Ground control to Major Thom

Lift off is getting closer and closer. Bags are packed, tickets on planes, trains and automobiles are confirmed. And to top it off, dinner with Shawn, a Twin Cities guy who did the TGOC when he was 19, the youngest to ever do it. Now 28, he is ready to go again. Trying to upload a photo but challenged by attempting to use Tumblr with my phone and a Bluetooth keyboard. Perhaps I need to go into Blackbeard mode.

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Little Black Corvette

Tomorrow i hope to do a 15, again on the Ice Age Trail. Why? Because life is a wonderful, yet tenuous thing. We never know what is going to happen tomorrow.

Case in point.

One of the world’s great artist’s and one one Minneapolis’ most cherished citizens died today.

Gone. Forever.

No more brilliance. No more lifting our lives.

The Little Black Corvette comes for us all.

Before it does, find your ride and take it.

this is a photo outside of First Ave in Gotham on the Prairie.

Find your ride. go fast. And don’t wear a seatbelt.

Channeling My Inner Reese Witherspoon

What started out as a vague date in the future, a looming adventure to get ready for, is fast approaching; like the RNC National Convention. Luckily I am in better shape than most of the candidates.

I’ve done my research. I’ve read Bill Bryson’s new book, “The Road to Little Driblling,” about his love for England and what is wrong with it. He drives, walks, complains and drinks beer. What better example for travel could I have?

I watched the movie made from his book, “A Walk in the Woods.” About his hiking the Appalachian Trail (why waste time reading the book when you can watch the movie and eat popcorn at the same time). Robert Redford plays him in the movie. If this blog were ever made into a movie, I hope to be portrayed by Don Cheadle. I love his work. And him portraying me makes as much sense as Redford playing Bryson.

I also watched the movie, “Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed, who is played by Reese Witherspoon. Again, I know the book would offer more insight, but it wouldn’t show Reese Witherspoon naked.

So between that, I figured I was ready to do an overnight and check out some new equipment. Once again I took off for the wilds of Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail.

I should have known I was going to be challenged, when I drove to Wisconsin via Taylors Falls and found the bridge closed for repairs, which necessitated a 40-minute detour. I finally made it to my hiking route, the Northern Blue Hills Segment of the Ice Age Trail.

I parked my car in as remote a spot as I could find and headed out.

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It was a warm day in the high sixties, and the trail was beautiful and well marked. The legs were strong, the pack initially light (coming in at 23 pounds with water) and I was optimistically looking forward the setting up camp in the late afternoon.

Around hour two I took a fall. Not bad but my left index finger looks like a blueberry sausage (and for some strange reason is starting to smell like one, might have to have it looked at).

A few hours after that, I realized the back of my leg was wet for some reason, looking around I found the source; my water bladder had clicked open and most of three liters of water was marking my trail behind me. I had another liter water bottle but that would not be enough for cooking, cleaning and another days hike.

But that was okay because around 5:30 I realized I had wondered off the trail and probably wouldn’t need much more water because I was going to die. I pitched camp at a spectacular setting just off the trail, set up my tent, changed out of salt incrusted clothes and was about to heat up some freeze dried chili when an ATV came into view.

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On it were a middle-aged couple dressed in cameo, out for a Friday night spin. I flagged them down and asked if by any chance they had any extra water or soda, and sadly they did not. I mentioned my water issue and wished them a good ride.

I went back to my chili and the promise of a good hot meal (well, at least a hot meal) only to discover I had left my gas canister at home. I was left with the comforting feeling that my training with Bill Bryson and Reese Witherspoon had gone very well. I too was a complete idiot.

I decided the best thing to do in the morning was to hike out to the county road and walk that back to my car. I sat in my tent and read on my iPone, “This Side of Paradise” by Fitzgerald to pass the time. Around 9:00PM I hear another ATV come down the track and hailed them to stop. It was the same couple now on their way home. Assuming they had not stocked up on water, I just asked them how close the county road was and that I was out of food and water. They figured out on their own that I was a knucklehead. We bid good night and I returned to my tent and reading.

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Around 9:30 I hear yet another ATV coming down the road that roars up to within a few feet of my tent. I’m out to see what’s up and it is my new best friends, returning with a couple cans of Mountain Dew and beef jerky. It was the kindest thing I can remember in a long time. Truly a testament that there is more good in the world than bad. I returned to Fitzgerald and lights out around ten.

While camping I was on constant alert for deer ticks and if you like them, Wisconsin is the place for you. I had a fitful nights sleep and around 2:00AM felt something on my hand, turned on my light, and sure enough it was a deer tick. I quickly looked around to see if there was a deer in my tent and they were just trying to get together but no, it was after me. Now for all the damage they do, they are the slowest bugs alive. They move at about ten feet an hour. They are like Boris Karloff playing the mummy, if you get caught you’re dead but escape is possible. I disposed of it and went back to sleep.

Sleep was fitful, between being too tired to sleep and the coyote howls that felt like they were ten feet away, i finally dozed off around 2:30.

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The next morning I had Dew and Sausage for breakfast, packed up and headed back to the car. There is a saying in Wisconsin when camping: Leave nothing behind and taken nothing but memories. And deer ticks.

Day one hike: 13 miles

Day two hike: 7 miles

Practice makes perfect, in an imperfect world

I promise to get around to explaining Walking to Wellesley. But, i’ve been frightfully busy planning for it. like more work than you can expect since November. A big part of the planning at this stage is to ensure i have the right equipment and know how to use it. My trips into the wilderness, when not visiting the wilds of Hennepin Avenue, have typically been by canoe, which is like going into the wild in a station wagon. You can bring whatever you want. Spare clothing? No problem. Boombox? Ditto. Back packing however requires more care or it ends up being backkilling.

This last Saturday i headed north of Chipawa Falls, to a section of the 1,000 mile long Ice Age Hiking Trail in Wisconsin, that state to the east of us. It is really a remarkable trail—almost continuos—that wobbles its way through the state, much like the inhabitants.

I did 12 miles with a full pack that right now, is weighing in at around 20 lbs, minus cigars and whiskey. The plan was to camp out to test the new tent (and my resolve) but the weather that night was going to be 30º so i opted to return home and attend the Minneapolis & St. Paul Film Festival. There an old friend was premiering his movie on Robert Klein. the famed comedian. If you get a chance, please see it. It is hilarious.

My plan is to try and get away later this week and hike the Ice Age Trail closer to the Minnesota boarder and camp out. It is closer to home and if i need to hot tail it out of Wisconsin, i have a better chance of getting to civilization.

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This is me on the trail, and a photo of what the trail looks like, which is spectacular. You got to hand it to Wisconsin, what they give up in petty politics, they make up for in beauty. Oh yeah, and cheese.

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