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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Pioneer Park

Hitchhiking to California

Hitchhiking to California

We stood near the on-ramp of I-70 West flying a sign that said, “West.” The vehicles whizzed by the roundabout right before rush hour traffic around 2:30 PM. Most people laughed, threw peace signs, thumbs up or ignored us. After plodding back and forth for about an hour we decided to get closer to the on-ramp and throw a sign. A V8 pickup truck flashed his turn signal and pulled off onto the shoulder, rocks and dust popping up as we ran to open the door.

Hitch Hiking to Cali

Throwin’ a Sign

The man, a carpenter from Buena Vista, headed to Copper Mountain, gave us a hitch.  Being our first time hitchhiking we didn’t think to ask how far west he was headed. Here to find out just six miles into an area nearly impossible to hitch hike out of we learned at that moment to only accept long distance rides to high traffic volume areas. Luckily, we walked to the on-ramp outside of Copper Mountain and after shaking there in the cold, windy weather, sign flapping in the wind, we ended up hitching a ride from a woman headed to Vantage Condos in Vail. She boarded, worked in finance with a major in international business and just moved out to Colorado from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Backcountry skiing out there kicks ass and she highly recommended me heading out there for next winter. The ride only lasted a half hour, but we made progress, mile by mile.

We tramped down the road walking parallel to I-70 West. I visited Vail a few years back and remembered my way around town. Every five minutes I glanced around looking over my shoulder for spots to sleep in town. The cold weather, wind and potential rain made it hard to find any suitable areas. However, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a man on the opposite side of the road who turned around and pulled off into the parking lot next to us. He rolled down his rickety window and asked where we planned on going. California bound, but far from our destination. He gave us two options. Wait for him to finish an errand and he’d hitch us to Edwards or wait and he’d give us a place to sleep for the night. I found that rather creepy and declined the offer, but took him up on the hitch to the next town.

Marien and I sat down on the curb of a small mall complex, scarfing down on some snacks while we waited for the scruffy, brown bearded man to pick us up.

After a half hour he pulled out of the parking lot and told us to hop in and throw our packs in the back. His old, beat up truck, creaky and full of trash, seemed like the only viable option at the time. So we jumped in and the truck rattled while he drove to Edwards. Another short distance hitch, but worth it since we decreased in elevation. He stopped at a local gas station to fill up letting us go on our journey. He planned on rubber tramping around America next year and writing a series of stories called, “The Bum Chronicles.” Based on the stories of bums, tramps, crusties, punks, etc. and how they separated from society to live a free lifestyle outside the norm. “Maybe we’d meet again,” I thought, as we lingered around the gas station, looking for a spot to fly a sign.

We walked to the roundabout near I-70 West and within a half hour an older woman from Alaska picked us up. An activist, who in March of 2013 set out to walk across America to support a cause for The Wild Foundation, gave us a ride to Eagle. She couldn’t take us any further, but gave me her card in case I make it out to Homer, Alaska.

Hitch Hiking Eagle Colorado

Hitch Hiking through Eagle, CO. We spent the night on a hill in the woods.

She pulled off on the side of the roundabout near a Burger King and we parted ways. At this point, only an hour of daylight remained, we threw a sign with no luck of a ride. We ventured on down a back-country road. A river rapidly flowing to the right of us, and yellow-brown blended sandstone mountains soaring to the horizon. To our left, a mountain covered in brush and trees with rocks tumbling down a steep slope.

I glanced around for no trespassing signs and could not find any in sight so we decided to climb up the slope to find a spot to camp. Slipping and sliding around while rocks clunked and rolled down the hill we finally reached the top where flat ground lay. Immediately we found a great camping spot beneath a tree. Minor problem being the dog who reluctantly and viciously barked at us from the neighboring lawn. We couldn’t sleep here. We trekked across until he stopped yelping and howling only to encounter another mangy mut.

I paced myself and slid down the hill grabbing onto trees to brace my falls. We reached flat, rocky ground with rabbit droppings and pebbles. The dogs stopped barking at this point. A small section of land appeared to be camp worthy, but we needed to position our bodies appropriately for it to work out. I laid feet sloped upwards nearly sliding down the mountain while Marien lay in the opposite direction feet sloped downwards with his pack on a rock. The rocks beneath us, uncomfortable, braced us from rolling down the steep grade. They became a nuisance as the night sky loomed over us and the cold dragged in through the trees.

We barely slept at all that night due to our bodies being weirdly positioned. I remember fading in and out until finally drifting off into a peaceful sleep. Only to wake up hours later to nearly sliding headfirst down the slope.

I re-positioned my body the same direction as Marien’s and drifted back off to sleep right before sunrise. 

With maybe two to three hours of sleep we both looked like zombies. The sun rose shining vibrant, bright rays of light into our bloodshot, craggy eyes. We drug our feet down the road with our heavy packs on and yearned for the Burger King to open to grab some breakfast.

First, we decided to throw a sign to get out of Eagle. A trucker passed and motioned that he would pull off on the shoulder, but never did. Five minutes later a punk chick pulled up and rolled down the window. Her lip rings, nose ring, and jet black hair presented a hardcore aura, but her nice gesture offering us a ride to Grand Junction was enough for us to hop in and stash our packs in the trunk.

We talked for maybe five minutes and the rest of the ride consisted of a lot of dead silence. A fluent conversation with this girl seemed to be impossible, but nonetheless we learned she moved four times over the past year and had two kids. When she stepped out of the vehicle to grab a coffee at Starbucks I realized how beastly this woman was, standing at 6’4″ and at least a good 225+ lbs. my jaw dropped in amazement. She offered to buy us something, but we declined.

The ride to Grand Junction took us through Glenwood Canyon, which I traveled through before a few years back when I visited the hot springs. The canyon really portrays a variety of colors throughout the different rock formations, which is how the state got its name, “Colorful Colorado.”

Hitch Hiking through GJ, CO

We started hitch hiking to California yesterday and made it to Grand Junction, CO.

She dropped us off near the on-ramp in Clifton, which made an unsuccessful attempt for hitchhiking. Vehicles whizzed by at speeds of 70 MPH and the lack of a shoulder made it impossible to stop. We stood outside in the chilly, misty weather, raindrops casually landing on our heads every few minutes. The intermittent showers made us seek shelter until the sun popped its head out a few hours later.

We munched on some food at Subway and trekked down the road for about six miles until we entered Grand Junction. This town sucked for hitchhiking. No one acknowledged us or even thought about giving us a hitch.  After four hours in the scorching heat, my arms singed a dark reddish brown, nose peeling, I gave up and plopped my ass at the nearest stoplight hoping a kind soul would give us a lift to the next town. I threw rocks at the ground while Marien flew a sign.

Hearing a voice off in the distance I heard a woman yell out, “What direction are ya headed?”

“West,” I said. 

She asked if we wanted a ride to the next town over, Fruita.  We nodded our heads, with only one condition, we needed to sit in the bed of her truck.

We hopped over the tailgate and unstrapped our packs. As soon as this woman tapped the gas of her V8 pickup truck I could tell we were in for a bumpy, speeding frenzy.  She sped through town burning yellow lights, passing cars over double lines all through the back roads of Route 340.

We sat in the back our asses thumping against the bed of the truck as we hit the rigid cracks in the roadway.  Then a light shower sprayed down on us, my hair soaked and parted across my head from the wind flying over the front of the truck.  The winding roads filled with mountainous ridges and radiant cliffs off in the distance. Huge mansions filled the land. Our faces spread smiles of joy and amazement from the beautiful views bestowed upon us.

Within minutes we arrived in Fruita hopping out at the Loco truck stop and gas station. She offered to buy us food or beer, but we declined.

Hitch Hiking through Fruita, CO

Hitch Hiking through Fruita, CO. Don’t stop here guys…it took us forever to get out!

We could not find a proper spot to fly a sign so we tested out the sidewalk near the on-ramp. After several hours of standing and soaking in the burning sun we managed to make $20 without panhandling, but merely holding a sign that said, “West.”

A long four hours of standing made this seem like an endless pit going nowhere.  We walked over to the truck stop to see if any truckers could give us a lift and found out that only independent contractors had that capability due to insurance restrictions with other company vehicles. 

After much lost hope and mental anguish we saw a fellow traveler hop out of a truck with a dog. So not all hope vanished.

The scruffy man with noticeable teeth damage walked over in our direction. His name, Whitewolf, and partner in crime, Jack, gave us some pointers on road life.

The best times to hitch are early in the morning during work traffic or between 3 to 4 PM when people are coming off from work. You might also get lucky with the occasional truck driver. He also mentioned a place to sleep off in the distance by the Colorado River.

We decided to take his advice and call it a night. He sketched me out a bit so we found another spot to sleep off Route 6 West next to the True Value in a bushy area. I actually fell asleep for a few more hours than the night before. The snoring, and gargling sounds expelling from Marien’s mouth woke me up ever so often, but I just smacked him so I could nod off.

The stars lit up the sky that night and the cold, frigid air, dropped the temperature into the low 40’s making my bones chill.

I awoke super early at 4:30 AM and hustled to pack my gear to see if any truckers headed westbound on I-70 would pick us up.

Fruita, CO

Another hot day in Fruita flying a sign 🙁

We stood outside the Loco truck stop flying our sign as each trucker passed with zero acknowledgement. Distraught, we lost faith in them and decided to hang by the on-ramp. Only this time we sat in front of the no pedestrians on the highway sign. We walked back and forth down the sidewalk between the gas station and city market multiple times. Not a soul would pick us up. Most of these rich, pricks just laughed or ignored us.

We decided to move towards the roundabout inside of the city limits and still came out unsuccessful. Lunch whirled around and we hit the gas station for food where we saw Whitewolf again.

He advised us not to fly a sign inside city limits since we could get arrested for soliciting. He also pointed out we could panhandle outside of Loco without getting in trouble since the workers did not care.

He kept mentioning his brother Blue being right outside of town. They wanted to meet up in Fruita and head to Moab. His brother, an ex gang banger, made hitchhiking a profession much like Whitewolf. He perfected the skills of scoring rides and money in a time efficient manor.  

Noon hit and we decided to give the on-ramp another whirl only this time we ventured onto the highway for a bit. When that proved futile we moved to the on-ramp only this time we sat closer to the city limits so more people could see us from the light.

A pickup truck pulled over acting like he wanted to pick us up. By the time we ran down the on-ramp the man scurried off the shoulder and onto the road. We got shafted once again. At this point I lost my composure and gave up all hope. We might be stuck here for a while.

Then a yellow Subaru made a wide turn and pulled off on the shoulder picking us up.  The woman, a young 29 year old, brunette with a short black mini skirt and small body frame just finished mountain biking with her dog, Paige, in Fruita. On her way to Zion National Park she asked where we were headed. “As far west as you’re going,” we said.

We held a long conversation with this girl. Her outgoing personality and thirst for adventure made it a very cool ride. She boarded, mountain biked, and rock climbed among many other activities. She worked for Zion National Park and we talked about the most random things that I can’t recall what topics we covered, but it made the three to four hour trip seem like a half hour.

Between the conversations that took place and the breathtaking, diverse scenery, Utah by far exceeded my expectations. Never in my life did I set my eyes on such intricate, colorful mountainsides, with huge bright canyons, and smaller slopes covered in green trees and pastures.

Utah Hitch Hiking

We made it to Cedar City, Utah today baby despite hitch hiking being illegal in Utah!

I scrunched myself in the back seat and most of the trip my feet lost feeling and toes numb. I moved my ass ever so often to keep it from getting sore. So much backpacking gear and equipment filled her backseat and her dog kept snuggling up next to me so I felt squished between her stuff and the window. She apologized, but I didn’t mind since I appreciated the hitch through most of Utah.

It being Easter and about to rain we decided to use some of the money we made towards a Hotel for the night. We stayed at the Days Inn in Cedar City where the young, pretty girl dropped us off before heading to Toquersville.  After camping outside for a few days a good night’s rest definitely suited us.

We showered, ate food and passed out into a deep sleep while watching television. I don’t recall falling asleep. I remember waking up around 10 AM to check out and put in a day of work on the roadway trying to hitch out to the next town.

We flew multiple signs hoping to skip St. George and land in Vegas or California, but all we got out of it was $10 measly dollars and no ride.  Hours passed and I felt like we sat back in Fruita, with no hope of leaving. 

The main issue we encountered being the illegality of hitchhiking in this state. Most officers don’t enforce the law, but people displayed paranoia as they drove by us. We saw many gestures, one of which, a forefinger pinched close towards the thumb. At first I thought everyone was making fun of our dicks with a deprecating comment about the length, but then realized they meant we were close. We both chuckled over that one for a while.

Cedar City, UT

Flyin’ a sign to get the hell out of Cedar City, UT.

After flying a sign for hours that day in Cedar City we almost gave up hope. An Indian woman flagging for construction going on near the on-ramp waved us over. She noticed us standing outside holding our sign and offered to give us a ride to the nearest homeless shelter after her shift. They would pay for our bus ticket to Vegas. It didn’t take much thinking on our part. Within a few seconds we looked at each other, nodded and declined the offer. We’d test our luck on the road since the cops didn’t pester us yet.

Another hour passed and an older woman with two dogs, headed to St. George, stopped to give us a hitch. She worked on designing many of the homes in the area and gave us her card. An excellent tour guide pointing out the canyons of Zion National Park and the other ridges in the area, Black Ridge and Red Ridge. She gave us a brief overview of her hometown, Old Harmony, which consisted of Mormons who came from Harmony, Pennsylvania. Many believed in abstaining from addiction substances like tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, and took their religion very seriously despite having a polygamous lifestyle.

Dana needed to make a stop home first to grab eggs for St. George before dropping us off there to get us one step closer to Vegas.

We pulled into her driveway and helped her unload the soil and fertilizer from her trunk. Her yard looked almost self-sustainable for a vegetarian. Vegetables, flowers, and chickens occupied the yard with a clean, blissful view of the mountains in the distance. She propped up frames of trampolines to make greenhouses in her front yard and just finished an addition to her back yard making her home a bit more spacious.

New Harmony, UT

A nice woman invited me into her home in New Harmony, UT while hitch hiking to California!

She cruised along pointing out every little attraction and historic area between Cedar City and St. George. The incredible view of diverse scenery amazed both of us. Mountains of red, brown, orange and green illuminated the sky of clear blue. She pulled into the Sinclair gas station and dropped us off in the middle of town. The massive traffic volume in the area complemented all the industries, stores and university.

We walked around, grabbed some grub and hit the on-ramp for a few hours flying our “Vegas” sign. A few drove by and giggled, laughed, threw their hands up like they didn’t know where they were headed and in the end we stood there ride-less. I waved at all the hot women looking our direction and they acknowledged me and reciprocated, but 7 PM came and we needed to find a place to sleep.

We walked into town looking for desolate buildings or bushy areas to camp. Trudging along up the hill a beige vehicle stopped near the sidewalk next to where we walked. A younger man, in his thirties, with gauges and a bull ring in his nose, told us he lived in Vegas and departed tomorrow around 5 PM if we wanted to hitch a ride. We told him to meet us near the on-ramp.

We looked down over town and to our right sighted a bouldering park: Pioneer Park. Many people climbed and walked around following the path before darkness hit. We moseyed around climbing to the very top of the park waiting for people to leave. I noticed an uninhabited area by a billboard across from where we sat.

Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park – We did some bouldering and ended up sleeping on the highest cliff there.

The perfect place to camp for the night. The sun slowly faded off into the sky as darkness staggered in upon us. All of the artificial lighting made it near impossible to sleep. The sky lingered in a light phase until about midnight. We pulled our mummy bags over our heads and dozed off into a deep slumber atop the highest point in the park overlooking every bright yellow speck of light in the city.

Pioneer Park

Marien free climbing some cliffs in Pioneer Park.

Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park – St. George, UT

We awoke to the sounds of cars putter pattering across the blacktop from down below and the screeching noise of tires sliding against the roadway. The sun peeked its head out over the mountains and the wind roared like we were in Kansas.

Certain our ride would pull through we decided to walk to the nearest grocery store, 3 miles away. Halfway into the walk we saw Zack in his beige car. He yelled down the street at us, “HOP IN.”

He dropped us off at the grocery store before work and mentioned he’d be around the exit at 5 PM to hitch us to Vegas. We didn’t think to exchange numbers, but figured we’d meet him later in the day by the on-ramp.

After hitting the store, and scarfing down a huge piece of bread along with fruit slices, we made our way back up to the Vegas on-ramp. Holding our sign in the windy, drizzling weather made it rough to get a ride. No one acknowledged us, and we banked on Zack pulling through. After an hour a police officer rolled up to the shoulder and asked the usual bullshit questions cops do. He demonstrated politeness, as did we, but some of his questions came off as irrelevant. He requested to see our IDs to see if any warrants existed for either of us. I scurried around in my wallet and could not find my Breckenridge ID. He ended up searching on my voided DE license. After questioning us, he let us go with a warning and told us not to solicit on the corner anymore or he’d have to charge us.

Hitchhiking is illegal in Utah and Nevada, which we knew, but we ended up here so we took our chances.

We decided to hit up Pioneer Park and boulder for a few hours before our ride to Vegas. We plopped our bags down in the sandy valleys of rocks and began free climbing. I did not have my climbing shoes, but bouldered anyway.

Dangling between the crevices of rocks physically exhausted us making our forearms sore and tingling. We sat down and rested for a bit before grabbing food and waiting for Zack to arrive.

We loitered around Sinclair gas station after speaking with the manager and patiently waited in lounge chairs until 4:30 PM.

A hippie from Breckenridge with long black hair and a stoned look on his face pulled up asking us for drugs. I laughed and didn’t take him seriously. He proceeded to list the drugs he wanted. I laughed again saying sorry man. We get hassled by cops, you really think I want to get searched with drugs on me?

He threw a peace sign as they left for Colorado. We walked back and forth down the road next to the on-ramp waiting for Zack. Ten minutes went by, then twenty, then thirty and an hour. We gave up hope. He shafted us, and remained to be our last hope.

Since we did not want trouble with the police and hitchhiking appeared to be useless we tramped to the nearest shuttle, 5 miles away.

Ended up paying 30 bucks to take a shuttle to Vegas. I felt ashamed and didn’t look out the window since our hitch failed. Ended up fading in and out of sleep from the bumpy motion until we ended up on the Vegas strip.

We trudged along the strip looking for a cheap motel. The Hard Rock, our cheapest route, located 3 miles away seemed like our best choice.

The heels of my feet started to feel like every step I took landed barefoot across sharp, pointy rocks. The pain worsened the further we traveled, but I wanted to gamble, drink and see some titties. After a long drawn out trek away from the strip we ended up at the casino hotel, which claimed $29 rooms for the night.

When we arrived the front desk personnel told us the cheapest room available, $95. So we decided to check in our bags and walk around the casino.

I tried gambling until approached by security asking for my license. Then I realized I left it in Cedar City. I tried explaining it to them and showing my voided license from DE, but these people have the brains of peas.

I verbally abused them since they did not follow my explanation or do anything to help my situation. Between the black man and Native American neither one offered a resolution. They nearly forcefully removed me from the casino.

At this point, gambling, titties and drinking became impossible. We pondered hitchhiking, but after seeing another traveler get arrested and harassed by cops we decided to look up the Greyhound station schedule and head to Salt Lake City.

We walked about 10 miles through the hood of Vegas in the wee hours of the morning. It took us about two to two and a half hours until we finally reached the station. The street covered in filth. Abandoned buildings decayed on every street we walked down. Bums slept behind dumpsters, on the sidewalks and even upright on benches just covering their bodies in tarps. The station filled with all different kinds of odd people from pimps, home bums, broken down snow bunnies, crack heads, strippers, and a few normal looking individuals. We booked a ticket for SLC that left early in the morning. We used this time to sleep since we stayed up most of the day and walked about 15 miles in total.

Marien texted me and eventually nudged my shoulder. I awoke from what felt like a drunken stupor. My eyes in a clouded daze from lack of sleep. I looked over towards my right to see a scruffy, gray-bearded home bum trying to steal my ticket from Vegas to SLC. After confronting him about it he exclaimed he was holding it for me. The man, embarrassed, walked away and left the building. Luck, on his side, because if he tried reaching into my other pocket I may have accidentally stabbed him with my knife.

The next few hours our heads bobbed up and down like we were bobbing for apples. We sat in our chairs slumped over, tired, waiting for the bus to pick us up. When that moment finally came it felt like heaven. Never in my life, would I enjoy the simple pleasure of just sitting on a bus, squished next to some random person, until that night due to lack of sleep.

We arrived in SLC and spent much of the day walking around checking out the town. This city, covered in bums, homeless people, and gangs, caught me off guard. I expected to see a bunch of Mormons and religious people trying to bless me and keep my spirits from going to the depths of hell. We roamed around the city for miles and eventually took a city bus, UTA, to Ogden where we grabbed some food and noticed a considerable amount of skin heads in the area. I really regret not taking the plunge and walking 8 miles in-land to see the Great Salt Lake, but after trekking considerable distances the other days we took better judgment against it.

We ate a few meals at some small diners and grabbed gas station food for the rest of our time in SLC. We explored the outskirts of the city limits to find a place to sleep. Once we stumbled upon a park with a considerably steep hill we scoped it out for potential spots to sleep and relaxed until dark watching the sun set before our eyes and peep its way under the hill. We set up camp on a small flat section in the middle of the hill. This way we could get to the above highway if we needed to, but also, any footsteps approaching us from below would awaken us from falling rock. I nestled into my sleeping bag as I watched the trains pass by below and eventually dozed off into the night.

The next day we awoke relatively early to the epic rays of the sun rise beating down our bags. My bones no longer chilled, but immersed in sweat from wearing too many layers the night before. I quickly began to remove clothing and proceeded to wake up Marien whom I thought got the best sleep of his life because he didn’t budge from his bag at all until I nudged him.

We packed up our gear and headed back down the road taking a hiking path towards the gas station. A guy popped out of the bushes and approached me, holding out his hands, like I was his savior. As he got closer to me, I realized an 8-inch dagger lay across all ten of his fingers. I nearly ran, but refrained from freaking out and yelling at him. I clasped my pocket knife in my right hand and out of no where he murmurs, “Nice pack, do you want to buy this dagger off me for your travels?”

I then realized this harmless guy just wanted some money for food. He probably stole that off someone and wanted to get rid of it. I shook my head and politely said, “No, but thanked him for the offer.” He scurried back behind the bushes and it appeared to me he spent the night there as all his belongings appeared to be scattered on the ground. We continued on and tried to find something to occupy our minds. The abandoned building next to us, locked tight, and boarded up at every entrance and window, did not seem like a plausible exploration spot. I tried gaining access through the second story window, with no luck and decided to tramp on down the road towards the mall.

SLC

Sunset on a hill in SLC

Breckenridge, Colorado

Bicycle Tour TransAmerica Trail

Bicycle Tour TransAmerica Trail

2,600 Miles – 9 States – DE to CO Bicycle Tour

After tons of tweaking and finding the right video editing software for Android I finally finished editing my cross-country bicycle tour from DE to CO.  After 2,600 miles, cycling through DE, MD, VA, KY, IN, IL, MO, KS and CO the 20 minute video is finally here! Featuring a blend of video clips and pictures from all 9 states. Incorporating water silo climbing, road closed wandering, discovering blast sites, going up feed silos, scaling radio towers and more. This trip takes adventure to my extreme in every aspect. A wanderer on a bicycle touring the TransAmerica Trail. Without further ado I give you the last few months of my life on my bicycle tour TransAmerica Trail; backpacking, hiking, hitchhiking, climbing, and wild camping. Stay tuned for my next exclusive feature, which includes a written novel of my 2-month journey while I bicycle tour cross-country. This goes into detail about where I slept, who I met and their stories along with the scenery I woke up to every morning and fell asleep to every night. My goal is to finish the novel by the start of the new year, but I have not made much progress for the past few weeks. I need to get more motivation and overcome some writer’s block since I have been stuck on page 40 now for almost a month, which equates to day 12 of the bicycle tour. I hope everyone following me on my trip enjoys it.

Bicycle Tour TransAmerica Trail – DE to CO

Background Information – Bicycle Tour TransAmerica Trail
The TransAmerica Trail starts in Yorktown, VA and goes all the way to Astoria, Oregon over the span of 4,000+ miles. I took the trail into my own hands starting from my home in Wilmington, DE and using the trail as a guide as I pedaled cross-country. I veered off into the unknown on several occasions to visit Trevor in Indiana, because I got lost or when I ended up in Idaho Springs and settled down in Breckenridge for the winter. The hardest part of the trail is in the Rocky Mountains due to acclimating to the altitude and the steep climbs that happen over many miles. Georgetown Lake Shelter to Loveland Pass was only 33 miles, but was an elevation gain of 4,000+ feet. Combine that with the below freezing temperatures and it made the bicycle tour more of a mental mind game than physical. Below is a video of my 2,600+ mile bicycle tour on the TransAmerica Trail.

bouldering, hiking, cycling, backpacking

Swan Mountain

I woke up and hung out for a bit before grabbing my new GoLite JAM backpack, some essentials and my bicycle, which somehow still runs from all the abuse I have put it through.

I set out for bouldering on Swan Mountain, which if you remember from the earlier blog posts was the mountain I trekked over after camping at Prospector Campground.  After pedaling at a steady 7 mph pace up the side of the mountain 2.5 miles I reached the plateau point where the Sapphire Point sign stood.

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I locked up my bike and hiked around the loop, snapping pictures of Dillon Lake below, soaking in the view of the overlooks down on Breckenridge.  I never got the chance to stop there earlier in the year due to extreme exhaustion, blistering cold temperatures and the fact I just wanted to find the Fireside Inn to relax.

Anyway, the trail looped in a circle, which made it easier to get back to my bicycle.  I hopped on and descended down the mountain towards Prospector Campground.  The park, still closed, (Government Shutdown?), but passerby’s allowed to walk the trails freely as they please.  I locked my bike to a wooden fence post and hiked up the trail next to the closed gates.  The trail, covered in dead wood, soft dirt and debris, continued on for a few miles.  Kate told me cliffs for bouldering existed at the end of the trail.  I took the wrong path though because I peeped down the end of the trail and did not see any bouldering cliffs.  I decided to veer off the trail and continue up the mountain towards the ridge line.  Bam…I looked down at 5 to 10 foot cliffs perfect for bouldering. Mixed in between the cliffs included lone boulders, fallen dead trees, and an old, crusty rock climbing shoe with a few holes near the sole.

Bouldering on Cliffs in Swan Mountain, Colorado

I found it! This was the bouldering spot she referred to last night!

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I messed around on some of the smaller rocks scaling them with relative ease and then decided to put on my pack and follow the cliffs down to where they overlooked the park.  I climbed a few spots with my pack on and my minimalist shoes.  I jumped a few five foot gaps, hopping back and forth between cliffs before stumbling upon a 10 foot boulder overlooking Dillon Lake.  I placed my fingers on some small holds crimping the boulder in front of me and found a few foot holds to wedge my feet into the cracks of the rock.  Within a few minutes I scaled to the top.  Snapping a few panoramas and pictures overlooking Prospector Campground and Dillon Lake.  I sat there for maybe a half hour soaking in the sunlight on the warm 60 degree day and enjoying the beautiful view overlooking the city of Breckenridge.

I continued to follow the cliffs back towards where I parked my bicycle.  My phone works now so GPS and Strava defined my place in correspondence with my bicycle.  I took a different trail back, the one I was supposed to take originally, but I overlooked it in the beginning since the grass covered the trailhead.  As I continued on hiking over the rocks, ascending and descending some small cliffs, I noticed a huge overlook where the true climbing existed.  Twenty to thirty foot walls perched between the ridge line and the tree line between the campground.  I didn’t climb them since I did not have the proper gear, but bolts for leading stuck out of the rocks, so I will definitely be back here in the future to boulder and possibly lead (once I learn of course).

I ended up back where I locked my bicycle and enjoyed a steady downhill descend back to Summit High School where I followed the Bike Rec Trail back to my home in Breckenridge.

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I have an interview tomorrow with Wendy’s (Yes, I know, fast food, what the fuck, you have a college degree and should do something with your life), but no one wants those jobs because they suck.  So you can always find work there.  Between that, part-time Algebra tutoring and working at Blue River Sports, I should save up some money over the next six months or at least break even while I ski for the winter.  Then it’s off to continue my wanderpunk lifestyle, which will advance to hitch hiking, train hopping, leather tramping, and cycling.  A nomad at his fullest potential.

I also plan to bike the Boreas Pass loop tomorrow.  Kate said it’s about 40 miles total.  I might bring my GoLite JAM backpack and hike up to the ridge line to snap some pictures and view the scenery from up there.  There’s also an old tank up those parts so I’ll be doing some climbing again.  It’d be great to camp up there too, but I am still waiting on my tent to come in the mail, which should arrive on the 28th of October (Happy Early Birthday Dad).

Peace!

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.:Jungle:.

Hiking, backpacking, peaks trail, mountains, colorado

Peaks Trail

Peaks Trail

I woke up today and spent most of the morning fixing my phone.  The GPS stopped working after I flashed the custom PacMan ROM to my HTC One.  I will have to look into this later, but it caused me to start my hike a bit later than I wanted.

I looked outside and noticed we got dumped with 2 to 3 inches of snow from the night earlier.  At first I almost backed out from backpacking the 8-mile trek from Farmers Corner to Breckenridge through the back country trails in the mountains, but I figured this would wear me out enough to finally get some rest at a decent hour.  I changed into my warm gear leaving my snow pants and fleece behind and set out up Lake View Circle West after the red flags in the snow until reaching the ridge.  Once I reached the ridge I continued backpacking along after the blue diamond markings on the pine trees, snow collapsing some of the branches, as I walked past.  My Goretex boots held up fairly well with all the snow.  As I proceeded to trek up the mountain the snow became deeper nearing 4 to 6 inches.  I didn’t mind.  No one else would be out today because of the weather and the powder made the hike a bit tougher, but the views, simply breathtaking.  I stopped on multiple occasions to snap panoramas and photos of the scenery surrounding me.

Silo Climbing Peaks Trail Breck

The view from the top of the silo on Peaks Trail!

Silo Climbing

Another angle from the top of the snowy silo.

For a while I did not know where the trail took me.  I followed directions from my landlord, Kate, and continued backpacking along the route, but did not take a map and my GPS still thought I sat at 149 Lake View Circle West so I just went on instinct.

After about five miles of backpacking and following the ridge, the blue diamonds nailed to the evergreens and the spill way, I finally reached a sign indicating I hiked Peak’s Trail.  Not far after I met another sign, the arrow pointing left, Breckenridge 3 miles.

“Sweet, I should get there before dusk then…,” I thought.

Place Hacking - Peak's Trail

Place Hacking – Peak’s Trail

I continued on, backpacking up and down the steep slopes of the trail until I spotted a 30 foot tall, green, water silo.  I almost passed it, my legs hurt from the long bike ride the other day and hiking up the mountain, but I ran down the hill looking up at it.

A gate and lock covered the entrance to the ladder, which was only 8 feet off the ground, that didn’t stop me though.

I read the sign, which simply said, “DO NOT TAMPER WITH THE WATER SILO!”

I didn’t tamper with it.  I didn’t break the lock or cut the fencing around the ladder.  A small triangular opening already existed on the left side of the ladder.  I hopped on the manhole that stuck 3 feet out of the ground and grabbed on the fencing of the ladder.  I swung until my left leg wrapped around the side of the ladder and pulled myself up using my left foot as a base.  I dropped my bag and that extra room allowed me to squeeze my body inside of the fencing.

I stood on top of the locked gate and climbed up the ladder, 30 feet or so, reaching the top.

The view, completely beautiful, allowed me to see over the treeline…nothing but mountains.  I grabbed some pics and a video and continued backpacking.

I did not want to end up in the woods once the sun set.  It’s hard enough seeing at the moment without glasses or contacts.  I would have ended up making an igloo and sleeping in the woods.

I wound up finishing the hike, which I think was 7 to 9 miles, and took the Free Ride bus to Breckenridge, where I grabbed some post cards.

I have adapted to the bus schedule and took another ride back to Summit High School.

Once I arrived at home I packed up my gear and decided to make a sign for tomorrow to hitch a ride to A Basin.  We shall see how it goes.  I’m meeting up with Kelton so we will have a fun time.

Peaks Trail

The snowy view while hiking Peaks Trail from Frisco to Breckenridge.

Silo Climbing Peaks Trail

Climbing Hells Hole

Climbing Hells Hole

We woke up at 7 AM, packed and jetted out of the hotel for Hells Hole, which lay an hour east of Denver.  We asked some people for directions as we obviously got lost.  They told us to head to Mt. Evans and turn at the little brown sign talking about Arapahoe County.

We got to the mountain and started the hike at 9:15 AM.  For the most part, they marked the trail fairly well.  Parts of it, not labeled properly, but we thought at most we would hike six miles to Hells Hole and back. It ended up being just under a ten-mile hike.

We ended up exploring off the trail entering bushy, prickly terrain.  Our shoes soaked from the cold spring water seeping between our toes.  Twigs scratching against our thighs, knees, calves and arms.

Climbing Hells Hole

Climbing Hells Hole with Trevor for the day.

We tilted our heads and looked up at the slanted mountainside looming ahead.  We started climbing the ascent.  My left hand on the GoPRO and right hand gripping the tiny holds on the mountainside while my toes planted in a sturdy place looking for my next hold.

We reached the halfway point and time ticked away as we continued climbing further.  We needed to head back to the car so Trevor did not miss his flight.  The descent, much harder, than climbing up the mountainside.  I tried to look over my shoulder at spots to mount my feet for stabilization, but which much difficulty.

We eventually ended up making great time and finished the hike at 3 PM.

Trevor dropped me off near Lakewood and headed down Interstate 70 to catch his flight.  I pedaled to Indian Hot Springs looking for a spot to camp, but their campground was closed due to the government shutdown.  They gave me directions to Barbers Fork, a free campground, but after trekking four miles uphill I could not find it.

I pulled off the road and found a spot to camp on a cliff.  I hid my food in a tree a few hundred yards away from where I slept.

Idaho Springs

Trevor dropped me off in Idaho Springs after climbing Hells Hole. I slept on this cliff in the woods.

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