Saturday, December 12, 2015

As seen in the Mad River Union!

Here's the official announcement which appeared in our newspaper, the Mad River Union. The print version was a mite shorter, for space reasons.

Come by the office and pick up a book or cool Arcata Ridge Trail marker; it'll help pay for my food on the trail. 

Books, trail markers and more available at the Union.

Hey, guess what I’m doing next year? Walking 1,726 miles through the scorpion- and rattlesnake-strewn Mojave Desert, then palling around with bears and mountain lions in the Sierras. 

If all goes as planned, next spring I’ll take off on a section hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, the section being California, from Campo at the Mexican border to Ashland, Ore. 

In fact, the critters whose habitat I’ll be tramping through are the least of my concerns, as long as I respect them and follow best hiking practices. I think I know what to do; it’s just one of the many things to be mindful of on a journey of this length.

The art of the hike is a fascinating challenge, and obviously the trek itself will be an immersive experience, to say the least. I’ve been on multi-day backpacking trips in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the Lost Coast and Trinity Alps, but up until recently have reverted to more leisurely glamping, which is also a blast in its own way. After a while though, sitting around camp with an embarrassment of amenities, like Trader Joe's dinners, gets old. I was kind of bored on Mt. Diablo last time, so it's time for my bootheels to be wanderin'.

Now it’s back to the trail in a big way – four months big. I’m leaving at the end of April and won’t be back until September. 

I won’t be out of touch, though. These days, one is never away from the communications grid for very long. I’ll document the adventure via my blog, Crush All Boxes (, my YouTube channel, submissions to the newspaper and by live tracking of my location via a GPS personal locator beacon. It looks like I might be doing some radio shows too.

That level of on-trail tech doesn’t appeal to many, but it’s not uncommon and it sounds to me like a lot of fun – gathering imagery and other data by day, then editing it in the tent at night.

I’ll describe the rewards and setbacks, twists and turns of the trail, plus perspectives on Humboldt news from afar, describe the natural history of the areas through which I pass, and show interesting stuff I see and people I meet. 

There’s no one best way to go about an ambitious hike like this. Everyone has to find what works best for them, from equipment to schedule to goals. There’s a phrase  – hike your own hike (HYOH) – which sets the tolerant tone that is part of PCT culture.

In order to truly hike your own hike, you have to know why you’re doing it, and set out what you hope to accomplish. There are as many reasons as there are hikers. 

For some PCT hikers, it’s escape, centering on a spiritual journey. Others go for trophy purposes, or to set records. Some are survivors of health problems, or violence. Others have media enterprises. It’s all good, and there is much cooperation and mutual respect for the diversity.

My motivations are many, but to be completely honest the central one is the fun of it. I love hiking, carrying my shelter and food on my back, and sleeping outside in remote places. It’s strenuous and meditative, relaxing and stimulating, cleansing and enriching all at once. That might be one definition of fun.

Since I’m going, there’s no reason not to leverage the hike to do something positive for the community that has supported me all these years, and the facilities that make it all possible. There are three wonderful causes for which I hope to gain pledges. 

First is the Pacific Crest Trail Association, which advocates for the trail and maintains it, supports hikers and does outreach and education.

Second has to be the Arcata Ridge Trail, which isn’t quite complete and needs support. You can do this directly through the Humboldt Area Foundation’s Arcata Forest Fund, or use the Union as a pass-through.

The Ridge Trail is proceeding apace, but still isn't whole. The southern Sunny Brae Tract section is (technically) disconnected from the main Arcata Community Forest. The Fickle Hill Crossing remains to be completed.

I've been using the Ridge Trail a lot for training hikes; it's pretty dang handy having a mini-Sierra situation just up the street.

As we did in days of olde with the Arcata Eye Ball, I’m once again fundraising for the Union Labor Health Federation’s Children’s Dental Angel Fund, also managed through the Humboldt Area Foundation. It provides funding for dental treatment of underprivileged children locally, with donations matched by participating dentists. More info to come on that.

Ways to donate to any of these funds via the hike are being finalized, so stay tuned. You can pledge a certain amount per mile, a set amount or whatever you like.

Anyone wishing to support the hike itself, and help make possible its various info streams and the help I hope to provide to the worthy causes, can easily do so. 

We’re selling genuine Arcata Ridge Trail markers in both traditional and rainbow flavors, the latter to honor the contributions of the LGBT community to the trail. My four books – both Police Logs and local history books – are also on sale, as are a few oddities. Proceeds will help feed me on the trail. 

Just stop by Suite 8 in Jacoby’s Storehouse, Plaza Level, and pick up a beautiful, tactilely-gratifying trail marker. They make wonderful gifts for trail enthusiasts.

I could make some sort of case for having contributed value to our community with my newspaper and other work over the past 23 years, and in return it has employed me. Now I’m asking for its help in making possible an ambitious adventure that will create some interesting reads and do some community good.