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The first three days of this journal were typed on Margaret Pense's computer in Baker, Nevada. The remainder was typed at and sent to Pete ( from Cray Zone Computers in Beaver, Utah. For any newcomers to our mailing list, you are reminded that all previous journal entries are posted on our hiking club's website at and also on America Online under keyword "Backpacker", then "Campfire".

August 17, Sunday
We rode to Ely's community park where the Lions Club was cooking a pancake breakfast. Then, we went to the 11 o'clock service at the First Baptist Church where Jack Neal, our rancher friend, was preaching the sermon as the temporary pastor. His talk on forgiveness and tolerance was excellent. The rest of our day off was spent resting and planning our trip for the next three weeks.

Being outdoors a lot awakens the spiritual side of you. We think it is because it helps you put things into a realistic perspective. When you are confronted daily with the immensity of your surroundings — grand vistas, towering mountains, raging rivers, or the millions of stars in a night sky — it is easier to remember that we are a very small part of a great big universe. When we spend the major portion of our lives inside houses, cars, or buildings constructed by people, we think we lose this understanding. We tend to think of ourselves as more in control than we really are. It insulates us from God's presence. Perhaps this is the downside of our comfortable modern existence. If past generations were considered to be more spiritual, perhaps this is why. This loss of control is, of course, a bit unsettling. But, we think, coming to terms with it can help us to prioritize what we value most (accurately) in our lives.

August 18, Monday
This is our last day to travel on US 50, and Laurie is going to miss the very pleasant riding it offers. On our 62-mile ride to Baker, we passed only one "town", Majors Place. Although this looks like a town on the map, like other dots on a Nevada map, the only building there is a tavern. Still, these are a welcome sight and a place to stop, get water, and take a short break. After reaching Baker, we got the only room left in town (there are only a total of 8) which is a two bedroom trailer on the edge of town. We had hoped to find another couple to share the cost with us but so far, no luck. Then, we hitched a ride up the mountain to Great Basin National Park and took a 90-minute tour of Lehman Caves. This is a beautifully decorated cave with all kinds of formations. Our tour had only five people on it so the guide gave us a lot of extra attention. The previous tour was sold out with 30 people on it. Another hitch back to town, dinner, and to bed.

62 miles, 12 mph, 5 hours 5 min 3,872 total miles biked

August 19, Tuesday
Since we are not doing any backpacking in Nevada, except for our hike around Lake Tahoe, we decided to take a day hike in Great Basin National Park. The park was established only in 1986, but it provides some of the most outstanding hiking opportunities in the entire state. The centerpiece of the park is 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak. Only Boundary Peak, with its base in California, is a higher summit.

We bummed a ride 18 miles up to Wheeler Peak Trailhead at 10,000 feet with two men from England. We hiked the three mile Alpine Lakes Trail and then hiked up through the bristlecone pine forest and on up to the toe of the glacier at over 11,000 feet. This is the southernmost permanent glacier in the country. Wheeler Peak Summit was directly over us 2,000 feet above. The rock and scree fields formed by the glacier were immense. Hikers on the trail one half mile away were but little specks and hard to spot in the enormity of the place. The bristlecone pines were also impressive — some of them were growing when Christ was born. Some even existed when the Egyptian pyramids were built.

We found we had already lost our high altitude conditioning that we gained in Colorado as these trails had us panting for more air. We hitched another ride back to Baker and rested for the long day planned for tomorrow. Nevada has been a state of surprises for us and we enjoyed it very much. Our hike today was like the frosting on the cake.

9 miles hiked

August 21, Wednesday
Wow — was this a killer day or what?! This was our all time high mileage day, 84 miles, plus the temperature was in the low nineties in the shade, plus we had to climb three passes totaling over 4,500 feet. The problem is obvious when you look at a map. Between Baker, Nevada and Milford, Utah there is 84 miles of nothing — no towns, no taverns, no gas stations, no nothing, only the never ending sea of immense sagebrush covered valleys broken only by the mountain ranges that run north and south through the Great Basin. We started at our usual 5 am but this was Pacific Time. As soon as we crossed into Utah, we were on Mountain Time or 6 am.

By noon we had covered 58 miles when we pulled into the only ranch in the entire distance. This was like a green oasis. The Wah Wah Ranch gets its water from a spring three miles away and it was strange to see irrigated hayfields and plenty of green grass in the middle of the sagebrush. The owner was willing to give us water and he allowed us to hang out in the shade until things cooled off a bit, but it was clear there would be no camping on their property. So, after resting up, we rehydrated and refilled all our water bottles and left at 4 PM and rode 25 more miles into Milford. En route, we passed the historic old mining town of Frisco, which is now a ghost town. In Milford, we ate a quick dinner and hit the sack ASAP.

84.2 miles, 10.1 mph, 8 hours 17 minutes, 3,960 total miles biked

August 22, Thursday
After yesterday's strenuous ride, we thought we deserved a break today, so we only rode 32 miles on paved road to the town of Beaver which is the largest town we've seen since Ely, Nevada. We have decided that we will ride mostly paved roads through Utah and will therefore forego riding much of the actual route of the ADT. We will, however, hit many of the towns on the ADT route.

Actually, Laurie gave me (Bill) an ultimatum — either we stay mostly on paved roads or we're going home! I am not altogether that disappointed with this decision, as we are anxious to see the end of this trip. Staying on the actual ADT route in Nevada and Utah would have added about three weeks to our journey, and it would have required more switching back and forth between hiking and biking, and it would have been difficult to do at this time of year without support. We always have the option of coming back to this area in the spring or fall when desert travel would be more pleasant. We both are counting down the miles (400) to our finish at Dewey Bridge, Utah, north of Moab. We anticipate reaching Dewey Bridge by the third of September.

Today's ride was pleasant as we rode through well-irrigated valleys with lots of green hayfields and even some cornfields. This is the largest agricultural area we've seen since the Sacramento Valley in California. We stopped for coffee and chocolate milk at a caf┬┐ in Minersville and then rode Utah 21 into Beaver.

You haven't heard us complain about windy conditions in Nevada and Utah. That's because it hasn't been a problem. I have made an observation though and I would like anyone on the mailing list who might be familiar with meteorology to comment on this. Send an email to (even though I won't see it for a couple of weeks).

We have noticed that, in the mornings the wind greets us from the east, then dies to a calm by 10 am, then a west wind generally kicks in around noon. My theory is that the morning sun hits the east side of the mountains, warming the air, and causing it to rise. When the air gets to the top of the mountain, it cools off, gets carried over the summit and spills down the westward facing valleys and canyons as wind. As the sun rises, the air on the western side of the mountains is warmed and the prevailing west wind kicks in. Send me your comments to confirm or deny this theory please.

31.5 miles, 10.1 mph, 3 hours 4 minutes, 3,991 total miles biked

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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