Saturday, August 6, 2016

Joe Omundson

Hitchhiking from Moab to Portland: Day 1

Today I have begun a journey that's a little different than any of the ones I've taken before. I'm doing a 3-week trip to Oregon and Washington, where I will attend a festival, visit Portland, and hike the 108 miles of the PCT that I missed last year.

Those are all familiar activities, but the way I'm doing them is what's new (to me). I'm on a tighter budget; I have about $200 for these 3 weeks. So, I'm not taking my car, and I'm hitchhiking instead. I put on my backpack and walked to the highway in Moab at about 10:30 this morning, carrying an extra gallon of water.

Hitch 1
I held my thumb out for 14 minutes and 8 seconds. A 45 year old guy in a road-maintenance truck pulled over. "Where ya goin, young man?" Hyrum shouted out the window at me. He was missing most of his front teeth, a loud burly guy who chain smoked and talked non-stop for the next 3 hours. We made 2 stops at gas stations, he bought me a juice, and took me to Arby's. A 4th generation Moabite, he shared the location of some secret caves with me, along with plenty of stories from his personal life. I liked his openness and generosity. We drove up 191 to I-70 to I-15, where we actually turned south to the town of Beaver because he thought I'd have better luck getting a ride from there. He continued on to St. George.

Hitch 2
Beaver is apparently home to a lot of Mormon families who like to pile the kids in the SUV and haul the boat to the lake on Saturdays. That and old, sour, nearly-dead looking couples eating ice cream cones and staring with repulsion at the hitchhiker on the onramp. Spence picked me up after 2 hours 33 minutes and one second. "You don't kill me and I don't kill you, deal?" He's a 23 year old BYU student. Whereas Hyrum hardly asked me a single question about myself, Spence and I spent most of the ride to Provo talking about my life. We got into some interesting talks about Mormonism, which perhaps unsurprisingly seems to be a theme when hitching in Utah. He brought me to a gas station so I could use the bathroom before standing out for my next hitch. I enjoyed his curiosity and his willingness to be honest about the questions he has about his faith.

Hitch 3
I stood at a busy-ish onramp, by a stoplight, for probably only 5 minutes before getting picked up by a gal whose name I think was Alex. She took me about 50 miles north, past Salt Lake City, to the suburb of Bountiful. We also discussed religion and traded stories of our experiences with it, which had brought us to similar conclusions. She wants/plans to hike the PCT next year, and has spent time hitching around the country, so we had some things in common.

After Alex dropped me off in Bountiful I needed to find a place to camp, as the sun was setting. I walked back to a promising-looking patch of greenery I'd spotted near the offramp, between a bank and a school. It's fairly private and I expect to sleep well here. This is my first time urban camping.

Today was good progress! I need to get to the festival in Oregon by Wednesday. So making it past SLC was a good goal. 240 miles down, 890 to go.

Subscribe to this Blog via Email :