Volunteering with the American Hiking Society

For those who don’t know, the American Hiking Society is a, “non-profit [founded in 1976] dedicated to preserving trails, the areas that surround them and the hiking experience” (http://bit.ly/1wqEmBF).  This group provides awesome opportunities for those looking to give back to a community that can only survive through its own preservation methods.  If it weren’t for groups such as the American Hiking Society the wilderness experience hikers get to enjoy would not last due to over use of trails, forest degradation, and many weather related trail issues.

Although we may not always be consciously thinking about it while we hike the trails, and explore all Mother Nature has to offer; volunteer groups are constantly helping keep the trails groomed, safe, and reliable for all those passing through.  This is an important job that definitively gets overlooked by many and is a major reason why I wanted to make sure I gave back to my community.

While I have never been to/hiked Alaska previously, the hiking community is vast and I feel just as connected to helping keep America’s Last Frontier wild, as much as, I would helping out around my “home” trails of New England (more specifically the White Mountains, NH).

This will be my first volunteer trail work experience and I look forward to all the people I meet, and hard work I will be able to put in, in order to maintain a beautiful land.

The actual trail work I will be conducting will take place in the Chugach National Forest, where I will be helping eradicate invasive plant life.  While this may not seem like a glorious way to spend a vacation, it will be extremely gratifying and lets face it, a little hard work never hurt nobody.

The American Hiking Society and many other nonprofit volunteer organizations have projects all over the world throughout the year and if you have any interest in using them as a means to travel somewhere, or help your local trail networks definitely check out what they have to offer.

Below is a link to the American Hiking Society’s 2015 “Volunteer Vacations” which lists over 50 trips throughout the United States, check them out and give back to a great community if you feel so inclined!

http://www.americanhiking.org/em-volunteer-vacations/

(Image taken from https://www.americanhiking.org/events/chugach/)

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Travel – It’s Time to See the World

I feel as though travel and worldly adventure have continuously popped up in my life more consistently lately, and I think it may be the universe’s way of trying to communicate something to me…I need to see what’s out there!  More specifically, I have found these ideas of travel and worldly adventure reach closer and closer to home as a recent college alum released a mountaineering documentary, friends hit the slopes weekend after weekend, and a close friend plans a European backpacking trip.

Too often do we yearn for more out of life, but never seem to pull the trigger when the moment arises.  Could it be fear of the unknown, that dreaded money aspect, or simply claiming life is too busy right now that stops us in our tracks?  Whatever the reason there always seems to be an excuse that stops us from our grandest adventures.

Well, today I’ve decided to stop letting these excuses get the best of me.  I can’t sit back and watch others embark on epic journeys any longer.  Whenever the opportunity presents itself I need to see it through.

That being said, every single day can’t be an endless world traveling journey, but in the least bit I am committing to not spending weekend after weekend yearning for the mountains any longer.  Whenever I have a free weekend, I will be making some kind of journey (near or far) to make my time well spent.  Too many lazy Sundays have come and gone with the Monday morning regret of not fulfilling my passion, adventure.

As Simon Raven so elegantly put it, “[S]ince life is short and the world is wide, the sooner you start exploring it the better.”

Travel on my friends and followers!

Cowboy’s 3 Hiking Rules

Let me provide a little context before I share with you some of the best advice I’ve ever received.  While hiking Mt. Katahdin, ME this summer I was lucky enough to meet “Cowboy”, a German girl who successfully thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.  She was trying to hitchhike with her dog from northern ME to Portland, ME before returning home to Europe.  Seeing her on the side of the road that humid August day we felt compelled to stop, and I’m glad we did.  While getting to know her and listening to her 2,175 mi journey, I asked, “what advice would you give to someone who plans to hike the AT in the future?”  Cowboy’s reply was definitely not what I expected, however, it was very philosophic and inspirational:

Hike your own hike, it’s not a race,

Never make decisions in bad weather,

And if you want to give up, hike a few more days, it will pass.

These short, but important lines struck a cord and I’ve applied them to just about every situation ever since.  I’m going to chose not to give my interpretation of these rules, because I’d rather leave it up to your imagination what exactly you make of them.

Thanks Cowboy for sharing your adventure with us and keep on traveling, the world is vast and needs to be explored.

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Why Alaska you might be wondering?

The idea of Alaska has intrigued me for quite some time.  It was not always on the forefront of my mind, but looking back I realize I always enjoyed shows like “Surviving Alaska,” books and movies such as “Into the Wild,” and documentaries such as “Wild Alaska.”  The problem with all of these medias is that I always pictured this place as way beyond my realm and somewhere that might as well have been a different planet, because I never thought I’d find myself there.

All of that changed for me when I began thinking about what I would like to do after graduation.  I think it’s important for everyone to do something incredible as a reward for completing such a huge milestone in life; finishing years of schooling, and transitioning into the working world.  For me that incredible something was to take a trip to somewhere I had never been or even really dreamed of going.

Alaska actually fell into my lap one day as I stumbled around the interwebs looking for anything to grab my attention.  The attention grabber that hooked me was “Hidden Alaska,” a short film produced by National Geographic.  It documented photographer Michael Melford’s journey around Alaska as he captured many different shots throughout this wild land.  The pictures he showed in this short film truly amazed me and were the spark I needed to convince me that Alaska was somewhere I needed to go as soon as reasonably possible.  (Check out Melford’s documentary at the bottom of this post, you won’t be disappointed)

That was the moment I decided I would travel to Alaska upon graduating regardless of outside circumstances.  And low and behold, here we are a few months later with a rough outline of my trip compiled and plenty of logistics for me to work out.

Stay tuned for future posts regarding what exactly I plan to do in Alaska, but to give you a little sneak peak it involves some volunteering, hiking, wildlife, glaciers, and much more!

Mindfulness

Learn from the past but never dwell,

Plan for the future but never stress,

Live in the moment and achieve mindfullness.

A short post on mindfulness I thought up the other day.  For those who don’t currently practice mindfulness, all I can say is that it’s an absolute game changer.  Striving to live in the moment is, in my opinion, a great way to achieve happiness and fulfillment in life.  By appreciating what you have now, in this very moment, is how to keep things in perspective.  While no one is perfect, and this cannot be achieved at all times, if you maintain this attitude you will see things through and always enjoy every moment.

There may not be many words to this simple post, but when you really stop to think about them, you realize the simplicity of life.  How do you practice mindfulness in your daily routine?

What does the word “vacation” mean to you?

As a child, I always associated the word “vacation” with sitting on a beach somewhere tropical for a few days, never really doing anything overly intense, merely relaxing and destressing.  Now that I’m nearing the end of my college career and can soon join the other so called “adults” of the world I think it’s time I reinvent the word “vacation” for myself.  My new associations with vacation will likely involve words such as intense, hard work, travel, logistics, and adventure.  In order to properly fulfill these descriptive words I’ve set my sights upon America’s last frontier, Alaska, as my first of many adventurous vacations.  My hopes with this trip are to experience sights, sounds, and sensations that many never even imagined possible.  This will be the journey of a lifetime and I can’t wait to see just where the road less traveled leads.

This is the first of many posts that I’d like to write in order to immortalize my journey from walking across the graduation stage to hiking the Alaskan back country.  At times the posts may be few and far between, but my goal is to be able to look back on these entries as a way to remember my adventure from planning all the way through execution.  I hope you enjoy these entries as much as I do, and maybe they will even inspire other adventurers out there to experience everything this world has to offer.

Will all that being said, what do you envision when the word “vacation” comes to mind?  Are you someone who lounges by the pool or beach for a week forgetting your usual daily stress, backpacks a foreign land in the search of culture, or someone like myself who craves the wilderness and all it has to offer?

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