You think my toes look bad? You should see the rock I kicked!

You think my toes look bad? You should see the rock I tripped on…kicked it so hard it came out the dirt! 

About 2 miles into a 7 mile run to Minnesota’s highest peak (Eagle Mountain in the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness) I tripped and fell hard. Trying to save my face from hitting the rocks I first hit the ground with my left hand holding a water bottle. I am calling it a pretty graceful fall, as I caught myself semi-sliding with my right hand and knee in a kneeling position. I jumped up quickly and took off running while trying to shake it off. After a the short sprint I slowed to a walk to assess the damage. No visible blood or scratches, just dirt. Only thing was I had a pain in my left heal and my toes felt numb’ish when I pushed off. A smart person would turn around and call 4 miles a good day. Well, being the stubborn runner I am I continued walking up to the summit.  
Hitting an overlook I got a surge of notifications on my phone as I picked up service for the first time in a day. Taking it as a sign I called my Dad. Told him what happen and jokingly said that I might get eaten by a wolf, bear or mountain lion. After hanging up I could feel my foot was starting to swell. I looked around for the summit marker to make my Minnesota’s highest peak run official. I ended up hiking a bit more to find it up the trail. 

On the way down I started to walk/hobble. It only hurt if my toes bent around a rock or root. Knowing it would only get worse I started to run the 3.5 miles back to the van. With luck I only aggravated my toes a few times on the way down.

Getting back to the van I was nervous to see what the pain was all about. Removing my shoe and sock I see my 4th and 5th toes were black and blue. My 4th toe had a small puncture with a little blood where I assumed the cut came from my pinky toenail. Since no bones were sticking out I concluded that medical attention was not needed. I drove to the nearest town to get a bag of ice, beer and some junk food to help ease the pain.

As I near my home town to close out my East Coast journey this is almost a fitting circumstance. A month in I had a incident where I injured my left hand crawling into a cave to see a 35ft waterfall. Smashing my hand into a rock I bruised my pinky and ring finger causing horrific pain for serval days. 

Either way I recovered nicely…free camping with a bunch of left over cut fire wood and a lake view in Superior National Forest. 

Running in Cuyahoga Valley National Park Ohio. 

Big thanks to Chris Koch (far left of picture) for meeting up with me for some beautiful Ohio miles today! Chris is a beast completing three 100 mile races – Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run being one of the three! Even better yet, he is from my home town of Brookings, SD. Who would have guessed two crazy runners would come out of our small town. Super stoked I got some miles in with him as our paths crossed on my journey! Before we started running Matt (center of group picture) happen to see us as he pulled into the trailhead. As any trail runners knows the more runners the merrier, so he joined us for our run. Matt is training for a 100 mile relay race the end of July, the Burning River 100. Love meeting bad ass people as I travel.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park has a great trails system between the two large metropolitan areas of Cleveland and Akron. The trails I have run so far have been in the Virginia Kendall Unit of the CVNP. The Salt Run and Lake Trail sections offer multiple steep hills on some of the muddiest terrain I have run. The exposed root and rock don’t concern me as much as my chances to face plant from the mud. There is also a short tunnel on the east side of Lake Trail that takes you under what use to be a toboggan sledding area back in the late 1930s. Imagine flying down that baby back in the day…sweet! Ledges Trail gives a unique scenery change into massive rock outcroppings. It doesn’t seem to fit into the flow of the trails when you suddenly run up on the big rocks. Personally my favorite as it’s takes your mind off the leg trembling uphills from before. The Cross Country Trail is a open meadow of tall grass around a mowed trail with a few more steep little hills. 

With my Ohio miles officially logged at 7.6 miles with Chris and Matt. Then another 5 mile course preview group for Western Reserve Racing’s Muddy Paws 10/5 mile race on Sunday July 5th. I look forward to exploring more of the trails here in CVNP.

I will be running the Muddy Paws 10 miler so if you see me say hi!

McAfee Knob run and a great story of a AT thru hiker


Met the guy pictured above at the top of my 9 mile run to McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. His story is pretty awesome!

In his 20s he started to thru hike the Appalachian Trail but only got a little ways in on his quest. This retired high school English teacher is continuing his journey from where he left off 30 years later. His friends call him Stubby or to his students Mr. Stubblefield. He was overwhelmed to hear about my journey and smiled big with the few stories I shared him.

But it’s real stories like his that inspire me and gives me true guidance. It let’s me know I am suppose to be here at this exact time and place. As we exchanged safe travel farewells Stubby left me with a quote he felt fit my life and dream.  

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Dirtbag’s Paradise Gym!

Dirtbag’s Paradise Gym!
I have never been much of a gym guy. I have only been on a treadmill 3 times in my life. P90x was my go to with Bowflex dumbbells and a pull-up bar. I mainly did and still do just lite weights or body weight work outs.

6 gallons = 48ish lbs.

Now I workout with what I have around me. Six gallon water jugs, benches, tree stumps and of course my favorite endless trails!
Endless Trails!

I can honestly say my workouts now are better cause it’s not the same old mundane routine. Experiment with what you got. Push-ups, squats, sit-ups, sidewalks and trails are all free and easy to do anytime. Start small, start short. You’ll progress soon enough with time and dedication. And you don’t even have to be a dirtbag living in a van to curl a water jug!

Sunset, Sand Dollar and Life!

It rained non stop from the time I left Gulf Shores, Alabama until I got to Pensacola, Florida. Pensacola was one of the many places where my Mom lived after my brothers and I moved back to South Dakota with our Dad. Her free spirit gene must have been past on to me since I am now on my own life’s quest. I remember that she loved Pensacola and only left because of Hurricane Ike’s devastation. So after re-aggravating a foot injury in Memphis I got the idea to head south to explore Mom’s favorite place. As I rolled along the coast I could see why she loved it. Even in the heavy rain the white sandy beaches were beautiful! I had a strong consideration sloshing around my brain to run the beach in the rain. That idea got squashed when I came across the National Naval Aviation Museum on the Navy Base in Pensacola. I spent the day walking around the large museum filled with historic planes from WWI to present.

Just as the sun was about to set, the pounding rains trickled to a sprinkle for about ten minutes which opened to a beautiful sunset. Watching sunsets in Florida was my moms favorite thing to do. Catching the the beauty of a sunset in one of her favorite places made my journey that much brighter!
Waking up early to get to Gulf Island National Seashore was my days top mission. As I was walking along the beach with the pup I was secretly looking for a sand dollar. Complete sand dollars are difficult to find but my mom would always walk the beach looking for some. Only seeing seashells Jayden lead me off the path of where the tide had left most of the good treasures.
Following him I noticed what looked like a half broken sand dollar, but after I brushed away the sand I found it to be complete! To me the sunset and sand dollar are just signs that my journey is headed on the right path.

After 3 months on the road there are two morals of this journey. Rain or shine we can always find true beauty everywhere. And, break the flow of normalcy and get off the beaten trail!