WhiteCrow Walking

My solo walk across America began in Maine. I walked for nearly 3 years carrying a backpack and facing countless dangers, as well as met wonderful people I could have never made it without. From bullets to bears I moved through mountains of snow and across burning desert country. The end result will be a book, and the fruition of a childhood dream. This is a blog from the field with rough stories about my steps along the way.

27 November 2007

John Day /All Is Snowing

This note will be short as the snow is taking the mountains, mouthing down the trees. Darkness is not far behind as all the air is already a silky silver. Thanksgiving did bring turkey. (Long great Story)The mountain passes did spank me with black ice to walk up peppered with God given small gravel that gave me the only purchase. I have been frozen and thawed, and it has been beautiful; a healing to my soul to be lost in trees again hearing a bear woof, witnessing the low flight of golden eagles touch across the fields then circle back to question this intruder.
My old parka just arrived in the mail and another mole skin (journal) arrive for this walk to fill...number nine. Lisa sends gifts from Thermopolis, and a box from BaseCamp so I stand in the snow with all my bundles eating nuts, and a foot long Slim Jim is dangling like a melted cigar from my chapped and cold broken mouth. In the store a pretty lady with a new French manicure catching light, and a perfume that kept nudging me closer asked me if I needed money. I just smiled, melting with the snow on my shoes. She smiled the way they do in movies for just a moment letting me take her in. "I need nothing."
Oregon moves past too quickly. I want to walk slower; to breathe and re-hash a few thousand miles of this trek onto more journal pages but when the trees thin nobody wants me in their field, nobody wants me peering into freezing creeks that run a white line far off into the bluffs touching their land. Here I have been told to get off land 'a friend owns.'( a major first). Here I have have had to pray to churches to flatten a patch of grass under stained glass light just to get through the dirt fields and cites around Ontario. I would write that I have seen hard miles. It is better to write that it makes my heart tired to be unwanted day after day. A very friendly state trooper stops to share the chill in the air,"Yea, there's a land issue here. They still have trouble with irrigation rights, and it doesn't help to have occasional pop shots taken at the cattle. We have an epidemic of barb wire fences. Up ahead...it's best to ask." (comments outside the town of Vale, Oregon.)
"You sure it wouldn't mess up your whole day just throwing you and all your rig in my truck?" He is holding the side door open with his huge smile leaning into the warmth waving out to him, knowing my answer is no and it pleases him to know I won't fall down.
"No, I could never do that. Not this late in the game. Never." I grin at him from under my hat. He's easy to talk to and the sincere warmth of his company is rare.
In all the sharp tongue towns, each of them, there is someone stepping forward to lighten my load, someone like the lady who had just lost her husband to death, "I was driving and just praying for some light, something good, something I could do. God said,'see that man walking, help him." The lady circled back and handed me some money and told me she thought I was and angel. I assured her I was just a man. Half an hour later the lady came back with groceries had purchased back in the city earlier, "Money isn't much good out here," besides Midge said,"I think you are an angel." Slowly Midge drove away, tears smearing the road as I sat on gravel to chew, to write. My bank ATM card had just refused me because the code numbers changed at my bank and I left town with only a little food and a whole lot of road. I was walking slightly worried. Some dark areas I walk through are to acceent the light.

14 November 2007

Leaving Idaho

Payette, Idaho

It is funny odd to leave my world without clocks to enter a town and have a minute hand set on everything; an hour on the computer,lunch break for the post office employees, and meet with the press before they close for the day. It makes me sigh to be back walking the white shoulder line heading west. The further I get from a town the greater the silence and richer the rewards. The tent calls my attention to a creek on the far end of a field where raccoons roll over stones while working their mouths excitedly before they eat. Eagles circle the treeless roundtop mountains near the horizon until the setting sun makes them pink, then black. Eat when hungry. Sleep when tired and it is dark. And walk. Just walk.
I have saved one ounce of Captain Morgan spiced rum for over a month just for the border of Oregon. In a few hours I will be crossing the state line and grin till it bites deep under my ears. Miles have gotten harder. I take that back. I have worn thin. The cold comes up through the floor of the tent to pull at my bones and all my padding; flesh and closed cell foam has shrunk to skin. Without time to rest, or enough food to charge the machine I am in a constant state of breaking down though I will not stop...nor is there a place to. New pains move through out me. I listen, note and work around the twinge, the numb loss in range of motion that comes and goes in my right hand, a new graviety pulling inside. No longer do I tell myself, my bones and joints, that we have to hold on, we have a whole country to do. Now it is an easy kind approving voice,"We've done it, you've done it. This is where it all comes together. This is where we meet the water. This is the conclusion you saw in your mind's eye thirty eight years ago. You've done it." You can beat a dead horse but it probably wouldn't have died if it was told it mattered. Some times now when I stop under a tree or lone shadow of a broken barn I just breathe. In this way I hope to keep walking, and heal.
Tomorrow I walk into Oregon.

06 November 2007

Oregon In Daze

Maybe you'll hear me as I cross the state line into Oregon and do a celebratory dance to rival all other state line dances that came before. It will not matter if it is snowing, or if freezing rain is plotting its way in rivulets through the layers of my clothes, adding weight to my pack. I will be in Oregon in days.
Washington will be the last state I'll walk across in the lower 48 yet it is, and always has been Oregon that has put the shine on the last months and miles. Maybe it is some of the stories from the Oregon trail, a trail I too have now walked some days on. Maybe it is the dear friends that live in Oregon I shared the idea of the walk with so many years ago that I now feel their added strength pulling me across these last miles, these last states. Maybe it is the ocean with its patient tide calling me coastal, calling me over last mountain ranges and some of the less than comfortable camps. Could it be my own heart sighing at the thought of being still, feeling that deep inside where all things go to sit and ruminate, sit and settle I have been shaking the globe to see the snow fall in a cabinless field for too long? There does come a tired that a night will not put a pillow under and heal.

05 November 2007

Fire On The Mountain

Crouch, Idaho

These have been the most captivating miles of natural silence, hundreds of years of life towering over me in ponderosa pine; the Salmon River to the Payette River giving some semblance of conversation and cadence. Another voice. These have been also some of the hardest miles. After leaving Stanley it was 45 miles until I saw a house, a handful and then I was winding through the paths of fires gone by, and light swollowing forest. It had been over a week until I spoke to another person. Nobody stops on these roads. Everything is post season. In an hour maybe three cars go by; a logging truck, and a couple of hunters with their quads bouncing truck beds. Most of the smiles have been packed up and boxed away until next year. I have never been so deep in forest, in bear, in the knowing that no net should catch me if I fall. As the sound of water is mine so is all the uncertainity of a lone ship on a evergreen sea. Days are becoming shorter and travels in these canyons hold sunrise off till after 1 pm. (I checked) I have walked long mornings with the still paralyzed fingers of a frozen dawn bent around walking sticks, holding only because they remember holding more than not. Morning coffee waits until a few miles are behind me, my body remembering to warm. Food lasts half of the time summer rations stretch, and miles have fallen from twenty something to hiking just over 10 miles before sunset; dinner made on the shoulder of the road so bears won't bother my camp. It always seems that there are a few miles more before dark; a promise of a better camp. Days of climbing, days of decent soak my back with sweat and freeze my scalp. These have been lonely hollow miles without perscription except the consumption of more miles, and the constant twins called Hope and Memory. In my head I write to everyone I have ever known then let them fall away. Inner eyes already see the ocean and beam.

Last night I slept in a bone yard. A mountain lion has been making kills(8 miles of canyon east of town) from a saddle in a ponderosa pine perched above a deer run 20 yards from where I staked camp. Large cat tracks move all over the hillside, in and out of piles of more pink than white femurs and ribs, broken skulls and fragments. I was past tired. Past caring. I was past everything. Fire was set so I could watch the ominous tree become shadow black against the evening blue sky, cooking beans and Ramon noodles with my back to the river. Branches cracked and moved under weight I couldn't quite see until I could see nothing and the head lamp became a soft voice in a concert of darkness. No lion came down.
With all of my tree watching and then tying the remains of a food bundle into another pine I scald my food to the thin titanium pot. Leaving camp for the river I found the river was 40-60'down a sheer cliff. Carry water was down to a quart. I scrub with sticks and sand until my hands cramp. Sleep.
Morning came with all fingers hammered in cold. I decided to stow, java up and then march out. With all of the lion activity and new sign around the tent I was glad I released the saftey on the bear spray. I had read about the the father and daughter mauled by a grizzley. They had bear spray but couln't get the saftey off in their understandably freaked state. It cost the their scalps and nearly their lives. Half asleep I knew I might fumble with cold fingers and... I was glad I took off the saftey block until I shoved the canister into its sleave in the backpack and the canister fired directly into my throat, nose, and both eyes as I bent over my pack still drunk on sleep and cold. At first I thought, "This isn't so bad. They must prime the canisters with powder to keep the jet clean." Then the walls came down and all breath was lost. My eyes became welded shut. My throat bled mucus. Although my hands we already near frozen they were not cold to my face. They were not cold against the inferno building on my face. The river was far away and the climb down without eyes would be certain death. I would never make it. Dropping to my knees I found the last of the water in my 3 gallon tank. Less than a quart remained. Cupping my pathetic fingers with water to my face the water would not stop the fire; would not subdue the melting of my eyes and skin, the boiling of my lips. Sainity has left me. I blubber and feel the last of the water go through my fingers.
It was then that I remembered the fly cover from my tent that I had just removed and set aside. It was pounds heavier with hard morning ice and my night of frozen breath. Without eyes I searched for it. I pried open the vice of my lids to bleeding light and staggered in pain. My hands were screaming in the cold. There is no saving words for the joy I felt when my hands found the nylon sheet of ice. I melted patch after patch of nylon fabric against my eyes and lips, inhaled, and began again. The entire brown sheet was a dripping mass of melted ice before any sainity was mine. My hands were frozen stumps that moved retardedly past feeling, and still flames licked from under the surface of my face. My eye lids swelled to fill their sockets. My lips rolled out past the profile of my face with their own pulse. My face searched the tent fly for a patch of ice I may have missed then sank into the needles and fire.
Hours later at the Runaway Diner in Garden Valley I order soup to get some much needed vitimins into a body that has not seen a fruit or veg in 8 days. Leaning over the bowl to smell the heaven of white beans and sausage a plume of steam rises up to my face. The fire began again. I decide to let the soup cool as I squint out the window feeling my heart move in my lips.

Blog Comments Down

Recently I deleted all advertisements on my blog that snuck in. All of a sudden a vandal has linked countless porn sites to the blog. Hundreds. For now I have shut that door so I'll receive no comments on my blogs. I'll miss your comments. I can still of course receive e-mails. I admit that these posted sites were the action of a very childish person, but I am too far between libraries to play. My knowledge is limited as to the blocks I have at my disposal. Shutting down comments totally is my only known tool. Soon I will be done walking, drop the blog and concentrate on the book. Maybe another answer to the problem will present itself. Until then...

Thank You, Jesse WhiteCrow
Crouch, Idaho