On Sunday, I posted the final episode of Clay’s (Pony’s) journey in 2019 on the GPT Pilot Trail. I decided from Episode One that I would read each episode as I posted them, and not binge on them. It turned out that was a great way to do it. Long journeys deserve long write-ups and long reads. We use Cliff Notes on the boring, esoteric stuff, but a gripping tale of earthly hardship and triumph is when we want the full account. My hat’s off to Pony for a wonderful series of posts and pictures that I believe capture the spirit of the GPT perfectly.
As with Luke (Strider) Jordan’s trip on the GPT in 2016, these two adventures represent exactly what I think the GPT can be – a new and different kind of adventure in a unique place that is so often overlooked or even scorned. In both cases, it turned out that even though the Great Plains is known for huge lonely spaces (and each trip definitely had its share of extreme solitude), it was the connection to people along the way that made the adventures memorable and ultimately worth it.
In Strider’s case, I think of all of the timely trail magic he encountered just as things were looking grim, as well as the unexpected enthusiasm and encouragement he received from complete strangers. On Pony’s trip, I think of his days with Emily and Josh, and the little bits of magic they found even amidst the heat and the bugs.
I began this entire project because I thought the landscape of the Great Plains was beautiful. It is, but in the picture above, which shows only the landscape of their smiling faces, I see a reflection of the true beauty and potential of the Great Plains Trail!