Friday, June 18, 2010

The End

Whitewater River Hailstorm

I've been putting off writing about the end, not just the end of the PCT, but the end of the blog.

The end of anything isn't as fun as the beginning. In fact, the beginning is the most fun of all. The possibilities, the potential, the unknown.

The PCT ended earlier for me than I had hoped it would. I had hopes for it that it couldn't live up to, through no fault of its own. With a much higher snow pack in the Sierras this year I faced either days of white, trail-less miles or, if I waited, flooded campgrounds and impossible river fords. Oregon and Washington weren't ready, as they normally aren't this time of year.

Others will make it through, because their goal was to walk the PCT. But my goal was to take a vacation. I've worked hard these last three years. Nicaragua and Wyoming have both been very rewarding, but neither were easy. I needed a break more than I originally realized before I start another two year project.

Glacier National Park, the North Cascades National Park and possibly the San Juan National Forest will have to do as substitutes for the official PCT (and I'm pretty sure they'll do well).

As for the blog. I have simply run out of things to say. Originally this was a place to communicate with all of you, as well as put in a permanent place a record of events which were adventures for me. While grad school will be an adventure, I'm going to use up all my words writing papers, debating classmates (you know I will!) and talking with all of you in person, on the phone or in emails!

I may still occasionally post photos or write something, but I don't know what the future of this space will be. So I want to say thank you now to everyone who has been a part of it. Whether you stopped by once (in which case you probably aren't reading this), or have checked in regularly, thank you.

See you around the bend...

the end

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Leaving on a Train

Monday, June 14, 2010

Land of Don Quixote

Monday, June 7, 2010

Night Hiking

Touring the Shoes

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hitching Part 2

Hitching Part 1

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Caching In

Monday, May 17, 2010

Water Preferences

May 11 Mile 242

May 12 Southern View

Windy City

Sunday, May 16, 2010



Saturday, May 15, 2010




Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Tuesday, May 11, 2010






Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hello, Julian

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010



Sunday, May 2, 2010

From Campo

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Getting Started

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Leaving Wyoming

moonset panorama
Moonset over the Bighorns

I’ve left Wyoming. I packed all my possessions in the back up my pickup and drove away.

But I didn’t take everything.

I left part of my heart in the Murphy house. The first single family dwelling I’ve ever built was both the simplest and most complicated project I’ve attempted. The building was simple, the expectations were complicated.

I left part of my heart in Darla’s house. The last house completed, it was with me through my entire experience.

I left part of my heart in Kat’s house. The home with the strongest foundation as it was truly built by a community gathering together.

I know each stud and tie in those homes. They are as familiar to me as the profile of the mountains I looked on each morning or the face of a friend.

And like the wonderful friends who supported me through this intense year, I carry them with me in my own heart as I move on to hike the Pacific Crest Trail over the next six months and to attend the Foster School of Business at the UW for an MBA beginning this fall.

I am grateful for what I was able to give, and I am grateful for what I received.

To everyone who sustained me as I gave the best I could, THANK YOU!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trail Journals

Dec 1 094

Writing to remember is the reason I have this blog.

Some people write to connect with others (that was a little of it too). Some people write to hear their own thoughts. Some people write so that their memories won't fade quite so easily.

As you can imagine, hiking the PCT, or other long distance trail is prime time for journaling. There are few other times in life that are so set apart, encapsulated into a single experience, focused on one solitary idea.

I've been reading a site called 'Trail Journals' for about five years... almost as long as I've been dreaming of hiking the PCT (and CDT). I lived vicariously through the experience of others while I sat at a desk in a jobsite trailer, or lived in a place where there were only volcanoes to summit, or became a workaholic while living next to a backpackers dream.

And so when I finally started my trail journal on the site a few days ago (which is actually a carbon copy of what I write here), it was surreal. I can't believe my name is on that page and my words can be found where I looked for inspiration from so many others!

It's a format that is so familiar, I recognize it instantaneously. But it's my words! It actually makes the plan so much more real to me!

Once I get on the trail, I won't be able to update you quite as regularly, so to keep your trail journaling appetite whet, here are some places to check out -

Trail Journals
Hiker Journals for the PCT

Monday, March 22, 2010

Hike for More

Acadamia de Atletismo

Hiking the PCT is a luxury. I know it doesn’t seem like walking for months carrying what you need to live (and then some) on your back is an extravagance.

But the freedom to do what I want and having the health to do it are both exceptional opportunities most in the world won’t have the chance to choose.

And so when I hike, I’ll do it for myself, but I’ll also do it for others.

I’m hiking for the Academia de Atletismo.

It’s a place I’ve written about before which provides kids in Nicaragua the opportunity to be kids. It gives them a safe place. It gives them a place to learn discipline that can help them throughout their lives.

So I can help, and you can too.
• $1.50 registers a child for a competition.
• $14 buys a child’s uniform
• $120 buys safe transportation round trip to a track meet for 15 kids

I could go on, but from my experience, people who have read this far already know whether they are interested in more complete information so without further ado -

For more information –
• Click the Academia de Atletismo link for all tagged posts
• Email me
• Visit Hike for Nicaragua on Facebook

To donate -
• Send checks marked "Nicaragua" to Wedgwood Community Church, 8201 30th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115
• Via credit card at Hike for Nicaragua on Facebook
• Or the PayPal donation button in the upper right corner of this page.
• If you’d like to donate per mile I hike on the PCT, please email me and I will be setting up a page to post those donations.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Hiking Solo

Mesa Verde 2001?
the dangers of hiking alone - no one to watch your back

One questions that has been asked many times is if I have a partner to hike the PCT with.

The short answer is no... but it's not the whole answer.

ADZPCTKO (Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off), the PCT kick-off event happens at the end of April and is attended by over 600 people. Of those, over 200 will start north at the same time I do.

Additionally, there's thousands of people who hike sections of the PCT, either in short backpacking trips or day hikes.

So chances are, I won't be hiking by myself unless I really really want to. And sometimes that really might be nice!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Walking for the Difficult Day

Tongue River Canyon
Tongue River Canyon (from yesterday's walk)

The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk. ~Jacqueline Schiff

Had a frustrating day today. Apparently I need to walk more. Think 2,658 miles will do it?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Backpacking in South Africa

Drakensburg Mountains

In 2003 I went to South Africa and worked with Habitat for Humanity in Khayelitsha, a township of Capetown to celebrate graduating from undergrad (in just 6 years!).

Drakensburg Mountains

While there, I took advantage of the opportunity and went backpacking in the Drakensberg Mountains.

Drakensburg Mountains

They have a system of caves you can hike to and then sleep in with platforms covered in straw and a fire pit.

Drakensburg Mountains

Below is the cave from the outside.

Drakensburg Mountains

It was a mostly beautiful experience.

One night, I must confess, was a bit terrifying. We had just gotten in our sleeping bags, exhausted from the long day of hiking, and the night outside was pitch black. A rustling noise began in the bushes outside the mouth of the cave and came closer and closer.

Suddenly, I wasn't so exhausted, I was wide awake. My friend and I debated what to do and how much to believe the 'it's more afraid of you than you are of it' mantra. I was sure it was baboons coming to carry me away.

Finally, I was so exhausted I felt I could have slept through baboons carrying me away, but instead of waiting for it, we turned our flashlight on the noise. There stood an eland who looked as surprised as we felt, a huge animal, but certainly not one that was interested in me!

And no, I don't have pictures of that! I went right to sleep!

Drakensburg Mountains

Monday, March 15, 2010


perspective 4

Eight and a half miles can be covered in minutes with a car on the expressway, but what does a man see? What he gains in time he loses in benefit to his body and his mind. At my pace I can notice things.
Dick Proeneke – One Man’s Wilderness

Last summer, shortly after I became construction manager for Habitat I began to grind my teeth at night. I hadn’t done it since college, but the feeling of jaw fatigue in the morning was instantly familiar. I had around 20 people arriving, people who had travelled far to volunteer their hands and backs for a few weeks.

And I didn’t have foundations for them to work on.

It was important to keep them occupied, but sometimes I lost perspective. Sometimes the immediate needs felt so pressing that weeks would pass without a look up to see the beautiful view passing by.

perspective 3

I will hike in order to learn how to see the long vista ahead of me again.

Perspective 2

I’m hoping to get the certificates of occupancy for the last two homes I’m managing before I leave. It’s been a long looked for marker of the worthiness of my work (by me). But sometimes in the inertia caused by my one mindedness, I’ve lost valuable moments.

I hike in order to learn how to see the importance of small effects.

Perspective 1

I hike to remind myself of balanced life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kat's Closing

Kat has been an amazing homeowner and so it is with great happiness that we have finished her home! We received the certificate of occupancy last week and will be signing closing documents tomorrow.

Permits for Kat

Feb 15 086

Chloe's Room Sheridan HfH

Kat's Kitchen

Feb 15 089

At just over 1100 SF it's not a mansion, but it is the home Kat has both wished for and worked so hard for.

And it's not a revolutionary step forward for the world, but it is a huge change in this guy's world.

Ethan Deeds

Congratulations Kat!

Kat's Ground Breaking

Kat's Conversation
Kat's Family

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quarry Hike

Quarry Snowshoeing

Training for the PCT - aka - snowshoeing with Eliza (the new CM replacing me for Habitat). We never found the trailhead, but we found a good view!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Next Step (Again)

The Pacific Crest Trail Nat'l Geo Book
The Pacific Crest Trail (Cover) - By William R Gray, National Geographic Society

Once again, I'm coming to an ending. I still have several weeks here in Wyoming, but I have begun that process of preparing a place to land.

Or I should say, preparing an idea. Because that's what the Pacific Crest Trail is. It's an idea that encompasses geographies, ecologies, cultures and time.

Reaching out to both the Mexican border in California and the Canadian border in Washington, the PCT is 2,650 miles in length, 13,013 ft in elevation difference (not including many ups and downs in between) and six ecological zones (of seven that exist in the world).

I'll be taking that next step from Campo, California on April 22nd. And then I'll take another step, and then another. I'm not yet sure how far all the steps I'm taking will go. But I'll be sure to let you know here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Backpacking from Stehikin 1999?

You could almost feel the trees drinking the water up with their roots. This wood was very much alive. When he tried to describe it afterward Digory always said, "It was a rich place: as rich as plumcake."

If anyone had asked him "Where did you come from?" he would probably have said, "I've always been here." That was what it felt like - as if one had always been in this place...

The Wood between Worlds, The Magician's Nephew, C.S. Lewis.

Backpacking from Stehikin 1999?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Message from Father Rick

I have no words. So here are some from a person who knows what to say better than I do.

ABC News Link

NPH Link

Hello Friends,

After driving by night to Kennedy Airport January 12th, and flying to the Dominican Republic January 13th, Conan and I arrived to Haiti this morning in the helicopter of the President of the Dominican Republic. This ride was due to the reputation of NPH in the Dominican Republic, NPH Italy, a reputation enhanced in the DR by Andrea Bocelli not long ago.

Our first tasks were the medical evacuation of one of our American volunteers, the medical evacuation of one of our Cuban doctors and the evacuation of the body of one of our American visitors.

We also had 18 funerals today. One for John who works at our St Luke program. We miss John very much. He often stopped at my door to tell me the milestone of his developing baby, which delighted him no end. John ran our computerized language lab. Another was for Johanne’s mother. Joanne is one of the Directors of the St Luke program. All the others were of unknown people who were sadly rotting by the wayside.

Other sadnesses…the death of Immacula, our only physician assistant, who worked at our huge outpatient side of our hospital. The death of ALL but one of Joseph Ferdinand’s brothers and sisters, the death of the husband of Jacqueline Gautier as he was visiting a school which fell and all the students (all died), the death of our ex-pequeno Wilfrid Altisme who was in his 5th year of seminary for priesthood. Other stories of deaths of people who are dear to us keep coming in.

We spent the rest of the time managing the countless people with serious and severe wounds, coming to our hospital. We are doing our best for them, under trees and in the parking lot with ever diminishing supplies. We will work throughout the night and beyond. No stores are open, no banks are open. Diesel is running out. Will be out in two days if we don’t find a solution, which will mean no power at all. The hospital is without water since there is some broken line between the well and the water tower.

Structural damages to the hospital seem superficial at first glance, but about half the outer perimeter walls have fallen. The old hospital in Petionville is in ruins, and teams of workers, led by Ferel have been digging in the rubble around the clock.


Please continue to pray for us. We pray for you too.

Fr. Rick Frechette
National Director NPFS Haiti and Medical Director, NPHI

Previous post by Fr. Rick from about the hurricanes of 2008

Our Little Brothers and Sisters in Life and Death

From Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos International

Dear NPH Family,
It is with deep anguish that NPH is confirming the deaths in Haiti of international volunteer Molly Hightower, 22, of Port Orchard, Washington, and Ryan Kloos, 24, of Phoenix, Arizona, who is the brother of NPFS volunteer Erin Kloos, 26, also of Phoenix.

Ryan Kloos, a 2008 graduate of the University of California-San Diego, was recovered from the Fr. Wasson Center in Petionville on the afternoon of January 13. Erin Kloos was rescued from the Fr. Wasson Center on January 13 and is currently in stable condition in a south Florida hospital’s intensive care unit. Her prognosis is good.

After an extensive search, Molly’s body was recovered from the same location at approximately 4:30am ET Friday, January 15.

A friend of Molly’s visiting Haiti, 22-year old Rachel Prusynski, a University of Portland graduate and resident of Boise, Idaho, was also rescued from the Fr. Wasson Center on January 13. After medical treatment for a broken arm and severe cuts, she has been reunited with her family in the U.S.

Both Erin, a University of Washington graduate, and Molly, who graduated from the University of Portland, worked as international volunteers for Nos Petit Freres et Soeurs in Haiti. Molly assisted in the physical therapy program, and had begun her service in June 2009.

Erin’s initial volunteer service spanned September 2007 to October 2008. She had recently returned to NPFS and served in many capacities. While at NPFS, she helped in the lab at the hospital, assisted with visitors and volunteers, translated for visiting doctors and was the Home Correspondent.

Both volunteers spent their evenings and weekends caring for and playing with the children in the hospital and those with special needs.

The Fr. Wasson Center in Petionville served as a guest house, volunteer residence, administrative offices and a day school for children with disabilities, and completely collapsed during the 7.0 magnitude Haitian earthquake.

Our NPH Family extends our prayers and deepest condolences to the Hightower and Kloos families during this extremely difficult time.

There will be a prayer service TONIGHT for victims and their families of the Haitian earthquake, including 22-year-old Molly Hightower of Port Washington who died during the disaster, and University of Washington graduate Erin Kloos, 26, who was rescued and is in stable condition in the ICU of a south Florida hospital.

When: Friday, January 15, 7:00pm Pacific Time
Where: St. Louise Church
141 156th Avenue, NW
Bellevue, Wash.
Directions can be found at;

Additional Information:
Please RSVP to Katie Hultquist at 425-646-3935 or and join friends and supporters in offering prayers to those affected by the Haitian earthquake tragedy.

Monica Gery
Information Officer
NPH International

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Definition of Success

Jan 9 023
The Duplex

The houses are coming along well. I'm feeling drained with everything that's going on, but there should be a lot that gets settled in the next few weeks. So I'm looking forward to that and more time for fun things again!

Jan 9 020

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Frozen Creek
Frozen creek near the house

-19 degrees F this morning!

Monday, January 4, 2010


Me And Charlie

My nephew has been a little distracting.