Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Selling out

I stopped posting for a while because it felt like I was selling out.

You know, telling everyone how cool I was without actually saying anything insightful. And there's enough of that in this sport.

Since my last post, I said goodbye to my friends and family in the northeast and embarked on a cross country odyssey that I only survived because of the kindness of friends and strangers.

The first stop was Scott Martin's for the obligatory photo shoot:

I left with his great advice ringing in my ears: "There will be times when everything works out perfectly, and there will be times when you're alone, and everything is going to sh!t, and you don't know what to do. Cherish those times, because they teach you more than anything and that's what these adventures are all about."

With that in mind, I spent some time sleeping in the parking lot of the Upper Gauley, on the floor near NOC while I waited for the Cascades to release, on the couch at my aunt and uncle's near the Ocoee, in Durango, in my car somewhere between Arches and the Bonneville Salt Flats, and at a campground near Crater Lake.

I also spent a lot of time driving.

I learned a few things on that drive. 

I learned that being alone isn't all that bad, but it isn't all that good, either. There's certainly something to be said for being independent. That's what allowed me to see things like this:
That's not snow...
But for all the freedom I had, be it choosing where to stop, what to eat, or which hikes to go on, I constantly found myself searching for ways to share these experiences. So here I am, sharing. Unfortunately, you don't get to feel how cold the desert is at sunrise, or hear the crunch of the salt beneath your shoes, or smell the emptiness in the air. You don't get to reach into that photo and pick up a pinch of salt taste, even though it's against your better judgement.

Some things can only be shared in person.

I learned that the world isn't flat, but it really looks like it is sometimes.

It adds some perspective to how privileged I was growing up where I did. How privileged I am to choose where I want to live. I can't imagine living someplace without rivers or mountains, but those places exist, and people choose to live there. Some people don't have a choice. 

I learned (again) that the United States are far more vast and diverse than you can imagine.
How can this:
One Whistle Falls, NY
Arches National Park, UT
and This:
Mt. Adams, WA
all exist in the same country? And how can the people that live in all of these places agree on anything? Sure, there are some major disagreements every 4 years...I mean, once in a while, but really, at least we don't have states going to war against each other on a daily basis. Plus we can visit any of these, or many other, places without needing a passport or visa. America is pretty sweet.

Since I've been in Portland, things have been pretty fast paced. I've been kayaking a lot, looking hard for a job, and relying on friends to survive. So thanks friends, you rock.

My most recent paddling adventure was on the Upper Upper Cispus, which is an incredible run in the northern cascades that's a perfect 2-steps down from the Little White. 

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I am a freelance writer and photographer, collector of experiences, adventure lover, and outdoor goer.