Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Systems Check

Systems Check

The second leg of the Vagabond Loop is in the books! Here is another synopsis of gear, logistics, etc. on the VL during the Hayduke Trail hike.

+GG Kumo Superlight. I had some doubts going into the HT in regards to weight capacity with all the extra food and water weight. However, the Kumo proved to be very durable and reliable. Actually, I liked having the Kumo for the HT because of the maneuverability and flexibility it provided me in rock climbing, bush-thwacking, and scrambling. The Kumo showed no ill-affects of extra weight and clung tightly to my upper torso. I only received some slight tears in the outer mesh pocket but they are not detrimental to its durability nor usage. At the end of the HT I did have some concerns from all the salt I had sweated out onto the back during the hike. I just washed it with cold water on a 2 rinse cycle, no soap. Then, I hung dried it. Nice and spiffy now!

+Marmot Plasma. There is nothing finer than a new sleeping bag. I still cannot believe I am not using a quilt anymore but the Plasma provided me with warmth and comfort. Towards the end of the HT I just slept right on top of it in the open as the night became warm. The vertical baffles kept the down where it should be, too. All around, a great lightweight sleeping bag.

+YAMA Mountain Gear Cirriform. My favorite tarp I have used to date while thru-hiking. Funny, I only set up the tarp 2x while on the HT but I did see the functionality, high-quality material, and flexibility of the tarp.

+Ipod. I loved having the Ipod on trail. It made me look forward to the road walks when I was in a gloomy mood. I did not use the Ipod when I had to navigate or needed to hear, such as in canyons and scrambles. I am keeping it with me for the duration of the VL.

+Water Capacity. I never carried more than a gallon of water on the HT. I was able to hike the mileage between water sources just fine. However, I will keep the extra bladder and have a 6L capacity as I am not through the dry stretches yet. The Rio Grande Valley and the GET will be arid!


+Diet. I floundered a bit on this but only during town stops. My diet stayed the same on trail and is still kicking butt! I lost a bit of weight when I was sick and walking through the Grand Canyon so I began to crave and eat more meat in town. I craved fatty food! But I think this proved to be a good thing as it helped me relax and reward myself. The HT will push you in every way imaginable. Relieving stress was of a topmost concern.

Vagabond Loop:

+Hayduke Trail: Absolutely one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of my life. The HT is incredibly scenic and diverse, but it is also challenging and tough. I was surprised at how quick I completed the HT (34 days) but I am in prime thru-hiking shape. Plus, the days are getting longer which led to more time to hike. I will never forget the starry nights that shone so brightly that I woke up many nights thinking I could grab a hold of one. The stars kept me company and I spoke to them often. They were like a portal to an alternate universe.

I will miss the random footprint in some remote canyon. Some foot impressions were from the past year, like last Fall, but I know some were at least 20 years old. The Red Rock Desert takes your trace of your being when it wants to; you leave a piece of your soul out there whether you want to or not. Those human prints, those passed communications, have left a trace on my heart. They made me feel a part of something bigger than anything I can imagine. In some ways, those footprints represented all of humanity in a pure form, essence.

I will also miss the archetype of Hayduke, of walking like I had a pure sense of freedom, of hiking with orneriness, of wandering with intent, and of living the life of a rebel adamant against normal society. I did not get any permits for the trail, I used no GPS, and camped where I wanted to. Because of this spirit I developed a more intimate relationship with the land I have never felt nor exhibited before. I have become more of a steward of the land, especially against all causes who wish to destroy, pillage, or 'use' the land.

Connection Between Moab and ABQ. Here it is! The Vagabond Loop bridge connecting the HT and the GET!

I have decided the Colorado Trail is not going to be a part of the VL. A lot of thinking and fleshing out have occurred within me during the past 2 months on trail. While on trail the Vagabond Loop has defined itself more clearer to me. Here are my reasons:

*I want a quality driven VL, one that may be hiked again. I believe the route I have between Moab and ABQ is much more enticing than trying to gain access through a huge chunk of private ranches. Logistically, the route I now have planned is easier to plan, more walkable on terrain that does not include paved roads, all on public lands, and is extremely scenic. The new connection shaves off about 500m of the VL, as well.

*I think I initially wanted the CT in the VL for egotistical reasons. I did not know it at the time but walking 1,600m can give time to think and a humbling effect. Quality over quantity.

*I do not think the CT fits in with the theme of the VL, especially after hiking the AZT and HT. Canyon walking, desert terrain, the people, culture, all seem not to tie in with the CT, in my opinion. Wandering, a vagabond like Everett Ruess, fits in more with what I have planned.


*Moab to Durango (205m). Joe and Kelly at San Juan Hut Systems have been kind enough to lend me a key to the 6 huts between the 2 mountain bike towns. The huts are stocked with water, food and other provisions. They also passed along the maps. I cannot express how thankful I am for their support. Really awesome people.

*Durango to Pagosa Springs (90m). I will be using the CDT for this section. From Molas Pass in the San Juan, where I will end the Durango section, I will jump on the CDT and hitch into Pagosa Springs from Wolf Creek Pass.

*Pagosa Springs to Chama (65m). I will continue this section on the CDT as well hitching into Chama from Cumbres Pass.

*Chama to Red River (105m). From Cumbres Pass I will take the CDT about 15m or so then take forest dirt roads toward San Antonio Mountain. From there I will piece a series of BLM roads, as well as some crosscountry, across the plains of the Rio Grande Valley to Sheep Crossing where I will ford the Rio Grande. From there I will access the Latir Mountain Wilderness in the Sangre de Cristos, then go up and over the range to the tiny mountain town of Red River, where I will have a food drop waiting for me.

*Red River to Sipapu Ski Resort (70m). Now, I will be firmly entrenched in Brett Tucker's Northern New Mexico Loop. I will walk the crest of the Sangres, via a series of trails and crosscountry methods, south summitting Wheeler Peak, the highest point in NM, all the way to Sipapu Ski Resort to receive my next package.

*Sipapu Ski Resort to Santa Fe (70m). Continuing on the crest, I will tromp through the Pecos Wilderness via a series of trails and eventually walk into the city of Santa Fe and its town square. 

*Santa Fe to ABQ (70m). More details on this route when I will be in Santa Fe. All I know at this point is that I will hike up into the Sandias from the east, take the tramway down to the bottom of the west side of the Sandias, then hike back up to the crest and begin the GET.

So, the bridge between Moab and ABQ will be about 675m. The route will be challenging, incredibly scenic, and adventurous. I will be departing Moab on the 14th or 15th of June.

******Note****** As I updated this page, I learned the Pecos Wilderness and the Jemez Mountains, both gateways to Santa Fe, are under fire. Changes may come in this route. The news is very unsettling to me. I have no control in this matter other than to continue onward and adjust my route as needed as I get closer and gather more information. ******Note******

+Support: An assortment of some incredible people have helped me along the HT. Li in Grand Canyon is a wealth of trail-knowledge and a very hospitable host. He withstood my blowing my nose constantly and talking like I was underwater. Steve at the Vagabond Inn in Escalante put me up for 2 nights. I relish our conversations about Ruess and of the spirit of wandering and the relationship with the land. I am very grateful for him. I also, want to thank Karl and Malanda who was also a part of my Escalante experience. Instantly, we became lifelong friends. Without this support I would be bombarded with stress by more logistics.

The support I have received on the HT is at a level of emotion that I almost breakdown thinking of it. If only the whole world had more of the people like all of the people I mentioned. A deep thanks to you all...

The Vagabond Loop, with a lonely wandering spirit lighting its core, would not exist with the people that I meet and have supported me. You keep the wheel rolling along...




  1. Man, the fires are messing everything up! I think it's a good choice to opt out on the CT though, excited to hear more about moab -> ABQ


  2. Thx for the support strider. I ferl much better about the VL with the CT out of it. I clearly have more time, effort, and motivation in putting together a quality, worth hiking again loop.

    Now, hopefully, the fires will subside and the monsoons will spill rain from the clouds.

    Many updates to come. I am very excited for this portion. It is THE connective part afterall...

    Thanks again.

  3. Beautiful writing DM! WeR All prayin' for rain, the fires are inevitable and 'needed' --but it's scary too.
    I hope we get to visit this year; if you need ride from Chama or? just giv me a call...Addi