Day 3-how dry I am…

August 22, 2012

I woke up this morning feeling so much better than yesterday.  Dragonfly really saved me, and the trip.  After packing up and eating breakfast, we crossed Highway 34 and made our way towards the Fort Meade National Cemetery.  SAM_0367The grass was so dry.  We saw a big rattlesnake in the distance and stayed away.

When we took a break this morning, I took a picture of Prairie Dog–who is happy to be back in her home surroundings.SAM_0373

The hike through the Fort Meade Recreation Area gave us a great view of Bear Butte.  Mid-afternoon found us at the Alkali Creek Trail Head.  SAM_0376I had spent the summer of 1979 here with the Youth Conservation Corp–bring up lots of wonderful memories.  There was some water flowing in Alkali Creek so we got more water.  Leaving there it was so hot!  Not far from the trail head we saw a cattle trough full of water–not good enough to drink, but it was wet.  So we took our shirts off, soaked them in the water and put them back on.  They were dry within 15 minutes!  We crossed under Interstate 90 and headed into the Black Hills.

We finally make camp.  SAM_0384After dinner some mountain biker go by and we ask them if they can spare some water, one guy gives us a liter.  One of the guys went to school with my brother David and works at the same Bentonite Plant that my dad used to work at-small world.

I am feeling stonger and know that the hike will be a success–if we can get enough water.

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Heat Stroke or How to Survive crossing the prairie during a drought (in 2012).

August 21, 2012

I got sick during the night!  I am sure it was because I didn’t drink enough the day before.  I tend to not drink enough and it has been my downfall on numerous occasions.  Once we broke camp we then had to hike (or hitchhike) back to the Visitor’s Center to continue our through hike of the Centennial Trail.  It was already hot and no one stopped to pick us up!  I wanted to just start out from the campground but Dragonfly thought we should stick to the trail without missing any of it.SAM_0336

We walked through a pasture with buffalo, opening and closing some gates.  By the time we reached the lake again I was wiped out.  Still not drinking enough water.  But by then, when you are already low on fluids, it is really hard to get ahead of it.

We kept going, but out on the open prairie with the sun beating down, I couldn’t go on.  Dragonfly walked ahead, dropped her backpack, came back to carry my backpack and walk with me until we reached where she had dropped her backpack.  We did this all afternoon across the prairie.  Dragonfly promised me all sorts of things to encourage me, she has yet to fulfill some of those promises!  She really was great in knowing what to do, keeping us both safe and moving.  There was no cell phone service and no body was around, so we would have been in a real bind if she hadn’t gotten us through.

By early evening we finally came to Bear Butte Creek which was flowing and had a place to camp.  Dragonfly set up camp and made dinner.  I wasn’t much help.  Because we were next to water, we knew we would be safe.  We were yards away from Highway 34 and a mile from Fort Meade Military Hospital, so we knew we could get medical help.

As the sun went down, we went to bed.  Tomorrow is another day.

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Centennial Trail 2012–Practice through-hike

On August 20, 2012, Dragonfly and I started our first (just the two of us) through-hike. The 110-mile Centennial Trail through the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Back in the 1990’s I had hike most of the trail as a day hikes–driving to the trail head, hiking, getting picked up at the next trail head and then going back to get my car.  Tuffy (my dog) and I had great fun doing it.

So when we (DF and PD) needed to test ourselves as a hiking team, I suggested the Centennial Trail.  Dragonfly agreed.  My parents (Ma and Pa Prairie Dog) were working in the Hills and could be trail support.

August 20, 2012 was a Monday.  Ma and Pa Prairie Dog picked us up at the hotel and drove us to Sturgis, where we bought fuel for our stove.  We then had lunch in a diner and headed up Highway 79 to Bear Butte State Park.

The Trail starts at the top of Bear Butte, so you have to climb up, and then back down to start.  The four of us started out early afternoon.  It was an hard climb and we left Pa Prairie Dog about half way up because of his ankle.

The three of us (Dragonfly, Ma Prairie Dog and me) reached the summit took some pictures and then headed back down.  Once we were back at the Visitor’s Center we signed in and then headed to the Bear Butte Lake Campground, where Dragonfly and I set up camp while Ma and Pa Prairie Dog set out a picnic dinner.  After dinner, M&PPD headed back to their work, and we settled in for the night.

On our final trip to the outhouse, we stopped and stared up at the stars. It was such a clear night and there were a million stars.


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Finishing the Fjallraven Classic Aug. 14, 2014

Three years ago, we finished the Fjallraven Classic–in the rain!

We woke to a cloudy morning, ate our breakfast in the tent and dressed in rain gear.  Before leaving we talked with our neighbors about their tent,  turns out it was a Fjallraven Keb Endurance 2.  It has a huge vestibule, which I think would be great, especially in very rainy weather.

Once we got started, we headed down the rocky and muddy mountain.  At one point it was very warm and we took our raingear off.  Then it got cold again and rainy while we were eating lunch.

5 Kilometers from the end, there was an surprise!!!  The Fjallraven company had a tent set up where they were giving away the Flapjack Bar.  We both got one and saved it for later.

Finally we walked through the archway to the Kungsladen Trail, the finish line was up ahead.  It was still raining steadily as we crossed the finish line to clapping and cheers.  Volunteers quickly wisked us off to the final checkpoint where are passports were stamped and we were all given a sweet beverage.  Was it alcohol or something else?  I never found out.

Standing in the rain we talked with our Fjallraven ambassador Alex on what to do next. Did we have a room at the Inn (Abisko Mountain Station)?  We stood in line to see.  No room at the Inn!  We could stay for free in a Fjallraven model tent.  Dragonfly wanted to do that.  I wanted to get out of the rain.  If we had to do it over—we would stay in the tent.

Andreas found a room for us at the Abisko Mountain Lodge  —3 km away.  He drove us there and paid for the room and dinner, then left to go back to the Abisko Mountain Station.

We cleaned up, ate dinner (see photos), then got a ride back to the Mountain Station.  At the Trekker’s Bar, we stayed for the raffle (didn’t win anything, but our new friend Anton did), then went into the Inn and talked with our new friends until 11.  When we were ready to return to the Lodge, Andreas wouldn’t drive us back, but found someone else who would.  When we got there all the doors were locked!!!!  We started to walk around the building and tried every door until one opened.  We made it!!

Went to sleep after midnight.

We finished the Fjallraven Classic.  When can we do it again?

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The Day It Rained So Hard

Three years ago today, August 12, 2014, we were hiking in Sweden at the Fjallraven Classic.  An all expenses paid trip we had won!!!!

The day started out cloudy and by mid-day was a constant hard driving rain.  Right before crossing a bridge, we came across this meditation place.  The quote is from Dag Hammarskjold’s book Markings (english).  I can’t find a translation for the quote.

After we crossed the bridge, we saw snow next to the river.  And another signpost, showing us which way to go.

As we approached the Alesjaure checkpoint, we saw this sign. 20140812_081626


Telling us that Reindeer wraps and Coca Cola were ahead.  We had to stop!!  But it was still raining.  When we arrived at the spot, there were several lean-to’s made out of logs and tarps, a kitchen tent and a fire pit.

This couple bought one for their dog, who ate everything but the carrots, which she spit out.  The plate was licked clean, except for the pile of carrots!  That is our friends Jim and Steve from the United States next to the fire pit.  You can’t really tell in the photos, but it is pouring rain.

We then continued up to the checkpoint, where we got our passport stamped, a food resupply and a cup of tea in a warm dry space.  While we sat inside, our group of friends was at another table in deep discussion about whether or not they would stop, set up camp in the rain, or continue on.  20140812_104913

That is our new friend Alexander, from Germany, who is deep in thought.

We decided that we would set up camp in the rain.  After the tent was set up, we headed over to the sauna.  I know it doesn’t make much sense to get in a sauna, especially when you are already wet from the rain, but it was nice to be warm!!!!  Loved the sauna even though it was very crowded.  We weren’t as brave as some, as we didn’t run down to the lake, jump in and come back.  That was too much for me.

After the sauna, it was back to the tent to make dinner.  If you look closely at the photo with the red tent, you can see across the lake a group of buildings-which is a town.  After making dinner we settle in for the night.

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Book Review–7 Tips to make the most of the Camino de Santiago by Cheri Powell

7 tips camino book coverI checked this book out of the library.  I started reading it to myself, then stopped and read it out loud to Dragonfly.  We have talked several times since coming back from hiking the AT, about hiking the “El Camino”, so this was a good first book to read.

The author and her husband hiked the pilgrimage in 2010 (seven years ago), so I found that much of the information to be a bit dated.  However, the 7 tips are a good reminder for any hiking trip.

Here are her tips:

  1. Know the history of the El Camino
  2. Know what to take and what to leave behind
  3. Know how to set expectations and goals
  4. Know how to get there, get around and get back
  5. Some good things to know
  6. Know the etiquette on the path and in the albergues
  7. Know how to stay healthy on the Camino

I found that much of what was described would be for any long distance hiking odyssy or pilgrimage.  Common sense, manners, kindness, all things to remember.

I was most interested in how to get to Spain, and how to get back.  Several suggestions were offered and I am making further inquiries into how that all works today.

I have tried to read a couple other books about people who have walked the El Camino and have not finished either (The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley Maclaine and Joyce Rupp’s Walk in a Relaxed Manner).  So I was pleased to actually finish a book about walking the Camino.

Posted in book review, Preparations, Spain, Thru-hike | 1 Comment

Happy Anniversary Dragonfly and Prairie Dog

Today, April 3, 2013 was the day we started hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Our family and friends (support team) drove us to the airport early in the morning.  We arrived in Atlanta, greeted by our wonderful friend Kathy and her brother who drove us to the trailhead, at the top of Springer Mountain.  The four of us walked to the start .9 from the trailhead and then back to the trailhead where they left us.  We hiked another couple of miles to the Stover Creek Shelter where we made camp for the first night.

I always knew we would complete the journey.  What an adventure it was, being outside all day long, sleeping in a tent, watching the seasons change, and seeing ourselves change too.  It was a life changing adventure, one I would take again.  So many good things have happened because of this journey we took together.

Posted in Appalachian Trail, People Posts, Preparations, Support team, Thru-hike, Uncategorized | Leave a comment