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No Shower for 45 Days and Mount Elbert

I’ve crossed an important milestone. No, it’s not that backpacked over 5,000 miles and have only one state to go to complete my roundtrip on the CDT. No, the real big milestone is that I hiked from Salmon, Idaho to Silverthorne, Colorado without taking a shower or doing laundry.
 Mt. Elbert sign without all the snow that  I saw in May.
Yes, that means that I walked through most of Idaho, all of Wyoming, and half of Colorado without taking a shower or doing laundry.

Therefore, if a few weeks ago you were wondering where that mysterious foul odor that lurked around you was emanating from, now you know.

Before I explain why I allowed myself to achieve this noxious milestone, I want to encourage you to listen to two podcasts that I just did with BackpackingLight.com:

  • In the first podcast, they ask about the gear I’ve taken on the CDT. This podcast can be used in a court of law as proof of my insanity.
  • In the second podcast, I reveal how you too can be like me: a complete vagabond and a total loser.

I look forward to your thoughts on the two podcasts! OK, back to my filthy ways…

Showers? We don’t need no stinkin’ showers! On the way up Mt. Elbert.

When I midway through my one month stench-filled jaunt, I turned down a free shower.

I was on the verge to enter the Wind River Range in Wyoming when I ran into John, the owner of Southwest Trekking. John was relaxing with his lovely wife next to his decked out Toyota FJ Cruiser SUV. He had an awning, a kitchen area, a solar panel, satellite communications, and yes, even a warm shower.

Before he even knew my name he offered me some food, and after I sat next to him he offered me a shower. I should have taken a hint, but I turned him down, for I was eager to enter the Winds. Besides, there was a vicious thunderstorm erupting overhead, which I consider a free shower anyway.

In my defense (and I sure need a good one) I did take a few “bird showers” during those 1,000 miles of filth. This means I locked myself in a restroom and used the sink as my shower and Laundromat. See, I've learned something from watching all the avian wildlife for the last six months. Mt. Elbert summit in mid-May.

Revisiting Mt. Elbert

In the middle of May I climbed Mt. Elbert during a snowstorm and whiteout conditions. My visibility was so poor, I wasn’t even sure if I had hit the summit of the right mountain. There was a pole with some names carved into it and my altimeter indicated that I was above 14,400 feet. However, there was no sign confirming that I was indeed on Mt. Elbert. I descended, hiking to Canada and back, always wondering if I had been on Mt. Elbert.

Therefore, in the middle of September I was determined to see if I had really been on Mt. Elbert during the snowstorm in May. This time visibility was perfect. I rediscovered the same pole and found a broken sign that said “Mt. Elbert” on the summit. I didn’t see that sign in May because it was buried under snow. The best part is that I met a harmonica playing man from St. Louis at the summit. I camped with him and his brother that night and they helped me immensely the next day at Twin Lakes. They didn't seem to notice that I stunk.  In a T-shirt this time around.

Catching the sobos

I’ve been catching up with the Southbounders, or Sobos. I’ve met Toek, a man from the Netherlands. We hiked for half a day together and then I took some time off at the Monarch Mountain Lodge. That’s when I met two guys and a girl: Steady, Jug, and Nitro. They had been hiking the last few hundred miles together. Even though we only spent a few hours together, it was like hanging out with family. The thru-hiking bond connects hikers together in a way that is probably similar to the bond that soldiers have in war. Indeed, with the hunting season in full swing, we also have people shooting at us.

 Mt. Elbert summit in Mid-September.

Toek, a gun-fearing European, was getting to the top of a small hill when he looked up a man with a rifle was aiming right at him. The hunter immediately lowered his gun once he realized that this man from the Netherlands didn't look exactly like an elk. Toek was quite upset, but being from a country that surrendered quickly to the Nazis, he didn't put up a fight.

Finish line

It sounds crazy, but with less than 1,000 miles to go, I feel like I’m near the finish line.

Sponsor spotlight: Monarch Mountain Lodge And now, the descent!

Last May, the managers of the Monarch Mountain Lodge invited me to stay at their awesome hotel. With a gym, sauna, game room, swimming pool, racquetball courts, and Jacuzzi, the Lodge has it all. My efficiency room had a balcony and kitchen. I didn’t want to leave in May and return to Colorado’s snowy mountains, but I did. Now it’s late September and I’m back. Once again I didn’t want to leave, but Winter isn’t waiting for me.

Check it out at: http://www.monarchmountainlodge.com

 

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