Thousand Mile Walk

Claron Honors the Refugees

Goodbye Kansas City

Welcome at the Kansas City Temple

Kansas City Temple temple president, John White Hardy, and his wife, Nancy Hatch Savage Hardy, the temple matron

President John Hardy, and his wife, Nancy Hardy, with Claron at the Kansas City Temple

I had a warm reception at the Kansas City Temple today. My wife’s cousin Chris, who lives in the Kansas City area, made arrangements with me yesterday to meet at the temple. He arrived before I did and told the volunteer staff in the temple that I had walked from Salt Lake City to Kansas City. When I entered the temple, I was greeted with an enthusiastic, “Oh! You are the brother that walked here from Salt Lake City. We are so happy to see you!”

Claron Twitchell on flight to Denver on the way home to Salt Lake City from Kansas City

The temple president, John White Hardy, and his wife, Nancy Hatch Savage Hardy, the temple matron, returned to the temple from their quarters near the temple to meet me and have their picture taken with me.

After attending the Kansas City Temple, I went to the Kansas City airport to catch a flight home to Salt Lake City. The picture is of me, Claron Twitchell, on the flight home to Salt Lake City from Kansas City with a stop to change planes in Denver. After almost three months, it felt like I was going home, a refugee or homeless person no more!

Claron Twitchell took this picture of clouds near Kansas City on flight to Denver on the way home to Salt Lake City from Kansas City

The fluffy white clouds in the picture taken by Claron are beautiful as the plane gained altitude after taking off from the Kansas City airport. The cloud deck grew thicker until it was a heavy overcast as we landed in Denver. I had a scheduled 3 hours to wait for my connecting flight from Denver to Salt Lake City. I watched a heavy rainfall for about an hour which caused a one-and-a-half hour delay for the plane that I was going to board for the flight to Salt Lake City. [Update to this story! It turned out that this was a series of heavy rainfalls in a few days that set record rainfall totals in Boulder, Colorado and the greater Denver area. It actually washed out some of the roads that I had walked on about 6 weeks earlier.]

Walk Statistics

Missouri River with Kansas City downtown

Missouri River with Kansas City, Missouri skyline taken from the Chouteau Trafficway bridge

I love to see the Missouri River. This photo was taken as I was crossing into the city limits my last day of walking. It was taken from the Chouteau Trafficway bridge. I am from what was called in the early 1800’s the Great American Desert. Utah is the second driest state in the USA. The next biggest river that I crossed was the Green River, a major tributary of the Colorado River, crossing it near the Utah-Colorado border.

Here are some of the stats for my walk. I use two categories of camping nights: “nights in a park” and “nights camping.” “Nghts in a park” includes camping in a park in a town, but I also grouped sleeping next to a church building in the park category. “Nights camping” included camping next to the road, camping in a Forest Service campground, and camping at a farm. I paid for 6 “nights in a hotel/condo/motel” along the way. The three nights my wife joined me in Denver were spent in a hotel. I wouldn’t want her to sleep on a picnic table. I spoiled myself 3 nights in a hotel/condo which I paid for before I reached my destination. I “walked all night” for that 70 miles without a nights sleep. Looking at the “nights in a home,” it is heart warming to see that people invited me, a stranger, into their homes 10 nights and an additional 3 nights someone else paid for a hotel room for me. I love all you great people and you know who you are.

I had 82 days and 81 nights from Salt Lake City to my end point in Independence, Missouri. I consider it one of my 61 “days walking” if I ways actually moving forward along the route. Most of the 21 “rest days,” I walked a few miles, like to church, to the store, or moving my camp across town. The straight through distance from Salt Lake City to Kansas City is approximately 1083 miles. However, with all of the little side detours like walking to the store, the park or church, the total miles estimated for all days was 1281. Pulling the mileage on rest days out of the total gives 1237 on walking days. Dividing that by 61 walking days, I averaged 20 miles per day when I was moving forward along my route.

Claron Twitchell took the picture of this Kansas City, Missouri city limit sign on the Chouteau Trafficway bridge

Walking or stopped
61 - days walking
21 - rest days
For the night
20 - nights camping
41 - nights in a park
10 - nights in a home
9 - nights in a hotel
1 - walked all night
On walking days
1237 - total miles
20 - average miles

As I crossed into the city limits, I took this photo which shows the population of Kansas City at 441,545.

There is a lot of train traffic going through Kansas City. This photo of the trains is taken not far from the Chouteau Trafficway bridge.

Location by Date

I had a number of people ask me to show a map of my walk. I came up with the following table of my location by date. If you click on the number of the date, it will bring up a map created using the GPS track of my route for the day. The next column is my miles for the day which is either my best estimate, or the reading from my GPS. The third column is my camp location for the night. If I had a blog post that was relevant to that location, then clicking on the location will take you to the matching blog post. Thanks for following me.

Date Miles Location for the night
June for day
17 15.64 I-80 Lambs Canyon exit, Utah
18 20.66 East side of Jordanelle Reservoir, Utah
19 17 Church pavillion, Woodland, Utah
20 10.64 Masashi Goto Memorial, Uintah Mtns, Utah
21 14.01 By West Fork Duchense River, Utah
22 12.49 Tabiona park, Utah
23 3 Bed at house, Tabiona, Utah
24 24.71 Motel in Duchense, Utah
25 9.31 Next to Church in Bridgeland, Utah
26 22.58 Park in Roosevelt, Utah
27 20 Front yard of abandoned house, by permission, LaPoint, Utah
28 14.7 Side of road, Vernal, Utah
29 10 Park in Vernal, Utah
30 2 Park in Vernal, Utah
1 33.69 Park in Dinosaur, Colorado
2 21.09 Inactive RV Park, Massadona, CO
3 37.08 Park in Maybell, CO
4 20 Camped by the side of the road
5 11.03 Park in Craig, Colorado
6 3 Park in Craig, Colorado
7 4 Park in Craig, Colorado
8 28.44 Near road, Yampa River, CO
9 18.93 Room in a condo, Steamboat Springs, CO
10 3 Room in a condo, Steamboat Springs, CO
11 13.79 Near road, Rabbit Ears Pass, CO
12 24 Near road, south of Walden, CO
13 23 Park in Walden, CO
14 2 Park in Walden, CO
15 24 Aspen Campground, east of Walden, CO
16 24.89 Near road above Poudre River, CO
17 29.96 Picnic grounds by Poudre River, CO
18 23.03 Park in LaPorte, CO
19 5 In a house, LaPorte, CO
20 6.1 In motel, Denver, CO
21 0 In motel, Denver, CO
22 0 In motel, Denver, CO
23 0 Slept on the floor of the Denver, CO airport
24 12.11 Pitched tent at Walmart in Timnath, CO
25 20.86 Without permission, sleeping bag next to church, Greeley, CO
26 4.88 Without permission, sleeping bag next to church, Greeley, CO
27 4 Without permission, tent next to church, Greeley, CO
28 5.04 Park in Greeley, CO
29 25.79 Side of road, Dearfield, CO
30 31.34 Park in Fort Morgan, CO
31 13 Park in Brush, CO
1 24 Under pavillion at fair ground, Akron, CO
2 13.62 Park in Otis, CO
3 14.08 In home in Yuma, CO
4 1 In home in Yuma, CO
5 28 In home in Wray, CO
6 0 In home in Wray, CO
7 19.01 Park in Haigler, Nebraska
8 25.63 Park in St. Francis, Kansas
9 15.31 Park in Bird City, Kansas
10 28 Park in Atwood, Kansas
11 2 Park in Atwood, Kansas
12 28.21 Park in Oberlin, Kansas
13 20.01 Park in Norcatur, Kansas
14 18.52 Park in Nortan, Kansas
15 13.7 Side of road, near Prairie View, Kansas
16 22.71 In home in Phillipsburg, Kansas
17 1 In home in Phillipsburg, Kansas
18 1 In home in Phillipsburg, Kansas
19 16.01 Park in Kensington, Kansas
20 13.38 In home in Smith Center, Kansas
21 13.36 Outside town, near Lebanon, Kansas
22 19.7 Park in Mankota, Kansas
23 24.08 Park in Scandia, Kansas
24 11.03 Donated hotel stay in Belleville, Kansas
25 0 Donated hotel stay in Belleville, Kansas
26 31.03 Park in Washington, Kansas
27 24.01 Park in Marysville, Kansas
28 13.37 Side of road, 13 miles east of Marysville, Kansas
29 21 Park in Seneca, Kansas
30 30 Camped at farm in Haiwatha, Kansas
31 2 Camped at farm in Haiwatha, Kansas
1 1 Camped at farm in Haiwatha, Kansas
2 15 Park in Horton, Kansas
3 17.43 Side of road in Lancaster, Kansas
4 17 Showered at Lewis and Clark Park, Missouri. Kept walking.
5 53.34 Motel in Hidden Valley, North Kansas City, MO
6 12.8 Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri
1281 Total miles walked

Not Sleeping in a Park

Sports Complex, Kansas City, Missouri as the sun sets The view from Claron

It is strange sleeping in a real bed and not looking for a new place to camp each night. I got a room for four nights at the “Four Points By Sheraton Kansas City - Sports Complex” while I am waiting for my flight home to Salt Lake City. I am resting up and catching up on my blog posts. The picture of the scene at sunset is of the Kansas City Royals stadium and next to it on the left is the Kansas City Chiefs stadium. The picture is taken from my hotel room on the fifth floor. When you are walking long distances, it is a little bit hard to predict exact dates of when you are going to be someplace. I booked my return flight out far enough to get a good price, and then I picked up the pace and got to Independence a day early.

Claron Twitchell with Elder Douglas and Sister Nanette Brenchley, with the LDS Visitors Center Independence, MissouriElder Douglas and Sister Nanette Brenchley asked me to have my picture taken with them. They are the directors at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Visitors Center in Independence.

Please comment on this post by clicking on the title at the top of the article Not Sleeping In A Park. That will take you to a page just for this article. Scroll down the page and you will see the comment section where you can add your comment. Please comment on any of the other posts as well.

Please Sponsor Claron to help the orphans and other children in South Sudan.

Finish Line

Claron Twitchell entering Jackson County, Missouri on Chouteau Trafficway bridge, Kansas City, MissouriWow!!! I made it! September 6, 2013 is eighty-one days from starting on June 17, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah. I made it to my destination in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri which is next to Kansas City, Missouri. One thousand eighty-three miles of walking to honor the refugees and raise funds to help the orphans and other children in the schools in South Sudan, Africa supported by Southern Sudan Humanitarian. The picture of me (Claron Twitchell) is self-taken entering Jackson County, Missouri on Chouteau Trafficway bridge which crosses the Missouri River, Kansas City, Missouri.

Claron Twitchell with missionaries at the Visitors Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Independence, MissouriI was happily surprised to get an enthusiastic reception from the missionaries serving at the Visitors Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Independence, Missouri. Back in January of this year, I talked on the phone a couple of times with Sister Pyne at the Visitors Center. She is serving an eighteen-month mission with her husband for the Church with their assignment being the Visitors Center in Independence. She did some checking for me in January and believes that no one else has walked from Salt Lake City to the Visitors Center in recent times.

When I called the Visitors Center today to let them know I was coming, I was happy to have Sister Pyne answer the phone. She said that she would let Elder and Sister Jones, who would be there when I got there in five hours, know that I was coming. When I walked through the front door, I heard, “Welcome Brother Twitchell!” from Sister Jones. The young sister missionaries joined in welcoming me. There were lots of questions, so I got to tell the story of South Sudan and my walk to an attentive audience. Elder and Sister Pyne came back to the Visitors Center to see me and took me out to dinner. I could not have imagined a better cheering section for my crossing the finish line.

The marker in this picture is at the “Temple Lot” in Independence. The stone marking the corner stone of the temple was the exact spot that I had in mind as my “finish line.”

Keep checking back with my blog as I will fill in the past week with more posts, do some posts wrapping up the story of the walk and so on.

Please comment on this post by clicking on the title at the top of the article Finish Line. That will take you to a page just for this article. Scroll down the page and you will see the comment section where you can add your comment. Please comment on any of the other posts as well.

Please Sponsor Claron to help the orphans and other children in South Sudan.

Video crossing Missouri River into Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri.

Video at the finish line, the Temple Lot in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri.

“I Know that My Redeemer Lives.” Video of the sister missionaries singing for me at the Independence, Missouri Visitors Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Kansas City Temple

I took the picture just after the sun had set on Thursday of the Kansas City Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was one of the sites that made up my final destinations of my thousand mile walk.

A long walk without camping or sleeping took me from Lancaster, Kansas to the middle of the Kansas City, Missouri metro area. Starting Wednesday morning at 9:00AM with 17 miles from Lancaster, Kansas to the Lewis and Clark State Park in Missouri where I ate a substantial amount, took a shower and put on clean clothes. Then I started walking in the dark, 9:30PM Wednesday, and walked until I reached my motel, Thursday night at 11:30PM, located on NE Parvin Road near I-435 in Kansas City, another 53 miles.

My previous longest walk was a 37 mile day in northwestern Colorado. I started wondering if I could do 50 miles in a day. There is a bit of complexity camping at parks in metro areas. I had a gun pulled on me camping at a park in the Denver metro area. (See my post At the Point of a Gun) So, I planned on getting motel rooms when I got to the Kansas City metro area. In rural small towns, basically no one cares where you pitch your tent for the night. Many of the small towns have city parks where they encourage camping by visitors. However, once you get close to a metro area, the “No Loitering” signs come up, and people are all concerned about homeless people staying at their park. I combined avoiding harassment at parks with wanting to do a 50 mile day.

Below is the map for the 53 miles generated by using the mapmyhike Android app of that I have been using.

I had two men that were a great help to me in the early stages of the 50 miler. The first man opened the shower for me and in response to my telling him about my intention to walk through the night and achieve a 50 mile walk, he said, “You are a warrior!” It helped me to have a positive label for myself, something to think about in the dark hours rather than just how crazy I was. About four hours into the walking in the dark hours, another man stopped to see how I was doing and asked me if there was anything I needed. He got me three chocolate bars, a granola bar and some batteries. His enthusiasm for what I was doing and his kindness kept me going when my negative thoughts had about convinced me that I really was crazy. It was nice to be helped by the great people of Missouri.

I thought a lot about some of the amazing physical feats of my friends who have been refugees. As a six year old boy, my South Sudanese friend Akol was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He fled for his life from Malual Loc, South Sudan, his home village near Nyamlel where years later he introduced us to the school we now help. He walked the length of South Sudan to reach a refugee camp in Ethiopia, a journey of six months. He went more than a day in the heat without water and more than a month without being fed. Akol is now an accomplished long-haul truck driver in the USA.

Video entering Kansas City, Missouri. Took video after 50 miles of walking and 24 hours without sleep.

City That Disappeared

Mormon Grove Historical Marker The mayor of Lancaster, Kansas owns an auto repair/convenience store/coffee shop along the highway in Lancaster. He let me set up my tent on his property. I went by the shop to say thanks as I was starting my walk this morning. I talked to two men having coffee. I mentioned that I had really enjoyed learning the history of Kansas by reading the roadside historical markers and talking to the locals. One of the men said, “I should do that. There is a historical marker along the road to Atchison, Kansas and I have passed by for years without ever stopping to read it.”

Some hours later, I saw the marker that I suppose he was referring to. I pulled off the road and read the marker. To my surprise, it was about Mormon Grove. I think I have heard about it in the history of my ancestors. It was sad to read about the cholera epidemic. Most refugees that die fleeing from conflict areas do not die of bullets, but from disease, particularly from water born illnesses like cholera. Cholera is still a common cause of death in South Sudan among those returning from refugee camps to build a life in their homeland. Southern Sudan Humanitarian partnered with LDS Humanitarian on a clean water project in Nyamlel, South Sudan where we have a school for orphans and other children in the village.

Atchison, Kansas is Amelia Earhart’s hometown. I crossed from Kansas to Missouri over the Missouri River at Atchison.

A Thing of Honor

Between Horton, Kansas and Lancaster, Kansas, Tom Ward and his friend, also Tom, stopped to see if I needed water. They got out of their car and talked to me for a while. I told them that I was doing a fund raiser to help the orphans and other children in South Sudan in the schools supported by Southern Sudan Humanitarian. I explained that I had been to South Sudan twice and that people could sponsor me on my walk to help the children. Tom was impressed and kind to praise my efforts. Without knowing the title of my website, he said, “So, what you are doing is a thing of honor.” I thought that was rather profound and a different way of applying the word “honor” to my walk. I usually speak of me honoring the refugees, their fortitude, stamina and courage. Knowing what I know about what they have been through, the challenges they have been through, having “put my hand to the plough” to help them, making a serious effort to help even more by doing the thousand mile walk is a matter of me maintaining my honor and integrity.

Klinefelter Farm

Kansas Sunrise at the Klinefelter Farm Wendell Ganstrom is the Klinefelter Farm Projects Manager for the Highland Community College. He let me camp at the farm in Hiawatha, Kansas for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. He also gave me rides to town and produce to eat out of the garden at the farm. The cats at the farm love him. Wendell gave me a cash donation to help the orphans and other children in our schools in South Sudan. Thanks for everything Wendell!
The photo is of Wendell Ganstrom in front of a John Deere tractor at the farm.

In the dark hours early Sunday morning, I experienced one of the strongest storms, wind and rain, that I have experienced this trip during the night time hours. I had put in all of the tent pegs for my tent and rainfly. The wind really beat on the tent and there was plenty of rain. I said my prayers, left it in the Lord’s hands, and was able to go back to sleep and stayed mostly dry. On Sunday, I attended the Hiawatha Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for Sunday worship service. A branch is usually a smaller congregation than a ward. Nice people at the branch.

Fine Home

Beautiful Farm House I really liked the looks of this farm house near Seneca, Kansas. It makes me happy to see people prospering.

This little boy is so cute. I took the picture in 2007 in a village near our school in Nyamlel, South Sudan. Your donation provides an education for children and a brighter future. Fifty years from now, well, the possibilities are fun to think about.

Please Sponsor Claron to help the orphans and other children in South Sudan.