What better place to end it than where it all began, on the Appalachian Trail outside Roanoke, VA. The Virginia Triple Crown consists of McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragonís Tooth, all of which lie almost directly on the AT. Thanks to a trip report on EveryTrail, I found a way to make a loop out of this hike.

I got a late start, hitting the trail around 1:30 p.m. I parked in the lot where the AT crosses Route 311, and started making my way towards McAfee Knob. McAfee Knob is the iconic photo spot for AT thru-hikers. Its easy access draws in a lot of day hikers as well. Luckily for me there were only a handful of hikers there when I reached the summit. I took in the fall colors and sweeping views on the rocky outcrop, and of course got a picture with my legs hanging over the edge (pretty much mandatory on McAfee). Thereís another outcrop just down the trail from McAfee that also has great views and usually less people. I stopped there for a few minutes then headed down the trail towards Tinker Cliffs.

Other than a short, steep descent down from McAfee, the trail to Tinker Cliffs is pretty smooth sailing. I passed six thru-hikers along the way. I wasnít expecting to see many of them this late. They still have about 700 miles to go but theyíre probably cranking out 30 miles a day at this point so I guess theyíll be done in just a few more weeks. Still, they have some long days and cold nights ahead. I donít envy them. There are some decent views before Tinker Cliffs, including a look out over Carvinís Cove Reservoir, but most of the time is spent between the trees.

Daylight Savings Time kind of screwed me over a bit. I hit the trail thinking I had plenty of time to get to Lambertís Meadow Shelter before dark, but really the sun would set an hour earlier than anticipated. It was behind the far ridge before I could even make it to Tinker Cliffs. I still got some great sunset views. Luckily the moon was out in full force, and I could hike the next forty-five minutes by the moonlight alone until reaching the shelter. There was one other guy there already, and I ended up scaring the crap out of him by walking up without a headlamp.

The next day I hiked back up the AT a little ways to catch the Andy Layne Trail down into Catwaba Valley. From the bottom of the Andy Layne Trail I would catch the Catawba Valley Trail until I hit the North Mountain trail to walk the ridgeline all the way to the base of Dragonís Tooth. This climb was tougher than expected. The trail was covered in leaves, making it very difficult to gain good traction. Once I got to the ridge it was a nice and easy hike. There some small climbs and descents here and there, but overall it was pretty steady. There arenít any spectacular views along the way, just a constant peek through the trees into the valleys on each side of North Mountain.

I originally planned to camp along this ridge and save Dragonís Tooth for the next day, but I was making excellent time and feeling great, so I decided not to stop. I passed a bunch of day hikers on their way down, and by the time I made it to the top I was the only one there. Itís pretty cool when you get a popular peak all to yourself. I stayed longer than planned, climbed around on the rocks a little, and eventually made my way back down.

The decision to climb Dragonís Tooth threw me off logistically. It was a little too early to stealth camp somewhere. I kept hiking. I made it down to the point where the AT crosses Route 624. It was getting dark at this point. I had six miles to go to get to my car, and there was one more climb ahead of me. I didnít think I could make it six more miles, and I would at least have to make that climb if I wanted to find a suitable place to camp. Technically I was done with the Virginia Triple Crown, the rest was just extra. So I said **** the last six miles. I walked down the road to a gas station, bought some chocolate milk and peach rings, and found a ride back to my car in less than ten minutes. Life is good.
11-05-2014 , 07:03 PM
Chocolate milk and peach rings are such a fish combo.
11-05-2014 , 07:22 PM
Nonsense, peach rings go with anything
11-05-2014 , 07:31 PM
TJ: "he's so aids!"
Chad: "mmmm"

is what i'm picturing is happening right now
11-05-2014 , 11:12 PM
Cool thread. If you're still in the area when the weather warms up again check out the crozet tunnel, it won't be a long hike at all but definetely a cool experience. I also had a really good time hiking Jeremy's Run.

Looking forward to seeing where the road takes you.
11-07-2014 , 07:25 PM
Originally Posted by socialrunner On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA
Cool thread. If you're still in the area when the weather warms up again check out the crozet tunnel, it won't be a long hike at all but definetely a cool experience. I also had a really good time hiking Jeremy's Run.

Looking forward to seeing where the road takes you.
Thanks Greg! I bookmarked those, the Crozet Tunnel looks pretty creepy
11-13-2014 , 11:39 AM
Puíu O Kona Loop (Christmas 2013)

My family doesnít get many opportunities to all be together anymore, so my parents decided we should take a family trip to Hawaii last Christmas. I picked out a couple day hikes from, expecting to do them solo, but I got some tagalongs. My dad, two sisters, and cousin joined me. The first hike took us to the KuliíOuíOu Forest Reserve. We would start on the state-sanctioned KuliíOuíOu Valley and KuliíOuíOu Ridge trails, then continue on a few unsanctioned ridge trails over Puíu O Kona, looping back down to the KuliíOuíOuí Valley Trail.

The trail climbs about 2000 feet, but most of it is on soft ground with good switchbacks, making it an easier climb. Along the ridge itself switchbacks arenít an option, so it gets pretty steep. There are some makeshift steps built along the steeper parts to make it more manageable. The views start showing once the steep parts begin, providing a little motivation to climb. Once we got to the summit there were excellent views looking out over east Oahu. It was very windy at the top.


The summit is the end of the state-sanctioned trail, but a trail is visible past the summit toward another summit that I think is called Koolau. From this ridge trail we could see the next two ridges we would be climbing then descending. It stayed very windy, but once we turned west toward the Puíu O Kona summit the wind died down some. The steep parts climbing Koolau lacked any kind of steps like on the KuliíOuíOu Ridge Trail, making it difficult to get good footing.


Between Koolau and Puíu O Kona the trail hugged the edge of the ridge. It gets a little sketchy at times. Of course a major benefit to this is an excellent view towards Waimanalo and Kailua the entire way. The final climb up Puíu O Kona was very steep. Thankfully, the locals had set up some ropes to help out. There were also a lot of ropes and cables (literally cables) set up along the descent, which would have been very difficult without them.


The descent from Pu'u O Kona was pretty tough and slow moving. But again, being on a ridge gave us amazing views. On this part of the hike we were facing south towards all the small valley neighborhoods, with views of Waikiki and Honolulu off to the southwest in the distance. As we got lower, we hiked through some cool wooded areas.


The final descent left the ridge and went into a more dense forest. This part was very steep and very difficult footing. We had to hang onto the trees while descending. When it flattened out it hit the KuliíOuíOu Valley Trail for an easy walk back to our car. This hike was pretty tough and a little dangerous but everyone made it back in one piece. Despite that, all my dad could say the rest of the day was, ďI think my kids are trying to kill me.Ē
11-13-2014 , 12:00 PM
great pics, nice to see the TRs continuing. what kind of camera do you have?
11-13-2014 , 12:08 PM
Originally Posted by bob_124 On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA
great pics, nice to see the TRs continuing. what kind of camera do you have?
Thanks bob, I have one or two more hawaii hikes I'll type up in the next few days. I use a very beaten up iPhone 4 for pictures, kinda regret not using something better.
11-14-2014 , 04:48 PM
I now where you're getting your petty cash from. You run the GrubHub Twitter account right?

11-18-2014 , 11:09 AM
Kaíau Crater Loop (Christmas 2013)

The second hike of the family Hawaii trip would be a loop around the Kaíau Crater, passing a few waterfalls along the way. My dad, cousin, and twin sister decided to opt out of this one, only my little sister joined me. We hit the trail pretty early. It starts near the end of a neighborhood in Palolo Valley. The sun hadnít made its way into the valley yet so the first mile or two we hiked in the dark.

The trail followed a stream for much of the way in the beginning. When we werenít following the stream we were following an old pipeline that weaved its way through the forest. Eventually we made it to the first of three waterfalls. Thereís a short trail to the bottom of the falls, and the main trail climbs up to the top. A girl had died here a few months prior to our hike. She was trying to take a picture looking over the falls and ended up sliding off the edge. Another girl fell around the same time and walked away unharmed. Needless to say, stay away from the edge. If you want to look over the falls thereís an easy-to-climb tree nearby that offers a safer viewpoint.


Shortly after the first waterfall we came to another. This one was higher and more open at the bottom. It would be a cool place to stop and swim on a hot day. Actually, most people who hike this area go just to see the waterfalls. The third and final waterfall isnít as scenic as the first two, but it is has its own merits. Itís made up of about four sections of falls, all of which you get to scramble alongside, occasionally crossing the falls themselves. Each section of falls punishes you with its own little false summit. The second picture here is only about a fifth of the climb.


(not my photo)

Not long after we reached the top of the third waterfall we came to the mouth of the Kaíau Crater and met up with the start of the ridge climb. Itís important to hike the ridge counterclockwise (for reasons Iíll state later). There will be a trail to the left and right. Take the trail on the right.

The ridge is pretty steep, and we were soon rewarded with views looking out over the crater. We would be above the crater for the rest of the hike. When we made it to the first summit along the ridge we got some views of east Oahu and a good look at the entire ridge we would be walking. There are a couple power lines that go right over the crater, which brought the obligatory, ďitíd be cool if that was a ziplineĒ comments.


("Wait, I want a new profile picture")

We made our way up a steep climb to the next summit, turning south to descend the rest of the way. The south-facing views were probably the best of the hike, mostly because they were at the highest elevation. But even the lower elevation views into Kaíau Crater were cool because we got to see the entire ridgeline weíd hiked, as well as the crater itself.


We walked under a couple more power line towers. I kind of liked seeing these for some reason. It made it fell like I was on Lost. Not long after the towers the trail splits. The trail to the left goes back towards the mouth of the crater. The trail to the right follows a more subtle ridge down towards the valley. Go right, as taking the left trail would mean youíd have to descend the waterfalls, no easy task. This is one reason to hike the ridge counterclockwise. Another reason is that you get better views while descending, and the descent itself is much longer and flatter than the climb.


The ridge trail spit us back out along the stream we started out on, which took us back to civilization.
11-18-2014 , 11:13 AM
Originally Posted by Randal_Graves On the Road Indefinitely: A Dirtbag Hiker in the USA
I now where you're getting your petty cash from. You run the GrubHub Twitter account right?
You caught me, I got fired cause someone sent a complaint after that tweet. They wouldn't tell me who it was, just that his complaint was...
Why even waste your breath?!
12-25-2014 , 07:41 AM
Peak Season UPS and Downs

The world is an ant farm. It's called the Tysonís Galleria. I am a worker ant. I move boxes from a truck to different chambers of the farm. I spend most of the day in tunnels. In the afternoon I move new boxes from the chambers back to the truck. There are many queen ants to look after. They aren't actually queens, but they like to think they are.


(filling the truck back up)

I work with one other worker, though he is my boss of sorts. I started out at a different farm, but my boss had me moved here with him. I am a hot commodity among seasonal workers, mostly because I'm better than 99% of them at using one of these:


It's a tough job. Sometimes it feels like an eight hour workout with boxes. I load a cart with up to five times my body weight and push it back and forth across the farm, all day every day. After five weeks my hands are strong. My arms and shoulders are perpetually sore. My mind is calm.


Every so often I can escape the tunnels. Sometimes I climb to the top of the farm and see the view. None of the queen ants notice it. I am lucky. Working in the tunnels all day makes it easy to appreciate the view.


01-22-2015 , 09:56 AM
2015 Plans

Just wanted to give a quick update and reveal my plans for this year. I sold my car and I'm flying to San Francisco on Saturday morning. All travels for at least the next year will be done by foot or by thumb, maybe a bus ride thrown in every now and then.

For the next month or so I'll be hiking up the coast from San Francisco to Oregon via the California Coastal Trail. It should be about a 500 mile trip. Highlights include the Lost Coast and Redwood National and State Parks.

From there I'll hitch/bus to Moab, Utah to hike the Hayduke Trail. It's 800+ miles from Arches National Park to Zion and includes all the other great Utah national parks and some of Arizona, including a trip into the Grand Canyon for about 150 miles. I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by everything involved with planning this trip right now, but that will subside. There are too many highlights to name. Some of the places I'm most excited about are Coyote Gulch, Buckskin Gulch, and the Grand Canyon.

From there I'll head up to Mount Rainier National Park. I got a job at a hotel there from May 15th to October 1st. The length of the job worries me a little. I tend to get pretty restless after a couple months in one place, but there should be plenty of hiking to do so we'll see. I'll do as much day hiking and overnighters as my schedule will allow. I'd like to squeeze a Wonderland Trail trip in right after my work period is over.

From there it's a little up in the air. If the weather cooperates I'd like to do some of the PCT in Washington, at the very least Section J, but October is pushing it weather-wise.

Not sure what my plans are after that. Lately I've been thinking it would be cool to spend a winter in Yosemite. Only time will tell.
01-28-2015 , 10:55 PM
I'm realizing it's going to be very difficult to update this thread often. I'm going to work on writing TRs each day on my phone, just so I can put it all together more easily when I do find the occasional library. Might even be able to update straight from my phone if I'm feeling ambitious.

Currently 5 days into the California Coastal Trail after starting in San Francisco. I've been putting up a picture on Instagram every day and will continue to do so when possible. Same name as on here if you want to follow along.
01-01-2016 , 11:04 AM
California Coastal Trail (Part 1)

When we are born, we enter a world that builds our lives for us. If our lives were houses, our parents would build the foundation, schools put up a wall or two, social norms and mores another, laws one more. If we are lucky we get to finish the roof ourselves, but the shape of the roof is already determined by the walls.

I donít like the idea of not building my own life. I donít like the idea of being controlled by man-made structures I did not help create. The Talking Heads have filled my talking head. This is not my beautiful house. Iíve been tearing it down brick-by-brick for a while now, but itís time for the wrecking ball.

In the days leading up to my next journey I was wracked with anxiety. I couldnít sleep, barely ate. I found myself genuinely wishing I were dead. I doubted every decision I had made, but it was too late to back out. My car was the last lifeline to a more comfortable adventure, and I had sold it away. I was miserable, but this too shall pass.

After a restless flight from IAD to SLC, and another from SLC to OAK, the monster of anxiety I had created was shrunken down to the size of an ant and squashed beneath my feet somewhere on the way to baggage claim. It was time to get moving.

I took a short train ride into San Francisco and hiked north through the city. When I hit the bay I turned west and walked along a park for what felt like forever. The weather was beautiful; a 70 degree sunny day in late January. People were everywhere playing in the park, working out on outdoor gyms, just going for casual strolls. I must have looked pretty funny sporting a large backpack, but no one seemed to give it any thought.

Eventually I made my way to the Golden Gate Bridge and joined the hoards of people making the walk across. There is a night and day difference between the North side of the bridge and the South side. The city engulfs the South, but the North is made up of rolling green (often brown) hills of the Marin Headlands. There are a handful of trails in the area. I mostly followed one along the scenic road that winds above the coastline. It was Friday night and people were out and about. I saw people in rented convertibles, fulfilling the clichť coastal drive, others looked dressed up to go out but stopped to take in some late evening views first. The farther I hiked, the better the views of distant city got.

At a point, the road becomes one-way and is much less crowded. I ran into a guy riding what looked like a longboard down the steep coastal road. It turns out the board is called a Freebord and it was designed to best imitate snowboarding, which it does a very good job of. I asked him about it and filed everything away in my memory because itís something I absolutely have to try some day.

It was well after sunset before I was anywhere near the free campsite I had booked earlier that week. I gave up and found an old, abandoned building to camp behind. I had woken up that morning overwhelmed with anxiety and I would fall asleep that night with confident contentedness.

Still being on Eastern time, I woke up well before sunrise. I made my way down the steep hills to cross Rodeo Beach and head back up the steep hills on the other side. The only others who shared the trails with me were early morning fishermen. It was a clear morning, but fog quickly rolled in and blocked out the sun. There were trails going every which way. I donít know if it was the fog or if I just wasnít paying attention, but I ended up a little lost and added an unnecessary four miles to the daily total. The skies eventually cleared enough for me to find my way down to Muir Beach and up into Mount Tamalpais State Park (better known as Mount Tam).

The day was hot, the trails were steep, the views were excellent. My four mile mistake put me behind schedule, so I cooked dinner on the bald Mt. Tam ridgeline at sunset and made the long hike down into a wooded area to stealth camp. Iím pretty sure I was spotted at some point. Just as I had finished setting up my tent, a ranger drove up in a truck and circled the area I had chosen. His headlights never found me, but it was enough to get my heart pounding. I was sure to wake up early the next morning and get out of the park as quickly as possible.

It was still early morning when I crossed Highway 1 into Point Reyes National Seashore. Much of the inland trails were soggy and densely vegetated. It took the rest of the morning to find the coast again. I somehow thought I was going to be in and out of Point Reyes in a day, but that was clearly not going to be the case. I hiked the coast for hours and still wasnít even halfway to where I expected to be. Luckily, I was rewarded with an incredible stealth camp right along the coastal cliffs, with an even more incredible sunset.

The next day was fairly uneventful. I finished up the coast trail and hiked a long ways inland. I washed up in Lagunitas Creek before heading into the tiny town of Point Reyes Station (population 350) for some authentic Mexican tacos and a small resupply. I hiked out of the town, through the green farmland, until it was dark enough to set up camp, sandwiched between Tomales Bay and Highway 1. I set up just in time to catch a purple-pink sunset over the glass-like bay. Four days into this journey and I had a new kind of uncertainty. It was no longer an uncertainty that lead to fear, it was and uncertainty that lead to wonder.

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say to yourself
My God, what have I done?

01-01-2016 , 11:07 AM
Figured if I don't start posting trip reports now I never will. I'm going to try to get everything from January-April 2015 posted in the next couple weeks.
01-01-2016 , 11:14 AM
Still loving your TR's.

01-01-2016 , 12:32 PM
I've been day dreaming about just walking for months a lot lately. Something to do after my 13yo graduates HS. I'm kind of struck by your planning and anxiety. If that's what you need to do, ok, but to me it seems like you shouldn't have to schedule the next trip. Barely even the next day.
01-01-2016 , 01:13 PM
01-02-2016 , 01:34 PM
What about visiting the tallest mountain that rhymes with "rest"? You know, Mt Fuji.