Live and Have Adventures When you are Young: Thru-Hiking the Colorado Trail
A few weeks ago a new friend contacted me and asked if he could drop by my camp and I said of course he could—I love to hear every person’s story! He was a young guy (34) who lived in his van and was a long-trail, Thru-Hiker. He told me he was determined to live his life now and not put it off till he was old. He knew that might make his old-age unpleasant, but he considered that much better than making his whole life unpleasant in hopes of a better old age!! He had already hiked the Appalachian Trail and was on his way right then to hike the Colorado Trail (CT). I was so impressed with him I knew I had to tell his story. I asked if he could email me his story and pictures from along the Trail and he agreed. So I am going to do a series of posts about his Thru-Hike of the CT.
You may be wondering how a young guy hiking the CT applies to vandwelling. But as far as I am concerned it cuts right to the heart of vandwelling and why you should be a vandweller.
“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of a man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. “ ~Jack London
Before I tell you about him, let me tell you about myself as a cautionary tale of how NOT to live your live. Then we will look at his life as an example of a life well lived. I look back at the first 40 years of my life with nothing but regrets. Every so often I would be headed for a good course and then I would listen to and follow the rules of society and my life would turn to shit. I followed their rules as well as I could and all I got out of it was misery. So when I met Venture I knew he was a living example of what I wished I had done with my life.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain
My family drove to Anchorage, Alaska in 1961, when I was 5 years old. I grew up and went to school there from K-12, liveing there until 2006. Adventure is the living breathing heart of Alaska. Its history is full of men and women who were willing to risk everything to find out what is around the next corner, to strike it rich, or to become one with the earth. Its story is one of riches, ruin, tragedy and of life lived to its fullest, right on the edge of death. As a child I heard and read all their stories and got to meet men and women who were living it. Without knowing it, wilderness and adventure became part of my soul.
As I got older and became a young adult my circle of friends were all hunters, hikers and backpackers. Backpacking was exploding as a hobby in the early 70s and suddenly there was a huge amount of modern gear available to make backpacking much easier and more enjoyable. So my every summer was spent out in the backcountry exploring Alaska’s many trails. Winters were spent cross-country skiing long trails at -50 below zero. I have many, many wonderful memories of my youth actually living and enjoying life. They are my greatest treasures!
I endured the boring drudgery for as long as I could but after a mid-life crisis, changes had to be made. It was then that I discovered vandwelling and my life was changed forever. Eventually I bought a backpack and started seeing Alaska again. I began to bloom and thrive instead of being a living-dead, zombie, wage-slave. But by the time I was fifty, years old I had worked for Safeway for 35 years (I started on my 16th birthday) much of it crawling around on its floors stocking groceries. The abuse on my knees caught up with me and I needed knee surgery. That meant I could no longer go backpacking. I sold my backpacking gear for the second time. I retired early at 51 but my body was already wearing out and I could not fully enjoy the free-time I had sacrificed so much for.
I had done exactly what society had told me to do. I sacrificed my youth to being a wage-slave drone with the hope of finally being able to live fully when I was old. But here I was finally ready to start living and my body wouldn’t let me.
My mom lives in a retirement community in Florida, and I visit her often. There I see this story repeated continually! Older men and women who sacrificed their youth to their careers so they could finally be happy when they were old. You can watch them trying to finally have the youth they sacrificed. They go outside and play golf, shuffleboard or bird-watching—just like they should have been doing all their lives! They buy new toys and ride their golf carts or scooters all over town. Whatever their interests are, they start to actually enjoy them. They become happy and child-like.
But that usually doesn’t last very long before their health starts to fail. They get tired too easily or they break a bone. More likely, 40 years of stress adds up and they get cancer, diabetes or heart disease. They sacrificed 40 years of their youth and their lives for these few years of truly living and then their body betrays them and they can’t enjoy it. So they find themselves sitting in front of the TV all day, wondering where their lives went, waiting for death.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, you have a choice!
All you have to do is to have the guts to make it!
That brings us to my new friend Venture who refuses to follow society’s rules and is going to enjoy his life while he is young. He is a 34 year old man who is a Thru-Hiker. That means he hikes long-trails (like the Appalachian Trail, Continental Dive Trail or Pacific Crest Trail) from end-to-end all at once. For more info about thru-hiking see this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thru-hiking
He supports himself by living in a Ford Windstar minivan and working at whatever jobs he can. Living in the van allows him to save money and travel. He has already hiked the Appalachian Trail and about 500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. And is on the 486 mile Colorado Trail right now. (For more info about the Coloraodo rail, go here: http://www.coloradotrail.org/ He plans to do the entire Pacific Crest Trail next summer. I interviewed him and learned these things:
Answer: I am 34 years old and grew up in Winslow, AZ. I believe my father’s initiative in taking me backpacking in the Grand Canyon as a young boy has had a tremendous impact on my love for the outdoors. Hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2008 opened my eyes to a whole new lifestyle. The reality of living out of my backpack and hiking long distances lead me to discover more about myself/others and the natural world around me.
Question: Tell us about your AT Thru-Hike
Answer: I was 29 years young when I did it! I completed the AT in exactly four months. That was not planned. I listen to my body as I hike and walk as far as I feel like hiking from day to day. I started April 1st and averaged about 18 miles per day. I forget exactly how many days I hiked zero miles, I’m remembering 7 to 9 zero days (days when no trail miles are hiked). There were days of course I would only hike 4-12 miles to get to my re-supply point and hike no further.
Question: Why are you choosing a life of adventure?
Answer: If you drop the ad off of “ad-venture: you get my trail name. I came up with this name for myself. As a young married man without children who was setting off to hike a 2,176 mile trail with a completion rate of 1 in 10 odds was in fact a big risk. I successfully completed the entire AT but was divorced later in 2009. Thankfully, my relationship ended amicably and we are still friends to this day. I have always been fascinated with the idea of simple outdoor living. Long distance hiking fits the bill perfectly. Tramping upright on my own two feet along a trail is my idea of the perfect adventure at the perfect pace. Trail development around the world has strung together some of our most historic sights, wilderness and park lands, tiny off the beaten path towns, along with bleak and unforgiving terrain. The adventure arrives in my own senses not vicariously through others. I want to touch, see, smell, hear, taste and feel all that an adventure has in store for me as soon as I take that step in the present moment. I enjoy how adventure spawns spontaneity and unpredictability even though it is uncomfortable at times.
Question: You said you are “front-loading” your life, living life to its fullest while you are young and able. Can you put that in your own words?
Answer: Even though our society demands monetary means, I do not want to feel defeated or oppressed by this part of our system. I’m alive with dreams and aspirations that can be discovered without a tremendous financial burden. I see it as a way to freely embrace my idea of a full and rich life while I have my health. I do not want to take my physical ability for granted either, I want to be present with it. I also have to make very different choices then what society and culture pressure me to make. I am so thankful to have parents that are very supportive of my choices! I desire to dive right in and experience living and learning now not later, assuming I would live through a life of expectations. Choosing to live my idea of a full life now comes with a unique set of challenges. There will always be hurdles, I’m just choosing to negotiate my own set on the path I have chosen.
Question: How much does it cost to Thru-Hike a long-trail?
Answer: About one dollar a mile for actual trail time expenses. I can break that up into more detail (Trail re-suply food, Town food, Lodging expense) in the post so readers will understand more clearly what money is being spent on. It might be important for me to touch on travel to/from trail beginning/end and equipment expense, although a broad subject, it is requisite for trip planning. (Editors note: that means it would cost about $2200 to hike the Appalachian Trail. By living in your van, and working 6 months of the year you too can save $2200 and spend 6 months a year out backpacking!)
In my next post of his story I will go into more detail of exactly how Thru-hiking works. But for now I just want you to become aware that there are other ways to live then being a slave to societies dictates. You have choices!!
“I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.
The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” ~Jon Krakauer, “Into the Wild”
This guy sounds exactly like me, except replace hiking with rafting! Van dwelling is becoming more and more popular with the younger generation, especially us outdoorsy adventurous types.
I thought about you when I wrote this story. The big difference is you are getting paid to go rafting!! Hard to beat that!
Lol, sweet gig right? One of my rafting buddies is a ski instructor, and he’s going to teach me to ski this winter. If it’s half as much fun as rafting then I might take an instructors course in skiing too and do that in rafting’s off season. If you plan it right you can make a good living with no financial concerns at all by doing your hobbies as a job! It’s basically like retiring at 29 and enjoying your life all year round, but you’re still getting paid like you were trapped in a 9-5! And nothing like a job that you love AND it keeps you in great shape!
Cryus, you know the old saying, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day of your life.” Sounds like you are headed that way!
I would love to do something like this, if only I had the self-discipline to get in shape for it. I live only a few miles from the southern end of the PCT, so I may try a short trek yet. Any idea where to get information on how to get started backpacking as an old, fat beginner? 😉
I’d try REI. They have all the gear and they are supposed to be really knowledgeable about all of the outdoor activities in the area.
I’ll second REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) one of my favorite places for top quality outdoor gear. I especially like REI brands. They have a lifetime warranty on every one of them and they 100% stand behind it.
I’d second that, but if you live where there’s Craigslist, go on-line and find the gear used for a lot less money. And quite often, the gear is hardly worn at all.
REI also offers to rent gear that you can buy later on. So it’s a rent to own set-up that’s pretty nice as well.
Very good point CAE, I gave a lot of top quality gear away twice when I quit backpacking. Not only that but there is so much new and better equipment coming out all the time that people upgrade and get rid of their old stuff even if it is like-new. It’s out there if you have the time and patience to look.
Hi LaVonne. Well the old fat thing is something that can be dealt with. In 2012 I hiked 750 miles of the PCT, starting at Campo, the Mexican border. I was 59 when I started. My goal was to make it to Canada but I hadn’t prepared sufficiently so I stopped near Mt Whitney. My age did factor into it but had I prepared better I do believe I would have made it to Canada. Extra weight on my feet also was a factor that I should have addressed before the trip. So the thing to do is to start walking! Then I’d pick a shorter hike to see how you. the John Muir Trail at 211 miles is a good beginning thru-hike to test your fitness and backpacking skills. If you, or anyone here, want to ask me about backpacking into older ages, I’m very happy to chat!
laVonne, it is something of a sink or swim thing. Many people start out in not-so-good shape and within a few weeks are transformed. As long as you allow yourself the time so the first few weeks can be slow, you would probably be surprised by what you can do. But you have to be basically sound. My knee simply would not tolerate the abuse.
It is no harder than what you have seen me do–go for a walk every day. Keep increasing the distance of the walk and then add a second walk in the evening. Keep making them longer! Add a daypack with 2 quarts of water and start wearing it on your walks. Keep walking! Research ultra-light gear and buy a pack, sleeping bag and pad, and tent. Walk with it every day. Add water, rain gear and other stuff. Keep walking!!
Great advice, Bob, Shelly, and CAE–thanks! So glad I asked!
Bob, you may remember at the summer RTR, I wimped out after a few walks. I was quite disappointed with myself, to be honest. Then I realized it was the altitude. I needed more time to adjust. I will follow your suggestions while I save up for that van.
laVonne, the elevation does have a big impact and you didn’t have any time to adjust. Makes perfect sense.
We took our daughter on her first backpacking trip when she was 3 years old. As a young adult she spent a fair amount of time on the Superior Hiking Trail. A couple years ago she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She was frustrated to learn that her then 41 year old body no longer likes sleeping on the ground. Venture has the right idea: do it while young, people!
Yep, that will probably be the deal breaker for me (if my knees don’t give in first, that is). I don’t suppose there’s such a thing as a backpack-able air mattress, is there? I imagine hammocks can be a good option on trails where there are lots of trees.
laVonne, yes, todays self-inflating backpacking pad are remarkably comfortable and yet still light and packable. A good one will weigh 2 1/2 punds and can be strapped to the outside of your pack.
Man, this sounds so awesome. Just being out in nature alone would be worth it, but you get the added benefits of exercise as well!
McBeef, to me it is the ideal life!
When I was young man, I did a lot of backpacking and it occurred to me that I could like a life of this kind. But, when I looked for a female that was of a similar mind, I discovered that they were more rare than hens teeth. And I decided that I would rather tow the line than be alone.
Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that compromises in life can often be misleading. I gave up one thing in order to gain another and wound up with neither.
CAE, I’ve heard (and lived) that story before.
Sorry for wasting anyone’s time, as I only skimmed the content in this blog article, but where did the hiker-guy work while he was on his hiking venture(s)?
-I wish that I could’ve spent my twenties doing what he did, but I helped take care of my rather sickly parents…
This post is beautifully written, easy to read structure and great visuals…and dangerously thought provoking as always. You should probably make a companion ebook to your “Cheap RV Living” book of 100 of your favorite post since you have such a large body of work and charge a few bucks on Kindle for it…The value would be in of course the content and your talent for organizing your thoughts and introducing the unique rule breakers you have met along the way…like this dude.
Needless to say this was one of my favorite post.
“Time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for me”
– The Rolling Stones…of course
I think some dude/dudette on their daily commuter train would love to read a book of your favorite post in a short well organized format…maybe more focused on the people you meet and places you’ve gone more than the van…since you covered that in your first book.
It would be an easy sell for the lookey-lou’s who get a chance to watch your show… in Canada or elsewhere.
I’ve been following your blog for the past year. It has motivated me to do what I have always wanted, live in the forest. However, I’m still stuck in the rat race for a couple of more years. I’ll look forward to meeting you and the tribe one of these days, soon. Thanks for all the great post.
There ate so many different types of millionaires walking among us. Emotional, moneyed, physical and spiritual. Which one is overall the happiest and most content?
Follow the sheep and you will find the slaughter house or rendering plant.
Follow your dreams and find freedom and heaven.
Bust out and live. Make memories because every grave is still filled with material riches, but those memories ride into eternity with you!
HooAh Marshall 🙂
Marshall, very wise!
Okay, I know I will riffle some feathers with the following but I have to say it regardless.
I think it’s high time to stop blaming “Society” and take responsibility for the choices we made along the way. “Society” never forced any of us to do anything, we choose to follow the path most traveled, period!
No “Society” held a gun to our head and told us to do this or that. It might make us feel better to blame this so called “Society” than being frank with ourselves and admit that we made a few mistakes, but that doesn’t make it true. Why not just say that we f*cked up and it was miserable to live with the consequences. Lets man up for crying out loud! Enough with this crying the blues!
I’m sorry but it’s too easy and so untrue to say that “Society” is responsible… WE ARE! It was our life and that’s what we did with it.
First get mad at me if that makes all of you feel better but then take a minute and be honest with yourselves. After that…Stand up, Dust yourself off and Move on!
In closing: Get ride off the old luggage and be happy.
Maybe, but what about being brainwashed as a kid that all this is good? I think saying Society is somewhat responsible makes sense. We don’t ask for the mindset we’re given and which some can never break out of.
Society is a nebulous term, but if you look at the crap most are taught from babyhood, I don’t think it’s fair to say we’re personally totally responsible for living lives of quiet desperation.
I agree Desert Rat, it took me to hit my mid 40’s to “wake up” If you believe the world is flat, you don;t think to question it…the same goes with “society” It usually takes a dramatic event before one questions the status quo. Once your blinders are off though…its all on you to seek the answers and change your life.
Agree 100%, Diane.
I thought something wasn’t working right when I hit 45 and edged into textbook age discrimination. Hit 60 before I realized that I had pathed my entire life around “lies”. But they weren’t lies. They were simply beliefs and ways of doing things that actually worked okay for a lot of people. They’d found and fashioned a way to live that appeared to work for them, and naturally assumed it was universal in application.
It’s like folks who are goal-oriented vs being problem-oriented. There are more of the former than the latter, and listing targets and managing time efficiently makes their day. Problems tend to overwhelm or demotivate them. Problem-oriented people gain direction and motivation from noticing and tackling problems, while lists of goals and keeping a clean desk are actually counterproductive and frustrating to them. We all preach what works – for us as individuals. That’s the core of the problem, I suspect.
One might call that “brainwashing” and “coercion”, but I can’t really blame people for teaching me what is working well for them, with their assumption (and mine) that it will work out for me, too. It doesn’t make them evil or deserving of hate or resentment. The problem is that “society’s” solutions are not universal, but are presumed to be so. “Conform to this model, and things will work out okay.” They haven’t, for me.
Noticing how well things were going for many others, I chose to mimic their paths without knowing myself or doing any thinking about fit, my own competencies, or capabilities, or weaknesses. A few things worked out well. Others, not so much. Disasters, in fact. The results affected other innocents I love, not just myself.
Who’s responsible for my choosing paths that conformed to societal standards but were a very poor fit for me as an individual? I can angrily point at society and yell “liars!”, and notice how nearly everything that gets ordered and institutionalized gets screwed up. Hard NOT to notice. But really, my life was and is my responsibility. I wanted to think I was like everyone else, and failed to have the courage and mental wattage to look inside and then make my own path. I failed to participate fully in my own life. I prefer of course to blame others, and sometimes do. But they are no more flawed than I am. The ultimate responsibility is mine. More often than not, I find that when I blame, I lie.
The good news is that I discovered the mismatch at all and am now cutting a wavering but fresh path for the first time. A bit late to be sure, but many never hit this point before time is up. My only concern is that, like merchandising clothing to hipsters, I will let myself get suckered into conforming to yet another, if very different, standard of beliefs and behaviors. Societies can be micro just as easily as mega. My motto now: take all the useful info you can, but cut your own path as needed.
Doug, I appreciate your well-reasoned and well-written comment. Here is the way I see it:
So lets celebrate our points of agreement!!
While you are always welcome to write and express your opinion and offer an opposing point of view, you aren’t going to change my mind. Hating civilization is my basic worldview and it will come out in the blog. But a opposing opinion is always welcome.
Nicole, I agree with you, I have been full of fear all my life. I could have defied societal norms and taken chances any time I wanted, but I was too much of a coward and too weak. I’ve said many times on this blog how much I admire those people who had the courage to change their life and become vandwellers on their own. Many times I’ve said I had to be forced into it and even then I cried myself to sleep my first night.
But that doesn’t change the fact that “society” is designed to enslave us and force us into the mold. Every rule and law is designed to force us to conform to it’s norms. Every second of every day of our life we are bombarded by brainwashing to make us good obedient little drones.
Now that I’ve been forced out of obedience I can finally see so clearly the 10,000 ways society controls us and I hate it. And I want to tell others that they are puppets to the puppet master and they don’t have to be, they have a choice,
I see it as shared responsibility, I could have been brave but instead I was a coward. But society is arranged to make it unbelievably hard to break out. If I were the only one who couldn’t break out, then I would say it is all on me, but 99% of us can’t and that is a testament to how incredibly manipulative and powerful it is.
It’s fear based thinking that holds people back.
I’ll be the first to admit I f*cked up…but I take responsibility for my actions.
The double edged sword of society/civilization…amazing cheap technology…my laptop, solar panels, etc. and the smoking bubbling peptobismo colored lake in Bejing outside the factory that made it for me.
Man it’s a tricky thing…this world.
Thanks for saying what you said.
Great stuff Bob. Thanks for putting the word out that it CAN be done. Societal expectations are a very hard thing to shake but if you listen to that inner voice we all have long enough, you’ll know what to do. It sometimes takes a lot of guts to make that first move, but it gets easier after that once you know you are on your given path. Your work is valuable out there, keep up the good work!
Thanks T! It does take a lot of guts that first time. I admire everyone who can do it!
I was thinking the same thing Nicole..
I’m curious, Bob. Is it your opinion that the only way to enjoy life is out in nature? What is of I love helping kids and choice to live near the hospital where I work. What if going into work gives me joy and fulfillment? What if I like painting someone’s house or fixing cars
Rick, no it isn’t the only way to enjoy life. But it is the only way I can enjoy life. And this blog is about my life. I could write about about the joy I find going to work, but it would be a total lie. So instead I tell them how much I hated it. Do you know why I tell them that? Because it is true! Do you know why so many people read my blog? Because they hate their jobs too!
People come to this blog to read about my life. So I tell them about my life. I tell them about my feelings and motivations, my hopes, dreams and fears. And apparently there are quite a few who respond well to it and they keep coming back. Rick, I could tell them about your life, or about other peoples lives but I honestly know nothing about it.
Now the truth is that you and I are animals and our ancestors lived in nature for 99.9999% of our history. And you may actually believe you are fine without it but the science is in and it’s pretty conclusive that you are wrong. You do need it no matter how much you convince yourself otherwise. I could talk about the for hours but I am going to recommend one book for you to read that compiles the tremendous amount of research demonstrating humans need for nature and the astounding damage done by modern life and it’s separation for nature. The book is “Your Brain on Nature”
I have to agree with Nicole on this one. It all comes down to personal choice. As “me old da” taught me well – make your choices carefully and use both heart and head. Don’t follow the crowd. Every choice that I made lead me to where I am today. Some of us are happy, some of us aren’t. It takes courage to be yourself.
The sad thing is that extremely few have the courage to break the rules and live the way we want to. And as more of us do it, Society is changing the rules to make it much harder. They are getting very creative in their efforts to make us conform.
lynn, i have two very different messages I could spread through this blog and I need you and Nicole to help me decide which is better:
1) It isn’t societies fault. It’s your fault. You are a lazy coward and you just need to try harder to change your life.
2) It is hard to break societies rules and very few do. While the deck is stacked against you, here is a group of people who did it and here is how you can do it to. It will be very hard at first but it gets better and easier and the rewards are well worth it. Here is step 1….
I must not be very smart because I choose the second message.
I love your message and the encouragements that you are giving to people who need help finding a way to their dreams. Your patience and your kindness are remarkable and commendable. It would be so wonderful if there were more people like you. I admire you a great deal, I REALLY, REALLY do!!!
I have a suspicion that you carry a heavy load on your shoulder and I believe you would feel so much happier if you could drop that load(your past) on the side of the road and continue on your journey. You are a wonderful person and you deserve to be ride of this nasty weight.
I’m taking issue when someone blames society for their own decision to joint the masses. As long as we don’t acknowledge our responsibility and take charge of our lives we will not move forward and grow. Blaming society is justifying our reluctance at moving away from our misery and taking charge of our happiness.
Even if I haven’t met you in person I think the world of you. I really, really like you a whole bunch. You’re good people.
Actually Nicole, I really, really like you too and wish all the very best!!! I really do!! You know, if we look for our similarities we are actually both saying the very same thing:
We are saying the same thing! I just think it is helpful to offer people empathy and support with that message. You want to emphasize personal responsibility and the message that it isn’t really societies fault. I actually do generally disagree with that. I think it is mostly societies fault because it preys on our weakness (fear) to keep us under control. I totally believe they brainwash us and then threaten us for non-conformance and reward us for obedience. To society, we are all Pavlov’s dogs! And they are very, very good at manipulating us. They are so good at it, that 99% of us think it is a choice we have made when in fact we have no choice at all.
So I am totally sympathetic toward anyone who is too afraid to break out and I will not do anything to belittle them for it. Instead I will offer them all the encouragement and comfort I can, even if they are unable to escape and choose to stay in their old life. They are totally welcome here and to live vicariously through the blog.
I carried a heavy weight all my life. But I found a way of living that promised to take it off me. They promised me that miracles would occur in my life and I would be changed. They told me the truth, the miracles did occur and I was totally changed. The person I was is gone.
But then they told me that there was a condition on this remarkable gift, it came with a high price. I had only been granted a reprieve from my old self, that I could only keep it if I maintained my spiritual condition every day and the only way to do that was to put others first and serve them.
This new life was so wonderful I would pay any price to keep it. The amazing thing is that after awhile I discovered that forgetting self and serving others was not a prison sentence, but the door way into a new and better life that I never thought possible. Today, living any other way is a certain death sentence for me.
I love these stories about younger people doing this.:)
Many years ago when I was in my 30’s I lived in California and subscribed to Sierra magazine and started dreaming about hiking these trails.
But unfortunately I could never figure out how to go about doing it while still being part of “normal society”.
I may be older now but these dreams are still alive and since finding your web sites they are starting to draw me toward them again.:)
I agree Curtis, there is a reason so few people follow their dreams and the reason is that dreamers don’t make good wage-slaves. So our dreams are pounded out of us from the cradle to the grave.
I just want to say that these kinds of outdoor adventures aren’t only for the young. I’ve met people with titanium knees in the back country, people in their 70’s hiking circles around me! Anything that can be dreamt can be done. Maybe not like a 30 year old but still done. Two friends of mine just completed the PCT and they are in their mid 60’s, and not life long athletes either! Don’t believe those who say age must keep us from doing cool and active things.
Shelly, thank you so much for speaking up and saying that! I know lots of people who are quite a bit older than I am but are much more fit. Age doesn’t have to stop you. Age is all in the mind! Of course sometimes it is in the body too! My backpacking and running days are over. But that is mainly from my job and not from my age.
To all of you who are thinking your age or physical condition means you have to give up on life I say “Go for it!” Use common sense and build up to things, but give them a try, you will probably surprise yourself.
Great lifestyle as long as he is the only one that pays the price.
James, I’m sorry I don’t know what you mean. Could you elaborate? Pay what price?
If there are any people (children, wife, parents etc.) that depend on you for support both financial, emotional and physical. I believe they could pay a price for this lifestyle.
Bob,I read and enjoy your blog daily. It always makes me think and ponder “what if”.
James I am not sure of what price you are talking about.
I have read at least 2 blogs in the past where a family sold their house and most of their possessions, bought a rv and explored the U.S. with their family.
Sometimes they used their savings and sometimes they work their way across America but all of them said this was the most educational experience their kids every had and they would not go back to the stress of the so called American Dream if they could help it.
James, I appreciate your concern, but there isn’t anyone who depends on me in any way. I know the person who is hiking the CT also does not. Adventuring tends to be a solo life, but it doesn’t have to be. I have some friends who are a couple and they live a life of adventure. http://3upadventures.com/a-new-venture/#comment-24194. So it is harder to do it as a couple but not impossible.
Some people think it can’t be done with children, but I am not so sure. It will be harder, and you will have to work more, but I think it is possible to not have to sell your soul to the devil and be a wage-slave just to raise children. But I’ve never done it so that is just speculation.
Family of 14 and an RV.:)
Wow, now that is impressive!!
I am glad to hear the thru-hiker does not have people who depend on him. With that in mind – great lifestyle! I also believe if the family is on board and willing to accept the tradeoffs what a great lifestyle and educational experience.
I have been a wage-slave to raise three children. Maybe I made a mistake. There were good times and bad times with highs and lows but I have no regrets. Thats why I find this blog so compelling.
Thank you Bob
James, I certainly don’t want to imply you made a mistake!! If I did I truly apologize. I am only speaking for myself and sometimes I get so riled up and passionate I know I come across too strong.
It’s one thing to be non-conformist when you only have to think of yourself, it is an entirely different story when others are involved. Inflicting hardships on myself is one thing, inflicting it on my loved ones is another.
It’s cheap and easy to say I would raise my family differently if I could, but who knows if I really would. If it were possible to know then what I know now, I honestly believe I would. But of course that is impossible, so the odds are good nothing would change on a second go-around.
Truly enjoy your enthusiasm for living the different lifestyle. The average person in the US has been taught time and again that life is a house, kids, 35 year job, and retire in florida where you die of old age. and adventure is going to a hotel for a weekend or maybe, just maybe go car camping once or twice a year in the mountains.
My wife and I bought off on part of that dream, work the crazy hours, make big money, buy a house that wasn’t worth half of what we paid for it, working in a cube farm and calling that a life.
Sometimes, however, life gives you a wake up call, and you look at your priorities and take a hard look at what you are doing. and sometimes, just sometimes, you decide to go have an adventure.. One that lasts a lifetime. The cost? willing to trade one dream for another, and for many, that is not possible to let go of what you have been raised on.
For us? not only can we do it, but do it with the mindset of an unending adventure… Keep on keeping on .
Erick and Lynda
Well said Eric.:)
Thanks Erick! I admire your courage to make that trade, so few do! Loved your blog! I envy you being able to do the NOLS course! I know my knee wouldn’t tolerate it.
I wish you and Linda all the best!
Oops my bad spelled your name wrong sir it is Erick.:)
Just went over to visit you and Lynda’s blog, inspiring stuff, this stood out to me in your recent post.
“So I have a suggestion, take it for what it is worth. If you find yourself “lacking” in being passionate about living? Try having an adventure. Even if it is only for a short time. Let go of the “stuff” that you own, quit allowing it to “own” you. Look for what you are truly passionate about, what gives you that “rush” to live.”
Very true, thank you.
Erick, and Curtis, I read that too and it spoke deeply to me as well!
But this paragraph was truly profound to me:
Find their blog here:
Bob, a great deal of what you say resonates with me. (The fact that are both roughly the same age musyt have something to do with it.) I do, however, think that those who say blaming society is B.S. are missing the mark and the point.
Blaming society for the lives most of us lead is not an excuse or a cop-out. Society has certain needs and expectations, and complacent, malleable worker bees is part of that. Those who do not fit society’s needs, expectations, or norms soon find themselves under pressure to conform. Not everyone is strong enough to resist, which is just how society wants it to be. That is also why full-time RVing of any kind will never be the way the mainstream lives. If it ever begins to gain enough traction to become a threat to the rest of society, the gatekeepers of our society will most certain find a way to regulate it or stamp it out.
Walt, we think exactly alike on that! The deck is stacked so extremely against true non-conformists that I would never think to blame them for not being able to break out of it. nly an extraordinary few do. many people try, and do it for awhile, but not many actually go on to live it throughout their lives.
My basic assumption is it is very hard and so I am trying to give encouragement, knowledge and create a support group to make it easier.
Millions of Americans are on antidepressants & millions more self medicating with alcohol & drugs. Someone should post a sign on the road most traveled “Dead End” . Bob thanks for giving me the possibilty of a detour.
Liberatd, you are so right, depression is at epidemic levels in America. The American dream is starting to show it’s true colors as a nightmare.