Photos of Hiker Peregrine Jack

Contact Peregrine Jack

An Ode to The Doctor Departed

NEW! Mail from the trenches

8/14: New Photos!

8/17: Beating the Bummer to Bed

Blastoff day radio interview on 850 KOA
[This interview, as with so many links, has been lost, but thanks to my Cuz'n Justin, WE HAVE THE AUDIO FILE! Unfortunately, there's a chunk that's lost in the middle somewhere due to "buffering," aka "internet audio yet sucketh" but be patient, I come back on, even though the radio station does cut the announcer short as he says the name of my up-n-coming book. C'est la Vie.]

Oh, shit! I've been found!

My byline in the Steamboat Local
(you'll like this!)

This just found thru Google:
8/24: Get off Depp's back! (editorial)

6/27: Before the hike began

6/26: Aspen Times

7/18: Yellowstone 100

8/05: Evolve!

8/06: Steamboat Springs article
[or HERE if they drop the story from their archives]

7/23: Slack-Lining It

8:18: Hunter Thompson, Johnny Depp & Rick McKinney, joined at the media hip

Whistler, Canada

8/18: Durango Telegraph

8/20: Aspen Times follow-up

The Beef that made me cry
Due to the cantankerous, mean-spirited, disagreeable, and contrary in disposition of (that one's for you Andrea w/love!), I am unable to provide my readers with a direct link the Beef that made me cry, so, click on this, follow the righthand menus to August 2005, then scroll down a bit, you'll find it. AND FUCK YOU BLOGGER.COM!

8/21: Aspen Times Post-blast hoorah!

8/23: The Summit Daily News


Blast-off!: The whole sordid tale.. has been removed for the moment due to my dissatisfaction with the quality of the writing. [10/10: Ahh, shit. I give up on trying to rewrite this thing, so here it is again, for now, with hope that as soon as I get this novel to press I'll have time again for this site!] Not One Goddamn Ash!

Meanwhile, need proof that your news comes from fewer sources than the fingers on the Gonzo fist, and they all suck? Keep checking back to's capture of all things Woody Creek!
(I'm still in there, just waaaaay the hell down now)



That's right. We're out of sedation now and moving in fast, strange ways. After a careful study of the maps from Yellowstone to Empire, factoring in the dozen or so times I got heinously LOST thanks to an absolute absence of trail markings in Wyoming and parts of northern Colorado, endless S-winding rivers I tromped & sloshed for lack of trail, bad fog on The Devil's Thumb that nearly sent me to Gonzo Heaven with Hunter, and Meathead's lousy CDT guidebook directions, I have deduced that I walked just over 500 miles, fully half my goal and no doubt 420 miles more than Hunter would have walked after hitting the first bar town of Dubois, WY. Taking stock, my ankle is no better. I suspect a torn ligament. My glasses are destroyed following a fall on Devil's Thumb, and unless mom's package arrives today with a replacement pair, I won't even be able to SEE the Gonzo Fist Cannon, invite or no. And as for the invite question, well, here's the latest.

After I apparently passed an initial unspoken personality test at Little Nell's, a swanky restaurant in downtown Aspen (w/two of her lady friends present, one eyeing me like a cat) the widow Anita's dear friend Nancy hopped in MY car, dragged me to the Woody Creek Tavern, introduced me all around (Bartender Rick knew me from local news!), got on the phone to Owl Farm and, with Anita not home, put me on the horn with one "Emma," invite-CEO for Johnny Depp Cannon Enterprises, Inc. A very sweet Emma said something to the effect that they were up from there intended 300 invitees to 422 and she feared losing her head if she added even one more, but she listened to my story and said she'd run it up the flagpole. Failing the flagpole, however, there's always the chance Miss Nancy will walk her new friend & handsome young Gonzo-tattooed escort in on her arm. How Johnny's private security beefcakes will take this, I daren't think.

Hell, I daren't think at all at this point. I have to, however. I have to think a lot. Thanks solely to the baffling & gracious efforts of San Diego reporter friend Dan Bennett, I have a radio interview at 6:20 a.m. tomorrow and a press conference in downtown Aspen at noon. For a chemical depressive with bouts of severe anxiety, I'm coping uncharacteristically well. I just hope it holds. And perhaps it would hold best if I ceased to think. Perhaps I just need to let it flow, flow as it did yesterday in a pleasant phone interview with Denver Post reporter Steve Lipsher in which I addressed his touchy "suicide w/family present" question (a query that reeked of a blatant desire to crucify Hunter) saying simply, "No one wants to die alone."

I thought that fair and deservedly tender. I mean, people die in hospital beds surrounded by family all the time. Hunter was a gun freak. What are you gonna do. Walk the walk. Talk the talk. My same Trimble GPS/Backpacker cell phone number still holds: 1-480-283-3237, and I will have reception all weekend in Aspen. God bless us all, especially the lost and lonely, fearful of admitting to suicidal depression. I go on the radio & "soapbox" for you tomorrow, for you, and the you that I have been. Personally, I'm scared shitless. Pray for me, that the right words come. I love you all. -Peregrine Jack



On Independence Day of this year, a hiker by the trail name of "Peregrine Jack" & a partner will launch a 1000-mile hike of the Continental Divide across Wyoming and Colorado. His goal: to raise awareness of depression as a disease, one that claims nearly half as many lives in the U.S. annually as diabetes. His target: suicide-victim Hunter Thompson's funeral in Woody Creek outside Aspen on August 20, 2005.

"As Thompson was to Hemingway, so am I to Hunter, a student and a friend, alas one he never knew. When Hunter Thompson died in February, I dove into death statistics and found out that suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in the U.S., (and there's almost no such thing as a non-depressive suicide). I cried my eyes out, mostly for Hunter, but for all of us. That's one person every 17 minutes! In Japan, it's one person every 15 minutes. That's bigger than AIDS, the disease I was told in college would kill us all."

In 2004, the 38-year-old freelance journalist and author Rick McKinney (Peregrine Jack's real name) became one of less than 8,000 people to hike the Appalachian Trail from end-to-end in one continuous walk since the trail's creation in 1937.

While not on par with the summits of Mt. Everest, McKinney's successful "thruhike" of the A.T. was a triumph on several levels, and one with parallels, even, to Mt. Everest. Not only was it a great personal triumph, but also statistically, an A.T. "2000-Miler" hikes Mt. Everest in equivalent elevation 17 times.

My aunt Nancy, lost to suicide the year I was born

McKinney is no stranger to suicidal depression. Once a regular reporter and stringer for the NY Daily News, chronic depression cost him his journalism career, his home, and his girlfriend of 5 years, all in late 2001. As McKinney struggled to rebuild his life, tragedy struck in 2003 when he lost four acquaintances to suicide including close friend Luciano Lenchantin, 27-year old platinum recording artist and brother of Perfect Circle/Zwan bassist Paz. In desperation, McKinney took a long walk. The resultant tale is a passionate trip through the woods & down the rabbit hole of one man's inspiring imagination.

"Hiking 2000 miles last year saved my life. Now I intend to return the favor, save a few more lives if I can by my example and by encouraging others to get out and get moving." Committed to getting people walking toward health, top-quality gear designers Mont-Bell and Merrell are outfitting McKinney head to toe. Sponsors Jetboil, Backpacker Magazine & Nextel will keep him in hot meals and GPS telephone/email communications with the outside world. Otherwise, McKinney is funding his hike with scant savings and donations to his website,

McKinney certainly doesn't need the exercise. Readers of Bill Bryon's "A Walk In The Woods" know that 2000 miles is more than many Americans will walk in their lifetime.

"I want to give back something, that's all. I want to take the onus out of depression while increasing public awareness that most prolonged depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. Untreated, it often results in death. Most depressives don't want to die. When suicidal, however, all is lost to irrational emotion. Friends and family go into denial, and the sick are left to suffer alone.

"If you had a diabetic in the family who failed to take their insulin, would you simply sit back and watch them die? No. But depression carries a stigma. As wrong as that is, it's true. And why? Because unlike diabetes, to which one can simply say, "Take your medicine," depression requires that we step outside our selfish concerns and interact directly with the mentally ill, asking "How are you REALLY feeling?" Any mention of thoughts of death should trigger a phone call to a mental health provider. No exceptions."

"I have called out for such help in the past and received very little. And who wants to call 911 to have police arrive with guns drawn? It's terrifying. I hope, through media awareness, to save others who aren't taken seriously when they say, 'I just wanna die.'"

Along the Appalachians, McKinney carried a Palm Pilot & keyboard and wrote and posted 150,000 words to his website,, with rave results and a daily audience of a thousand readers. From those writings have grown a book titled "Dead Men Hike No Trails." Busy planning his Continental Divide hike, McKinney has yet to seek a publisher for the book, but assures that it will be available online in late October of 2005 under the pseudonym "Peregrine Jack."

As for McKinney's target, Hunter Thompson's cannon blast funeral at Owl Farm, "I've been planning this since Hunter's death, since way before they changed plans and closed the funeral to the public. So, if they don't let me in, well, look for me at the Woody Creek Tavern with all the other non-VIPs."

McKinney has written two novels, four novel-length memoirs, three feature film scripts and over 350 poems, but depression has hampered past efforts at publication. "I have a stack of manuscripts tall enough to sit on at a bar," he jokes. "Like Hunter, maybe someday I, too, will have a lawyer, an agent, all that."

For now, "Peregrine Jack" will endure blistered feet, weeks without showers, and lightning storms at 14,000 feet, all in the hopes that others with depression will be inspired to follow his lead (starting with the Appalachian Trail!) and that families of the suicidally-depressed will stop ignoring cries for help and come to the aide of their loved ones before it's too late.

(more below map..)

Now I've really gone sideways

Looking at the above map, "Peregrine Jack" will be hiking from Yellowstone National Park south through the Tetons and down along the Wind River Range, stopping short of the Great Basin. He will then hitchhike south to where the CDT meets the Colorado/Wyoming state line, and continue on, driven by pure mad gonzo power, to 14,442-foot Mt. Massive and down into Leadville, more or less the closest the CDT comes to Aspen. At this point, depending on time and degree of insanity, he will either rendez-vous with his car and drive the 70 miles over Independence Pass and thru Aspen to Woody Creek. Or, under the direction of local trail expert and friend Dauntless Dave, bonzai a trail on foot due west through the Hagerman Pass and across the (aptly-named) Hunter Frying Pan Wilderness (at very bottom of map) and walk into Woody Creek like a real mountainman would: with true Gonzo Grit.

While we're on the subject..


Copyright 2005 Richard McKinney
All Rights Reserved
(Just ask & I'll likely let you reprint anything!)