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The Appalachian Trail
2200 miles, on average 6 months to thruhike, and everything you need to survive carried on your back. It took me 4 and a half months to thruhike but once you acclimate to the routine of hiking everyday, you're able to put in some big mile days. What drove me to attempt to thruhike the AT was the idea of leaving society and leaving the routine of work. The irony of that is I quickly developed a new routine of eating, hiking, sleeping and then repeating that everyday until the end. But you can really learn a lot about yourself when you are living in the woods, pushing your body farther and farther, and hiking through snow, sleet, rain, and heatwaves. The hardest part of the trail is the mental aspect. Pushing yourself through injuries, committing to your daily mile goals, and keeping yourself going when the weight of knowing how far you still have to go is in your head. It's not for everyone, but even those who don't make it still learn a lot about themselves. Looking back there were definitely more tough times than easy times and there were moments when I wanted to quit. But I knew it would eat me up inside if I didn't finish, so I put my head down and kept walking.
In January of 2019, there was a massive polar vortex that swept through the northern United States. It just so happened that my good friend Matheson, who I met on the AT and hiked 120 days with, and I were hitchhiking across the nation during that polar vortex. Out on the road with a tent, 2 sleeping bags each, and 10 dollars worth of food. For 25 out of the 30 days we were out there, it was subzero Celsius. There were some times where I'm sure both of us stopped and thought for a second "why are we doing this to ourselves?" Every morning was a race against frostbite, trying to get the tent packed away and start walking to warm up our appendages. But it was worth it to experience all that we did and all the places we traveled to. The national parks are incredible in the winter, there's practically no one there and the snow covered canyons and monuments are so surreal. I'd say the most significant part of the trip was breaking the stereotype we Americans have against hitchhiking. Despite the few rides that were boarder line life-threatening, we meet some of the nicest people and out of 100 or so rides, 12 of them invited us into their homes for dinner and a place to stay and more than half of 100 rides offered or bought us food along the way.
After an odd job in Alaska, I decided to head over to Iceland to experience one of the youngest landmasses in the world. It makes sense that so many space exploration films are shot in Iceland. It's like a different planet over there. I invited my friend Cole, who I met in Alaska, to join me in the adventure and we hitchhiked around Iceland's highway 1 or the "Ring Road." It was a very short trip, only 20 days or so. But it was a very relaxed trip. During Winterwest, Matheson was racing against the clock to make it to Canada before his American visa ended. During Iceland, we had to be back to the States before September. Despite the 30 day deadline, the ease of getting picked up in Iceland made things almost too easy. There were a few times where Cole and I walked onto the Ring Road and within 30 seconds someone had already pulled over to give us a ride. It was a nice change of pace from my past adventures. It gave Cole and I more freedom to explore some national parks, go on more hikes, and even skate around Reykjavík.
The most recent and biggest project to date. Chasing Vertical is Matheson's idea to go from a beginner climber to climbing Half Dome's North West Face in a year's time. To even attempt that is a huge commitment but we wanted to raise the bar in our filmmaking and film a 4k documentary that can inspire others to get out there and try something new. Matheson had some climbing experience going into the project, I had very little. I had to tackle a huge learning curve in order to hang from a wall to film Matheson climbing up multiple routes. And we purchased Sony's largest 4k handycam, which I had to teach myself how to use and then lug up rock walls. While we were climbing almost everyday, we were also editing short videos to document the progress more in-depth. The hour long documentary at the end will sum up a year's worth of footage but obviously cut a lot the project out. So these short, monthly videos give a closer look into what it was like out there. We started November 1st, 2019 in New Zealand and the idea was to end October 31st, 2020 in Yosemite, CA. But we were hit with the biggest obstacle yet, a pandemic. This forced us to stop climbing for 7 weeks and forced Matheson to only be able to get a 3 month American visa. So the project ended up being 10 months, but Matheson still succeeded in climbing Half Dome. We are still working on the documentary and it will be out by 2022.