Shari and Hutch live on the road, and out of their comfort zone, in their vintage “canned ham” trailer. They’re sharing advice on full-time camping every Thursday.
The weather reduces our visibility to a 20-foot radius of icy fog, providing neither inspiration nor landmark. We’re going on hour 7 of a 6-mile, 4,000-foot walk up the ridge of Sahale Peak in the North Cascades National Park, and it’s getting dark. The last 2.2 miles, a 2,500 vertical push to the camping pads at the foot of the glacier, is a complete sandbag. Burdened as we are with 8 days of food, camera equipment and gear, it takes twice as long as expected.
The three times I say aloud, “We’re almost there, I think?” I receive glares from Shari as cold as the sleet pelting our faces. I decide to shut up and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. We are both so over this.
Setting up camp in the fading light, we scrap our carefully planned menu in favor of hasty rations of ramen noodles, hot cocoa, and gummi bears. We wrap ourselves in every layer of clothing available, cram our remaining food into bear canisters, and crawl into a mostly dry sleeping bag. I drift off to sleep asking, why do we do this to ourselves?
Taking Risks to Reap Rewards
The morning answers in spectacular fashion, the alpine world into which we’ve stumbled reveals itself – a world of ice, rock, lush valley, jagged peaks, cloud, and sun. This world made new now remakes us as we linger well into the afternoon. The memory of the climb gives us a good laugh as we descend into the clouds, smiling.
A desire to push our physical limits and camp in remote, stunning landscapes was a big motivator in our decision to become full-time campers with our adventure-rig, and we’ve experienced the sublime and the harsh reality in equal measure. Lucky for us, the rewards offered by places like Sahale Peak usually outweigh the challenge required to get there. If the going were easy, I doubt that it would feel as special. That is indeed why we all pursue challenging adventures in the first place.
“Pushing our physical limits and camping in remote, stunning landscapes was a big reason we decided to go full-time with our adventure-rig, and we’ve experienced the sublime and the harsh reality in equal measure.”
The rewards of leaving our former path (careers, house, community) and pushing our personal limits have offered up new opportunities and rewards which we didn’t even know about when we drove off. We’ve had the chance to find new ways to support ourselves financially through seasonal work, to sustain ourselves through volunteering and human-powered adventures, and to develop lasting connections with people far away from our old home. We’ve found new ways to remain educators, without the formal roles and job titles.
For the past few years, Shari and I have been presenting about our adventure-based, tiny-home lifestyle, with the hope of inspiring others – though we realize that not everyone is going to transform a beat-up old hunting trailer into a rolling adventure rig. Over the last 5.5 years on our mid-lifeventure, a surprising number of people have told us, “You are living MY dream!” We had no idea when we first embarked that so many people dreamed of doing this. We didn’t even know what “full timing” meant.
Finding Inspiration to Make Life an Adventure
Just a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to bring our story to the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Boone, NC. This annual showcase of the year’s best films in outdoor adventure and mountain culture always sells out in our small hometown. The stories featured every year were part of what inspired us to get out of our seats and start pushing our own limits, even though we didn’t want to throw ourselves off 100-foot waterfalls in a kayak or free solo 1000-foot vertical cliffs of granite.
The opportunity to tell our tale to the crowd gathered at this event, felt like coming full-circle.
Despite five inches of wet, heavy snow and an ugly forecast, we had a great crowd for our presentation at one of Boone’s original adventure stores, Footsloggers. The audience was fully engaged and asked some of the most insightful, thought-provoking questions we’ve experienced – leave it to an adventure-primed, university town crowd to bring their A-game.
It may be a cliché that life without inspiration becomes a tedious treadmill — but it’s true. We’ve met plenty of folks who seem stressed out, are not sleeping well, appear beaten down by routine, are just trying to keep their heads above water, or working for what they think they need to be happy. Some know they are ready for a change, others will never be, but most simply don’t know where to begin.
We’re proof that with a little preparation, you can switch course and follow a new path. You just have to go for it.
We’ve found this quote helpful: “Change is hard because people often overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” -James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, Flight of the Buffalo.
Why do we push past the safety of our comfort zones? We will never fully know until we try.
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