My Walk in the Woods, Ch 4

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags on July 13, 2017 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.

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 3

Chapter Four (April 30th-May 6th)

Day 23: (TN)  4 miles to Uncle Johnny’s Hostel in Erwin, TN

Easy am walk down to the road to Erwin, TN where the conveniently located Uncle Johnny’s Hostel sits on several rustic acres. There is a bunkhouse, cabins, washroom/laundry/showers and a tiny store/office. I see the Portland, OR couple PINENUT and POGO plus meet other hikers in the bunkhouse. I am just in time for the morning shuttle to town for breakfast and grocery.

We are dropped off at a convenience store and told to go to a counter in the back. Sweaty ladies are slinging hash in a tight, hot kitchen.  The prices are incredible: eggs, biscuit and gravy, hashbrowns, and coffee for $4.95. There is a steady stream of locals grabbing togo bags and chewing the gossip.

In the afternoon, hikers loiter around the picnic tables under the pavilion taking turns with the washing machines and space on the kinky clotheslines. In the evening, there is a shuttle to a bad mexican restaurant but good ice cream next door. With a taxing week behind me I crash hard and early.

Day 24: (TN)  16 miles from Uncle Johnny’s to Cherry Gap Shelter

I wake up refreshed and sneak out before sunrise to quietly pack my gear on a picnic table covered with crude engravings of AT history. The vending machine delivers mega ounces of Mtn Dewness; a toke of the Angleton Grind delivers a wake n bake slingshot breakfast of champions. Happy Trails!

Once I’ve climbed a bit, I scramble to a rock outcrop, find a good perch and call the wife. I stop and have lunch at Beauty Spot with a fun crew of pirates wearing paper hats from Long John Silvers. I end this pleasant day camping near the shelter with the pirate crew plus good old ‘bama’ boys RED and TC.

Day 25: (TN)  15 miles from Cherry Gap to Roan High Knob Shelter

It is already warm this morning as I sit and get high while keeping an eye on the sleeping lumps in the shelter. A nice day of hiking is interrupted by a tough climb to Roan High Knob. It is very windy on the high point but a nearby shelter is protected by a moat of wind swept trees. I pitch my tent between knarly tree trunks behind the shelter.

Day 26:  18 miles from Roan High Knob to camp near road

I listen to the wind batter the tenacious trees. The morning amble starts with a long lumbering downhill then across several balds. Weather is breezy with occasional light rain but visibility is good.

It dries out in the afternoon, I break out of the forest to a bucolic scene of rolling meadows anchored by the cavernous barn known as Overmountain Shelter.  As impressive as this sight is, it pales in comparison to the carnival under a big white vinyl tarp happening in my direct path.

Two hiking spouses are paying it forward with a weekend of trail magic they carried up the rutted tractor road from their car. There is a boisterous crowd of malingering hiker trash on the lounge chairs and around the beer/soda cooler.

I gratefully wolf down two grilled cheese sandwiches, two bowls of veggie chili and guzzle four ice cold beers. I chat with a hiker named SLIGHTLY, immobile and fully reclined, straw hat hiding his eyes. He seemed only Slightly interested in the AT. I volunteer to push the lumberjack sized hand cart two miles round trip to the car for more supplies — a joyful, bouncy trip down, a nearly sisyphousian ordeal back up.

I camp by a road on soft pine needles.

Day 27: (TN)  21 miles from camp to Kincora Hostel

A long boring day with no views. It is warm and sunny as I trudge through the infamous green tunnel.

Early in the evening I reach Kincora Hostel just as the shuttle leaves for dinner in Elizabethton. More poor mexican food then back to the hostel for a late shower. I am still doing laundry as others are off to bed.

Day 28: (TN)  16 miles from Kincora to Vandeventer Shelter

As usual I am up before anyone else and quickly on the trail in the cool of the day. What a beautiful amble along Laurel Fork River to an impressive waterfall. Then a climb over Pond Mtn to Watauga Lake & Dam. I pass many fishermen and boaters on my way to a nice shelter/campsite with a view of the lake. I smoke the last of my weed while watching the sunset.

Day 29: (TN)  23 miles from Vandeventer Shelter to Abingdon Gap Shelter

I see a bear (#4?) while I am shitting in the woods this morning (insert punchline here). I think this is a good omen but I am wrong.

My legs are feeling the miles today. The weather starts sunny then grows overcast as I grind out a brutal hike threading mountain ridges. 450 official AT miles covered in a month (approx 20 peripheral miles)


My Walk in the Woods, Ch 3

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags on July 11, 2017 by A lo Hawk

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

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 2

Chapter Three (April 21st-29th)

Day 14: (TN)  5 miles from Mt Collins Shelter to Newfound Gap, ride to Gatlinburg, TN

UPHILL and I cruise downhill to the road crossing at Newfound Gap. He calls a friend who gives us a thrilling downhill curvy autobobsled run into Gatlinburg, TN. We stop at Flapjacks Pancake Cabin for breakfast then I say aloha to my new friends and step onto the main street of this kitchy tourist town.

I dial up dad’s number, he and Chris are staying here at a time share condo for the week. (I estimated when I would reach this point and coordinated with him earlier this year) The massive condo complex has an indoor water park surrounded by an MC Escher designed road system.

I relax with a long hot shower then meticulously clean all the gear. We make a trip to WalMart then enjoy a condo cooked meal.

Day 15: (TN/NC)  Ride to Newfound Gap, hike to Peck’s Corner Shelter

Kenton and I have breakfast at the same Flapjacks Pancake Cabin. I astound him with my insatiable appetite for biscuits, butter, eggs, sausage and stacks of fluffy cakes drenched in sticky syrup. He drives me to the post office then to the public library so I can use their computers. Chris makes spaghetti for lunch then we drive up to Clingman’s Dome (highest point on the AT and popular tourist attraction) so dad and I can revisit the overlook he brought me to as a child.

They take me back to Newfound Gap, mahalo and aloha to the helpful pair. Once again I am headed north. A beautiful evening of hiking rugged ridges until well after dark. Happy Earth Day!

Day 16: (TN)  20 miles from Peck’s Corner Shelter to Davenport Gap Shelter

It is a nice day so I make the 1.2 mile sidetrip to the beautiful stone fire tower on Mt Cammerer. More pleasing views around every corner. I end up at the last shelter inside the national park boundary.

Day 17:  17 miles from Davenport Gap to Max Patch summit

Today’s hike is a big climb to the summit of Max Patch which is a huge bald hundreds of yards across. The views of the Smoky Mtns is stunning and I have to camp at this incredible spot. There are several tents dotting the grand meadow but I easily find a nice site away from everyone. Still it is easy to hear conversation from people sitting on the soft grass watching the remarkable sunset. Aloha!

Day 18:  16 miles from Max Patch to Deer Park Mtn Shelter

Camping on the bald is windy but it is a warm night. I get up to watch the sunrise and see there are photographers nearby set up with their tripods.

During the middle of the day I keep running into slow hikers who are part of a large church men’s group. I prefer hikers who move like the devil is chasing them.

The beneficent trail spirit rewards me with trail magic at Gerronflo(sp?) Gap. A heavenly trail angel feeds me hot dog and homemade cookies washed down with Mtn Dew ambrosia.

Day 19: (TN)  3 miles to Hot Springs, 10 miles to camp

Out of curiosity I make a short detour in the morning to visit Standing Bear Farm. It has a reputation for being an interesting place to hang out with the bohemian trail riffraff. I arrive to see hung over and comatose bodies I recognize from Franklin and leave slightly disappointed.

Next the white blazes follow the two lane county road through the friendly hamlet of Hot Springs, North Carolina. Besides being a mail drop and resupply point, the town is having a street fair with colorful booths and the wonderful smell of meat cooking on a grill. I am extremely satisfied with a stacked buffalo burger and onion ring basket.

As I watch people go by I occasionally hear the term ‘hacker’ and ‘them hackers’. Was there some kind of computer hack in the news that I am totally unaware of? I’m not quite ready to get back on the trail so I get a seat out on the patio of the Paddler’s Tavern and put down cold beers in the warm afternoon until I have a good buzz. I finally ask the waitress, “What’s all this talk about hackers? Who are the hackers?” There is a long pause while she gives me a quizzical look. Then she says in an amused voice, “Well of course its you, honey, you’re the hacker!”

Its a long climb once the trail resumes but it gets cooler and I get sober. I camp nowhere near a shelter.

Day 20: (NC)  17 miles from camp to Jerry Cabin Shelter

What can I say? Today is a long rainy slog, menacing clouds darken my mood. I keep pushing the miles then am a late intruder at a crowded shelter. Room is made for me to squeeze in but the only place for my pack is a hook on the edge of the extended roof. Even with a pack cover it is getting soaked tonight.

Day 21:  17 miles from Jerry Cabin to a mile beyond I-26 at Sam’s Gap

It is raining when I wake up and continues as I leave the shelter. It takes all day but eventually the weather and my mood improve. About a mile after crossing under I-26 I camp at a tiny site at Sam’s Gap. Although out of sight of civilization, I still hear traffic noise from the freeway as I drift to sleep.

Day 22: (TN)  20 miles from Sam’s Gap to 2 miles past No Business Shelter

What a night! Apparently I camped in a wind tunnel and I wake up to below freezing wind chill temperatures. I have to drag my camp downhill to get out of the hypothermic wind and pack up. Once I get moving I notice the ground and leaves have a thin layer of snow dust.

It is by far the coldest morning of the trip, I maintain a quick pace to get the furnace going. Around a corner I am surprised by the most amazing trail magic. On the ground next to the trail I find a tupperware tub filled with fresh baked chocolate muffins, an industrial size thermos of coffee and a thick hardbound trail log. It is difficult for me to open these delightful items with frozen fingers but the effects are immediate and transformative. I can see whisps of smoke from a chimney over a small rise. I shout, “Haleakala, Aloha!” to the unknown trail angel extraordinaire.

Later in the morning, I arrive at a shelter where I meet a honeymooning couple about to leave their campfire burning. The dippy dude from Oregon warns me he just tossed a nearly empty gas canister in the fire. We move a safe distance and wait for the seriously stupid prank to deploy with an underwhelming THUD.

The breezy afternoon is spent climbing yet another big bald. I camp a few miles past the shelter to get a head start for Erwin tomorrow.

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 2

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags on July 7, 2017 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.

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 1

Chapter Two (April 14th-20th)

Day 7: (NC)  4 miles to road, shuttle to Franklin, NC Hiker Haven Hostel

A quick hike in the cold morning down to a road where hikers can catch a shuttle bus to Franklin, North Carolina. As we are waiting, the wind blows flakes of snow in swirling clouds. Nearby there is a pipe coming out of the hillside at shoulder height gushing cold spring water. Being a considerate piece of hiker trash, I want to spruce up before heading to town so I strip off my shirt and have a brisk shower while the other hikers stare at me in disbelief.

The shuttle bus arrives and we get our first look at Ron Haven, owner of the Hiker Haven Hostel. In his slow southern drawl he informs us he is the city mayor and chief promoter as well. We find out on the ride into town Ron is also a blatantly racist comedian.

Ambassador Haven gives us the grand tour of main street identifying the post office, outfitter store, and grocery. He finally stops at his clean, L shaped motel with nicely manicured and landscaped grounds. He ‘invites’ us to unload, check in and he promises to make a shuttle run back to the desired businesses in one hour. It is an offer no one refuses.

UPHILL and I share a room, drop our packs and he pulls out a nearly empty bottle of JD whiskey. We finish the bottle and sit on the grass with the other hikers waiting to do errands. At the grocery I get perishables like fruit; cheese, meat and bread for sandwiches. At the outfitter I buy moist yummy energy bars (I make a mental note to look for them in the future). Our last stop is to the post office where I wait in line to pick up my first mail drop.

SIDETRACK: In the weeks leading up to this trip I filled 14 boxes with dehydrated food, toiletries, trail data, etc. for Sue to drop into the mail at intervals. Three years ago I used the commercial food pouches like Mountain House. This year I prepared my own meals, borrowing a food dehydrator from a friend and sealing the meals in boil safe zip lock freezer bags. I also included into each box a few chapters of the novel Cold Mountain. I got an old paperback and ripped it into pieces. The plan is to read a section whenever I have a few minutes then burn it in a campfire when finished.

For dinner UPHILL and I walk over to country junkyard themed Cody’s Restaurant. Once we get past the old gas pumps and rusty automobilia we are served huge beers and chicken fried steaks. UPHILL tells me stories of his winter gig as a ski instructor to high end clients in Utah.

Day 8: (NC)  Shuttle to trail, 15 miles to Cold Springs Shelter

I can not sleep, the room feels stuffy and claustrophobic after living outside. I get up, walk out to the quiet parking lot and call Sue on my flip phone. Cheap breakfast with UPHILL then aboard the bus for the ride back to the trail. There is a mob of hikers waiting as we pull up, they crowd the door like cattle. I push my way through the herd, adjust straps and belts, then disappear into the foliage.

The walking is a gentle climb until I emerge from the trees onto the first of many grassy balds. Clear sunny skies allow for panoramic views of endless green ridges fading to the horizon. For the rest of the day I climb and descend a series of balds like a giddy roller coaster kid.

The fun ride ends and I camp near a shelter with a cold spring.

Day 9: (NC)  12 miles from Cold Springs Shelter to Nantahala Outdoor Center Hostel

I get the hiking done early in the day and arrive at bare bones Nantahala Outdoor Center Hostel. They service river guide clients and AT hikers. The sterile rooms have abundant bunkbed vacancies. I use vigilance in the shower area, never taking off my camp crocs or touching unnecessary surfaces. A good dinner at a close restaurant, wondering what happened to UPHILL. He is a fast hiker who typically starts late in the morning but catches me by the end of the day.

I scout the sturdy pedestrian bridge over the churning water that leads to the future.

Day 10:  18 miles from N.O.C. to Cody Gap

Journal notes are lost

Day 11:  Cody Gap to Fontana Dam to campsite #113 in Great Smoky Mountains NP

I anxiously approach the massive concrete structure which holds back Fontana Lake and defines the boundary to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The visitor center has showers and vending machines which I take full advantage of. Copious amounts of hot water and cold soda soothe the exterior and interior of the walking machine.

The town of Fontana Dam is compact and convenient. I grab some good local grub and have a picnic on the grass near the post office. I pick up another mail drop (with the next installment of Cold Mountain) and transfer the goodies into my pack.

Because of 9-11 no one is allowed to walk across the god DAM so hikers must make a 2.5 mile detour down stream and across a bridge. Fortunately this leads to an empty picnic area and a great place sit and smoke out. I call Sue before starting the climb into the park. Not five minutes later I see bear #1 rooting his snout in the underbrush on the hillside above me.

It is a long strenuous climb to the first NPS designated campsites. I grab #113 and the rest are claimed quickly. I am amused by the foursome of knuckleheads sorting out brand new gear with the plastic packaging still on. I watch intently while they consider the mystery of the gas canister/stove connection.

During dinner I briefly meet an ultralight, ultra hiking goddess who has miles to go before she sleeps. By humble comparison I calculate 178 miles covered in 11 days.

Day 12: (TN)  17 miles from campsite #113 to Derrick Knob Shelter

It rained last night so everything gets packed up wet. The reward for a sticky morning of climbing is an excellent view of the park from the grassy bald of Thunderhead Mtn. After drying out the gear I am in a better mood to continue hiking into the evening. As I come down a hill I hear shouts from a lively bunch and see the roof of Derrick Knob Shelter. I make the turn off the trail to join the fun ruckus.

Day 13: (TN)  14 miles from Derrick Knob to Mt Collins Shelter

Wind blows crystal moisture through the bitter air. Today is significant because the Appalachian Trail reaches its highest point at 6643 ft Clingman’s Dome. There is a big parking area for tour buses and a paved handicap ramp up to a sheltered overlook. Fog rolls through the empty lot as I unload my hiker trash into a metal can.

SIDETRACK: As a child my parents vacationed to TN and we visited Clingman’s Dome. I have an old photo of me clinging to a boulder, no shoes on, a pathetic sad faced little boy terrified of the boogey man in the woods.

The trail weaves along knife edge ridges with trippy hoar frost ice sculptures carved by the biting wind. At Mt Collins Shelter I look for the campsite with the most wind protection and hunker down for the night.

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 1

Posted in My Narcissisms, Trail Tales with tags , , , , on June 26, 2017 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 One (April 7th-13th)

Day 0:  Motel 6 in Gulfport, MS to camp two miles up Springer Mtn approach trail

Launch day begins at 5:30 am in a Motel 6 room in Gulfport, Mississippi. Everything I need for the next four months is stuffed into or strapped onto an REI backpack. Charlotte and Greg are in another room getting ready to drive me to Georgia where I will begin my northbound traverse of the Appalachian Trail.

I think back three years earlier when this same trio was on their way to the California/Mexico border in the arid hills near Campo where a monument marks the southern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail. Just like in 2005, we find a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop and I ingest gluttonous quantities of warm, sugary goodness washed down with cups of straight black coffee.

With a jittery energy rush we head towards Atlanta. Slow congested traffic increases my nervous anticipation. We stop at a McAleister’s Deli in the northern suburbs for my last supper as a civilized member of society.

We finally arrive at Amicalola Falls State Park at 4:30 pm. The ranger station contains a hiker registry for the intrepid souls who hope to follow the white trail blazes all the way to the summit of Mt Katahdin in Maine. I am the 588th person to start this year and several others have left earlier in the day. There is a large grocer’s scale hanging in the back for weighing my pack–43 lbs.

It is a beautiful afternoon, 67 degrees, and I feel strong and confident as I step through the arch after saying aloha to Charlotte and Greg. The worn trail is shady and gently climbs into the mountains of northern Georgia. I see an inviting rock so I sit and have a toke of weed I got from my botanist friend Thomas. I take a moment to reflect on the journey that brought me to this place. Remembering a promise made to Pele (goddess of fire) on Maui earlier this year, I whisper “mahalo” then yell at the top of my lungs “Haleakala!”

About a mile later, at a bend in the trail, I stop at an empty campsite, sit down and write these notes in my journal.

Day 1: (GA)  22 miles from trailside camp to Gooch Mtn Shelter

I begin a habit that will last the entire trek by rising before the sun. Technically, the Appalachian Trail begins at the top of Springer Mtn so I have six more miles of the ‘approach trail’ before I see the first strip of white paint which marks the trail for the next 2000 miles.

I stop for a moment at the summit to take a photo of a plaque then begin a descent which leads to another climb. I am trying to conserve energy, trying not to get overheated in this hilly terrain but excitement keeps me going for eleven hours until I eventually stop at Gooch Mtn Shelter.

As I will soon see, shelters come in all shapes and sizes and can be found every 8-12 miles along the trail. They are supposed to be first come/egalitarian places to spend the night and there are usually several campsites nearby. They are the hub of communal activity among the hikers and they provide a conduit for communication and information sharing.

As I expected, the shelter is already packed with boisterous, excited strangers. Luckily, this is one of the more modern structures with a loft where I find room for my sleeping bag. Although I love to tent camp, I am drawn in by the camaraderie and fellowship this early in the trip. I meet a young man who uses the trail name UPHILL. I don’t know it yet but UPHILL will be an occasional hiking companion for several hundred miles.

Day 2: (GA) 15 miles from Gooch Mtn Shelter to Neels Gap Hostel

I sleep badly. There is too much snoring in the shelter so I get up and hit the trail while most are still sleeping. It is a warm day and I spend much of it climbing up and over Blood Mtn. In the afternoon I arrive at a road crossing and Neels Gap Hostel.

Hiker hostels are an upgrade from a shelter. For a nominal fee you get electricity, shower, laundry, bunkbed and possibly meals. Neels Gap Hostel host PIRATE makes sloppy joes, has pints of Ben & Jerry’s in a giant freezer and apple cobbler in the oven. In the evening he hosts a game show and gives out prizes (I win a tent stake mallet) which all secretly get placed back in the ‘do not want to carry’ box.

There are many hikers showing up in the evening and space is scarce. I enjoy the festive atmosphere until I get tired and go to bed.

Day 3: (GA)  18 miles from Neels Gap to Blue Mtn Shelter

I wake up and PIRATE has coffee made and is stirring pancake batter and flipping slices of spam on the griddle simultaneously. We have a nice chat while I eat the first stack. Apparently my watch battery has expired and I toss the useless bracelet in the trash. I feel an additional level of freedom and lightness as I step out of the door into a beautiful morning.

Once again I give thanks, or mahalo, to Pele (goddess of fire, lightning, volcanoes) for my good fortune. SIDETRACK: In January, while on a 20th wedding anniversary trip to Maui, I hike deep into the crater of dormant Haleakala volcano. I was completely alone in this silent powerful landscape when a voice told me if I bring the island spirit of aloha to the trail I will have safe travels and an abundance of wealth. Even before starting the hike I was saying ‘Aloha’ instead of ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to everyone I meet.

I walk along a ridge in the cool morning, signs of spring showing everywhere. I stop to look at the broad view of forested hills. A shadow catches my eye and I see a hawk calmly floating over the treetops below. Suddenly two thoughts collide in my mind creating a new identity for this humble hiker trash: aloha + a low hawk = A LO HAWK

Later UPHILL and RED catch me and I tag along with them to Blue Mtn Shelter. There is a nice spring, I pitch my tent, make a big dinner and watch a lovely sunset. Happy Tails!

Day 4: (GA) 15 miles from Blue Mtn Shelter to Deep Gap Shelter

It is a cool, overcast start to the day. The best views occur at some lookout rocks early in the morning. The weather is unsettled, something is in the air, I feel a change coming. I pitch my tent near Deep Gap Shelter where UPHILL, RED and others are staying. I question my judgment when a light rain begins to fall. Tomorrow I should cross into North Carolina.

Day 5: (NC)  20 miles from Deep Gap Shelter to Standing Indian Shelter

Today starts out with great hiking and continues into the cool afternoon. There is a small sign on the trail at the GA/NC border but too many hikers are standing around to stop. I keep trucking until I get to Standing Indian Shelter which is full of rowdy young men so I set up my tent far away. It is a very cold, windy night.

Day 6: (NC)  ??? miles from Standing Indian Shelter to Rock Gap Shelter

It is a very chilly morning and does not improve. I break down camp and begin hiking asap. I am not conscious of the miles, only the need to keep moving and stay warm. I get to Rock Gap Shelter which has a large blue tarp covering  the normally open fourth wall. The shelter is packed with cold hikers but they make room for me. It begins to snow and hail as we fire up our stoves.

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 7

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 8

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 9

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 10

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 11

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 12

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 13

My Walk in the Woods, Ch 14

On the Road to Fayetteville

Posted in Rancid Recollections with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2017 by A lo Hawk

<1> Launch from the Colorado Rockies, turn east at Albuquerque >> blast off across the plains of NM, TX and OK on Interstate 40 fueled by cashews, caffeine and gobbling gummy grams of edible cannabis >> pass through towns with names like Aztec, Poteau, Tecumseh, Sallislaw and the Suessian Zuzax >> brown treeless hills dotted with cholla cactus gradually turns to verdant hills surrounding man-made lakes >> acres of three blade wind turbines rotating in the Texas Panhandle, hold steering wheel tight against gusty crosswind >> stockyard stench, cheap gas, Warning: Hitchhikers May Be Escaped Inmates >> after sunset a lovely stealth campsite on grass next to Tenkiller Dam OK, overhead full moon nightlight shower as I drift to sleep

<2> Morning aviary heaven, cranes and sparrows rejoice, first rays of light touch mirrored surface of lake, hallelujah! >> overgrown and easily overlooked SPIRO MOUNDS contain secrets of a great ancient empire built on high ground above flood plain of Arkansas River >> The Ozarks, Okie Dokie Road, crowds pack Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park >> watch village people Kenton and Christine, caretakers of PACO, old timer from Chihuahua, give an oatmeal bath for fleas in the kitchen sink >> home style vittles at Home Plate restaurant >> Dad strums new Ron Jon guitar from Vietnam

<3> Daddy dearest and I go Rogue >> rows of tables piled with quartz and slag glass, chiggers, zipline physics goes wrong (you need more mass young man and operators knew) >> shuttle to Fayetteville cuz cousin Wryand gettin hitched, Universalist Unitarian temple, tux t-shirts and Jayhawk shoes >> Hog Haus Brewery reception party on balcony overlooking Razorbacks on Dickson Street >> privately Lumpy makes a shocking Black Tar confession

<4> 2:30 am eyes open a crack, bladder release eminent >> fifteen hour push pedal gear steer frenzy –> home, car cabin cacophony therapy to prevent catastrophe >> three sailors of the open road roar past full throttle, Mongols of California on their jackets, bandannas over faces, dark glasses, hair flying straight back, aimlessly drifting across lanes at a hundred miles per >> stoic sentinels of Cadillac Ranch flash by while the radio declares ITS THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT AND I FEEL FINE

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