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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
Thursday, September 26
Big Day of Sneak and Salvage
We nearly screwed up, royally. I'll tell you about it.

With the joining of the teams scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, our team is elated that we’ve made it to Mill Hollow Campground in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest entirely on public lands. We’ve done it, or so we thought all the way up to about 4 p.m. when I somehow slipped into my now non-essential routine of planning for tomorrow’s trek. My habit, however unnecessary, saved us from the embarrassment of screwing up the grand public lands’ plan.

Tomorrow, Friday, was to begin two days of hoopla, first with the team-joining event at Pine Valley Campground and then Saturday with the Public Lands celebration in Salt Lake City. All of that planning was out of my hands and in the hands of the event organizers. The way I understood the plan, tomorrow we’d travel to a place to get a much needed shower, have lunch, put up our tents in Pine Valley Campground while the North Team was taking a shower, and then we’d gather at a spot in the forest until it was time for both teams to walk to a stage and finally join. No brainer, right!

But what we had thus far overlooked was the final leg of the public lands journey, the section between Mill Hollow Campground and Pine Valley? According to the plan, tomorrow we’d travel to private lands to shower and then travel back into public lands directly to Pine Valley for the team-joining event – basically making an arc from public lands to private then back to public, circumventing the last leg of the public lands journey! Saying that is an oversight is a monumental understatement. Yikes!

So in a jiffy I gathered up the trekkers and loaded them into the Honda Pilot. Richard was missing because he was with his wife, but we couldn’t wait. We had no choice but to take an alternate in his place. The entire leg on public lands from Mill Hollow Campground to Pine Valley was little more than 20 miles on mostly gravel Forest roads, but it absolutely without hesitation had to be done.

Traveling the leg got us excited because of the potential of seeing the North Team, which was camped at Pine Valley Campground. We didn't want to see anybody from the North Team, not yet. That could be bad juju. Fortunately, the campground is a quarter of a mile or so from the turn-off into the campground from the main road so we were safe unless a team member was taking a walk or driving by when we arrived. The thrill was heightened, however, because we knew nothing of the campground lay out.

We arrived without event and safely turned around, completing the leg. We had really accomplished the public lands mission now, although in something of a Band-aid fashion. We were somewhat downtrodden, however, because Richard, like me, had completed every leg of the journey on public lands. He needed this. Both Cathy and Julie had had alternates step in for them on segments of the journey for very good reasons, like injuries.

But to our delight Richard was going to get something better. He was not only going to complete the leg but he was going to do it this night thanks to the devil in all of us. A devious plan was brewing, and he and his wife Marcia had arrived back in camp in time to be designated accomplices.

Some week prior to today someone had thought it a good idea to sneak into the North Team camp and do something sneaky. What, well, none of us really got that far. I’m into sneaky stuff and, when it comes to creating and employing a tactical maneuver in the field, I consider myself a sneaky little bastard. It's difficult to find somebody who will take exception with that. Because nobody had yet concocted the perfect plan of sneak, I decided to take matters into my own hands and start concocting one. We had run out of time. Because our jovial bunch is not as a package what I’d consider very sneaky, it occurred to me to elect just two sneaky people to the mission rather than one. Somebody would start laughing or some other attention-getting goofy thing had we decided to go together -- that's a given.
Jake and I were elected. Good choices, I thought.

I designed a banner with an American Frontiers bandana and attached it to two sticks. The plan was to sneak into camp and put the banner in the middle of everything, so the team would see it in the morning and be surprised. Oooh-aaaah!

It was decided that we’d sign the bandana with our signatures and on top in large bold letters write, “Glad You Could Make It!” It was supposed to be funny, as in the spirit of "Surprised You Made It".

So after dinner and after dark, we set out. The entire distance to Pine Valley was piqued with excitement for Jake and I. Following our Honda Pilot was Richard and Marcia in a rental car, who were probably equally excited. Here was Richard’s chance to complete the public lands journey “and” drive the rental car through the campground so Jake and I could case the joint.
The North Team was camped on a loop, and Richard slowly, very slowly, drove passed their vehicles and R.V. We saw nothing but the vehicles, which was okay by us (bad juju). Hiked down low in the back seat, we gathered enough information for our mission.

Near the campground entrance where Jake and I had parked our vehicle, Richard and Marcia dropped us off, and drove away into the darkness. It was dark, very dark, and every step Jake and I took back toward the North Team elevated our heart beat. Oooh, the excitement! It had been 60 days from the time we had last seen the North Team. Seeing them felt so taboo, so we hoped beyond hope that we would not see them, at least in a manner in which we could identify who we were seeing. If we saw forms in the dark that somehow qualified as okay, somehow.

Sitting on the pavement a hundred feet or so from the vehicles, Jake and I watched the camp. Then we made a discovery. The reason we had not seen anything but vehicles during the drive-by was because the team was camped east of the vehicles, hundreds of feet away. We heard them laughing. However, there was somebody in the R.V. And we also heard but did not see somebody near the R.V. taping up boxes, probably getting them ready to send home in two days.

Then it happened, like a sweet song from the east where the campers laughed. “Dinner!” Bang, bang! “Dinner!”
Dinner? Jake and I cast each other a quizzical glance. It was after 9 p.m.!

Yes, dinner – our plan began to cook. One by one we watched two(?) human forms materialize near the R.V., and then ghost toward the clanging of the pan. We heard a voice -- it was David Mensing’s voice, saying “Come on, guys, dinner!” Oh my, Dave Mensing, the trek team manager, the man who more than any other brought together this event. We hadn’t heard his voice in 60-some days. We’ve really done it, this thing called American Frontiers, and a journey across America entirely on public lands. Why else would Dave be here if it weren't for that, the success of our two teams? He had been with the North Team for most of the journey, helping out.

When the forms disappeared into the forest, Jake and I quickly surmised the situation. Where to place the banner? How about “inside” the R.V.? Oh, yeah, that’s it!

And that’s just what we did. While Jake stood watch, I was inside the R.V., trying to get the banner to stay stretched and secure in the stovetop burners. It didn’t work, and the clock was ticking. Imagine getting caught! We could imagine that, and were compelled to complete the mission and “Get the hell out of there!”

Rather than beating the dead stove horse, I propped the banner against the R.V. table, in such a manner that whoever entered the R.V. first could not miss seeing it. Done, out the door, and jogging through the night, Jake and I held our giggles until the vehicle. Inside, high fiving and Yessssing, we two sneaky little bastards had their story. We arrived back in our camp where everybody but Lorie McGraw was sleeping. Actually, she was trying to sleep in the cab of the red Honda CRV but awoke when we arrived. She announced us "heroes", and to bed we went in anticipation for the morning when we could tell our story to the team.

We later learned that the North Team missed the comic intention of the banner. They all interpreted it as thoughtful, even sweet. Our raison d' etre had not failed but it also was not a full success. We had hoped for a reaction something along the lines of "Very funny -- Ha Ha! -- You got us!" Oh well, they'll never know.

The next day, when we arrived at Pine Valley Campground to set up our camps while the North Team was taking showers in preparation for the team-joining event, there to greet us was a signed banner -- welcoming us -- and a bottle of champagne. We had been out-classed but the adventure was well worth it.

Cheers!
for Thursday, September 26
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: South
Jan Nesset
An experienced outdoorsman, Jan Nesset knows that everyone has to pitch in at camp
A native of Montana and the third of four children, Jan Nesset joins American...
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List of All Journal Entries
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Wednesday, April 28
Jan Nesset
American Frontiers: Part II: Taking Stock
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Sunday, December 1
Jan Nesset
Canyonlands in December
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Thursday, November 21
Jan Nesset
Snow Raspberry Bounty
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Sunday, November 17
Jan Nesset
The Bisti Badlands
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Friday, November 15
Jan Nesset
Public Land Flows Through It
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Thursday, November 7
Jan Nesset
A Day At Earth Analytic's Home
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Tuesday, October 29
Jan Nesset
Slot Canyon Adventure
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Monday, October 28
Jan Nesset
Some Things Never Change
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Sunday, October 27
Jan Nesset
Back To The Wave
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Monday, October 7
Jan Nesset
The Thing About Summits
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Saturday, September 28
Jan Nesset
A New Beginning: National Public Lands Day
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Thursday, September 26
Jan Nesset
Big Day of Sneak and Salvage
   >> more...

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Wednesday, September 25
Jan Nesset
History-Coated Strawberry
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Tuesday, September 24
Jan Nesset
The Last Of It
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Monday, September 23
Jan Nesset
Dinosaurlandia
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Sunday, September 22
Jan Nesset
Over The Edge
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Saturday, September 21
Jan Nesset
God Bless America
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Friday, September 20
Jan Nesset
Sometimes It's A Tough Life And We Get To Do It
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Thursday, September 19
Jan Nesset
The Niche Near You
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Wednesday, September 18
Jan Nesset
Snow Day
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Tuesday, September 17
Jan Nesset
A Capitol Reef Bull's Eye
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Monday, September 16
Jan Nesset
A Lucky Rift
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Sunday, September 15
Jan Nesset
Riding The Hog's Back
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Saturday, September 14
Jan Nesset
Oh Rhythm My Rhythm
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Friday, September 13
Jan Nesset
Precious Images
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Thursday, September 12
Jan Nesset
From the Hole to the Staircase
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Wednesday, September 11
Jan Nesset
Happy Days
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Tuesday, September 10
Jan Nesset
Do You Believe In Magic?
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Monday, September 9
Jan Nesset
The Bridge Over the River Why
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Sunday, September 8
Jan Nesset
Public Lands And…Not You?
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Saturday, September 7
Jan Nesset
That Place So Special
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Friday, September 6
Jan Nesset
Just Looking To Have Some Fun – Be Dammed!
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Thursday, September 5
Jan Nesset
Do The Wave
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Wednesday, September 4
Jan Nesset
The Condors Are Coming!
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Tuesday, September 3
Jan Nesset
Fires Are For The Birds
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Monday, September 2
Jan Nesset
Back On Top
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Sunday, September 1
Jan Nesset
Perfection
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Saturday, August 31
Jan Nesset
The Wheels Have Left The Tarmac
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Friday, August 30
Jan Nesset
Star Light
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Thursday, August 29
Jan Nesset
The Traditional Connection
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Wednesday, August 28
Jan Nesset
Onward and Upward On Mountain Bikes
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Tuesday, August 27
Jan Nesset
Checkerboard Kings and Queens
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Monday, August 26
Jan Nesset
Aldo Leopold As Ranch Manager
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Sunday, August 25
Jan Nesset
A Story In Everything
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Saturday, August 24
Jan Nesset
Fire In The Whole
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Friday, August 23
Jan Nesset
"Good Morning, Flagstaff!"
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Thursday, August 22
Jan Nesset
Hoping For The Best
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Wednesday, August 21
Jan Nesset
Could Get Stinky
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Tuesday, August 20
Jan Nesset
Wheels Asunder
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Monday, August 19
Jan Nesset
Hurt Me, Thank You!
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Sunday, August 18
Jan Nesset
Roads Aplenty and Rocks of Pleasure
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Saturday, August 17
Jan Nesset
Of Dragons and Fire
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Friday, August 16
Jan Nesset
Motorcycles and the Zen of Route Mechanics
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Thursday, August 15
Jan Nesset
Puzzled
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Wednesday, August 14
Jan Nesset
A Day Off, Sort Of
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Tuesday, August 13
Jan Nesset
A Delightful, Light Day
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Monday, August 12
Jan Nesset
Courage On Eagle Mountain
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Sunday, August 11
Jan Nesset
Farewell
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Saturday, August 10
Jan Nesset
My Aching Back In The Saddle
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Friday, August 9
Jan Nesset
Back In The Saddle
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Thursday, August 8
Jan Nesset
In The Saddle
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Wednesday, August 7
Jan Nesset
Shut My Mouth!
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Tuesday, August 6
Jan Nesset
Diversity and Song
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Monday, August 5
Jan Nesset
An Unraveling
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Sunday, August 4
Jan Nesset
A Bagged Peak
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Saturday, August 3
Jan Nesset
Lines On A Map
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Friday, August 2
Jan Nesset
GPS-Marriage Made In Heaven
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Thursday, August 1
Jan Nesset
Free Wheelin'
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Wednesday, July 31
Jan Nesset
An Excellent Start
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