It's not exactly a thru-hike, but it is a summit top experience. On September 19th I married my best friend. We look forward to many adventures together. Check out a few of the beautiful moments from our wedding day.
When introduced to a new acquaintance one of the first questions exchanged is the typical what do you do. As vague as the question is people want to hear about a job or career. Of course our work consumes a major portion of our lives and once someone knows what we do they can construct an assumption of who we are. We live in a society with an invisible hierarchy of career values.
One of my favorite aspects of a thru-hike is the clarity of the hike itself. From the very beginning I know without a doubt what it is I want from the hike. I want the sense of accomplishment from completing the trail and a sense of fulfillment from the unfolding adventure.
When I think about my life as a whole things seem much more muddled compared to the clarity of a thru-hike. The complexities and the many distractions in life easily block my perspective of what it is I truly want in life.
We Americans obsess over comfort, and we’ve highjacked the American Dream and transformed it into the American Comfort. We work the nine to five to invest in the comfort of daily life. We contribute to social security, health insurance, and the 401k. We drive 35 miles between work and our commitments. We then sit back in our recliners and watch five hours of television each day. Do you see where I’m taking this?
The problem is comfort never helps us achieve our goals or live out our dreams. And worse, comfort masks our complacency. Our dreams fade to the periphery as we worry over the cable bill and the other stack of comfort induced bills.
At some point we have to come to the realization comfort won’t make us happy. We have to be willing to take risks. After all, everything meaningful in life requires risk. Think about it. We never just drift towards fulfillment. We never comfortably find ourselves living out our dreams.
I enjoy modern American comforts more than most, because I’ve experience life without those comforts. In the end, however, I’m willing to sacrifice comfort because I know where I’m headed and I don’t want anything to hold me back from living an impactful and meaningful life.
What is it you truly want out of life, and what comfort are you willing to sacrifice to obtain that which you desire?
As the holidays fade out of sight and out of mind we begin to settle back into the old daily grind. If we’re not careful we’ll forget it’s a new year with a bright future. Even if we remain intentional about achieving goals and living a more fulfilling life for 2015 this is the time of year when we face the greatest resistance. Like I mention last week, we overcome resistance as we build momentum, yet resistance always interferes when we put energy into forward motion. I don’t know about you but anytime I’m trying to change and grow I always seem to encounter multiple forms of resistance.
It’s a new year and a fresh beginning, yet blank slates and paralysis often go hand in hand. People have the innate desire to grow and live a better life, yet resistance always impedes the pursuit. Each year millions of people create resolutions and set goals, however, only a fraction of those people will achieve their goals. Knowing how to overcome the resistance and gain momentum is the number one key to achieve any goal. A few years ago I discovered several truths about achieving meaningful goals.
I’ve spent this last week reflecting on 2014 as I make preparations for the coming year. I still find it difficult to wrap my mind around the magnitude of hiking and running 3,132 miles over the course of the last twelve months. Last New Year’s Day, I set out with only one ambitious goal for the year—to successfully thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I invested most of my annual time, money, and energy into fulfilling my goal, and through perseverance and sacrifice my dream became a reality.
The holidays are filled with tradition, and my family has a tradition of attending at least one holiday concert or show. Last weekend we enjoyed Trace Bundy’s Acoustic Holiday Concert. Trace, also known as the Acoustic Ninja, is a contemporary finger style guitarist, and I can honestly say he holds the title for the most gifted musician I have seen in person. I’ve now attended three of his concerts, and each time he captivates me with his music.
Trace not only evokes intense emotion through his music, but each time I walk away feeling empowered. I see his dedication and discipline breathe creativity and beauty into existence, and this world needs more of that.
I'm branching out. I've shared my story through writing and video, and this week I've made my first podcast debut. Earlier this week I shared my struggles with cerebral palsy and long distance hiking with an organization called The Bucket List Life. I share my story in episode #27, and I've listened to a dozen of the other episodes, which highlight unique individuals who pursue extraordinary life goals. Click the image below to check out the podcast.
It’s easy to live life for those big moments, you know, the moments we all pursue. We move from one chapter to the next, yet we experience voids between the big moments of life.
I’ve come to the realization it’s so easy and almost natural to lose site of where we’re headed in life. We get caught up in the busyness of the western world and lose all our momentum. We need to know where we’re headed or at least know what signpost we are headed to; otherwise we become reactionary in life, instead of engaging the world in a proactive manor.
Yesterday I wrote a guest blog post for The Might which is a blog geared towards family members and people challenged with disabilities and other medical conditions. This is the first blog I've written as a guest blogger and I hope to continue sharing my story with a wider audience. The blog provides an overview of my PCT hike so for those of you who have followed my blog from the beginning might not read anything new, but I did share a few new pictures.
check out the blog
After months of work, I finally have a video that I'm mostly satisfied with. I hope this video will be the first in a PCT series. Oh, and if you enjoy it please share it with your friends.
Every time I start a journey whether it’s a long distance trail, a new job, or a short film project I never know what the end result will look like, and the unknown terrifies me. I try to be strategic and knowledgeable about everything I take on, but in the end I have to take the final leap of faith and commit.
Lately, I’ve spent a large portion of my time working on a short film about my PCT thru-hike, but this project feels like pulling teeth. The first video will be less than five minutes and I’ve realized trying to tell my four and a half month journey in a handful of minutes is quite the challenge.
I loved my focus. When I left the Mexican board, Canada seemed like a dream, yet my objective was clear. On the first day of my hike, enslaved by the intense sun of Southern California, I decided to stop focusing on Canada and instead focus my efforts on reaching the next town, the next food drop, the next pint of ice cream. The moment I opened my eyes each morning I instantly knew my task for the day. Each day I moved further north towards my dream even though at times Canada felt so distant.
Before I entered into the High Sierra I created a music playlist designed to complement the epic terrain and help propel me through the steep climbs. The playlist (entitled Crushing It) consisted primarily of soundtracks from various movies such as Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Batman, and Transformers. In the Sierra I came to the realization that the beauty of my surrounds provided ample motivation. Once I reached Northern California, however, the playlist became a great asset. In the sunny, hot afternoons while I hiked through the monotony of the vast forests, my epic playlist helped energize my spirit.
It’s been two weeks since I finished the PCT, and as I reemerge into society I find myself asking the question— now what? For more than four months I primarily focused my attention and energy on reaching Canada, and now I find myself caught in the competing currents of uncertainty. How do I come away from finishing the largest challenge of my life, and reintegrate into the monotony and normalcy of the life I left behind?
Many of the thru hikers on the PCT pick up their pace in the mild terrain of Oregon. In fact, some of the most ambitious hikers attempt to hike all 455 miles of the Oregon section in two weeks which is unofficially called the Oregon Challenge. I’ve heard several different variations of the challenge, but all of the variations entail hiking through Oregon at a fast clip. I didn’t even consider taking on the Oregon Challenge, however, I did set the goal to average 30 miles a day through Oregon.
It's easy to develop a superiority complex as a thru hiker. Once I made it to Washington all the day hikers, weekend backpackers, and section hikers on the trail would congratulate me on hiking as far as I had, and they'd tell me and all the other thru hikers how awesome we were. The more I basked in the light of praise the more prideful I became. Towards the end I began to see myself as an elite superhuman, but life always seems to find a way to humble me.
Forty miles from Canada, just past Glacier Pass, without warning I found myself face down on the trail.