October 9th, 2009


Finally home! I’m sorry that I hadn’t finished my blog after arriving at Fort Bridger and for some, who don’t live in Salt Lake, they have requested that I complete my blog so they can know what happened, so here is “The Rest of the Story”.

The morning I left Ft. Bridger, the countryside was covered with a heavy fog which made for a cold walk without a coat and it also made for some amazing photos, one in particular I believe, is the most inspiring photo that I have ever taken in my 60 years.  I wasn’t able to follow the exact trail at this point because of restricted BLM and private land, so I took an adjacent dirt road that used to be the old Lincoln Highway, which was the first cross country road in America.  I have walked a number of miles on the Lincoln Highway since leaving Iowa City.  The weather was great for the most part which helped when I was trying to climb up two very steep 6% long hills.

I ended up camping alongside the road in a dust pit but I had no choice.  I walked about 18 miles that day and was heading for Evanston in the morning.

Upon reaching the beginning of one of my monster hills, I met some ranchers that were loading cattle and we had a great conversation and took some photos.  He is a Bishop in Evanston and Iwill going back to his area to do a fireside in the future.

I made it into Evanston and I camped at the home of one of Shirley and Gaylyns friends.  It was a little cold, but mentally, being this close to the valley, I have this excitement and adrenaline that is fueling my feet.   I had to walk about 12 miles on Interstate 80 because there are no secondary roads going down Echo Canyon, which is the canyon that enters Utah.  The trail weaves back and forth down the canyon, so there really wasn’t any alternative.  The Highway Patrol was informed and everything was Kosher.  I was also met on my day’s journey just outside of Evanston by an old friend, Dave Nelson, who was in Provo for a convention and came out to wish me well and deliver me two gift cards to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yahoo! Dave knew how hungry I had been over the months and was trying to find a way to deliver some KFC to me on the trail for at least the last month, so I finally accepted his generous gift of two KFC gift cards, which I have already consumed with delight.

Speaking of weight loss, the last time that I got to weigh myself was in Evanston and it said that I had lost 48 pounds, but I still had another 10 days or so to go to Salt Lake and I was losing about ½ pound a day, so I am sure that I lost at least 50 pounds.  Well now that I am in the valley, I immediately gained as much as 5 pounds from eating everything in sight but then I have lost it all because I got the flu and now weigh less that when I did when I entered the valley.  I am working out on a daily basis and eating a lot of protein to try and regain some of the muscle mass that my body ate up in the process, but so far… no progress.  I’m looking fairly thin right now.

So… meanwhile, back at the ranch… I ended up camping at Castle Rock in the canyon alongside the  Interstate.  That evening I was joined by David and Rebecca Kaylor and their children.  They will walk with me on Saturday.  They have been great friends of mine for a long time.  I was also joined by Lisa Dawson, my cousin and Rachel Dawson, her daughter in-law.  They too will walk with me for a day.  I enjoyed a belated birthday party that night in David’s huge tent and I received some wonderful gifts, like a chiropractic adjustment, a pedicure, even though I’m not sure about that, and some razors and some shaving cream. They sure have cute kids.

Continuing down the canyon, I had about 8 more miles of Interstate and then I could get off onto a secondary side road which became a lot safer for everyone.  Echo Canyon has some great history and beautiful scenery.  Do a Google search for Echo Canyon history and read about all of the pioneer history.  It was the route that the Mormon and California trails and the Pony Express went through, also it still has some of the original rail bed of the first trans-continental railroad.

I spent my second night in the canyon (it’s long) and took the day off to go to church in Hennifer.  As always, I cause quite a commotion when I come to church looking like I do.  I had a great lesson that was given by Brother Ovard.

My walking companions had already left the day before but now I was joined by Tyson Kaylor, a young man who was preparing to go on a mission for the LDS church and he would be with me for the next 4 days.  It was good to have all of the company.

Tyson and myself then walked Monday from Saw Mill Canyon where we slept, (and it was getting pretty cold out at night) to Hennifer and camped overnight at the city park where it got down to 22 degrees that night! Yeow!  That’s cold when you only have two small blankets.  We also feasted on all the apples that we could pick from the two apple trees at the park.

This next day’s climb would be tough.  We were starting our climb from the valley floor and climbing over the Wasatch Mt. range.  It would be nothing but uphill all day long.  I can see why when some the handcart pioneers got to this point that they cried.  Their will to go over these mountains was almost more than they could bear.

I was continuing to have problems with my digestive system with the liver and gall bladder problems and was having debilitating stomach pains all day.  It was miserable. I wanted to camp at East Canyon Reservoir but there were no camping signs everywhere so I/we continued our climb and walked two days into one and walked to Mormon Flats which is at the base of Little Emigration Canyon which is probably one of the toughest climbs on the trail.

We spent two days at the Flats because I was ahead of schedule and so Tyson and I hiked the canyon, 4 ½ miles up, just to see if a handcart could be muscled up this over-grown steep incline.  After walking it, there was no way that we could chop our way to the top.  There was just too much brush and trees that had grown up in the 150 years or so since this had been used as an emigration trail.  It was a beautiful canyon though.

So after being frozen at 25 degrees that night and being bothered by wild animals in the camp that were coming out of the willows, we never ended up sleeping at all because it was just too cold.  Since we had already hiked the canyon the day before, we transported the cart to the top of Big Mt. and was joined by my previous walking companion, 16 year old Reiker Green.  Now comes the fun part, because the wagons and handcart trail goes directly down the west face of this steep mountain, they would chain their wheels and put a drag pole on the wagons and the carts would rope the wheels. So… I had two strong young men and I was going to go down this face, just as the pioneers did.  I tied a rope to both sides of the axel and had the boys pull back for drag as I maneuvered this cart down the hill.  It was exciting but a bit dangerous also.  It was tough keeping this 250+ pounds in control (I had loaded extra supplies into the cart) and at one point, the incline was so steep that it rolled the handcart onto its top, nothing broken, but we then had to roll it one more time to get it righted.  All in all, it was a great moment in the trek.

I then continued down the valley and tried to camp at the top of Emigration Canyon but discovered that there was no camping anywhere, so I ended up sleeping in my truck for the next two nights because I had to take another day off because I was still one day ahead of schedule.  This was the tough part because now I could see the valley and had to wait.

Finally on the morning of Saturday, September 26th, I left to walk the remaining 11 miles of my historic and trying trek.  What an honor and privilege that it has been for me to walk in those same footsteps. To feel of the spirit of my grandmother and her children and countless pioneers, to understand a little more intimately what it takes to do what they did.  My heart was full as I walked these last few miles and felt the spirits of so many that had gone before, accompanying me these last few moments.  Moments that can never be re-lived.  I got my witness, as most pioneers did, that I was willing to give everything, even my very life, if that was what was required of me to walk this trek again.  You may not understand that feeling because I think that you can only fully understand if you have “walked the walk”.  There is no greater love that I have than to those that sacrificed so much on my behalf.  I wish that I could share with you some of the very personal and spiritual moments, but they are too sacred to mention at this time.

I want to thank everyone that I met along the trail that taught me so much about friendship and love and charity.  It was your kindness and generosity that lifted me in times of need.  I can never thank you enough.  Newly found friends that helped create memories that will not only last a lifetime, but through the ages.  I couldn’t have done it without you. At this point, there are too many names to mention, but I would be amiss if I didn’t once again thank Joe Jetter, Physicians Assistant at Scottsbluff for his steadfast performance in healing my leg.  He has a great spirit about him and he is second to none when it comes to his caring manner, a friend for life.  Then there are many that were on the home front that without them, this couldn’t have happened.  Brian Kaylor and his family have been an adopted family of mine for years and it is through his generosity that I am where I am today.  Shirley (Eve) and Gaylyn Bergstrom who gave up their entire summer at their own cost to follow me at 3 miles per hour and keep me safe on the roads, they were the keystone to my success.  I will never be able to repay them enough.  My “Valley Boys”, Reiker Green and Tyson Kaylor who helped get this cart down the road when my body needed to recover.  It was no accident that they were with me when I needed them.  And then there are my cousin(s) Marlin Sharp and Greg and Ann Phillips who spent tireless hours making sure that my welcome into the valley was a great homecoming. Thanks to my 5 children who always wanted to know that their dad was safe.  I love you for your understanding and concern in this adventure. And the last two people that need to be mentioned in the same thank you, because the best is saved for last and are the most important part of my life, my grandmother Sarah Goode Marshall and each of her six children and my cousin, Rachel Dawson.  The world and my life will never be the same without you because you both have become so much a part of me. You changed my life in ways that are too tender to explain.  I love you for the amazing women that you are.

You know, I thought that I would feel differently about finally reaching the valley, and don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be home, but… as tough and as difficult as it was, I found a peace in those “two rut dirt tracks”.  It is a spirit and calmness that can only be understood by doing what I did.  Almost as soon as I got to the valley, I wanted to go back out on the trail where my life was much more basic.  Where my needs and cares were simple and where I knew what I needed to accomplish each day.  Have you ever felt like you were born during the wrong generation, me too, well it was in those “two rut dirt tracks” that removed me from this world and morphed me into a world of 150 years ago, a time that I felt very comfortable in, not from a worldly sense, but from a spiritual sense. I understand that this is only the end of one mission and the beginning of another. History has been ground out on each hill that I sweat over and each storm and illness that I fought through and now it’s my privilege and honor to tell the listening world what I know.  I will try and touch as many hearts and minds “as ears will hear and eyes will see”.  What happened so many years ago isn’t ancient history that has no bearing on our lives, it’s the core of who we should or could be.  It’s what we believe in… and how strongly we believe it.  May I meet you down the trail in the coming months and years, and for all of you who have followed this blog, check back often, as I will update it with information on the book, the documentary, and appearances.  If you have any suggestions, comments or would like to schedule an appearance, email me at: grizzlydoctor@gmail

God Bless and thank you again.

I love you Gram(s)

September 18th, 2009


14 Miles

I’m finally in Utah, Yahoo!  Another huge line in the sand of this historic trek has been crossed and I am within the sight of the Wasatch Mountains.  Being this close gives my body the added strength that it needs to make the final 75 mile push.

It was cold last night, as it has been for the last couple of weeks but it soon warmed up into the 80s as I began walking down Interstate 80.  The trail enters Echo Canyon at Castle Rock and so I will be walking the trail as close as possible the remainder of the trek into the Salt Lake Valley.

I was met on the trail today by a good friend, Dave Nelson, who drove down from Seattle to a convention in Salt Lake and made a side trip to try and feed me some Kentucky Fried Chicken.  I had to re-nig but I thankfully accepted a gift certificate that will be redeemed as soon as I get into town.

I also have the company this evening of good friends Dave and Rebecca Kaylor and their children and cousins, Lisa and Rebecca Dawson to help me pull the handcart on Saturday.  It’s good to have the company and the assistance to make the next leg.


Quick notes…

It’s presently raining on me.

I found forty three cents on the road today, doubling my total for the entire trip.

I’m looking forward to the festivities when I enter the city.

My body is holding up as well as can be expected for the miles that I have covered.

I met Tyler Rowsen today in Castle Rock.  We also met him in Farson WY, small world.

I amaze myself when I think of all of the miles that I have covered in the last 102 days.

One of the greatest gifts that I have received on this trek is of all of the wonderful people that

I have met.  If you are lacking confidence in America… go pull a handcart across it…

September 17th, 2009


14 Miles

New weight loss numbers… I have now lost 48 pounds which is almost 25% of my body weight!  My weight now comes in at 162 and I still have a week to go which means that I will end up losing more than 50 total pounds by the time I get into the valley, but this amount needs to be related to the handcart pioneers and I am sure that they would have probably lost up to 1/3 of their body weight in the 110 day period.  I am looking forward to eating some good food in a week or so.


Second day of not being able to travel actual trail because of private property, etc., so I have been walking the dirt old Lincoln Highway that is just north of the trail.  The last four miles I had to walk on Interstate 80.

All kinds of plans are being made for mine/Sarah’s entry into the valley.  If you have the chance to join us, please be at the “This is the Place” monument at 10 am on September 26 for a culmination to an historic trek.

September 16th, 2009


21.8 Miles

Got rained on about 80% of last night and so my nylon tent didn’t fair very well.  I had puddles of water inside and my pillow was wet and my blankets got wet.  Do you know what it is like to put your head onto a cold wet pillow to try and sleep?  It stinks.

So when I got up this morning there was thick fog which is great for taking photos and so we shot some footage at the beginning of the trek and then shot some more footage when we arrived at the wind turbines on Bridger Butte.  There are some great shots of the handcart and the turbines showing the old and new technology.


The topography is rapidly changing and I climbed a 5% hill (mountain) today that was 2 miles long and completed it in one hour and ten minutes.  It was a struggle to reach the top but I thought of my grandmother and the struggles that she had to go through and I pushed on.  Tomorrow I have another 5% climb but the hill (mountain) is 2 ½ miles long.

I’m excited to be within 9 days of the valley as of tomorrow and can’t wait to see everyone.  It has been an honor to walk in these same footsteps.

September 14th, 2009


18.5 Miles

Eleven days till the valley!  I am still looking at crossing some rugged mountain ranges between here and the valley but am excited at being this close to home.  It has been a physically and mentally tough experience and there are indications that it may even snow on me before I get home.  Today’s trek was pretty good until the last 4 miles when the wind came on something fierce.  It had to be gusting upwards of 40 mph and then the rain joined in for the last two miles so I could fight my way into camp cold and wet and then soon after I got here, it all stopped, but it has started raining again and hasn’t stopped yet.The good news is that I am at a destination for trading or bartering or charity because Fort Bridger was a supply and trading post in 1856, so as I am looking for a place to put my wet tent and the Ft. Bridger RV Park was kind enough to let me erect my tent for free.  Nice folks.  So I started talking to the owner Teresa about what I was doing and come to find out, her kids have gone on the short three day trek also, so she was familiar with what I was trying to accomplish.  So she asked me what I was doing for dinner and I told her of my 1856 rules and that I was at a place where I could accept charity or work for items.  The next thing I knew, her daughter arrived with 6 apples and 6 peaches and I ate a peach on the spot.  Man was that good!  


Because they have a nice place to shower and wash clothes, I decided to wash a couple of things instead of beating them against the rock, well she wouldn’t let me spend my money and gave me quarters to do the wash. Nice folks!  I then asked what I needed to pay for a shower and she said “for me, it’s free”.  Nice folks!  I thoroughly enjoyed that hot water.  Now you have to understand that I have seen a few camp showers the last few months and this one was the nicest, cleanest that I have seen.  So if you ever need an RV spot and you are in the Ft. Bridger area, you won’t find nicer people or cleaner facilities.  It is well worth the couple of bucks.

So she then invites me to eat at the restaurant with her and her daughter and after a moment of polite rejection, I agree and have a wonderful, tasty, hot, delicious buffalo chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with chicken gravy, string beans, garlic toast, salad with bleu cheese and milk.  I have to be careful or I’ll end up gaining back some of those 40 pounds that I have lost so far.  Man was that good.

Great family and I couldn’t be in better hands.  So if you ever get close to Ft. Bridger, stop in the Ft. Bridger RV Park and enjoy some great company.

September 13th, 2009


14.5 Miles

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!  I feel like I have accomplished a lot these last few months and then to do it at the age of 60 makes me feel good.  I have carrying a cranberry muffin mix with me since Iowa so I could eat it on my birthday, well today was that day.  Shirley whipped up the Dutch oven and baked me a little cranberry loaf.  It got a little dark on the bottom but I still enjoyed each bite.  She also made one of my soups, the one that is a potato, a can of corn that I have been saving since Iowa, a little onion and water and presto… you have a great pioneer soup.  So I ate very well today.

By the way, I believe that the added peanut butter protein is correcting my liver and bile problems, thank you dear Lord.  I sure don’t want to be hospitalized at this point of the trek.


I walked with a friend of mine all day today.  David Miller drove out from Salt Lake to be part of the trek and he was great company.  He pulled about seventy five percent of the time and I allowed him to have all of the experience that he wanted.  It was a great birthday present.  As a side note, his cousin rode the trail from Nauvoo to SLC on a motorcycle a few years back and she published a book about the journey.

I am only one days walk, about twenty miles, from Fort Bridger tomorrow and that is my last trade/barter or work place for me.  It is also my last mental line in the sand that I have that tells me how close to home that I am.  The closer that I get to the valley, the more emotional I become, because of all that I have gone through, I can’t wait to join family and friends for a wonderful reunion on the 26th!

September 12th, 2009


14 Miles

Two weeks from today and I will be in the valley!

Today I had to follow the dirt trail by myself for about 3 miles but ran into a problem when the trail entered the private property of a mine and so I had to go cross country through the sage and brush and then ran into a 25 foot gulley that was a real pain to figure out on how to get into and then back out of by myself.  Thirty minutes later and I was going cross country again.  All in all, it took me about an extra two hours to circumvent this mine before I could get back on the trail.

Now you have to visualize where I am walking, absolutely in the middle of nowhere WY and was walking a dirt road next to the trail and this car pulls up next to me


and one of the two women in the car asks me if I am that guy who is walking across America and pulling this cart for his sister or something, and I responded, for my grandmother.  She says ya, your that guy I saw on television.  Long story short, somehow she had seen me on television and was just thrilled to be able to meet me and get a photo with me.  Come to find out that these two women are part of a team that goes out into these mining sump ponds and rescues wild birds, takes them back to Rock Springs, cleans them up and sends them back on their migratory way and they had some beautiful birds.  One was an Egret, I think, and it’s eyes were red and so I got a photo with this great bird.  Isn’t it interesting the people that I meet out in the middle of nowhere WY… great ladies though.

September 11th, 2009


16 Miles

The bile dumping into my stomach is just killing me today.  Hopefully this protein will starting easing the pain and start normalizing things and pulling in the sage and the sand doesn’t help things but I have no choice.


 I pulled 10 miles on secondary road and then 6 miles of sage and sand.  I didn’t get into camp until about 7:30 when the sun was going down.

September 10th, 2009


16 Miles

I was frozen last night!  Man is it getting cold during the night now that I am getting into the mountains, so I got absolutely no sleep last night.

I have a liver and gall bladder issue that has become a real concern.  My liver is making an excessive amount of bile and dumping it into my intestinal system.  At this point I’m not exactly sure what is wrong or how to correct it, only that I have a serious issue and will continue to monitor it until I get an answer.  If I were a pioneer in 1856 I wouldn’t have any options, no one to confer with and no options except to keep on walking or lay there and die.  We’ll keep you informed.  Update: I just got a phone call from Joe Jeter, the Physician’s Assistant who cared for me in Scottsbluff, NE.  I told him of my condition and long story short; he said that I needed to start eating protein.  My liver was having problems from not having any protein to speak of in a long time, so I will buy some peanut butter and start adding about 20 grams of protein to my diet each day.  I hate to do this because of my commitment to the pioneer diet, but I have to make sure that my body stays intact and out of the hospital.


I had a great visit by some people who stopped me on the road about 5 miles from Farson.  Sisters Donna and Lois get together each year and go on a historical journey together and when they saw me pulling the handcart they were very excited to be able to meet someone that is living history.  I had a special moment with Lois’s husband Mike in the car that I will have to tell you about when I write the book.

I then got a visit from Andre’ who was from Canada and had been riding for about 4000 miles so far, he drove by and then came back to introduce himself and take photos.  He pulled the handcart and I was on his new BMW motorcycle.  It was very comfortable and I told him that I may not get off and just keep on driving… so he took the key.

Visited Simpsons Hollow which was the site where the Mormon Militia bushwhacked the U.S. Cavalry to keep them from invading the Salt Lake Valley and replacing Brigham Young as the Governor.  It’s interesting reading if you do a Google search for Simpsons Hollow.

September 9th, 2009


16 Miles

I only have a minute before my battery runs out on my computer but it was cold again last night. I only have 16 more days before I enter the valley.  My body is worn out and could use a rest.  Nothing significant happened today other than I didn’t even walk 2 mph today because my back was cramping all day long.  It’s always something.


I crossed the Little Sandy River today and this is where Brigham Young first met Jim Bridger and was advised by Jim not to settle the Great Salt Lake and that he would give $1000 for the first bushel of corn that would ever be grown in the valley.  Well ol’ Jim never paid up on his deal.

Walking original two rut dirt trail is wearing me out.

September 8th, 2009


15 Miles

It was a tough day with hernias stopping me multiple times and with a strong headwind all day, I wanted to quit.  It was more than my body was able to take and I had to be pulled the last mile into camp because the pain was more than I could take.The Parting of the ways is a significant mark on the trail because this is where you could turn and go NW to Oregon or SW to Utah and California.  I carried a stone with me since Porters Rock and laid it on the pile of stones at the Parting.


 It is meant to give you good luck if you add a stone to the pile.

The weather has been down into the twenties at night and I started walking this morning when it was 36 degrees.  Pretty chilly when all you have is your shirt for warmth.  I can only expect that it will continue to get colder as I continue west.  You get no sleep when your freezing all night long and that makes it a long and arduous hike the next day.

September 7th, 2009


Miles Unknown

Because of the elevation, the weather is getting much colder at night.  Last night got down to 30 again and it is a struggle all night long to try and stay warm, especially in the nylon tent that Shirley and Gaylyn was using, now that I have lost my canvas tent.I tried to blaze new ground by being the first with a handcart to travel from Rock Creek Hollow to Pacific Springs but I only got to walk about half of the trail.  I got stopped by the swampy conditions at Willow Creek and couldn’t find a crossing that I could do by myself, so I had to portage my cart around to just east of South Pass and then walk about another 6 miles down the valley, but I have now crossed the Continental Divide and feel that I am getting close to home now that I am on the west slope.  


As I crossed Pacific Springs, which is an old stopping place for the pioneers along the route, I found the remnants of an old shoe that belonged to a child.  I also found a piece of porcelyn.

As for my health, the leg and the feet are doing well but for some reason I have a new stabbing pain in a muscle in my shoulder and hip.  I have no idea what that is all about but it is painful when it decides to flare up.  Hernias are the same and I have learned how to deal with those most of the time.  All in all, I can’t expect to feel any better than I do for the circumstances that I am in.  Mentally, well I have always been a little on the edge, but as for the trek, I feel positive about my circumstances of how close I am to home.  Eighteen more days!

September 6th, 2009


15 Miles

This section of the trail of the ground that is hallowed because of the tremendous loss of life to those who were in the Willie handcart company, just in the last two places that I have camped, there have been 28 who were frozen to death.  My grandmothers handcart company had just passed this exact spot about six or so weeks before this tragedy took place and it is a humbling experience to walk in the same footsteps and trail of those that would have eventually passed away where I am tonight.I crossed the famous “Rocky Ridge” section of the trail today, which is considered to be the most difficult section of the entire route because of the struggle to climb this two mile section that has about a 700 foot rise in elevation and is strewn with boulders and rock ledges.  A number of pioneers who were caught in that early October snow storm in 1856 died trying to cross this ridge.  What took me about nine hours to do, took them 27 hours because they were starving and didn’t have sufficient clothing.  It is on this hallowed ground that I walked today that is the scene of the largest loss of life in the entire westward migration.  Between the Willie and Martin handcart companies, there were 197 people died in about a weeks period of time.


 For me, who has walked each mile of this trail and felt the closeness of those pioneers and that time, I am humbled by those who literally had “Faith Greater Than Pain” to give their lives for what they believed in.

I have also told you in the past that I have found miscellaneous items on the trail life wagon bolts etc., well I made a special find today by finding three oxen nails on the trail on Rocky Ridge.  You have to understand that those oxen nails have been there around 150 years, through rain, snow, erosion, thousands upon thousands of youth pull handcarts over that spot every year and I was rewarded by reaching down and putting them in my pocket.

Tomorrow I am going to try and cross South Pass, which is the continental divide at 8200 feet.  It is difficult walking this original two rut dirt trail but it is the only way that you can get that closeness to those pioneers.  I see what my grandmother saw and from the same perspective.  Most of the ground has never been plowed and appeared at it was in 1856.  That’s my reward, to be in those same footsteps and feel what they felt as they saw the Wind River Mountains or Chimney Rock for the first time.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

September 5th, 2009


Approx. 16 Miles

Chalk up another first for this trek because in walking from the visitors center where I was staying at Sixth Crossing at Sweetwater Station, I walked the same route as all of the handcarts, including the Willie and Martin companies instead of taking a detour around some private property.  I know, I know, I should have gotten permission first but I had to take a chance on walking the river bottoms instead of making this huge detour, well it paid off and I suppose that I have been one of the first or the only one that has ever pulled a cart along this section of the trail.  I found two square oxen nails, a broken oxen shoe and misc pieces of metal along the trail.  It’s fun to find these items and it makes you feel like you are back in that time.

I had a cousin, Beverly Williams and her husband help me pull today and it was rough for them.  Even though Beverly runs 10 miles a day, she ended up with two huge blisters by the end of the day, and her husband Ray was dealing with leg cramps all day.  It was rough for them even though I pulled about 90% of the time, but they are in their 70’s and it’s tough when you first jump into this. We’ll see what happens tomorrow because I am doing the climb going over Rocky Ridge which is about a 700 foot climb in less than two miles, but it is the rocky trail that makes it tough.


 We’ll see.  Beverly and I are distant cousins from Sarah Goode and it was a great experience to meet her.  She also gave me some cherished tokens of different handcart memorabilia.  Thanks for the gifts…

Oh…. Also this morning when I was leaving the visitors center, I got two most unexpected and welcomed surprises!  A wonderful freshly baked cherry pie was laying on the trail with a story about a member of the 1856 Martin handcart company and her struggles on trying to make the daily journey and had given up and…. well, I want you to read the entire story for yourself and I am about to run out of battery on my computer, so look up Louisa Mellor from 1856 Martin Handcart company and read the pie story.  By the way, the cherry pie was amazing!  Thanks to whoever made it.  Then I walked a little further and found a blanket.  Thank you again!  I can’t except charity at this point of the trail but if I find it on the trail, I am going to pick it up.  Wouldn’t you?  Also… last night someone put a peach and a small airline blanket and half of a wonderful BLT in my cart.  Holy Cow!  If I stayed there any longer, I was going to start gaining weight, but my heartfelt thanks to everyone at Sixth Crossing.  Please stay in touch with me.  You will be in my heart and thoughts forever.

September 1st, 2009


33.8 Miles!

That’s right, 33.8 miles in one day pulling 217# with a wind that was up to 30 mph at times, my longest day yet.  The reason is that I wasn’t welcome in Jeffrey City WY.  You say that you’ve never heard of Jeffrey City WY?  Me neither until I tried to put a sleeping bag down in this abandoned little town.  It is a ghost town that was thriving in the 50s from the uranium mines and then it went bust in the 80s and the town went from 5000 to 100, so you can get the idea that there is nothing here but abandoned buildings and only one business that still exists, the Split Rock bar and café.  So we found a city park and proceeded to put up a tent and a rotund sheriff drove up next to us and instead of getting out of his pickup he decided that he would turn on his siren to get our attention.  “So… what’er you doin”, he asks.  Now you have to understand that this is the same sheriff that met us outside of town about two hours ago and asked “so…what’er you doin”?  With his vocabulary being limited, I tried to speak in clear concise language.  “Puttin’ up a tent”, he says “ya can’t… this here’s private property”.  I replied, “ya don’t say… sure looks like a city park with the monkey bars and bunch o’ swings”.  “Nope” he says, it’s private property”.


I said, “well I don’t see a no trespassin’ sign anywhere”. Well, you get the idea, he wasn’t about to let me stay in this deserted little town and so I had to pack up my handcart and head on down the road after walking almost 16 miles already.His parting words about me not getting to stay there were, “whatever”.  So between Victor IA, the only other little town that wouldn’t let me stay there and Jeffrey City, I have an idea, why don’t you become sister cities and you could go together and make up a sign that says; “We don’t like strangers in our deserted little town… so you should just keep movin’ on”.

So that is how I walked 16 hours and 33.8 miles yesterday because I was hacked.  I arrived at my next destination at 11:15 PM and walked two long days into one, so I am now three days ahead of schedule again and so I have the ability to prepare in walking a very difficult stretch coming up.  So it is my recommendation that if you are in the vicinity of Jeffrey City, WY, stop in the Split Rock Bar and Café and have a $4.50 cheese sandwich and tell the large rotund sheriff at the end of the counter, “hi” for me.  He’ll remember me for sure.

August 31st, 2009


16 Miles

I walked about the first 6 miles in original trail but it eventually disappeared and I ended up trying to pull the cart cross country over the sage brush and that was tough and it didn’t make any sense since I wasn’t on the trail anymore, so I back tracked out about a mile and drove down the valley further but still couldn’t find the trail.  It had become too over-grown so I loaded up the cart into the truck, took a couple of bottles of water and headed off cross country towards Split Rock.  What a long and arduous hike that was, ten miles further across the hills and I finally came across the trail again and walked out of this massive expanse.


Upon arriving in camp, I discovered that my tent had fallen off from the back of my chase truck and so I retraced all of roads where the truck had been that day… but no luck.  I now have no tent.  That stinks!  I have been suffering in this foul, mildew tent for three months and now it was gone so until I could figure out what I wanted to do, I slept in the front seat of my truck sitting up.  What a pain that was.  We searched again the next day and still haven’t found it so I’m not exactly sure what to do from here.

August 27th, 2009


26 Miles

What a day and what an experience.  I walked about 6 miles from my camp last night to the Pathfinder Ranch and then began the hardest 10 mile section that I had walked so far.  With my chase vehicles not being allowed on the ranch property, I loaded up my handcart with my pistol (for rattlesnakes), my rattlesnake kit, a couple of biscuits, my video camera and the last 5 bottles of water that I had and disappeared into the overgrown sage.  You have to understand that being the first handcart to walk this trail in a long time (if ever), it had become overgrown with large brush and grasses and the soil was deep blow sand.  I don’t know what you could do with that soil as a ranch but it was more than miserable to pull 217# through.  It was just the worst conditions and as the site of highway 220 disappeared behind me and having only walked the first couple of miles by myself, I was already soaked with sweat and worrying about running out of my dismal 5 bottles of water, especially since I was going to be walking 10 miles of this stuff.  Ahead of me lay rolling sand hills and alkali lake beds and my other concern was that if I accidently got bit by a rattlesnake that I would be in serious trouble because there is no cell signal out here and I wouldn’t be able to walk the 10 miles out or I would die or I would die by having to wait for them to come find me that evening when I didn’t show up, so walking through the brush was a bit un-nerving.

After about 4 miles of hard, hard pulling, I started to enter an area that had these alkali lake beds and because the alkali makes the soil puffy, like baking soda, it made it that much more difficult to pull through but there was less also vegetation to have to worry about.  Through all of this difficulty, I still marveled at the opportunity to walk where my grandmother walked.


 On more than more occasion, I would be able to see her struggling to pull her cart with all of her belongings and her 2 year old child riding.  How exhausting it must have been.  Today for me, with the temperature in the high 90s, it was just tough going all day long but I had 5 bottles of water to help get me through, but for her, even if she had water, she wouldn’t be able to carry enough for her and her 6 children through this tough stretch.

As I entered a section of alkali, there were some small puddles of mud water and so I took my flour sack towel and used it to soak my shirt and then put it over my head to keep my head cooler.  I had done that in the past because of the heat in Iowa, but now I was needing this to save, literally my sanity and life.  I tried to ration my water enough to have one bottle per hour but I was sweating that much out in 15 minutes.  So when I was in the bottoms and couldn’t see Independence Rock and that is when my outlook looked the worst but eventually when I gained altitude again and could see the rock in the distance, I then had an obtainable goal and mentally, everything changed.  Continuing to soak my clothing and head towel, things began to look positive and I eventually made Independence Rock by my scheduled 3 PM and had a cold drink of water.

After a short break, I then continued on to Martins Cove to arrive by about 6 PM and set up camp.  It was a warm welcoming from the senior missionaries that give tours of the facility.  I can’t tell you how much of an emotional boost it is for me to have so many people that know of your journey and are excited to see your arrival.  Martins Cove is a huge mental hurdle to arrive at because it makes me feel like I am close to home.  Less than one month and I am finally amongst friends again.  It has been a long and trying time.

August 26th, 2009


19.5 miles

This was the first full day of walking by myself since I left the hospital and what a day to have to walk along.  It was of course, filled with hills, including Prospect Hill that is one mile long and the steepest gravel road hill that I have climbed since the hill called Mt. Everest in Iowa!  Anyway, I was maxed when I finally gave up about one half mile short of my daily goal.Even though it was tough, I love the original trail.  I found two old broken horseshoes, a wagon pin and four square nails that are used for oxen shoes.  It was all there just lying on top of the dirt.  You have to understand that if you put 500,000 emigrants down a trail and the trail become littered with everything imaginable.


This is the second wagon pin that I have found.  I have also found a partial canvas bucket.  I just love finding this stuff because it lets me know of the footsteps that I am following.

I also had a bit of a scare right after I started.  Bessie (my extra fast Jack Russell pup) was walking with me and she saw an antelope and decided to chase it into the wild blue yonder.  No matter what I said, she just kept on truckin’ at full speed over hill and dale.  Well she disappeared.
I want a T-Bone steak

August 25th, 2009


21 miles

I had three companion walkers with me today from Casper.  Jacobs, Cindy and Tim .  It was a real plus to be able to have them help today since it was the first day of walking dirt roads and hills.  They did great.  I also had Greg and Ann Phillips and their grandson Racer.  They had driven out from Salt Lake to help me walk for a few days and I was excited that they were here because we have been friends for 20 years and Greg is a decendent of Sarah Goode Marshall’s youngest child, Sarah, so Greg has an emotional link to the trek.  Well Greg discovered that some of his parts and pieces on his body were not functioning as well as he would have liked and so he decided to take it slow the first day.  Good council.As I got to Emigrant Gap I took off my shoes and wanted to walk barefoot to be able to experience what some of the pioneers went through that had either lost or had worn out their shoes, well let me tell you brother, that aint no picnic.  Other than the extreme pain that I was causing myself, I discovered that there really wasn’t any comparison for what I was trying to accomplish.  I was


walking on sharp rock gravel roads and they would have been walking dirt trails.  It just didn’t add up and after two miles and two hours later, I had a good sized blister on my heal and I couldn’t walk anymore and needed to put my shoes back on.  It wasn’t the experience that I was hoping for because it wasn’t the same circumstances.

So we did 21 miles on original trail.  I loved it.  There is nothing like walking in the same footsteps as my grandmother and so many other pioneers.  Shortly after hitting the hay, I keep hearing this scratching coming from under the tent but try to ignore it because I didn’t have the energy to deal with it and so all night long I hear this scratching.  So when I got up at 5:30 and started putting away the tent, I was anxious to see what was still scratching the bottom of my tent, and lo and behold… it was the fattest field mouse that I have ever seen and he was trying to make himself so new digs under my tent.  If it’s not the trains that keep me up, then it’s the mice.

August 21st, 2009


21.87 Miles

I was anxious to get to Casper so I could have the ability to see a doctor if needed and so we walked two days in a single day… again.  Since leaving the Scottsbluff hospital and being two days behind, I entered Casper 4 days ahead of schedule.  Not bad for an old man with one leg.  I have been watching the oozing of the new wound and have applied some SSD that they gave me at the hospital in Scottsbluff and by today (Monday) I have decided that I would save my money and not go to the doctor. It looks like it is on the mend.

I can’t say enough about Ryker Green, my 16 year old companion walker and descendant of Sarah Goode Marshall.  The blisters on his feet tell of his commitment to help get me to the Salt Lake Valley.  Rumors were that he might not have the stamina to finish the trek when in fact it was he that kept challenging me to walk a little farther and a little faster.  You gotta love the youth.  He couldn’t wait to find a snake and finally on the last couple of days he found one.  In the two short weeks after spending 10 to 12 hours and more a day with this young man, I can tell you that he will lighten the load of anyone that he walks with.  I owe him a great debt of gratitude as he left the comfort of his summer in Salt Lake and started pulling my handcart as I lay in the hospital.  Our long talks helped to bond us that will last a lifetime.  Congratulations Ryker!  No one else has done what you have.  Have a great school year and go study up on who Martin Harris is.

I also needed to get a new thermostat for the truck because it was stuck open but when I went to have a mechanic do it, they had to order the part from Denver and so I won’t be able to get it repaired until Tuesday afternoon.  Just the part cost over $175 because it is this whole housing thing that it sits in and is a pain to change, so I imagine that I will get a hefty bill for this.  I am also having them repair my driver’s side door handle.  When I was in the hospital, the persons home that we left my truck at didn’t know how to get into my truck (there’s a trick) and he broke the handle, so every time that I want to get into the truck, I have to crawl across all of my boxes and junk that I have been carrying on the passenger side.  It’s just a pain, so I need to get that fixed also.  It’s always something, isn’t it?

I have lost 35 pounds to date! That means that I lose about ½ pound a day with about 20 pounds to go.  I should write a diet book.  It would only have one page.  Eat less than 1200 calories a day and walk almost 1500 miles in 4 months. My hernia’s are about the same and so I stop when I need to and rest and repair.  My feet have been doing well for quite some time.  I have been getting a lot of leg cramps lately and so I need to remember to take my supplements.  The herniated disc in my back comes and goes.  My mental outlook has had a boost because I feel like I am getting close to home and when my mind stays positive, my body walks with a little more vigor.  I have slept a lot better the last couple of nights because it hasn’t been very cold and I am away from the trucks and the trains… finally.  I found a Jerusalem Cricket outside my tent last night.  Nasty looking things!

Also, I think that I have mentioned it before, but when I am walking down the road, my handcart attracts cows and horses like I am some kind of free lunch.  It is just funny, when they hear the sound of the cart, they just come running full speed across acres of ground to see what we have to eat.  This has even happened to a Zebra that someone had on their property.  Well a couple of days ago there were about 15 horses that wouldn’t quite following us until they got some attention and so I dug out a couple of crab apples and I became an instant hit.  I love it!

Quickies: I will be in a communication void for about the next two weeks because I will be in the WY cellular black hole / I met a Tracy Williams at church yesterday and as a coincidence, I had dinner with his brother in Omaha a few weeks ago / Please, if you have the ability, come join me for the last 5 miles from “This is the Place”


monument on Sat., Sept. 26th and bring your family / I’ve been craving milk toast.. how crazy is that / the Jacobs in Casper, where I am using their lawn, have been the most wonderful family… everyone has / I gave a fireside talk last night to about 30 women and enjoyed the conversation / I bent the clothing rule today and bought a pair of long johns.  The Rocky Mts. are coming up / I can’t wait to do some fishing at the Sweetwater River as they did 150 years ago.  Trout sounds great right now / Greg Phillips, another descendent of Sarah Goode Marshall, will be walking with me for a week, starting tomorrow.

I drove the trail as it leaves Casper so I could get an idea ahead of time what the next 70 miles looks like and it is rough.  All original trail that has been graded over into a rough country road.  There are some notable landmarks along this section.  Emigrant Gap, Bessemer Bend, Avenue of Rocks, Willow Springs, Prospect Hill and Independence Rock and then Devils Gate and Martins Cove.  There is a good web site (http://www.independencerock.org) that has photos of all of the above important locations and also of what I will be traveling for the next couple of weeks.  It also gives a brief narration of each of the areas.  I’m not only making history by doing this trek, but for the first time that I know of, I have been given permission by the Pathfinder Ranch (largest ranch on the west coast, 140,000 acres) to continue to walk original two rut dirt trail that runs on their property for about 10 miles just before Independence Rock. I have been told that they don’t let anyone on their property to do this but I knocked on their door and we had a good conversation and they agreed to let me walk.  I love their section of the trail because it’s as pristine as the trail ever gets.  I’m not positive, but I believe that I may be the first handcart down this path in a long time, if ever, since 1860.  I am honored.  This section is also loaded with rattlesnakes, so caution will be the code of the day.  They don’t call them the Rattlesnake Mts. for nothing.

Also, starting at Emigrant Gap, I will be walking barefoot for as long as I can.  It may be an hour, a week or all of the way to Salt Lake City.  Why you ask?  What possesses me to do such an insane thing?  Well it’s not an insane thing, my second reason for doing the trek is to experience first-hand, and the pain and suffering that they endured to accomplish their journey so I could understand that suffering and be able to relate it to others that don’t have that knowledge.  One of the things that happened 150 years ago was that there were some that went barefoot the entire journey and then there were some that lost or wore out their shoes along the trail, so for me to understand what that was like, I too need to walk for some period… barefoot.  The second addendum to this reason is that from about Emigrant Gap for about the next 100+ miles, this piece of ground has a hallowed meaning for me and many others.  Exodus 3:5 says: Come not nigh hither, put off the shoes from thy feet: for the place where on thou standest is holy ground.  The next 100 miles from Emigrant Gap is the ground where over two hundred women, children and men lost their lives in just two handcart companies.  It is my privilege and honor to walk barefoot on this ground.  I can think of no more fitting way of showing my respect.  You see, for me it’s not just the dirt.  This entire trek is not just about the trail, it is the lives that stood in the same place that I stand and it was grandmothers and grandfathers, brothers and sisters of not so many years ago that had “Faith Greater Than Pain”.  They were willing to give all that they had, including their lives to beckon the call to come “home” and over 200 paid the ultimate price by freezing and starving to death.  The Spirit is so strong in this area, you can reach out and touch it.  The hardest for me is yet to come, but the greatest rewards are in that effort.  My accomplishments that require the greatest effort have given me the greatest rewards.  Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley said “the price of discipleship is personal courage”; well I think that it’s about time that I stepped up to the plate.