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)