Smiley is cagey when answering the whole question of how he finances his walkabouts. He said his sister “sponsored” his PCT thru-hike but, mostly, Smiley gets by piecemeal. He never stays at a motel and even got rid of his tent, preferring only a tarp now. He subsists, he says, on “my dirtbag dinner special — a $1 package of hot dogs and $1 can of chili.” He has frequented perhaps every Dollar Store along Route 66’s path. That empty antifreeze container he snagged while dumpster diving costs a lot less than a fancy Nalgene water bottle.
“Like, on the American Discovery trail, it’s harder to get (freebies) because people don’t see you, because you’re hiking through national forests and on trails,” he said. “But road hiking, like this, people see you. That lady today staying at the hotel gave me this continental breakfast, but now it comes in doggie bags because of COVID. But, man, I’m loving it. Burritos.
“I do get mistaken sometimes for being homeless-homeless, not thru-hiking homeless, but, yeah, I don’t sleep inside at night and I do all this on a budget. I have really nice gear, though. Don’t skimp on that. I’m from the extreme where I don’t stay in hotels. I don’t take too many showers. You can probably smell me. I’m what you’d call a Super Dirtbag.”
Before he scarfed up the last burrito, Smiley reflected on his life and times. He’s loving life, now having racked up 17,000 miles on his journeys. He harbors no regrets about his lifestyle choice. He speaks in admiration of lifelong dirtbaggers.