Looking for Viggo

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." – William Hutchinson Murray


After a bit of climbing, an epic two day drive home (19 hours ish) and a face to face chat with some buffalo, I am home. It’s hard to know what to say. I’ve been home for two days and still haven’t unpacked. Here’s a bit of journal I wrote two years ago, the last time I came out of the mountains:

“Coming out of the wild can be a little overwhelming. Just on a sensory level; bright, fast moving, unnatural shaped sights, loud, irregular, mechanical sounds, people cushioned in electronics and ease, blurred lines between wants and needs, distracted by fascination with death machines and sex things, afraid of alien ideology, afraid without naming or getting to know their fear, anxious about tomorrow, anxious about today, anxious about the future and history…”

I had been out for 30 days on a NOLS climbing course. A very different experience, but I was reminded of it when I came home this time. On a return, I never feel like the same person who left home. I’m lucky in that I get to leave and return home a lot, get to explore new places and meet new people.

And animals. Have you ever seen a bison up close? Don’t. They are HUGE. On the way to a campsite in the Badlands, there was a herd of them wandering across the road in the sunset. Unique experience, but I draw the line at camping where a herd of buffalo roam. Mountains, cold, bugs, fine; a herd of ungainly beasts, uh-uh. I found another campsite instead.

Yesterday I also had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Mortensen’s agent’s assistant, the wonderful Ryan. He was very helpful… until he found out what I wanted. Then he wasn’t so helpful. Respectful though, and took the time to communicate with me. First attempt at getting a message through: failed. But a lot of info gathered, and it was fun to make a play. On to the next one.






Wind River Peak

Hiked 9 hours yesterday to the base of a ridge that leads to the Wind River peak. I was destroyed. I haven’t put on a pack or boots in two years; it was a bit of a chore to get out of the car after I hiked back out today.

Traveling alone in the mountains… is awesome. I definitely freaked the fuck out for a good two seconds yesterday (I don’t remember why…) but otherwise the NOLS courses prepared me very well.

Didn’t summit, clouds rolled in and I didn’t want to get caught in a storm. Next time.



After decimating the bug population of South Dakota and Wyoming, I arrived in Lander. The elevation is dragging on me; I’m exhausted. I’ll spend tomorrow preparing for Wind River Peak and Cirque of the Towers. Should only be out for a night or two, traveling with another NOLS dude. This will probably be the last post for a while.

Good music, good company, good views (aka Jessie Ventura)

Last day in the Black Hills. Rode down Needles highway and petted some donkeys. Amazing scenery, the needles are spires of rock jutting out of the forest and plains. If you’re ever traveling through South Dakota, make the time to come here. Also saw the Crazy Horse monument. See it. It is an incredible work in progress. Made me want to learn more about the man himself. I’m always interested in shy, sensitive, modest dudes who make a mark.

Spent an hour collecting sage today. Wasnt sure what it looked like,but a native dude I met at Crazy Horse gave me some some I could use to compare. There is nothing like a fistful of sage to the dome to chill you the fuck out.

Now for my Game of Thrones rant. Why can’t the second season of Game of Thrones be like the books? I’m sure there are mountains of data on this, chatrooms, discussion boards… but dammit; Jon DID NOT miss, he just didn’t want to execute someone, and Jaime might be a shit, but not THAT kind of a shit. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I forgive you. But make sure you at least read the books. And Hunger Games. And 50 Shades of Grey. Ha! Just kidding.

But while we’re on the subject of sex and TV Game of Thrones not following the book… WTF? Is there a lot of sex in the books? Fuck yeah. But on the TV show do breasts and penises take flight and hop all over the story like a musical number in Bitch, I’m on HBO (watch that be the title of the movie I’ll be co-starring in this winter… yeesh)? No, they don’t. Sex and violence sell, I get it. But use them to tell a story, not the other way around.

Getting high …

…is a wonderful thing. The sense of calm, the easing of tension, the peace that comes with being softly present and without worry as you inhale with new vigor and exhale with renewed vitality. It gives perspective as you slowly create more distance between you and the world… and a sense of a remix of self by the time you get back to the bottom.

In a lightning storm right now. Sitting in my car this time, cracks of bright white clawing the sky. A flash imprints the campsite on my retinas, then sweeps up and out as my vision shifts. It is a beautiful night.

Good day. Took our time rolling out, then hiked Harney’s Peak and back to the campsite. Maybe 6 hours. Probably hike and stay in the Black Hills wilderness again tomorrow night. Blogging is really interesting with only a few moments of cell reception a day.

This is the first episode of the shitlist: people, places, or other nouns that I think are the shit.

First up: my sister. Upon reading this, she looked up to her right and muttered or thought “oh god”. Now she’s laughing. She is the shit for a lot of reasons, but I don’t feel like writing a book so I’ll keep it inexcusably short:

a. She hugged me through the phone and helped me post and spread the blog after my computer took a shit and my phone was tweaking out. Bad electronic mojo was cured.

b. She is an awesome mom. She is raising her daughter to be smart, kind, assertive, and in general the kind of person we want in our society.

c. She is an awesome sister. See a. But more important is the unconditional love… I feel like she has been a bulldozer to things that would’ve hurt me when I was too small to deal with them myself.

If you need lessons in mothering, sistering, or general awesomeness, don’t ask me because I don’t know. Ask her.

Cheers and good night. And if you’re wondering… no I didn’t get blazed.


Left the Badlands this morning. It would be hard to top yesterday, and probably wouldn’t be healthy if we did.

Jessie and I are camping in the Black Hills tonight, hope to do a long hike to Harney’s Peak, the highest point between the Rockies and Spain. If I’m lucky I’ll follow it up with Gannet next week, the highest point in Wyoming.

Saw Mt. Rushmore today. From the right angle, Teddy and Abe look like their getting pretty cozy… it’s gotta be lonely being President.

Great to be in the woods again. I haven’t slept outside in a while. I’m freaking out a bit because I keep finding these tiny ticky looking bugs on me. Lyme disease wouldn’t be fun. But between the poison I just spread over myself and my natural defenses (my leg hair is a death trap) I should be good.

See the stars tonight, think of someone
far away.


Blood, hail, and bruised ribs

What. A. Day. Supposed to leave the Badlands today. Not happening. Write this,drink some hot rum,chill,sleep.

Met up with a guy from home and decided to hike the Notch,a trail with good views (seriously,welcome to Tatooine) a wooden ladder,and a warning for people afraid of heights. Perfect.

Upon arriving we found that someone had broken their leg on the trail. We went in,ready to offer assistance or stay out of the way as needed. The man was covered in blood (superficial) conscious,and being attended to,so we hung back until they needed help getting him on a stretcher. They had to hoist him out in a National Guard helicopter because the terrain was too rugged for anything else. All told,we spent most of the morning there. We also met a wonderful Belgian couple who were first on scene and told us this joke: The men who own Guiness,Heineken,and Budweiser are at a bar. The Heineken guy buys a Heineken,the Budweiser guy buys a Bud,and the Guiness guys buys a Coke saying “If these guys aren’t going to buy a beer,I won’t either.” Heh heh.

So Jessie and I decide to go on a hike. Seeing the chopper do it’s thing was cool,we were glad to be of some use,and talking with the Belgians was fun,but we’d basically sat around all day. We chose the route I had done yesterday because it’s long enough and quintessential Badlands terrain.

Jessie is great to travel with; good sense of humor,takes care of himself,and down for adventure. On the way in he told me how slippery the hard baked ground is when wet. (ahem. Forshadowing…)

The hike was beautiful,cool due to some cloud cover. There were storms around us,but nothing close so we kept going. Then the weather started picking up and we headed back. A little ways from the cars it started pouring,a body-moving wind at our backs. Watching the rain course through the gouges it has created in the earth was a treat. Then Jessie pegged me in the back of the head with a rock… but it was hail and it came down hard. Very grateful the wind was at our back and not in our face.

Closer to the car,we hit a patch of what used to be chalky dirt and now was slick clay. Then my feet performed a hip high wonder leap and I came down like an ungainly sack of meat on my upper back. I lay there for a bit in the wind and hail wondering why my chest hurt even though I landed on my back. Jessie had the wide eyed “oh shit” look and asked if I was all right. Then we kinda laughed,I got up (ouch) and we swamped our way back to the cars. Definitely bruised my ribs a bit. Not too bad though,it just twinges when I laugh,get up or take a big inhale. I should be able to be serious,sedentary,and shallow breathed. For the next 30 seconds.

Interesting note: the most relaxed I’ve ever been is in the wild,including the storms. Maybe I’m wired weird.

How does a man falling 8 feet breaking his femur,tumbling 8 more while cutting up his face,crawling who know how far,and then lying around in the sun for a while relate to Canadian hockey teams? Maybe it doesn’t. But… there are many more factors than just an individuals attributes at play that cause someone to succeed or fail. Never,ever underestimate the huge influences of environment (physical or otherwise,past and present) and preparation (or lack of it). In short,read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Small tragedy: my precious supply of Cane and Abe rum decided to throw half of itself all over my backseat while I was getting tossed around in the rain. Sigh.

Beautiful sunset tonight.

Good night lovely people.


…are scary. I’m glad I didn’t encounter one. First thought of the hike was “Dude you could die out here. Rattlesnake to the leg and no one would even find your dehydrated ass till the next day.” Then I kept seeing people on the trail (some if whom were just above socks-and-sandle grade hikers. Translation: I’ll be fine.) so I took my drama empress hat off and got down to business,keeping an eye and ear out for rattlesnakes.

Hiking was beautiful. The Badlands are a unique mixof bone dry,crumbly rock that looks like something off of Tatooine (don’t know that reference? FIX YO LIFE!) and scrub brush/grass. Got a good stretch in,maybe 10 miles. The weather was pretty cool due to clouds,wind and an almost thunderstorm that I’m glad passed me by.

Why go? Why hike? There is something in the simple journey of one foot in front of the other; the time and space to hold one thought,person,idea,memory,relationship,whatever,in your mind at a time. To hold it there softly,lightly,then let it flow down through the nervous system… it doesn’t really solve anything. But it does put things in perspective,quiets the mind-noise… and that helps everything.

Saw the sunrise today, see the sunset tonight.


There is something special about hiking alone in places I’m unfamiliar with. It makes me a little more aware of each step, which hills to climb and how. The Badlands are beautiful. I’ll upload some pics tomorrow if my electronic mojo gets working again. My computer crashed, the camera froze, (I think its back), and my car keys got a little testy. Hopefully, tomorrow there will be peace.

Anyway. Went for a short hike today after leaving Mitchell, SD, where I sadly did not take the time to visit their Corn Palace. Not sure what it is, but I think it’s a building made of corn. Maybe on the way back.

The hike was a little disappointing at first, a boardwalk… but the ranger said I could walk anywhere in the park at my own risk. So I did. Very, very dry. I would not want to be stuck out here, I wouldn’t last three days unless I learned how to get water. The land here is unique, the rock crumbly; just walking up a hill can be a little sketchy, not to mention coming down.

Good rule of thumb for hiking: know where you came from. Fix it in your mind and don’t lose it. Something I try to apply to life as well: know who and what has influenced me, seek to understand how. A never ending process to be sure, but I think there is power in looking at elements of your own story… then you can choose how to be affected by them. I figure that in a way, I am the story I tell myself; bringing as much of that story to my conscious mind as possible gives me options over how I create the next page, the next sentence, the next verse.