Cross country foot traveler takes needed rest in Helper
Jesse WhiteCrow stayed two nights in the same place last weekend. And while staying somewhere more than a day seems normal to most, WhiteCrow has been on the move since he left Massachusetts more than 18 months ago.
Since September 2005 he's been walking - he estimates about 20 miles a day - from one shore of America to the other, reaching Helper on April 18.
"Home is where I am," he said. "Part of the walk is to figure out where I'd like to live next."
The bigger purpose, he explained is fulfilling a goal he made as a boy. When he turned 40 years old, he decided it was either time to make the journey or put the idea on a shelf, never to be reconsidered.
"It's been the best decision of my life to do this walk. I wouldn't change it for anything," he said.
And so he started walking.
He started in Arcadia National Park in Maine - the highest point on the North Atlantic Coast. The end destination is Olympia National Park located on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, which he hopes to reach in the late fall or early spring.
And along the way, WhiteCrow has covered a lot of ground as his route zigzagged across the country. Utah is the 19th state he has passed through.
He crossed Texas in the heat of the summer and passed over the Colorado Rockies and the Great Smokies in the snow.
When he reached Helper, he stopped at the Western Mining and Railroad Museum. The museum staff told him about the Golden Rule Mission, where he found he could stay a few nights.
"This is a rare break. And it's wonderful," he explained.
The last time he took a bath was in Dove Creek, Colo. And he hasn't taken a day off since he started the journey.
"I've been kicking sand and swallowing dust for weeks now," he said.
|A map of the United States shows Jesse WhiteCrow's path across the country. Whitecrow has travelled through 19 states in his walk from one coast to the other.|
While at the mission, WhiteCrow said he was able to reorganize his belongings.
"And I've regrouped in more ways than one," he said.
Rather than always being on the offensive, his two-night stay in Helper gave him a chance to relax without having to worry about who is around or running out of food or water.
From Helper, WhiteCrow's route takes him over Indian Canyon to Duchesne, then on to Vernal and Flaming Gorge and north through Wyoming.
His trek will take him through five or six more states, depending on what route he decides to take.
"By the time I get to Montana, I'll have to think about snow," he said. And along with the snow, he said he's concerned about grizzly bears.
"I've been through a lot of mountain lion and a lot of black bear," he said. He even bedded down in a black bear's favorite tromping ground one night and woke up to the sound of a black bear grunting around his tent.
He said he bathed with water moccasins in Louisiana ponds, but was more hesitant when it came to the alligators.
But in his most personal encounter with wildlife, WhiteCrow said he was standing off the side of a road in New Jersey when a dead bear landed next to him. She had been shot by a poacher and then hit by a car before rolling off the side of the road.
With a strong American Indian heritage, WhiteCrow recalled one of the ancient beliefs that the bear is the guardian of a traveler.
He was able to take the bear's claws, which he strung onto a piece of leather.
"She's been making the walk with me," he said.
WhiteCrow also carries a 70-pound backpack. In Anadarko, Okla., he found towns started getting farther apart - lengthening the distance between stops supplies.
So he built a cart to pull behind him. He said the cart weighs about 150 pounds when fully loaded with extra food and water.
He keeps a regular online journal - or blog - at http://www.whitecrowwalking.blogspot.com/. Another Web site tells more about what he's carrying and more of his stories at http://www.whitecrowwalking.com/.