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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Bob Van Deven
Wednesday, October 9
The End of the Journey
About three weeks into the trek I decided to sleep on a tarp rather than putting up my tent every time we moved to a new campsite. Sure it sounds lazy, and there was always the possibility that it might rain, but for the next forty days I saved a few minutes with each move and, miraculously, I stayed dry. To be fair, there were a few nights when looming clouds prompted me to put up my tent as a precaution---I might be lazy but I’m not dumb---yet I always grumbled when taking it down the next day. I grew to love the simplicity of life on a tarp, the ease of spreading it out on whatever patch of ground appealed to me, the view of the stars at night, and the evening breeze sneaking under my sleeping bag. And as we drew closer to the end of the journey and our days became more hectic, I was glad for the time I saved.

September 27th, the last official day of the trek and our last day in the woods, was by far the busiest of all. The trekkers completed a two day backpacking trip through the Uintas but then had to walk around several sections of private land before arriving at Pine Valley campground. Fortunately the Forest Service provided ATV’s for them to ride around one section, an idea which probably saved 20 minutes and allowed the team a little extra time for showers. Meanwhile the support team had to run errands in Kamas. And bracketing all this activity was the private joining ceremony scheduled to take place at Pine Valley at 4:00 pm, along with all the preparations necessary to accommodate our friends and families. Somehow, despite our tight schedules and all the last minute details that had to be addressed, everything went smooth as soy milk.

That night, after eating a delicious meal and trading stories with the South Team, after consolidating and packing all my possessions, unloading the food trailer and sorting through tons of supplies, taking down canopies, throwing away a dumpster full of garbage, and reviewing six rolls of slides that had been developed in Salt Lake, I threw my tarp on the ground behind the motorhome and went to sleep. Around four in the morning it began to rain. At first I simply folded the tarp over myself and tried to go back to sleep. It was a weak rain, almost a mist, but as the storm settled over the valley and the drops ticked louder on my plastic cocoon I began to worry about what might have been left outside in all the confusion. Finally I put on my jacket and plodded over to the place where our canopies had stood.

Someone had thoughtfully draped a tarp over the duffel bags yet to be loaded into the equipment trailer. I yanked a corner over one bag that was not completely covered and looked around at the empty picnic area. It always amazes me how easily and thoroughly nature absorbs the wake of humanity’s passage, returning to its own quiet, organic business. Our two teams had covered nearly 3,200 miles, tramping through with backpacks, roaring through on ATV’s, riding horses, paddling canoes, and pedaling mountain bikes, yet as I write this I am sure that even the most keen-eyed Apache scout would be unable to tell where we were or what we did. But I am also sure that hundreds of other people would be able to tell you something of the sort, not by the marks we left in the dirt but by the words we left behind.

I’m thinking about the lady from the West Glacier KOA who made me a lace snowflake---a Christmas ornament---simply because we had a pleasant conversation, of Joe from Lonetree, Wyoming, who showed us a picture of his entire family on horseback, of Mike Murphy and Cathy Kiffe’s classes and the classes that Bob Ashley visited along the way, of Al Koss, who watches over the Bob Marshall Wilderness, of all the folks whose curiosity was piqued by those bright yellow canopies, of Jared Miller, the reporter who hiked two miles of the Continental Divide Trail to meet the trekkers, didn’t even see them until 7:00 am the next morning, and still wrote a great article, of Carol, who knows every bird in Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, of Shawn and Chris, who tied four canoes to the top of a Ford Ranger, of the people from Swan Lake, the people from the Buffalo Campground outside Yellowstone, and all the people we gave business cards to, of the couple who crashed their truck in a ravine and hitched a ride back to Rock Springs with me and Bob Ashley, of Mel, Jack, and the other outfitters who put the team on horseback and led them across rough country, and of the scores of other people who listened to us, helped us, quizzed us, and, hopefully, visited the website.

We know where the journey began, how long it took, and the modes of transportation we used, but we don’t know how it will end. In the coming weeks and months I hope to write more about my experiences on the trek and what I learned along the way. In the meantime I hope these few paragraphs will serve to acknowledge some of the people we met and to remind others that the journey is not over. Finally, there is a footnote to all this…

Yesterday I returned to the upscale resort where I work as a hiking guide and took a group of guests up McDougal Ridge in the Santa Catalina Mountains. It felt good to be dodging catclaw bushes while introducing a string of wide-eyed and appreciative Americans to the Sonoran Desert, a large portion of which is public land. We spotted a garter snake and found a McDougal cactus, a rare species whose tendency to grow between rocks makes it hard to see. When the hike was over I spent some time wandering around the resort property, getting reacquainted with friends and explaining again and again just what I’d been doing for the past two months. Two of my friends work at the spa reception desk and after I’d finished my little summary of the trek they had a few questions. I think some of them bear repeating:


“All public land is National Forest, right?”

“Doesn’t the government try to keep people off public lands?”

“Public lands are all protected, aren’t they?”


Yes, the public lands journey continues…

for Wednesday, October 9
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Bob Van Deven
Bob Van Deven

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List of All Journal Entries
•
Monday, January 6
Bob Van Deven
Sunny Weather
   >> more...

•
Sunday, December 1
Bob Van Deven
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, October 9
Bob Van Deven
The End of the Journey
   >> more...

•
Friday, September 20
Bob Van Deven
A Little News
   >> more...

•
Monday, September 2
Bob Van Deven
Middle Ground
   >> more...

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Wednesday, August 28
Bob Van Deven
Disasters and other fun
   >> more...

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Wednesday, August 21
Bob Van Deven
People
   >> more...

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Saturday, August 17
Bob Van Deven
August 17 or Thereabouts
   >> more...

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Saturday, August 10
Bob Van Deven
AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!
   >> more...

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Thursday, August 1
Bob Van Deven
   >> more...








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