The last six months, no doubt due to more money and time, I have had some incredible adventures. The working world has been good to me. I enjoy the ability to buy the right gear, afford a plane ticket, and get paid time off while I am away. But something I want to stress to my friends and family is that I am no different or more capable than anyone else to complete these adventures. Unfortunately, I think a lot of explorers unintentionally alienate their followers. I say this because I know the feeling. We idolize people who complete epic journeys into the unknown and consider them somehow different from ourselves. We are content with living our comfortable lives because we don’t think it would be safe for us to venture anywhere else.
I owe a large part of my realization to a former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Trip Jennings. Trip is a professional kayaker, world traveler, photographer, and filmmaker. But the way I knew Trip was as a summer camp counselor. He helped teach me how to kayak when I was just ten years old and is part of the reason I knew I was capable of my adventures. I knew that, while he was an extraordinary person, he was still human.
I encourage other people to explore the world, to accept discomfort and the unknown, to stray from the tour bus and cruise ship, the guided tour and ranger led hikes. In the moments of solitude and discovery we find ourselves. Let the slot canyon surprise you when you come upon it, with no knowledge from a guide book and detailed map. It will be that much more meaningful when it is a discovered wonder in the middle of a vast wilderness. These expeditions are not limited to the full-time adventurers so define your own adventures but refuse to accept monotony. I don’t recommend anyone go out tomorrow night and paddle alone in deep open ocean. But buy a book on mountaineering, read some lightweight backpacking books, learn about kayaking from an outfitter, join a club, and listen to the warnings and brush away some of the jaded views of the old-timers and the content. Most importantly, stay humble and willing to admit to inexperience. Your clean gear will give you away, but it is only lack of humility that will drive away those that can provide you with useful tips.
I hope that through my trips and some of the seemingly crazy stories that someone says, just as I did, comfort is overrated. We have one life on this extraordinary planet with so many opportunities to discover it in so many ways. So pick a mode of transportation, buy the gear, study the endeavor, become and expert in the field, and go on an adventure. And then, when you are safe, share the story and the pictures with all of us so we can live vicariously through you while we plan a trip of our own.