Monday, January 21, 2008

The Amazon Outdoor Store
Fulfilling a lifelong dream Mallerys publish book on trek along the Continental Divide

By MARTA HEPLER DRAHOS-Traverse City Record Eagle

What does it take to walk 3,800 miles through some of North America's most rugged — and beautiful — country.

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Wanderlust, tenacity and lots of family support, said Dick Mallery, co-author of the book "Crossing the Divide: A Family Adventure along the Continental Divide” (MalleryBooks, $18.95).Mallery, publisher and founder of the bird-feeding and nature newspaper The Dick E. Bird News, fulfilled a 30-year dream in 2003 by completing the Continental Divide Trail from New Mexico to Jasper, Alberta. Instead of leaving his family behind, he shared the adventure with wife Gaila and daughter Maggie, who followed in the front country in the family's 27-foot motor home towing a Saturn.

Dick Mallery heads back on the Continental Divide Trail after resupplying in Twin Lakes, Colo.,in 1999.

The family began their adventure in 1999, the year Mallery turned 50. That year, he walked 3,200 miles along the Continental Divide from New Mexico to the Canadian border — a trip that would take him through five states in five months. Gaila and Maggie, then 12, were his support team, driving the motor home to campgrounds paralleling his route and meeting him on his weekly exits from the trail for more supplies and a little R&R.A few years later, the family returned to where they left off for the next leg of the journey, a 30-day 600-mile hike of the Canadian Continental Divide from Waterton to Jaspar, Alberta.The Continental Divide Trail follows an imaginary line running along the peaks of the Rocky Mountains that divides the continent's principal drainage eastward or westward. Mallery, now 58, said the rugged trip was not designed to recapture his youth but rather to challenge himself, push his personal limits and achieve that lifelong dream."I knew that was on my list of things to do before I died,” he said, adding that his passion for trekking and backpacking was fueled by childhood camping trips out West in his family's 1957 Airstream. "I kind of wanted to do it while Maggie was still home so we could make a family adventure of it.”Hiking alone with a 26-pound pack, he traveled 25 to 30 miles a day over mountains, across deserts and through streams and valleys, contending with everything from weather extremes to blisters and leg cramps. But he said one of the biggest challenges was water — locating enough to drink on the first trip and finding ways to bridge it on the second."There were a couple hairy times in the Canadian Rockies where I just couldn't cross,” he said. "The river was just 30 feet across, but so powerful it would knock you over.”Another problem was navigation, he said. Although the trail is considered the "king of trails,” it was only 60 percent complete at the time — and finding maps for it wasn't easy."I was lost a lot, especially in New Mexico,” despite such aids as then-unsophisticated versions of the GPS, the satellite communicator and the cell phone, he said. "I'd just go north and stay on the Divide as much as I could.”For their part, Gaila and Maggie restocked Mallery's supplies — strawberry milkshakes and pizza for off the trail, dehydrated beans and Ritz Bits for on it — and scouted campgrounds with hot showers, his first request after emerging from the trail. They also kept the business going with the help of a laptop computer, even passing out sample issues of the newspaper everywhere from bakeries and libraries to campgrounds and parks. (To prepare for the trip, the family scaled back the publication to a bi-monthly, printed three issues in advance and asked Mallery's father to deliver them to the post office one issue at a time.)The trip was a bonding experience for Gaila, whose parents from Arizona accompanied her and Maggie for much of the way."We became so close,” she said. "It was something that I'll never forget. I think families that travel together, there's just that bond there. And it's really good for children. We have this tradition: We play (the card game) Skip-Bo and have hot chocolate at night. We don't do that at home. I didn't want to come back. It was like, 'I don't want this to end.'"As far as exciting and fun adventures, I think it was going into these little towns that we never would have found otherwise and meeting the people.” Special among them were store owners who extended credit when they didn't take credit cards and librarians who let Maggie check out library books and drop them off at the next community library, she said.The couple recount their adventure from alternating perspectives in the book, which is available online at and at Part of their story is the strangers they met along the way, from hikers to the occasional odd character like Bob Sundown, who traveled from New Mexico to Arizona every spring with his chickens and dog in a mule-drawn covered wagon, and James Cotton, a writer penning the encyclopedic volume of the word "free.”Mallery said he's glad he got the chance to hike on the Divide while there is still some wilderness left. His next goal is a 1,000-mile trek from Jasper to the Yukon, through even more remote and wild areas."I just love doing long-distance hikes. I'm after the solitude,” he said. "I like to get up in the mountains. To me it's magical, to me it's rare.”Meanwhile, he said he hopes the book encourages others to follow their own adventures."I guess the impact it had on me is just that life is short and if you want to do something, you should do it now,” he said.

Monday, January 14, 2008

CDT Southern Terminus Project

For years the southern end of the cdt has been a crap shoot. Hikers leaving and arriving have used a shotgun pattern of routes from Silver City to the border and from the border to Silver City. That is all changing. A lot of good trail now exists in the bootheel and beyond. The CDTA is interested in what you would like to see at the CDT Southern Terminus. The PCT has a nice monument. But this is the King of Trails. I think our neighbor Drummond Hadley, heir to Anhesier Busch should build a cantina and stock it with beer. It seems like the neighborly thing to do. Let the CDTA know what you think!

CDT Southern Terminus Project
What would you like to see at the southern end of the CDT?
The Continental Divide Trail Alliance is designing the site for the Southern Terminus for the CDNST at the New Mexico – Mexico border in cooperation with our agency partners (BLM, USFS, NPS). The Northern Terminus for the CDNST, located in Glacier Waterton International Peace Park on the Canada – Montana border is marked with a single concrete pillar. In designing the landmark for the Southern Terminus, we are providing an opportunity for our many important stakeholders who may have thoughts or ideas about this site to be involved in this process.
Provide your input as CDTA and the federal land managers work together to design the Southern Terminus of the Continental Divide Trail. By involving key stakeholders, volunteers and Trail supporters in this effort, we hope to create a fitting symbol for this national treasure and for the epic journey it represents. All work is slated for completion by the end of 2008.
Take the brief Southern Terminus Project survey here.
Please complete this survey by January 21st, 2008 so we can start the design and construction phases of this project. Please forward this survey to others who may be interested.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


When I was gathering information in 1998 preparing to hike the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, there was little to be had. I bought a couple of Jim Wolf’s guide books, DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer Series did not even have a New Mexico edition until a couple months before my departure date. I had two boxes of assorted route information I collected. CDT guide books were just beginning to show up on the horizon. Lynna Howard was kind enough to send me a proof copy of her up and coming Montana/Idaho CDT guidebook. It was of great value to me once I left Yellowstone. It is still a great resource. You can find this guide and Lynna’s other writings at:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Continental Divide Trail Fires

Fires have been the biggest obstacle in finishing the CDT in one season in recent years.

Wildfires topped the news for northern Flathead County in 2007, and by the end of the fire season about a dozen fires has burned timber in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Chippy Creek fire was the largest in the state and burned nearly 100,000 acres. The Ahorn and Fool Creek fires burned a swath through a combined 110,000 acres of forest land. The Skyland Fire, south of Marias Pass, spent some time rated as the top priority in the nation after it went from a few hundred acres to more than 16,000 acres is about a week.

(More Continental Divide Trail Info)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


This delicious looking breakfast is what I had as I left Cuba and headed up into the San Pedro. It was a great breakfast but the worst case of food poison I have ever experienced.

Thoughts on Cuba
From: Crossing the Divide

I hiked into Cuba, New Mexico, on a Saturday evening. It was a town of impoverished appearance. I was greeted by a group of zombie-glazed men—vacant eyes, tough wrinkled skin, tattered clothing, addicted to the hopelessness of life around them. I walked through town, surveying the opportunities to eat and sleep here for a night. I reached the northern city limits, crossed the road and walked back south, hoping I had missed something, knowing I had not.The walk from Grants had been five days with few opportunities for water. My legs were very tired, and I desperately wanted to soak in a tub of hot water and scrub the desert out of my skin. I bought a room in a dingy ’50s-era motel with a three-quarter-length tub. Filled with water as hot as I could stand, I folded my body into the shallow basin and soaked for over an hour. I would wash my clothes in this same tub but first I wanted a meal. I carried only the clothing I wore. Now that my body and my senses were cleansed, my sweat-soaked clothing had the appeal of rotted garbage. But the urge to eat a hot meal lured me into them and down the street to a small cafe. I slipped into a corner table of a mom-and-pop pizzeria under the watchful eyes of the owners. I knew what they were looking at. It was the gaunt, sun-baked, hollow-looking character I had just seen minutes earlier in the mirror in my room. I answered their questioning eyes with my story. “I’m a thru-hiker. I’m headed for Canada. I look bad and I smell bad, but I feel good.” That brought a smile to their faces. They opened up completely to my adventure. It tore down all barriers between our curiosities. In the short time it takes to enjoy a large pizza with four items, we shared each other’s life stories and were the spontaneous kind of friends that assume from introduction that we will probably never meet again but cherish the moment of fellowship at hand.
(More CDT News and Info)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Playing ‘save the toes’
by Tom Sherlin

Long distance hiker Bert Emmerson is home in Maryville recovering from frostbite. He survived being stranded in a snowstorm for days in frigid temperatures while hiking the Continental Divide Trail earlier this month.

By Rick Laneyof The Daily Times Staff
Bert Emmerson is back home after being stranded in the Gila Wilderness Area of New Mexico above 10,000 feet during a four-day snowstorm.
Since arriving back in Maryville shortly before Christmas, he has been to hospitals and doctors’ offices regularly. Although Emmerson’s feet were badly frostbitten during the incident, he believes he will keep his toes.
Emmerson is calm and reflective as he describes his ordeal — a common characteristic of long-distance hikers who sometimes spend months alone on the trail. He is even casual as he pulls back his socks to reveal his ravaged feet that look more like they lost a battle with a lawn mower than the victims of frigid temperatures.
“I’m playing ‘save the toes’ right now,” Emmerson said. “It looks like I’ll get to keep them.
“It’s really amazing how much better they are now. The first night was very painful — like a severe burn.”
Until a few weeks ago, Emmerson was hiking the Continental Divide Trail, a 2,567-mile trail from Canada to Mexico that stretches through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. He started his journey at Glacier National Park in Montana on June 15 and has been hiking ever since. His plan was to reach the Mexico border and be home with his wife, Becky Emmerson, by Christmas.