The Ballad of Grants Conquest

Posted in CDT PTSD, Trail Tales with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2017 by A lo Hawk

Listen up lads and pull up a perch

Hear the tale of two men on a New Mexico search

Tea smoking Dhurango Bum with a CDT craze

His old amigo Jorge from down Austin way

Transient snow with their first morning coffee

La Ventana arch marks the route above the narrows

Along comes a portly gentleman with a killer trail app

Suddenly appears Dorothy and her little poodle dog too!

Day two begins with a chilly ascent of 11,301 ft Mt Taylor

Up charge the Pink Blazers: Honey Pot and three hounds nipping at her heels

They venture out to the ancient watering hole at El Morro

Returning to Grants on Route 66 looking for the elusive Junkyard Brewery

At Coalmine Campground weekend party ghosts shout and rattle pallets in the night

In the morning the intrepid wanderers say farewell on the worn tread under the tall pines.

My Year of Native American Studies

Posted in My Narcissisms with tags , on December 27, 2016 by A lo Hawk

I have always been fascinated with native american culture. As a kid, I would choose to be an indian in the neighborhood cowboy/indian wars. At night I read books on sign language, tepees and totem poles. While a boy scout, I learned beading and basket weaving among other skills.

In 1989, my wife and I visited Mesa Verde National Park but it wasn’t until we moved to Durango that I became aware of the significant number of ancient sites in the four corners area. I resolved in 2016 to immerse myself in the history and heritage of the indigenous people of the southwest.

Besides visiting ancient ruins and heritage sites, I read several books, attended a summer lecture series at the Center for Southwest Studies on the campus of Fort Lewis College, learned to throw the atlatl and even climbed 14,165 ft Kit Carson Peak in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

To permanently commemorate this year of native american study, ALOHAWK got new ink inspired by Navajo sand painting.


Canyons of the Ancients, Sand Canyon Trail, CO (four hikes, one with Sue)

Natural Bridges Natl Monument, UT (solo scout trip, second trip with Sue)

Hovenweep Natl Monument, CO (solo scout, then with Sue)

Anasazi Heritage Center, Dolores, CO with Sue

Mesa Verde Natl Park, CO (four visits: two solo, two with Sue)

Bandelier Natl Monument, NM with George Schools


Tsankawi Primitive Sites, NM with George Schools

Aztec Ruins Natl Monument, NM with Sue, Mom and Greg

Chimney Rock Natl Monument, CO with Sue (two visits, once to throw atlatl)


South Mule Canyon, UT solo

Butler Wash, UT solo


Southern Ute Heritage Center, Ignacio, CO with Sue

Petroglyph Natl Monument, Albuquerque, NM with Sue




“Blood and Thunder”, Hampton Sides (bestselling story of Kit Carson and the conquest of the West)

“Empire of the Summer Moon”, S.C. Gwynne

“Osceola and the Great Seminole War”, Thom Hatch

“In the Hands of the Great Spirit”, Jake Page (a general 2000 year history of American Indians)

“An Indigenous People’s History of the U.S.”, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (a brutal read)

“The Last of the Mohicans’, James Fenimore Cooper

“Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee”, Illustrated Edition, Dee Brown (the definitive book on the subject)


The Guns that won the West

The Parker Family

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago

The Sand Creek Massacre


“A Man Called Horse”, 1970 starring Richard Harris as an English big game hunter who is captured by the Sioux in 1825 and eventually becomes a respected member of the tribe

“A Good Day to Die”, documentary of Dennis Banks, AIM leader and activist during the 1973 Wounded Knee Incident

“Dances With Wolves”, 1990 Best Picture/Director Kevin Costner

“Dances With Wolves: The Creation of an Epic”, documentary

Everything in Moderation, Ch 1

Posted in A Cyberpunk Serial on August 10, 2015 by A lo Hawk

Chapter One: Terminus

“Attention Unit 8214, this is your Moderator speaking. You are to report immediately to Quadrant Alpha, Sector 12, Corridor 31, Cubicle 1987 for modulation.” Angul was shocked into consciousness by the voice blasting from the speaker near his head. His podmate, Irrel, rushed into the room, “You stupid angularity, what did you do?” Not fully comprehending his new reality, Angul made a weak attempt at humor, “Maybe they are giving me the Prime Citizen Award.” With a deadpan face Irrel turned to leave, “You poor extraneous unit.”

Angul stepped out of the pod and onto the beltway. As he was conveyed towards the Central Module he ignored the endless billboards reinforcing the global mantra: Less is More- Less Violent, Less Severe, Less Extreme. What could he have done to deserve modulation? Although not the most compliant citizen, he had never been cited with an Irregularity and was certainly no Deviant. Hesitating a moment under the archway adorned with the words Obsequium Supremus (compliance above all), Angular Momentum set course for Central Control.

Trail Monkey

Posted in CDT PTSD with tags on July 20, 2015 by A lo Hawk

La Plata had a hiking itch, some unfinished trail business. He called it the Monkey.

El Lobo Rapido shared the itch. It began in 2011 with their epic snowshoe over Georgia Pass.

Honey Badger was added in 2014 to walk the divide. The trio stood at the knife’s edge before retreating from Argentine Pass.

This year the Colorado duo planned an audacious double. A weekend of hammering designed to chuck the monkey.

Successful day one was twenty miles of alpine delight. Six peaks at or near 13,000 ft before a light rain cooled their descent from Georgia Pass.

The next day dawned with ominous clouds building. A pair of tired hikers trudged up to Argentine Pass watching the high peaks disappear in the mist.

While standing at the windy pass leading to the knife edge a sober reassessment was made. The monkey lives!

A Mystery in Silver City

Posted in CDT PTSD with tags , on June 2, 2015 by A lo Hawk

Honey Badger was the first to arrive at the foothills of the Gila National Forest. Driving his new Mazda hatchback on dirt roads near Bear Mountain, he searched for the symbol which identified the Continental Divide Trail. It wasn’t until he doubled back did he see the sign hidden in the trees. La Plata reached Silver City after sunset and also passed by the trail head, eventually finding Honey Badger’s camp at 9:30 PM. What the two men didn’t realize was they had just entered a CDT black hole.

The next day began with camp coffee then into town for breakfast. They immediately spotted a busy donut shop where they munched on burritos and an enormous bear claw. The day’s plan was simply to find the Little Walnut Rd trail head and hike six miles to the other car. The morning was mild and sunny, the trail meandered among tall Ponderosa pine interspersed with cacti undergrowth. Trail symbols were faithfully followed at all junctions and turns but several hours passed with no end in sight. La Plata became concerned about his dwindling water supply. Honey Badger repeatedly unfolded and folded a map the size of a twin bed mattress.

The two men saw their last marker as the trail faded away near a well used dirt road. They spent a couple of hours looking for the trail ahead with pointless side trips in the increasing heat. The addled hikers returned to the road and flagged down a passing truck. The helpful driver informed them their car was four miles down the road. Six miles in this “Gila Triangle” took seven and a half hours.

The beaten down boys made a well deserved trip to town for burgers and beers. In fact Silver City was hosting a Blues and Bikers festival this Memorial weekend. The distinctive sound of Harley Davidson motorcycles mixed with the smell of fried food and the riffs of a blues guitar blasting from amplifiers. As they explored the streets of historic old town, Honey Badger and La Plata found a local hike and bike shop. There they learned they had been on the “new” CDT and had parked at the “old” CDT. The locals assured them the section planned for tomorrow would present no problem.

Another pleasant day dawned. Car camp coffee then on to an inviting adobe restaurant for eggs, bacon, pancake, etc. The refocused trekkers left a car at the Arrastre trail head north of town and headed southbound from a sign indicating 7.5 miles to Little Walnut Rd.

When the trail markers became less frequent La Plata and Honey Badger consulted their maps. They saw an unmarked side trail drop down towards an intriguing monastery and made the incorrect assumption it was the CDT. The extra walk cost approximately 45 minutes but the wayward hikers saw impressive woodwork and stonework at the quiet sanctuary. More than four hours after leaving the Arrastre grinding rocks they reached the previous night’s campsite.

The afternoon trip to Silver City was kicked off by an amusing stop at the visitor center. Inside, the men became the target of attention of a large jovial woman whose ancestors built the bank and mercantile on main street. On her recommendation they followed a shaded promenade along a tranquil creek to the Little Toad Creek brewery. After fueling up on pub grub and ale, they camped near the Arrastre site and hiked northbound toward Signal Mountain in the cool evening air. On their return in the fading twilight, La Plata made an error at a junction costing the pair an extra mile of walking.

The third day was also clear and sunny. La Plata made coffee while Honey Badger tried to extricate himself from his unsatisfactory bed in the hatchback. The intrepid travelers decided to head north to the Gila cliff dwellings and hot springs for some low intensity recreation. A curvy, scenic drive led to a remote pueblo site built into large caves used for centuries by the native people. The enchantment of the area was magnified for the two visitors as they contemplated the lives of people walking these hills a thousand years ago.

Their wonder and delight continued at the nearby Gila hot springs. Operated by an outspoken couple decked out in worn western wear, they wrangled and corralled their guests like a herd of unruly cattle. The two dusty hikers soaked in the three relaxing pools then finished with a jolting dunk in the Middle Fork Gila River.

Once again the pair found themselves having an early dinner at the mediocre Little Toad Creek brewery. They took a stroll to the park where the Blues and Bikers festival was in full swing before driving back to the original Bear Mtn trail head. There was a shared curiosity about the elusive portal between OLD and NEW CDT so a second evening walkabout was undertaken. Evidence was found where old trail markers were removed from trees but after an hour they came upon several unmarked routes leading to the unknown. The undaunted duo returned to their final camp satisfied they had found plenty of inscrutable adventure in southern New Mexico.

POSTSCRIPT: After all the effort to follow the official CDT route, the section hikers ran into a thru hiker who told them hikers actually prefer the unofficial Gila River route because water is reliable and the scenery is more memorable. Before going their separate ways, Honey Badger and La Plata vowed to return to NM to unlock the mysteries of the divide trail in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness.

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 14

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags on October 7, 2014 by A lo Hawk

This is the tale of A Lo Hawk’s 132 day, 2200 mile traverse of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2008.

Chapter Fourteen (July 13th-19th)

Day 97: (VT)  22 miles to Minerva Shelter

Today it is cloudy and I enjoy a mellow day of hiking on easy terrain. I get two relaxing swims — Griffith Pond and Little Rock Pond. It begins to rain ten minutes before I get to a large, full shelter but the people welcome me. It is an interesting collection of strangers and a boisterous, lively evening.

Day 98: (VT)  22 tough miles from Minerva Shelter to Long Trail Inn

A difficult day with much climbing including a big traverse over Killington Peak. At a high, lonely shelter I have lunch and make a steep side trip to the famous ski area for views. In a quiet wooded dell I come upon an extensive manmade rock garden. I stop for a brief meditation then add my own contribution to a precarious pile.

At the end of this tough day I take a blue blaze trail down a couple of miles to the historical Long Trail Inn. This beautiful inn was partially built into the rocky hillside. I immediately gravitate to the spectacular cavern tavern and watch the Tour de France on a big screen while sipping Long Trail Ale. [The Long Trail runs the length of Vermont and overlaps the AT in this area.] I relish the hot shower, clean clothes and entertaining dinner company in this incomparable wayside inn.

Day 99: (VT)  16 easy miles to cowboy camp atop lookout platform

In retrospect today is one of my favorite days on the trail. It begins with a good breakfast with jovial section hikers at the inn. I eagerly climb the blue blaze trail back to the familiar white stripe. My first side trip is to the Killington deli for a large sandwich and the outfitter store for additional food. The next detour takes me to the Killington library and public pool. While waiting for the library to open I sit in a cozy shaded patio area and talk to a friendly librarian. I finish eating my sandwich and doze off staring at the bucolic countryside.

I am energized for the late afternoon hike up and around rolling forested hills. I hustle to make it to an isolated fire lookout before sunset. The lookout turns out to be a tiny locked cabin with a rickety ladder to a roof platform. To avoid being eaten by mosquitos I decide to camp on the platform. The 360 degree sunset is the best of the trip. I lie on my bag and watch an incredible celestial show called nightfall.

Day 100: (VT)  20 miles from lookout to Podink Brook

The sunrise today from the platform is incredible. I watch the light cover the earth as we rotate toward the sun. The hike this morning has many hills and by lunch I am toast.

I take a dirt road uphill to a quintessential Vermont dairy farm called Cloudland for their indescribable ice cream and soda. A burly woman comes out of the farmhouse and leads me into a tiny walk-in freezer connected to the large barn. I make my selection and sit in a comfortable shaded garden and watch the farm in action.

A few miles later I find abundant trail magic in the form of a giant cooler filled with watermelon and cold soda. I make a pig of myself and take a long break while I rehydrate. I do not see evidence of any other hikers and the trail journal provided does not have many entries.

Late in the day I see the trail winding through a quaint little town called West Hartford. At the center of town a bridge crosses a swift river. I watch brave kids jump from the bridge into the swirling water. There is a white two story building advertising a general store and deli so of course I turn in. I am instantly delighted I do. I order one of the tantalizing specials from the friendly girl behind the counter. I shop for chips, soda and dessert in the store then sit with my booty at a table at the front windows.

I am so energized from the meal the climb out of town is a blur. When I start to tire I find a nice camp by a brook.

Day 101: (VT/NH)  8 miles in and 8 miles out of Hanover, NH

Anxious to get to Hanover I quickly breakdown camp. Half naked, I use the creek for a brisk jolting bath. The rude awakening continues when a lady walking her dog abruptly appears at a bend in the trail. We exchange awkward pleasantries, her friendly demeanor instantly improves the tone of the morning.

The trail emerges onto a rural road lined by hedges and mailboxes. As I walk along I get brief glimpses of large colonial homes set back with vast acres of manicured lawn. I approach a driveway with a sign pointing to a tupperware tub. Inside are homemade chocolate chip cookies and a lovingly bound trail journal.

I follow white blazes on the sidewalk to a multilane roadway. I turn left on a wide pedestrian walkway across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. At the top of a hill I arrive at a major metropolitan intersection. I see that the trail turns right down a canyon of multistory buildings. Across the street I see the gothic ivy covered architecture and campus of Dartmouth College. Somewhere along the bustling street I find a busy diner decorated with mirrors and silver trim. I tuck my pack under the counter and chow down on tasty greasy food in this loud packed environment. I feel like a pig at the communal trough.

After completing the usual town chores I amble to the edge of town where I know an exceptional ‘Whole Foods’ type of market is located. Hikers have raved about it and I am looking forward to getting fresh food to bring on the trail. I luxuriate in the delectable sights and smells for an hour then carry my spoils outside where a picnic table draws my attention. I drink a fruit smoothie and attack a huge self serve salad. I look up and see three teenage boys approaching with their super caffeine drinks and sugar snacks.

It turns out these good natured lads are in a band and are about to meet their drummer for practice. They like my tales of freedom on the AT so I take a risk and ask about scoring weed. The obvious leader of the group takes me around the back of the market and pulls baggies out of his pack. I give him all the cash I have we shake hands and part ways.

The trail enters the woods behind a school track. I stop at a nice seat and fire up my bomber with the harsh weed. As I feel the long awaited buzz come on I praise the trail spirits for this gift. I am now ready for the most anticipated section of this adventure– the White Mtns of NH and the final state of Maine.

Day 102: (NH)  20 miles to Hexacuba Shelter

Happy trails start with wake n bake and continue uninterrupted throughout the day. An afternoon thunderstorm cools things off nicely. I arrive at the unusually shaped Hexacuba shelter which is filled with unfriendly hikers jammed wall to wall to wall to wall to wall to wall. I find a flat tentsite and enjoy the solitude.

Day 103: (NH)  15 miles to Hiker’s Welcome in Glencliffe

A relatively short hike today to a legendary oasis called Hiker’s Welcome in the village of Glencliffe at the edge of the fearsome White Mtns. Although the main house is off limits, the hikers have free reign over the rest of the expansive property. I see several hikers sitting under a tarp next to a wooden structure which contains everything a hiker needs to kill time– books, videos and board games. I recognize one of the hikers from way back in TN. I have been chasing this boy and his dog for months!

There is a pile of bicycles against a fence for hikers to use to go into town. I choose a girls bike because it has a handlebar basket and begin the 30 minute ride to the nearest store. Choices are limited but I cram my purchases (including a six pack of beer) in the basket and pedal slowly up a long hill. My progress is slowed by the basket rubbing against the front tire due to the weight of my supplies so I start drinking the beer. I eventually return by dark with only 2 beers left.

I spend the rest of the evening chatting with the handful of hikers who are resting before taking on the challenging Presidential Range. I am filled with anticipation and have difficulty falling asleep. Tomorrow the real hike begins.

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 13

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags on July 14, 2013 by A lo Hawk

This is the tale of A Lo Hawk’s 132 day, 2200 mile traverse of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2008.

Chapter Thirteen (July 3rd-12th)

Day 87: (CT)  10 miles to Silver Hill campsite

Early coffee with Joe then a fabulous breakfast with Joe and Lee. They are a happy affluent retired couple living a comfortable life in a quiet New England town. I enjoy staying in the childhood room of their eldest son. There are animal skulls, crude weaponry and school banners on the walls. Lee takes me to the grocery store then back home for lunch with the two tight couples. Lee and Nancy take me for a history tour of the town then drop me at the trail by 2 pm.

Easy walking along a lazy river in a steady light rain. Suddenly I meet my first ‘SOBO’ (Southbound) hiker. He is relieved to be hiking easy trail after taking a beating in Maine and New Hampshire to start his journey. I stop at a nice campsite with a pavilion and cooking area where I meet morose young man SAILBOAT and his dog. The pavilion is a handy hangout as it continues to drizzle. Later the rain stops and it is a dry, rosy sunset.

Day 88:  23 miles from Silver Hill to campsite near Salisburg

It is a cloudy Independence Day. I ponder the definition of independence as I carry my life on my back and walk towards unending novelty. I reach a tiny tourist spot called Falls Village and luckily find a café open on the holiday. I devour a freshly made Reuben sandwich, big peanut butter cookie and gulp soda while the employee finishes closing.

I take a long, refreshing break at the great falls and watch young people swim and cliff jump. Later I see an owl near a strange rock protrusion called Giant’s Thumb. I do not see any hikers all day.

Day 89: (MA)  13 miles to Hemlocks Lean-to

It starts to rain as I break camp and it continues to rain all morning. At some point I cross into Massachusetts. The trail becomes steep and rocky and the rain makes the hiking treacherous. Paradoxically, groups of high-spirited day hikers go blazing past me.

I am completely soaked when I arrive at Hemlock Lean-to at 1:30 and I decide to call it a day and dry out in the empty lean-to (aka a shelter in other states). I take a nap and am awaken by the arrival of a Ridgerunner (volunteer trail care-taker) and two section hikers. My spirits are lifted by a long evening of fellowship around the fire.

Day 90:  23 miles from Hemlocks to camp past Beertown Mtn Rd

I am grumpy this morning but still leave the lean-to before any of the others. The foggy morning does not help my mood as I climb up and down viewless viewpoints.

At a road crossing I make a sidetrip along the shoulder of the road to a farm/feedstore. I greet a large woman with torn shirt, dirty jeans and muck boots and I nearly choke on the smell of animal feed. She points to a small commercial freezer in the corner which contains locally made peach soda and ice cream.

In the afternoon I stop at Benedict Pond for a swim and chance to dry out gear. While walking through waist high brush I am startled by bear #17 (the last bear of this trek as it turns out). We both quickly go our separate ways and I eventually crash after a tiring day next to a creek below a dirt road.

Day 91:  25 miles to camp between Wash Mtn Rd and Blotz Rd

Today is a tough day mentally and physically. I feel okay in the morning but by lunch the plug is pulled and I struggle. The only relief is an energizing swim at Upper Goose Pond. The trail is monotonous into the evening. I stop at a flat rock to cook dinner then crank out a few more boring miles. I need to get close to Dalton because I am low on food.

Day 92:  17 miles to camp above gas station

I get my usual early start and push to get the eight miles into Dalton. I stop at the first café I come to near the old town ironworks and have a long awaited breakfast. I find a Laundromat and decide to wash my sleeping bag. Drying becomes a problem due to a machine malfunction and the bag takes much too long to dry in the sun. I waste time and energy walking to a country store which is closed.

I am hungry again and stop at a fantastic sandwich shop called Angelina’s. Their sandwiches are huge! I order a philly cheesesteak for lunch and greasy Italian sub to go for dinner.

I stroll through the town of Cheshire looking for more treats. As I walk the sidewalk along the road out of town, I see where the trail continues into the woods there is a bright, busy convenience store. I slug various cold drinks and carry more with me into the cover of trees. As soon as I find a nice flat spot I stop to camp. When I open my bear canister I discover all of my food is oily from the Italian sub.

Day 93: (VT)  21 miles to Seth Warner Shelter

When I get up I walk back to the convenience store for breakfast drinks and apples. This morning’s hike is a taxing climb to the highest point in MA — Mt Greylock. There is an interesting war monument at the top which is swarming with the tourists who drove up on the road I crossed several times while walking to the summit. Unfortunately, it is a hazy day so there are no views and the vending machine has no Mtn Dew.

Near lunch time I walk through the town of North Adams and run into several hikers sitting in the shade outside of a large box grocery. My cravings are overwhelming inside this air-conditioned oasis and I end up with copious amounts of Mtn Dew, ice cream and watermelon. Rapidly ingesting this combination gives me bad gas and I try to walk it off through the maze of side streets and alleys to where the trail continues along a creek at the end of a quiet street.

It begins to rain just as I step off pavement and I stop to put on raingear. Nevertheless I am drenched by the time I arrive at the crowded shelter (in Vermont). I am reluctantly allowed a small space to lay my sleeping pad but I have to leave my pack covered outside of the shelter.

Day 94: (VT)  26 miles from Warner Shelter to Kid Gore Shelter

Not much to say except it is a long hard day. The hike is boring until the expansive views at the crowded Glastonbury Fire Tower. The flies are obnoxious at the base of the tower due to all the day hikers eating lunch there so I do not linger to socialize. Fortunately, the day is cooler and I make it to a less crowded shelter for the night.

Day 95: (VT)  24 miles from Kid Gore to camp near road to Manchester Center

Another long day on the trail as I begin to anticipate the final leg of this journey. Today involves a climb to Stratton Mtn then a descent to Stratton Pond. In the afternoon the cool weather and easier terrain allows me to push past Spruce Peak so I can camp close to the road to Manchester Center, my next mail drop.

Day 96: (VT)  early hitch to Manchester Center

I am up early and quickly motor the two miles to the road. Even though it is before 6 am I get a ride from a guy headed to work. I am dropped off in downtown Manchester Center but not much is open so I get a soda from a spotless Mobile station (after washing up in their nice restroom) and wait on a bench outside of a restaurant appropriately called ‘Up for Breakfast’.

While waiting, an old guy with a newspaper walks up and we start chatting. When he learns that I graduated from the University of Texas he gets very excited and offers to buy me breakfast. We swap southern stories and become a loud nuisance to the other patrons.

I spend the morning doing my usual town chores: laundry, grocery shopping, take my camera to a photo processing center. The post office is across town and I send photos to my wife after I pick up my packages. I am not ready to head back to the trail so I find a quiet pub for a leisurely lunch and a few beers.

I sit in the dark pub until late in the afternoon. Finally, an old surfer dude enters and we chat. He is in town for a horse show. After a few more beers he agrees to give me a ride back to the trail. In the evening I haul my full pack up to the Bromley Peak ski lift, take a break then drop down to Styles Peak Camp.