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 quit 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 sacriice”; well I think that it’s about time that I stepped up to the plate.