This is the beginning. But what is it the beginning of? It is the beginning of many things and a continuation of others.
In one sense, it is the beginning of a new trail. It is the beginning of a new perspective. It is the beginning of a new environment. But all of this is the continuation of a journey that I started last year when I began the Appalachian Trail. I am continuing that journey, that adventure, that lifestyle, that mentality, that dream. I aspire to surround myself with the goodness that the trail gives me. I imagine there are only a handful of situations in life that can put you in that place (though I’m sure there are more and I just have yet to experience them). The place I’m talking about is an overwhelming feeling of fullness. The fullness of life. The feeling that you are where you are supposed to be and doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing. Looking at a view that only God could have made just for you in that specific moment in time.
You see, I experienced that all too often on the AT. And it wasn’t always a view and it wasn’t always because everything was going right all the time. You experience so many good things and so many bad things all at once and yet stretched out over hundreds of miles and countless hours and yet you always seem to land on your own two feet with a smile on your face at a perfect sunset-facing vista. All the rainy, cold, exhausting, crappy 20 mile days are worth those moments. They are without a doubt worth those moments. And they are only fortified by the strangers that become your lifelong friends that you are experiencing this with. It’s a feeling that I can never fully explain to you unless you put yourself out there on that mountain with nothing but your backpack, your sense of adventure, and your determination and motivation to walk in one direction….INDEFINITELY!
This is a new book in my life in the sense that I want to experience this new journey in a way that I did not experience the Appalachian Trail. That new journey is, of course, The Continental Divide Trail. It is a 3,100 mile UNFINISHED trail that spans from Mexico to Canada by way of the Rocky Mountains. I started the AT with an extremely loose desire to journal. Deep down, I knew I had never really committed to doing it. I was too lazy. I didn’t care enough. The prospect of just hiking all day every day was overwhelming enough. But after completing the AT, I found myself regretful that I didn’t chronicle my journey more than just my pictures and Facebook posts. Not only that but I experienced a great amount of personal motivation from the feedback that I was receiving on my Facebook page whenever I was posting. Too many incredible stories are stuck in the recesses of my mind from that journey. Too many hilarious, stupid, dangerous, illegal, touching, loving, caring, fun, and truly wild stories that I did not take the time to write about. And I can only imagine that if I did write about them that I would have shared them with all of you. And then I can only imagine that by sharing them with you, it would have been further motivation and inspiration to push myself everyday on the trail with rejuvenated spirit. I draw a lot of my motivation and inspiration by sharing my journey with other people and by seeing others doing the same. So really, a major part of why I have created this brand, this hiking project, this traveling and adventuring endeavor called THE REAL HIKING VIKING, is because of all of you. I think this world is a wonderful and amazing place filled with wonderful and amazing people. All too often the news and the internet is cluttered with negativity of every variety. I am not one for focusing on these things. That’s not to say that I ignore everything thats wrong with this world but I like to embrace and fortify the things that are good and right in life. If I can add even just a little bit of good to someone else’s day, than you better believe I’m going to do that.
So here I am, my first legitimate Blog post. My intent is to journal every day on trail and hopefully post to here no less than once a week. You are along for the ride. Hopefully my writing skills improve everyday with every entry that I create. I’m extremely scatter-brained because I am always so excited by everything and I want to share it ALL AT ONCE. My brain definitely works faster than my fingers on a keyboard do. So this is literally a new book in the sense that I am physically writing now but also in the sense that this gives me an opportunity to experience the trail in a new way. I can reflect more on what I am doing. I can fully experience the gravity of my actions and the people and places I am encountering. So I have you all to thank for motivating me and inspiring me to live my life in a new way. Maybe I will hone my writing skills in a way that I never was able to before. I was never much of a school guy but I always knew I had the ability to accomplish anything if I put my mind to it. So with any luck (and your continuing help) I can make this new aspiration of mine a smashing success.
But here I am merely continuing the journey that I started on the AT. This is a new chapter for me in that sense. Aching to get back to the trail life, living simply. Some of you may already be aware, but for many of you my story may be new to you. After I completed the Appalachian Trail (as seen in my summit photo on Katahdin 9/13 compliments of Cindy Ross), I went back to my job at Appalachian Outdoors in State College, Pennsylvania. I was surrounded by backpacking and camping gear all day, it was madness. I went from living outside and using all that gear for 6 months to working inside for 8-9 hours a day selling it to others that were going to get out and use it themselves. I liked my job and enjoyed my coworkers but being inside, this needed to end, and fast. After a mere month of work I put in my two weeks. I then proceeded to get rid of most of my possessions, put the rest in storage, move out of my home, get rid of my vehicle, all in an effort to downsize my life and to LIVE SIMPLY. Some people use it as a catch phrase, I aimed to truly make it a reality, MY reality. It felt good, it felt right, it felt empowering, and exhilarating. I unshackled myself from the everyday structures and confines of the “normal” societal ways of life. I made a new “normal”. I have two monthly bills, a cell phone and a storage unit. This is a far, far cry from the bills I had while I hiked the AT. To free myself of all of that was truly like a weight being lifted. It invigorated me and I set my sights on the world. My imagination has become my reality. After I spent the holidays with my family back in Lewisburg, PA I took off for the tropical islands of Hawaii. I spent roughly 10 adventurous weeks there avoiding the brutal Northeast winter until I came to Colorado for my pre-hike training and preparation. So this is my life now, long distance hiking. And in between long distance trails I plan to seek out new places and new activities and adventures around the world.
This project is my vessel for seeing the world and sharing it with you. And if my experience on the AT is any indication, its going to be a lot of fun for everybody involved and I invite you to enjoy it and share it with everyone you know. This is my new chapter and my new book all rolled into one. Here’s to futures….
-Jabba aka The Real Hiking Viking-