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Thru-Hikers Are Selfish

Choosing to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail is the most selfish decision I have ever made.

There is a sense of pride in taking on a challenge of such magnitude as the Pacific Crest Trail, a sense of accomplishment in the decision and preparation, and all before stepping a single foot onto the trail.

Family and friends feed into it. The ego of a potential thru-hiker is inflated exponentially by the back-pats of fathers, hugs of mothers, the turned-up thumbs of siblings, and the ‘how can you just do something like that?‘ questions dropped by best friends– to which must be replied with ‘well, let me puff out my chest and just tell you all about this thing I haven’t done yet!‘ Thru-hikers choose to abandon their lives. Jobs are discarded and families are left behind.


It will only be for five months or so, I’ll see you guys again soon. Why don’t you come meet me out on the trail, that would be fun! Hey, by the way, can you watch my cat for me? Oh, and I’ll be needing a place to store my things. Would you mind? Some of those things I will need out on the trail, and I was hoping you could mail them to me. Remember to water my plants, and when you get my mail just sort out all the junk and throw it away for me. I trust you. Thanks for giving me a ride to the drop off point. I really appreciate it. Yeah, it’s sad that I won’t make it to Terry’s wedding, but they knew I was going out on the trail when they scheduled it and I only have such a short timeframe to get this done.

The support of close friends and family is what makes a thru-hiker’s selfish challenge possible. The small requests of a thru-hiker are never ending, but neither is their appreciation. Some may have it easier than others, and I am certainly blessed to be surrounded by the amazing people who are supporting me on this journey, but all thru-hikers are selfish in their quest and should remain steadfast in their efforts to remain humble and grateful.

The planning and preparation for a thru-hike is immense, and the hike itself is often too much to handle for those who set out to conquer it. Thru-hikers are more than selfish, they are also passionate about their adventure, stubborn in the face of adversity, smart, strong-willed, and so much more.

And the thing about being selfish is that it is not necessarily a bad thing. Deciding to take on this quest is the most selfish decision I have ever made, but it is something I feel I need to do for myself. I believe most thru-hikers would say the same. The trail is calling to those who need to heal, those who need to find themselves, those who simply thirst for adventure. Selfishness, at certain times in life, is necessary.

Crossposted at JillandRtPCT

I Gave Up On Writing

I have given up on writing.

My writing has come to a standstill. My production has not been this stagnant for over a decade, if not longer. The last six months have been nearly void of writing. Minimal effort put toward any creative endeavors, nearly zero contribution to any of my blogs, and not a single article worth mentioning. The only piece of work I had completed was a Christmas poem for Jill, and that took some serious effort to finish.

You know what the funny thing is? I chose it. I chose to give up. I told myself that I had to stop, and so I did.

Going back to early 2014, I lived in stress every day around my writing. Whether I accomplished a little or a lot, or none at all, I stressed about my work. How much can I do? Does the story make any sense? Where can I find the time? This isn’t enough. It never will be enough! This is the daily life of a writer, at least as I understand it. There was something different about this time, though. I was both eager and anxious about my writing, as usual, but the weight of the world seemed to be collapsing in on me. Pile on work stress, emotional exhaustion, bouts of depression, and a growing sense of general apathy to the anxiety of feeding my creativity and maybe you can understand how I was becoming overwhelmed by my own world.

I had to simplify my life. I had to give up some of what I loved so that madness would not consume me. So, I cut out the need to write from my life, along with a few other obligations, and I began the healing process.

The daily desire to write was out of my system, along with the daily stress of making myself find the time and muster the will to feed that desire. My tension dissipated over the weeks to come, the muscles in my neck and shoulders softening like butter left on a countertop. I’ve always thought of myself as a strong person, but anyone can find themselves overwhelmed from time to time. Cutting out parts of my life wasn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. I figured out what I needed to do for myself, and I took action.

And so over the past months I’ve made myself stronger. I’ve found better ways to manage the stress in my life, and I’ve learned to set boundaries so that I can focus on certain aspects of my life at the appropriate times and places. I’ve begun layering the responsibilities of my life back together in a more manageable order, and now it is time for writing, too, to rejoin the mold that is me.

I had given up on writing, but it never gave up on me. It was right there waiting for me all along. It knew I would get better in my own time, and that I would find it again.

Glad to be back on track.

Enter GoPro and YouTube

New to my content creation arsenal is my new GoPro Hero 3+, and along with that comes a host for the new format of content, my YouTube account.

I’ve had my new toys for little more than a week, and they’ve been a blast and a half to play with. This GoPro is my first, and it is an amazing little device. The camera is so basic, yet it can do so much. My television can’t even handle it’s 4k resolution, and my computer struggles to process the 1080p 30fps videos. It’s a heluva machine. My 8 year old Sony DSLR is still great for single shots where I want to fiddle with the zoom and focal length, but the GoPro beats it in every other way, and can do a lot more new stuff to boot!

I’ve also purchased an REI Hiker Shocklight Staff which has a camera mount on top of the pole, hidden under the cork knob.

Shocklight Staff with top-mounted GoPro

Shocklight Staff with top-mounted GoPro

Along with using my staff as a monopod, I ordered a StickPic to increase the variety of angles I can shoot from.

StickPic with GoPro

StickPic with GoPro

I’ve only just begun my exploration of what the GoPro can do and how creative I can be with it. Here are a few shots I have taken so far.

I’ve also played around with some video, though I’m most impressed with my steady-shot videos so far.

I’m using Gimp to edit my photos, and an old version of iMovie for the video editing. I can’t do all too much, but I think the kind of outdoor footage I’m looking to shoot will not need too much editing.

I’m looking forward to experimenting with the apps on my phone to import the GoPro footage, edit the video and pictures on my phone, and upload it to WordPress so that I can blog on the go, especially for our 2015 PCT Thru-hike.

And so now I have a YouTube account which will be filling up with videos, mostly of hiking and beautiful scenery. I’m so lucky to get to experience beautiful locations, and I want to share them with you in the best ways that I can.


Beer Here

There is an anti-symmetry between my goal of posting to this blog on a regular basis, and the act of drinking beer for “research” and “content creation”.

Though I have been tasting many beers, visiting breweries, and attending social beer functions, I have not been keeping the audience up to date. What a bad, bad blogger I am.

And so here I bring you a lightning round of reviews. Quick notes on a handful of the brews I’ve experienced lately. Who really needs an in-depth breakdown of beer anyway? All anyone needs is yay or nay and a short quip to relay an experience from on to another, right? So off we go!


Uinta Hop Nosh IPA
Yay! A hoptastic beer from Utah? I had to double-check that this beer had alcohol in it. It does. It says so bright and bold on the face of the package. They know their audience.


Campbell Brewing Company
Nay! I tried three beers straight from the tap and they were as salty as seawater. The bar smelled like chicken shit too.


Drake’s Brewery in San Leandro, CA
Yay! Spent an afternoon at the brewery, sipping away at some delicious brews. The Zinkonic was the hit of the day.


Drake’s, again
Took an informative tour of the brewery. Good people, good beer, good atmosphere. Hard to find with it being in the shadow of a gigantic Wal-Mart.


Sour Beer Fest at Original Gravity in San Jose, CA
Yay! A great vibe in this place, and some really sour beers! Many taps in the house. I will explore here again.


Flying Dog Doggie Style Classic Pale Ale
Yay! Smooth. Tasty. Nothing exciting, but well-balanced. Good people drink good beer, indeed.


Deschutes Brewery Fresh Squeezed IPA
Yay! So tasty. Farm fresh feeling. It’s like I’m drinking plants or something.


Snowshoe Brewing Co. in Arnold, CA
Yay! At least I think so. Random find when camping out in a national park. I drank a lot on an empty stomach at this place. I remember being happy, but not much else.


Ninkasi Vanilla Oatis
Nay. I love the original Oatis, and I think the vanilla addition just takes away from something that was already great.

20140731-163249-59569486.jpgSierra Nevada Ruthless IPA
Yay! It is a harsh first sip, but bear with it and the rewards are bountiful. Luscious, beautiful beer.

Good people drink good beer. Always remember that.

The Human Bean

The Human Bean is a drive-up coffee chain located all across the western United States. My experiences originate from the locations along the southern Oregon coast.

Without Human Bean leading the way, the small towns along Oregon’s southern coast would be nearly void of espresso offerings. Human Bean has invigorated the coffee spirit in these areas, providing a quick jolt of caffeine on the go without sacrificing the quality of the coffee bean or customer service experience.

The Human Bean

While there are cafes around Coos Bay and it’s neighboring towns, The Human Bean franchise locations were the first quality drive-thru espresso joints I encountered in the area. There were a couple of others around in the years before Human Bean came to town, but my experiences at those locations were always sub-par, even at the other local franchises, such as Dutch Bros.

I’ve visited Human Bean on dozens of occasions, each time leaving satisfied with my experience and drink. The free candy covered coffee bean they give with every drink is always a pleasant treat as well.

Customer service is a key reason why I keep returning to Human Bean locations. The staff is always smiling, consistently provide great small talk, and do what they can to make sure the customer is satisfied.

Not so long ago at the Bandon location I had ordered a drink, only to be told that the card reading machine was down. They were only able to take cash. I had nothing but a few loose coins scattered about my car. I looked at the woman’s face, and together we frowned. She hesitated for a moment, and then said “Don’t drive off just yet. I’ll get you your drink. Just pay it forward to someone else some other time.” She gave me my drink. I thanked her for being so kind. This is the type of service that brings customers back, and that experience alone has been enough to keep me loyal to Human Bean when I find one.

I’m glad my hometown has a great drive-thru coffee option. The big beverage bros haven’t made their way to these small towns yet. You won’t find any big coffee chains. Human Bean is a shining example of the quality of product and service that any business should provide, especially to small communities which are always the last to be introduced to modern marvels, such as a creamy, dense, luscious latte.

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