Twenty-five years and my life is still, trying to get up that great big hill of hope, for a destination. 

And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying bed just to get it all out what’s in my head! 
No but I really love the song “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes. It was my song of choice on the Appalachian Trail in 2012. I remember first hearing it on the radio in the white mountain house hostel. I know I had heard it before but I heard it and loved it then. I remember Buzz Lightyear commenting that he heard me blaring it in the shower while we stayed in the galaxy motel in Brooklyn, New York after we decided we’d rather pay $130 a night for a hotel instead of sleeping on benches in Central Park with our packs on again and being awoken by hobos asking for cigarettes at way too early hours in the morning. But as of yesterday, I’m a quarter century old. It’s also my last day of work today. I need to finish up a few errands and then I’ll just be sitting around waiting for Friday to come so I can fly away. 

My girlfriend Katie got me some new trekking poles for my birthday and added a hilarious and thoughtful twist to the straps. How cool is that?!

I can’t believe I start my AZT thru hike on Saturday with Bill Muary. I’m so excited I can hardly express it. It’s also funny because I’ve noticed I’ve become extremely careful about everything I do lately to ensure nothing goes wrong right before my hike. For example, I make sure I drive very slowly and carefully so I don’t get into an accident and squander funds that I require for this trip. About a month ago I got a flat tire and really didn’t want to have to buy a new tire for the car so I researched how to fix it, went to an auto parts store and bought a $9 tire plugging kit and plugged my tire and it’s been working fine ever since! I’ve been saving as much cash as I can and can’t afford to spend it on tires and fixing bumpers and other mundane crap. 

I’ve also been obsessive about watching the weather in Tucson, Phoenix, and Flagstaff for the past month or two. Getting so excited every time it rains or snows in any of these areas because it means more reliable water sources but even more for me it means that the wildflower will be going well… wild!!!! I took over 3000 pictures on the PCT and probably 1500 of them were of the flowers or plants along the way. It was the driest year on record in much of California and yet I couldn’t get over the diversity of wild flowers I came across. Without bias I took pictures of every single one no matter how small or dull looking because I want to know what they all are. I crave this knowledge, and more plants mean more insects which means more fat reptiles and birds! I have also been refreshing the wildflower reports for Tucson and Phoenix 10 times a day to see what’s blooming and what’s about to. It seems like it’s been a pretty wet winter in most of Arizona. As I write, much of the higher elevations throughout the state are being buried in snow. I’m actually worried that I may hit some pretty deep snow right off the bat on Saturday since the trail goes over 9000 feet in the first 10 miles of the trail. I just hope that it’s manageable! I am so ready to get the hell out of ohio though. We’ve been getting more snow than usual and it’s been brutally cold the last month. Rarely going above freezing and temperatures regularly below zero Fahrenheit and often -20 with wind chill. Ohio is trapped at about 500-1000 feet above sea level throughout the entire state. There’s no escaping the climate unlike mountainous regions where if it’s cold at 9000 feet, you can go down to a warmer location, and reverse if your hot at low elevations. 

Desert bluebells! shooting stars Gentians, one of my favorite genus of wildflowers!

My resupply boxes have been done and packed for two months and my backpack has been packed and ready to go for the same amount of time. With a 3 day supply of food in it and 4 full liters of water it weighs just 27 pounds. Not bad I’m thinking! I just imagine when I’m about to get into town with low food and water and a 15 lbs backpack, I may as well run! 

I’ve been thinking about and gauging the reactions of my friends, family and acquaintance about my upcoming hike and future hikes. I get a lot of “You should be working and saving up money for the future. The more you save now the more money you will have when you retire!” That may be so, but you can never save up youth no matter how hard you try. My body just happens to be strong right now so I’m going to use it while I can. I can make money at any age. Certainly age is not a barrier to long distance hiking, anybody can thru hike if they put their minds to it! Some of the most badass hikers out there are in their 50-70s. I just know that a 65 year old Sheriff Woody is going to have a rougher time hiking 800 miles through the desert than his 25 year old counterpart. And to future me if you ever read this post, I hope you can still hike!!! Also as grim as it may seem, what if I don’t even live to retirement age. I may get some illness or die in a car crash any day. How lame would it be if you worked your life away for decades so that one day you could retire and pursue your dreams, and then you die before you get the chance! You get one chance and I am going to live every year to the fullest. I’m pretty sure that no person on their deathbed ever lamented that they should have worked more often instead of pursuing what they were passionate about. I mean really. My dad asked me yesterday if I had all the money I ever wanted, what would I do? I came to the immediate conclusion. Go long distance backpacking somewhere. Then I realized… I’m already doing that. I AM doing what I love here and now, and I have no plans on stopping.

the stark beauty of the desert love you guys! 

2 thoughts on “Twenty-five years and my life is still, trying to get up that great big hill of hope, for a destination. ”

  1. Hi Sheriff! I wish you the best on your hike! I’m not much of an active participant on the internet, but I do a lot of lurking and I’ve been reading about your Arizona Trail hike for awhile now. I’ve never done a long-distance hike, but the Arizona Trail will be my first beginning next spring (or possibly this fall). Your experience on the trail will help me prepare for mine, so I will be anxiously following every word you post here.

    Arizona is my home state, and I love that you will get to experience it in such a wonderful and intimate way. I know that you will enjoy it. You will especially appreciate the wildflowers, the snakes, and the lizards – they are all here waiting for you! Especially enjoy the portions of the trail in the vicinity of Picket Post Mountain, the Superstitions, and Roosevelt Lake – those are my stomping grounds!

    1. Hi Kelly! Thanks for reading! You and I both will be learning about the AZT, the hard way for me if past thru hike experiences have taught me anything! Can’t wait to encounter the critters! 😊

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