The outdoors is my ‘religion’… the wonder and mystery of it all, the challenges and demands, the exhilaration and camaraderie… a force and energy that has been part of my life from the beginning.
From childhood to the military, to work-life and family-life, the love of the outdoors has shaped my thinking, philosophy and actions.
I’d like to share some of my adventures with you through this blog. Adventures in Minnesota; points north to the Canadian Rockies, the Yukon and Alaska; the American west and trails into the southwest and northwest; the northeast United States and beyond– that’s my mission.
There’s nothing better than sharing stories and life lessons around the campfire with old friends and new acquaintances, and that’s what I want to accomplish on this blog. Through my stories, I hope to help you create your own adventures. Then, perhaps we can share a few adventures along the way. Maybe we’ve traveled some of the same areas? Let me know about your experiences and plans for the future.
Mike Hohmann, KEØGZT
Note- I recently obtained my FCC amateur radio license, and KEØGZT is my call sign. My hope is to use my gear for public service and emergency communications. Occasionally, I’ll add some radio-related adventures to the mix, too. Stay tuned!
Looking for more? If you’d like to read more about what future posts will be based upon– the past hikes and backpacking trips, read on! Why past hikes, you ask– because they were so darn good, that’s why.
In the summer of 2004, I spent six weeks packing and traveling with my black lab, Jazz in the Canadian Rockies- the Canadian wilderness. Car camping, day-hiking and backpacking in Banff and Jasper NPs, and the Willmore Wilderness area just north of Jasper– all in Alberta. Heading west out of Ft. Nelson on the Alaskan Highway toward Stone Mountain PP, Muncho Lake PP and the Liard River areas of British Columbia, my truck broke down in northern BC, 200 mi from Watson Lake in the southern Yukon, which is a story in itself. This is the route I took, but you won’t get the real story- the adventure, until I post it here. Below, the Snaring River Campground in Jasper, NP– my base camp for about ten days.
Continuing south on the Cassiar Hwy ( the only N-S route in BC) to the Dease Lake/Telegraph Creek areas (the Grand Canyon of Canada), past Mt. Edzizza PP, we camped and hiked several days in the Spatsizi Wilderness. We day-hiked near Mt. Robson, then dropped down through Valemount to camp and hike two days on the east side of Wells Gray PP, then continued around to the west side for a few more days.
Thoroughly worn out and filthy, we got a room near Clearwater to get cleaned up. We followed the Kamloops/Revelstoke route through Glacier NP and into Yoho NP for a period of rainy hiking and camping, running into a big grizzly with a cub on the trail- I think Jazz might have saved my life that day! Eventually we crossed the Continental Divide via the Crowsnest Pass, heading E through Medicine Hat and Swiftcurrent, back to Minneapolis– the trip of a lifetime, I thought at the time. The bug had bitten me hard! The backpacking, bug that is.
I retired early to do more backpacking while I could still do it. I’d seen too many folks work until they were 65 or more, retire and drop dead two years later. Not me! I had a plan! I was going to live my dream while I had the energy and capability to do it! The rest is history. And I’ve now had many ‘trips of a lifetime.’ I have some friends who liked the outdoors and backpacking, and they joined me on some trips. And, I met new friends while hiking the Superior Hiking Trail- guys my age, some younger. We bonded amazingly well, and put on the miles together for about 6-7 years, mostly on the SHT, but also out west. All, great stories!
I did some solo hiking in Chugach State Park outside Eagle River in Alaska. It was wonderful, some of the best day-hiking I’ve ever experienced. Mountains, valleys with rushing streams, boulder fields and small green glacial lakes, big forest, thick brush and alders– believe me I was talking to the grizzlies on that one. No surprises, no grizzlies! I got engulfed in heavy clouds on the way up and was extremely lucky I had taken compass bearings and left some markers. Without the back-bearings and markers, I’m not sure where I’d have ended up; you live and learn constantly.
Interested in more? Read on! Future blog posts will describe these adventures in detail. These short descriptions are only intended to whet your appetite for the more detailed stories– the blog posts to follow in coming weeks and months.
Some of my favorite places are in the western and southwestern United States.
I love Montana, including Glacier NP and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area just south of Glacier. Missoula is a great town to visit, and a great layover stop if you plan to visit the Three Forks area to the south– the headwaters of the Missouri River.
South of Montana, and to the east are the Big Horn Mountains just west of Sheridan, Wyoming. The Big Horns offer splendid hiking in the 6,000′-10,000′ range. And just west of the Bighorns, is the town of Cody, WY. A real live cowboy town, Cody is home to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center– a must-visit stop if you have interest in the old west. The Center is composed of several museums in one; an American Indian Museum, a museum of historic old-west firearms, and an old-west art museum.
Continuing west from Cody along the Shoshone River to Yellowstone, NP there are several small camping areas to the north and south of the highway. There are also several rest stop areas along the Shoshone River, on the way to Yellowstone NP, where you can fish for trout; and the surrounding area is full of Grizzly if that is of interest to you. But be careful, there have been several bad Grizzly encounters in a few of these campgrounds just outside Yellowstone over the past decade. Yellowstone is a topic unto itself, and I’ll describe several trips, including camping and hiking areas of interest in future posts.
Just down the road on the south exit of Yellowstone, you’ll find Jackson Lake and enjoy a beautiful view of the Tetons as you approach the town of Jackson. There are good camping areas around the Jackson area as well as numerous good places to eat. If you’re looking for backpacking options, the Tetons and beyond offer hundreds of miles of scenic opportunity. Southeast of the Jackson area you’ll find the Wind River Range and the beautiful small town of Lander on the south end of the mountains. I’ve visited the Lander area and I expect to revisit the town and the Wind River Range when my wife retires- and you’ll hear all about it right here. The Wind River area is great for car camping, day-hiking or backpacking, with plenty of trout streams and lakes to fish. Below is a close-up view of the Tetons from near Jenny Lake. The trailheads are not far away!
Some of my most memorable times were spent in the area around the Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers of north-central and western Idaho (lots of fire and smoke on one of my visits). And, the Salmon River/Stanley/Sawtooth Mountains portions of central Idaho offered exceptional experiences– some real wild areas, just beautiful. The Lower Salmon River, BLM recreation area just west of Riggins offered beautiful views and some challenging climbing. And, not far away is Hell’s Canyon along the Snake River, with Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains on the other side. I’ve visited these areas a couple of times and am very likely to get out there again in coming years. Idaho is simply amazing!
The Sierras of southern California will always be near the top of my ‘likes’ list. The John Muir Trail and Pacific Crest Trail join to come right through the Kings Canyon/Ray Lakes area we hiked. Toting a heavy pack from Cedar Grove up to Rae Lakes and over Glen Pass was hard work, but I did it. It was a real challenges carrying that heavy pack in hot weather– but it was a hell of a trip! I’ve been to Kings Canyon twice! I shared my second trip with the Crew pictured below.
Southern Utah’s National Parks along the Green and Colorado Rivers are also exceptional places to visit, and areas we’ll be visiting again in coming years. There’s just so much to do and see; I especially like the areas around Moab, including Arches NP and Canyonlands NP. Below, the Confluence Overlook Trail leads to where the Green River merges with the Colorado River in the Needles District of Canyonlands NP. Get an early start and carry plenty of water, there’s no refills along the trail; I brought along a gallon! Do I look happy to reach my destination?
The mountains of southwestern New Mexico are fantastic. You could spend weeks in the Mogollon and Mangas Mountains, and in the Gila Wilderness. I’ve visited Gila Wilderness three times and will return again no doubt. The mountains N and NE of Santa Fe, including the campgrounds far up the Pecos River at 10,000′, and the AngelFire/Eagle Nest areas further to the northeast are guaranteed to amaze you. Be sure to check the hunting seasons (late summer/fall) if you want to camp or hike, and plan accordingly. All of these areas offer exceptional beauty throughout the year.
Theodore Roosevelt NP in ND and the Badlands of SD- especially the Sage Creek Campground/Wilderness are great, but bring lots of water! The Appalachian Trail and White Mountains of New Hampshire are outstanding- especially in the fall, but they can be brutal! Mt. Katahdin, in Baxter State Park was an exceptional challenge, and Acadia NP- both in Maine will always be remembered. My wife joined me in Acadia after I finished Katahdin. What a vacation!
Several of us (the Crew pictured above in Kings Canyon photo) took a ship from Grand Portage, MN out to Isle Royale for a week’s backpack trip. Memories include a very heavy backpack, hiking slippery rock in the rain and hitting very cold weather- other than that it was a great trip. You get what ya get! This area also has a rich history of the semi-indigenous wolf/moose populations with their ups and downs over several decades. The wolf population is now near-extinct, and the science may be of interest to many of you.
One of my prime definitions of wilderness is anywhere with Grizzly Bears. Areas with elk and mountain lions run a close second. I always carry bear spray, and in grizzly country, a large caliber handgun as well- just in case. You just never know which side of the bed that grizzly crawled out of on any given day! Maybe you’ll stumble on a momma-bear with cubs? I usually talk loudly when hiking in Grizzly country- even if alone, just to let them know I’m coming- I don’t like surprises! Also, you can never be certain the bear spray will work as intended; and you can never be quite sure about the wind! They are one of the top predators globally, and I love seeing them in the wild- from a safe distance. I have much respect for them, and I don’t want to surprise one in the wild… or be surprised by one for that matter.
People used to tell me I should write about my adventures, and my response has always been, ‘maybe when I can’t do it anymore, then I’ll write about it. Until then, I’ll just keep hiking and climbing.’ I recently enjoyed my 69th birthday, and I’ve decided to start preparing for that time when I can no longer carry the gear needed- the weight. The time isn’t here yet, but I can feel it approaching– especially when I’m carrying too much, for too long, and the trail is too steep and too rocky; and I’m using both hands and feet to get up and down over big boulders and around narrow ledges.
But then, there’s always car camping and day-hiking; nothing wrong with that! You can hike five miles or 20 miles day-hiking and carry only 15-20 lbs. Just be sure you’re carrying what you need anytime you head out on the trail; conditions can change abruptly and unexpectedly, be prepared! And, if possible, let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return. And if, for some reason you can’t make it back and must spend the night out on the trail, be prepared. Use common sense.
As mentioned earlier, I recently obtained my FCC amateur radio license, and I intend to enjoy some adventures in interesting locations with my mobile communication’s gear. So stay tuned. Soon I’ll be describing my amateur radio adventures as well. In the meantime, my day-pack, radio and snowshoes are all set for some winter fun.
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“73… This is KEØGZT; kilo, echo, zero, golf, zulu, tango… out! Clear!”