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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Robert Ashley
Friday, August 30
9:30 a.m. Stoddard Creek campground, Idaho - Although my title “Education Outreach Coordinator” sounds impressive, much less of my time is actually spent coordinating education programs than such a high-falutin’ title suggests. It is true that I conducted four programs and came away from them with satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, I’m looking forward to several confirmed appearances next week and the promise of several more down the road in Wyoming. In particular, I will visit Mammoth School (K-8) next Tuesday, then drive to Casper to share a booth with the Wyoming Geographic Alliance at the Hunting and Fishing Expo, which is expected to draw thousands of school children. Sherry Tavergie of the WGA, whom I met at National Geographic Society’s “Workshop on Water” in 1992, has been especially helpful. However, efforts at setting up programs with various agencies and schools have been largely frustrating exercises. Other expected sources of assistance have been marginal. The most profitable leads for scheduling have been provided by Dave Mensing, whose knowledge of agency personnel is impressive.
So what do I do with my time, you may wonder, and I must tell you that being the Education Outreach Coordinator actually looks a lot like being a “roadie” for a Trek Team. The perception of my role I had two months ago is far different from my actual daily activities. Pre-trek information suggested that I would be able to participate in the actual trek far more than I have done (I have been with the Trek Team on only two occasions. One day I hiked with them in Glacier N.P., and I took the horseback trip two days ago). Other hiking has been limited; only recently have I been able to get away from camp to see the countryside for an hour or so at a time. I also expected we would be presenting more programs and interacting more with the public.
I’m not complaining. To combat the frustrations, I’ve adopted a philosophy that is outside the orderly, do-it-on-time societal norm. After all, what we are doing is not normal. The philosophy I’m talking about is that attitude one has to accept when traveling in Mexico or Central America, where things do not happen on time and people say “Manana” or “No problema” when confronted with an unusual condition or situation. After a frustrating start, I have accepted that the trek will not go according to plan and that adjustments must be made. I’m still of the mind that my primary purpose for being here is to coordinate educational programs, but it is not a life-and-death thing.
Instead, most of my time has been occupied with making sure the camp is broken and gear stowed in the two trailers, moving to the new site, setting up the new camp, helping with meal preparation, doing laundry, etc. (We’ve been moving every day for several weeks). Dealing with individual tents and gear takes only a few minutes, but tending camp for four trekkers, seven support staff, a varied number of techies, and frequent visitors takes considerable time. We erect four canopies at each site, unload individual duffle bags and packs from one trailer and cooking gear and food from the other. Typically, three two-burner propane stoves are used for breakfast and supper. We set up three portable tables, chairs, and a wash station. Water is drawn from a 250-gallon tank on one of the two pick-up trucks (used to pull the trailers. The tech trailer is pulled by the RV). In primitive sites (no water or toilets) we erect a portable toilet in a tiny, tall tent, and we have experimented with a portable shower in another.
The Support Team is pretty efficient, now that we have practiced for a whole month (yesterday was the halfway mark for the 60-day trek). We take satisfaction that everyone pitches in and works to tend the chores, but sometimes that efficiency turns into frustration. For example, we’ve been ready to leave this site for an hour, but we must await the word to depart. Our goal is to move as efficiently and quickly as possible so that time will be available for hiking and other activities. The “hurry up and wait” philosophy frustrates that goal.
Inconveniences? Sure. It’s cold in the morning. Night before last we camped in a meadow covered with cow poop. In primitive sites we use plastic bags for toilets. Paul-bless his heart-makes horrible coffee, and he always gets up just before I can get to the “coffee fixin’s” bin. My tent fly doesn’t always zip very well, and my tent is usually wet when I put it away. I haven’t had a shower in four days, we don’t stop in towns big enough to have barbers, and someone keeps mistaking my socks for his own.
But it is okay. The Mexican philosophy works particularly well when combined with the Chinese Taoist philosophy. Taoism insists that inherent in any phenomenon are the Yin and Yang-two opposing forces. The forces are good and bad, dark and light, strong and weak, etc. They are present in everything, so even in the worst experience there is some “silver lining,” and in the most exalting experience there may well be a “thorn.” In this trekking experience-as with any experience-it is necessary to “take the bad with the good.” I’ve done that, and I think most of the team has done so, too. So far, the positives far outweigh the negatives. If the balance should shift such that the trek becomes a bad experience, I hope I’ll have enough sense to recognize it and catch a plane back to southern Illinois. For now, though, I’m staying here.
for Friday, August 30
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Robert Ashley
Bob Ashley poses with school children at the Wyoming Hunting and Fishing Heritage Exposition 2002
. Robert Ashley is a teacher from Illinois.
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List of All Journal Entries
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Thursday, September 26
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, September 24
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 21
Robert Ashley
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Friday, September 20
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, September 19
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 18
Robert Ashley
Kemmerer
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Tuesday, September 17
Robert Ashley
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Monday, September 16
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, September 15
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 14
Robert Ashley
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Friday, September 13
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 11
Robert Ashley
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Monday, September 9
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, September 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, September 4
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, September 3
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, September 1
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 30
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 29
Robert Ashley
Stoddard Creek (F.S.) campground
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Wednesday, August 28
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 25
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 23
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 22
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 21
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, August 20
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, August 17
Robert Ashley
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Friday, August 16
Robert Ashley
Meyer Hill
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Thursday, August 15
Robert Ashley
Aspen Grove
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Wednesday, August 14
Robert Ashley
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Tuesday, August 13
Robert Ashley
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Monday, August 12
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 11
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Wednesday, August 7
Robert Ashley
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Sunday, August 4
Robert Ashley
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Saturday, August 3
Robert Ashley
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Thursday, August 1
Robert Ashley
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