Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18

Made it to Springfield, Illinois today. Great last few weeks and the heat has finally broken for now which has made it much easier to run. The worst of it was up to 111 in Kansas. Have continued to meet wonderful people and was donated a new jogging stroller by the Midwest Transplant Network in Kansas City in addition to other forms of help. The one I had was repaired in Colorado and kept it going to there where at that point even the aluminum was cracking. Spending time with them was probably the best experience I have had thus far and will have more written on that later.
      To retrace back to where I was with my last post leaving Craig Colorado I headed towards Steamboat Springs and stopped into a library in the middle of the day and got to talking with a woman in the library Rachel, who later told me that she registered to be an organ donor after being inspired by what I was doing. This helped me to feel that everything I am doing is worthwhile and that I truly am making a difference, no matter how small. I plan on continuing forward even if it means on bloodied knees, but if for some reason I did have to drop out, I could actually feel that this had been a success. This allows me to better ignore critics who have voiced their opinions about poor planning, no notice, my inexperience and whatever else they like to say. I am not critical of the character of these people, please do not misunderstand, I love them just the same, but an individual should surround themselves with people who support them, so I try to stay away from those who consistently produce negativity.
   I say this not to be critical, but I know each and every person has dealt with individuals like this in their life and I hope it can allow others to also overcome similar criticism.This is a dream I have thought about almost daily for over 2 and a half years. I knew I needed to go out and do this. Yes, it may not be perfect but my entire heart and soul has gone into this.
     Similarly, I remained hesitant to truly show the level that this has gone to. I received two emails shortly before leaving and I was not sure whether or not to include them and have weighed this greatly on my mind. I have decided that to not include them, would be to not show this journey honestly. Also, presenting them as first and foremost a lesson to myself and in a way to help others. One is not supportive of me doing this and the other was supportive, and I will not include names for privacy. I do not think of either person any less but need to show for the importance of this run. Both are presented in their entirety so that I am not criticized or accused for misconstruing its meaning. Here they are.

 First, I think you may want to think about putting together an advanced directive and carry an id on you at all times.  When they find your body, they know what to do with it.  Next, I think you still don't get my message.  I am sure that you can do this, so it has nothing to do with belief--as if belief is THE deciding factor in all of this.  Your inexperience is shining through by pursuing this so wrecklessly.  I cannot teach you everything you need to learn in the amount of time we have left.  I have availed myself on weekends and have offered to go backpacking.  We have only met 3 times and I have only begun to  bring things to your awareness.  Had we used our time better, I would feel differently, but the simple facts remain: you are doing this by yourself.  I don't want to hear that other people have done it solo--they are foolish to attempt something like that.  Allow me to cover a few factors which are important.

I've identified a number of variables for consideration: experience in general, general skills such as fire starting, wild animal encounters, shelters, pioneering, navigation, mental hardiness, physical fitness, safety resources, planning such as mapping for your trek and weather predictions, knowledge of native resources, and general awareness.  All off these may be construed into your ability to survive in the low levels of living.  In these situations, you will need to have an positive attitude (one that doe not let mother nature do-you-in), skills to survive, create shelter, food, water, safety, and maintain general health, and return to civilization.  Ive divided these variables into skill levels (0-2).  If each factor was a possible value of 0 to 2 points, I would score you as a 12/28.  This is disconcerting considering the challenges that face you.  Ill give some examples.
Context: Torrential downpour for three days in the desert where temperatures plummet over night. Clothing becomes wet. Gear becomes wet.  No heat source such as fire.  Action: you manage to setup shelter, remove your wet clothing, and enter your sleeping bag.  Possible consequence: most likely, none of this is sufficient to regain core temperature: hypothermia and death result.  If you had a buddy, you could huddle and share body heat.  If you had a support vehicle, you could rest in there.

Context: general mechanical injury which disables ambulation w/ deep venous or arterial laceration.  Action: turnakit.  Worst possible consequence: first aid is not successful and emergency personel take hours or days to reach you. Death, loss of limb, lasting disability.  If you had a buddy, he could manage first aid and call for ER personnel.  If you had a support vehicle, you could rely on rapid transportation and fresh supplies.

Context: remote areas in the mountains and desert provide no or little cellular or GPS coverage in the event of emergency.  Possible consequence: they arrive too late.
Context: deranged individuals whom mean to do you harm.  You have no means to defend yourself and no martial art training or combat training.Possible consequence: your safety and health are compromised.  If you had a buddy or a support vehicle, you would be at a tactical advantage.

Context: lack of civilization and loss if supply.  I have not examined your Trek but I think its BS that you will see a town every 60 miles.  Possible consequence.  You lose supply and must rely on skills you have not yet acquired. 
The list can go on to touch on the fact that you didn't know how to det up your tent until Thursday and that your GPS is unproven, I don't even know if you can read a compass and a map.  And I know you feel like you need to do this but going without constant and reliable support is not safe.  Going alone is stupid.  I have a great deal of respect for you but after seeing how unprepared you are, I still cannot rest easily at the thought you are still convinced that this must be done now and is the only opportunity you will have.  What I see in you is that you will never stop these extreme runs.  You regularly run ultra marathons which cannot be easily taken from your assessment and advice as a friend is that you should postpone this for after grad school.  This will give you time to gain funding for support, which may eliminate your need for survival skills, and stack the odds in your favor.  You may have to wait some time, but it will be done right (safely).  I drew the line when I found that you havn't even acquired means for fire and that your tent was still a cardboard box. 

I would bet you don't like being called naive.  Truth is I don't give a damn if you don't like it.  You need to hear this.  I don't even care if I lose you as a friend over this.  Better that I lose a friend than you lose your life.

 And the second:

 I wish you the best as you make your way across the country. Zach told me some people have tried to dissuade you from the run. I urge you to do what you are passionate about and strive hard at achieving your goal. Based upon my observations of your desire, determination, and dedication, I am sure you will achieve what you set out do--bring attention to the importance of organ donation. You are about to endure an experience very few will even think about; I hope you learn from your travels into the many different parts of our country and finish this run a stronger person. This will be an experience that will shape your future no matter what you end up doing next year. Be safe!

I can see the positive intentions of both while the first came after the point had been clear I still intended to go. In life there are plenty of risks if you decide to step outside your door, and I live with the belief that when it"s your time to go it's your time so I do not need to live in fear of everything. No day is promised so to wait until the odds are in your favor is to do nothing until death. Danger does not mean you should not try. I do not know what will happen months from now but I knew that in 6 months from the day I graduate loans kick in so this may be my only shot in life and I had to take it. I do not need to explain myself further than that or apologize for it.

   So back to post the library I went to use the bathroom in Milner and stayed for dinner and was invited back by a very kind couple Jim and Linda who allowed me to get a shower and a bed for the night. The enxt morning I helped Linda move her horses across the street, which is the closest I ever was with horses so I thought it was really cool. From there I went to Steamboat Springs where I stayed at the Steamboat Motel. AFter paying for the room and talking to the woman there Sarah, I went to get a shower in the room and the note was extremely supportive of me and she donated money "for the room and some dinner." I was shocked by the kindness and went back to thank her tremendously.

  I know this doesn't make much of a dent for those who wanted to know more about the journey but these in particular I felt I needed to share now, but hopefully the next will be much sooner as I should have much better access to computers as well as more importantly cell phone service.


  1. You have already traveled so far, you must be doing something right!

    In all your reports I have been impressed by the kindness of strangers. You are amazing, way to go!

  2. You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

    Steve Jobs