Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sleddog Sightings

Today I received a call from a friend who currently lives in Bellingham, WA, who asked to remain anonymous. All I can say is that we met him on the A.T. and his name rhymes with "Nearwater."

My friend could not believe his eyes, but was calling to report that he has now twice seen Sleddog, the trail legend of 2007, on the streets in Bellingham.

Since Sleddog has the ability to attach himself and take advantage of anyone who directs attention his way, my friend has not yet spoken to him. From distant observation, Sleddog appears to be in a transient situation, living on meals from the mission and relying on Bellingham's programs to help homeless.

It would be fascinating to hear what he's been up to.

John Muir Trail in the Works for 2009

JMT Map Set

Lauren and I are planning our big adventure for 2009. With her limited vacation time, it's kinda tough to see family and plan an extended adventure in the same year. So we're planning the trip now, and we'll have to play it by ear for the holidays. Jobs…

We're looking at a 2 week, southbound trip of the 212 mile John Muir Trail, from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. I think we'll actually complete it in about 12 days.

Right now, we have the Tom Harrison maps spread out on the floor to get a birds eye view of the trail.

More details here, as the plans unfold!

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Lauren and I are exploring our options for getting to the trailhead in Yosemite Valley. If you live in L.A. / SoCal and you might be up for a road trip in late summer, we'd be willing to pay for all of your gas to and from Yosemite. Please contact me directly for more details (thompson dot ben at gmail).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Trail Life

Trail Life by Ray Jardine

I've been enjoying Ray Jardine's re-worked edition of Beyond Backing, now called Trail Life. Lauren picked it up for me as my Christmas gift, and I've been taking my time soaking it in as nighttime reading before bed.

The main difference in the format is that it now includes hundreds of color photos of Ray and Jenny's adventures. Also different, is that Ray presents most ideas in a "This worked for us, it might not work for you..." tone, which may ruffle a few less feathers. Personally, I didn't mind the how-to tone of the previous format, but this one works as well, and may be less off-putting to the doubters.

I'm only partway done, but am looking forward to reading a section near the end where Jenny writes about their experiences from her perspective, which I don't believe she's previously done.

Great job on the new book Ray and Jenny.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mexico Trip

A Bus Load Arrives

From December 26-30, Lauren and I spent time helping out in a small Mexican village. Our group of eighteen traveled about four hours south of the border on the Baja peninsula, to the town of Vicente Guerrero to spend time at the Welcome Home preschool.

Children Come Running

Without the preschool, parents work in the field and a young child either sits nearby all day, or an older sibling has to stay home from their schooling to take care of their younger sibling.

Lauren, Lena and Sonya

Before meeting the children, our team tackled a bunch of projects: Replacing 5 toilets, fixing a sink, replacing 5 termite infested window frames, sanitizing crates of small toys and children's furniture, cutting a hole in a wall so we could hang a door and close off another, replacing linoleum tiles, organizing the donation pantry, building bunk beds, painting a sign, fixing drywall ceiling and collecting donations.

Two Vibrant Girls on the Playhorse

By far, the best part of the trip was spending time with the kids. We were able to ride along with them on the bus to see where they lived, eat with them in the dining room and play with them on the playground.

Breakfast for the Children

The children and school staff were grateful for our help and encouragement. On the last morning, we were treated to a small concert (below):

More photos from the trip can be seen at our flickr site.