Episode Three: The Great Western Expansion
The last time I slept in a real bed was about a month ago: the night before we started driving. Since then I have seen three different couches, the front seat of my truck plus a handful of living room and hallway floors. Oh, there also was the night spent in a tent under the yellow streetlights of a rest stop in Kansas, the back of my pick-up truck in Ohio and the twin size air mattress I now have here in Salt Lake.
During Episode Three I also experienced my first In-N-Out double-double cheeseburger, my first time in Nevada and California, as well as the first time I ever filmed with Garrett Russell. I met Garrett for about five minutes last year and up until sometime this spring I had no idea he actually lived in this country. I think it was the mustache that threw me off this whole time.
Garrett is from Colorado and might be my favorite skier to film. (Aside from Andy and Will of course) He is totally unpredictable both on and off skis, has a very refreshing outlook on skiing, and is rarely seen without a smile and sunglasses.
I would recommend driving across the country at least once. If only for In-N-Out, Waffle House or the many exotic vistas and locales of the mid-west.
(TC filmer/editor guy)
p.s. We like doing things on Sunday’s. See you in a week.
The longest part of a drive is always the last eight hours. It’s the point where you’re so close but still so far away, and no matter how fast you go or how many cars you pass the anxiety only builds the closer you get.
Our last eight hours was from Loveland, Colorado, where we spent our first day of resort skiing with friends. After skiing we had a typical Traveling Circus debate (Shane crying, Will yelling, and me pouting in my car) whether to follow our original plan of staying in Colorado another night or beat the storm rolling in. After limited tears and bloodshed we decided to book it to Salt Lake City as fast as possible.
The prospect of getting to Salt Lake before midnight was something I had on my mind as soon as we got done skiing. I continued to neglect the fact that I made it this far without getting a speeding ticket and took advantage of the few cars and straight roads. We were making great time despite a long stop at one of the great American fast-food joints, Carl’s Juniors.
Will and I rolled into Salt Lake around 9:30 p.m. and by 10 p.m. I had helped Will unpack and was on my way to find my new home. Following half-baked directions from my roomate, I eventually made it to my new home and found that I have a futon mattress to sleep on and a great big place to live. It was good to be in a new home and not be traveling, but I knew it wasn’t going to last long.
I was right: it didn’t last long, and five or so days later I called up Garret Russel and asked him if he could drop what he was doing and come to California with us. Garret had no qualms and hustled up from Colorado to meet us. With an eight-hour drive, five people, and equipment filling the car to the top we rolled into Squaw right after eating dinner at THE BEST fast-food place ever, In and Out Burger.
The next day all of us were more then excited to go ski Boreal, and after a quick pit stop at Porters in Tahoe, we rolled into the parking lot ready to shred. It was just like skiing in the spring; warm, sunny, and slushy. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions. We were in bliss for the next few days loving every second of Boreal, Tahoe, and California.
Thanks to Rom, Hyde, Jason, and Finley for letting us crash. Also big thanks to Jon at Boreal, Dustin Schaefer at Loveland, and Rom one more time for the pictures.
Photographer Steve Lloyd and skier Brayden Brassey put in a long nights work to get this trippy big mountain night shot. It graced the pages of Skiing Magazine this month and is in the running for favorite photo of the year, but it needs your vote, CLICK HERE TO VOTE
“This is the most difficult shot I’ve ever taken. I had to guess where the skier would be in the air and point the outside flash to hit the skier and not the ice, so it didn’t wash out the deep blue color.” – Steve Lloyd
Exclusive! Shocking! Tell-all first hand encounter with The Traveling Circus. As told by Rom, Lake Tahoe Host of the Traveling Circus:
“The first week of November marked the Traveling Circus’s glorious return to Tahoe. The group of five arrived in Andy’s tiny Subaru that appeared to be on the verge of collapse.
Their increased budget apparently hasn’t completely affected their diet. Will ate tuna fish for breakfast and cup of noodles for lunch daily. Dinners were pasta with Shane’s homemade meat sauce and frozen pizza – practically fine dining by ski bum standards. Andy continues to refuse to shower or wash his clothes.
From an accommodations standpoint, the group has moved up or down in the world, depending on how you skin the cat. This year we had a guest bedroom, so Will and Andy no longer had to share a room with me. However, they brought 3 additional people, so their room was more crowded than ever. So much so that Andy and Erik shared a double bed and put up a sheet to separate them.
The first morning, my housemate Jason commented that the Circus’s friendships seemed so much better than ours because they were so nice to each other. He quickly retracted that statement after a night of ceaseless bickering about nothing.
Needless to say, all is well and good in the world of the Traveling Circus. Will and Andy still argue, anyone remotely affiliated with The Circus has still committed to a vow of poverty, and oh ya, they are still skiing amazingly well.”
Eric Pollard is not only on the cover of Freeskier Magazine’s December Issue, he painted it! The mag is filled with sweet pictures of Eric on his EP Pro skis and has an awesome article about Eric’s film company, Nimbus Independent.
It was mid October, Ski Resorts in California and Colorado opened, and the Northeast saw its first snow.
Time to make moves: Andy, a home-less Erik Olson (who has since sold his car-home from Episode 1) Shane McFalls (our camera guy) and I loaded up two vehicles and set out for the promised land.
We switched up our route from Episode 3 last year(I-80). I-70 was a few hours longer, but allowed us to see a whole new world of cities, cornfields, and pavement. We left Western NY on Andy’s Birthday, hopping in the cars right after the cake was consumed. The first two days of driving were pretty boring and brought us down to I-70 through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Each night before bed we rearranged both cars, stacking bags to the ceiling to make room to sleep.
After passing through Indiana and Illinois, we stopped in St. Louis, Missouri to check out the famous Gateway Arch. There just so happened to be some sort of event/protest and an activist convinced us to be in a photo for something.
We later found out we were part of “Action at the Arch” an event put on by Green Peace to raise awareness for climate change.
Next up, we continued west to Gary’s Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival in Grantville, Kansas. We got lost in a Corn maze at night, sampled fresh kettle corn, and sipped on apple cider slushies. The highlight of the night was most definitely the pig races. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Who would’ve guessed Kansas could be so exciting?
Stay tuned for more on our cross country voyage and Episode 3.
Salut from the French Alpes!
Here is a short clip about my last season.
Hope you like it!
If you can read Japanese or just like looking at sweet pictures, be sure to check out the story on the Line Traveling Circus in the newest Freeskiing Magazine!
Shout out to our boy Max Hill aka “Axe Kill” for landing the cover of skier. You know, one time Max ordered a big mac at Burger King and got one, that how epic he is.
This journal was originally posted on SkitheEast.net the leader in Eastern North America ski news, events and media. Check it out!
words and photos by John Strenio
So I thru hiked the LT this summer with my sister and mom trading off along with me. You’re supposed to keep a journal when you do it to send into the Green Mountain Club, the people that maintain it. Thought maybe someone would find it interesting considering it passes through/by like 15 ski resorts in VT. Kinda long but regardless here it is…
Haven’t started my journal until today, our third day. Started strong from Williamstown and powered up to the southern terminus. After seth warner, we learned that 6 miles is a long distance and were stoked to finish the afternoon at congdon. With the intense pace we originally set we pushed for Melville and finished the climb to it at dark. Day 2 we made it to goddard by early afternoon feeling strong but after skipping kidgore felt killed by story spring. We weren’t done however, we pushed for wardsboro road and again made it by dark. 2 long days done. The AT guys made me realize I could lighten my load and showed me some good and interesting foods I can eat. We got to the road where we met our mom to resupply us and we ended up spending the night at a camp ground with her and her friend Jon, which was a good idea because of today. After a late start today we found that we would not have made it to the “bigelow” shelter as it does not exist anymore. My 1987 edition of the guide book clearly had been outdated which made sense because all of our distances seemed off. We would have died trying to make it up Stratton after a 20 mile day. We powered up it and realized that it was no hill. The nice caretaker told us we should probably get a new book. We also slowed our pace as our plan was made when we had no idea what “hiking miles” were compared to “regular miles”. We’re spending the night at spruce peak which is super nice and hiking to route 11/30 tomorrow morning early where I’m going to get hopefully a new guide book from mom and construct a new game plan. Theresa, who has been super tough and enduring ankle pain since the start of day two is going to try to rest it for a few days while mom fills in. Our moto has been “positive and flexible”.
Day 4 started good. After a long night of heavy rain in the amazing spruce peak lodge, Theresa and I headed down to the road where we met mom and Jon. They fed us which was awesome and then Theresa packed up her pack for mom, gave me a high five, and headed out with Jon to rest her ankle for a few days. With our new guide book mom and I did work summiting bromley then styles back to back. After peru we headed down into the valley and took a long hike up to baker peak which was very pretty despite the small climb. We continued rolling through the woods until we finally got to big branch. So pretty! It was packed though so we toughed it out a few more miles past lula tye shelter to lost pond which was a big surprise even though we knew it was coming. The caretaker was very nice and it’s been a mellow evening so far. Over 22 miles today. Going to governor clement camp tomorrow!
We made it to cooper lodge on killington! Today started really poorly with my blisters getting uncontrollably gnarly. We woke up at 6 and were hiking by 7. The mosquitoes sucked last night and I sweated my ass off, also had some crazy dreams because of the constant wake ups. Got to clarendon shelter by 3 and my feet were throbbing. Blisters the size of quarters and one that wrapped around my toe a few mm’s off the skin. We re-mole skinned, I doubled up on socks and took some advil. Mom kept up all day with a slower but strong pace. Got some soda and decided to push it past governor clement, which creeped me out, all the way for killy. Hiked like 13 hours today and 23.5 miles. Hope these blisters keep feeling alright or go away. Meeting up with Theresa and Jon tomorrow to re-up on food. I think I’ll sleep well tonight because were high up on a mountain which means less bugs and less sweat but you never know! O and mom started getting blisters but pushed through because, like Theresa, she’s tough.
Today went by quick and was pretty uneventful. Came down from cooper taking our time, pretty cool alpine area. Filled our water and waited for Theresa and Jon. They came early because we’ve been killing it on time but we still had to wait a little while. Theresa subbed back in and was feeling good and we resupplied heavy with all the foods the AT guys have been recommending which is awesome. Sucks to be weighed down though. Mom and Jon hiked with us up to the road just before rolston rest which looked sick. Passed some more LT thru hikers which I forgot to mention we broke off from the AT which was pretty exciting! Powered at 5pm from there to david logan which is pretty nice and we met a few cool guys. It was a long 8 miles especially starting at 5pm and I got kinda grumpy (because of the weight I think and the lack of water because for the first time, I ran completely out of water which I’ve been tryingto always have an emergency Liter but hiking with mom we never needed to refill because she doesn’t drink as much water! Full day tomorrow and middlebury! Chittenden reservoir was pretty but no epic vistas, o well and Lincoln gap the next day, NORTHERN VT! YES!
Today started good, had an early start and mellow morning. Hit Brandon gap and sent it up Horrid which was intense. We got some great ridge walking in which was super fun though I didn’t resupply us with water so we were dying the whole time. Got down to sucker brook which took a while then the rain started. My boots are soaked, it was light at first then picked up. We kept strong over wentworth then came down middlebury ski bowl really wet. We got to the bottom, ate some food then started ripping for boyce which was our goal for the day (putting us at 20.2 miles). The start out of the gap was real steep and it didn’t get much easier. We passed burnt hill without realizing it’s the half way marker! On day 7! Finally made it to boyce where buddy kind was staying who we had been seeing in the register and after many reassurances by Theresa that she was feeling good, we pushed for an extra 2 miles to skyline lodge. It’s nice here and There’s a cool pond but it’s pouring and everything is soaked. Gah!
Woke up this morning and everything was still wet… including my boots, my socks and literally all my clothes. Theresa was nice enough to let me borrow her short shorts last night which I had to give back this morning. It was still misting a little but it didn’t matter we were drenched. We hiked to Emily procotor, miserable to cooly glen… and were just as miserable all the way to the road, 12.7 miles later where we met mom for her B-day. We went into Bristol where we got pizza and dried our clothes/boots at a Laundromat. We took our time but after eating drying, and resupplying we told Theresa and jon we’d see them in smugg’s notch in 3 days and ripped the 2 miles up to battle lodge getting here 8:30ish, it’s packed but we’ll be out early. I NEED the weather to be good.
Today started pretty good, got an early start and got to walk along Lincoln which was cool to see the tops of all the ski lifts. Mom’s backpack was giving her a little bit of trouble because it’s so old but we managed to fix it. We got an early start but also a slow one. It’s so muddy and puddly up there that it takes forever to get around everything.. After finishing Lincoln we stopped in the parking lot momentarily where Juice box’s parents were waiting with a food drop for him. We headed back into the woods and after a few hours and passing a few groups of hikers, made it to cowle’s cove. Met Cambridge, he was a cool guy, then after refueling we pushed for Mont Clair Glen lodge though we were sure it would rain all over us. It was slow moving again because of the difficult terrain and we were tired (my knees were sore from all the downhill) and we ended up hiking into the night for about 45 minutes before we got to the lodge. The cloudy weather made it seem darker then it was. Mom was real tired but we made it and ate lots and are ready for the hump tomorrow.
Day 10! Woke up at mont clair which was a super nice place to stay and found that the other people there were 2 girls thru hiking north as well, the first all girl team we had met. We filled our water and headed to camel’s hump which was only 2 miles to the summit. What they say about the south side is true. It’s tough. We moved really slow and once we got to the summit it was socked in with clouds but it was still cool to be up there. The hike down also was slow and LONG and it killed my knees with the extra weight of my bag and the constant pounding. We got to the road which I was looking forward to and I enjoyed walking along the Winooski river since I live near it’s outlet into the lake. We crossed it at the Jonesville bridge which is super fun to jump off though I didn’t even though I stink because I don’t have a change of clothes. But they did put up a new rope swing there which is sweet! The hike up to Buchanan shelter was actually less enjoyable and difficult then I expected but we talked to pass the time and for the first night in a while we got into camp and had time to chill. Mom’s tired but tough and we’re waking up early tomorrow so we can make it to smugg’s notch, Home Turf! O and it didn’t rain!! The weather was nice although I heard it wasn’t in Burlington. Hope it’s nice tomorrow! Got a solid day of hiking.
A lot has happened since I last wrote. I’m already north of Johnson and the Lamoille river. Yesterday sucked, me and mom were going real slow and the day started out real wet. I didn’t make it to sterling pond and I kinda freaked out on her when she asked if I was feeling alright. I’m just getting tired and was frustrated that she had held me back but it actually worked out for the best and we both kinda felt bad. She knew she was slowing me down and with the wet boots I was wearing It was a bad combo. Regardless, Mansfield was sick. I figured since I’ve seen it before it wouldn’t excite me but it was awesome! And one of the caretakers on top was a girl I went to highschool with. We’ve gotten some good photos this trip. When we get to the notch Jon and Theresa met us and resupplied us and since it was so late I agreed to spend the night at an inn which was pretty crazy. Theresa’ track coach is dying and he’s my age… so since she has to go to some thing on Monday (tomorrow, day 13) I decided to go this section alone. Caught a ride early this morning by a guy named Matt who was a big meatheads films fan and brought me to the base of the notch where he worked at the stowe lodge. After an akward morning hike alone in the clouds and fog I was at the sterling warming hut and it was still only 8:30 am. It was super nice and there was even a couch suspended from the rafters hanging. Ate a big breakfast then reluctantly headed back out into the wet and cold. Made it up Madonna and over to whiteface in no time and on the way down the backside it finally let loose and poured. Though by the time I made it to bear hollow it was super sunny out! Out of boredom I actually played the whole fast and the Furious 3 tokyo drift movie in my head which was actually pretty entertaining and when I got to bear hollow I met a team of two Sobo girls and a dad perhaps? They were ambitious and psyched. Didn’t think I’d see anyone today but I’ve been seeing lots of people. From there it was a super easy hike to the Lamoille and the new bridge so no road walking! Just some rail trail, a field and a graveyard. Made such good time I sat out on Prospect rock for a while and let my socks and boots dry then made the last little push for round top shelter. It’s been SO buggy and I’m pumped Theresa gave me her bug bivy. Camping food for 1 is also awesome and easy to carry. Ate lots of pasta and I’m a little nervous for tomorrow. 23 miles to tillotson. I’ve done it before but I’m still real nervous to do it alone. After that a mellow day to Jay camp where I meet Theresa and then just 11.5 to the END!
It was a good day today! Made it to Tillotson, 23.1! actually wasn’t too bad, fairly dry and I saw way more people then I expected, I passed 8 nobo thru hikers! Many of which are staying here tonight and it’s a little crowded… psyched to meet Theresa tomorrow. Supposed to be nice I guess so I’m gunna see if Theresa wants to send it over Jay for a nice view and an even easier last day. Just enjoying the view now.
Had a good mellow day today. Forgot to pack enough oatmeal so I just ate leftover granola and crushed up butterfinger and was hungry but after a long mid morning breakfast break and a talk with another Nobo, I headed off to finish another light day. Passed an old naked hiker guy and had a laugh about it with a couple who was nobo as well. Tons of thru hikers up here! Sat in the 242 crossing parking lot for 4 hours with the horse flies, waiting for Mom, Jon, and Theresa but it was worth it for the food and I got to meet a cool old guy from tenesse who was sobo named Hopeful. We all did Jay together and it was pretty mellow. Made it to camp okay too, nice little shelter. Had a nice sunset from atop Jay and psyched to be 8.7 from the border!
So I’m done now, in the car driving back to Burlington, it was an easy day just from Laura Woodward, not much to say, it was tough but not too bad. Thankful for all the help and support I got. Looking back I feel like it’s something I couldn’t have accomplished but I did. Back to reality, for now! Thanks for the trail.
-Brother John (trail name)
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