In September I got the message from team leader (Trey) that I was chosen as a primary
for The Push Beyond: Great Western Loop hiking team. What a big deal, right?! I mean for
goodness sake, more people have been to the moon than have ever completed this trail, and I
am being offered to do it fully supported! I know I’m supposed to be excited, but then again,
this whole thing is odd – when something sounds too good to be true, well… and anyway – I had
plans this winter: finish building out my van, travel to Colorado, and learn to ice climb. It was
going to be great! Then, out of nowhere, this hulk of a curve ball gets beamed my way and I’m
left trying to figure out what the heck it is happening. The feeling is just too weird.
For the people reading this, let me attempt to explain. This feeling of the proverbial rug
getting pulled out from under my life, then being presented with a golden ticket to adventure
on a silver platter is the same feeling of walking into a surprise party that you truly didn’t see
coming; You know you should feel as excited as everyone else around you is, but instead you’re
just standing there with your arms by your side and your mouth half open, trying to figure out
what’s going on and just how the hell everyone got into your living room? Or like applying for a
dream job and butchering the interview, being told you didn’t get the job and convincing
yourself you never wanted it anyway, only to find out later it was a mistake and you actually are
being offered the job.
It’s strange, this feeling, but things since then have radically changed. In early
November, I joined The Push Beyond team at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in
Southern Utah for our first crew meet up, seven days of wilderness backpacking and team
building shenanigans. Seven of us in total, from all over the US: Tennessee, Minnesota,
California, Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire, and Virginia. In fact, not a single one of us was
actually from Utah! Seven complete strangers all took time out of their lives and their jobs,
spent good money on plane tickets and hotels, each drawn by the lure to be a part of one of
greatest hiking adventures to ever happen in the US. Ever.
So what happened that week? Magic, that’s what. After seventy miles of pushing our
cumulative limits, through excruciating slot canyons, bushwhacking nightmares, river
crossings, and below freezing nights, my mind was set: These people are amazing! To my initial
doubts’ dismay, hiking the GWL with the Push Beyond team is very real. From the shockingly
candid and caring nature of the team leader, Mac, to the raw honestly and genuine desire to
grow from all of the group members, no other point in my life have I ever felt such a strong
connection to, just weeks earlier, seven complete strangers, or such a strong belief in a goal:
come February, we are going hiking!
This trip is big, the vision is audacious, and the amount of stuff needing to be done in
the next two months before the hike becomes a reality is absurd. Yet, after just seven days
together in Utah, I could not be more excited and driven than ever to see this through. However,
these people got into my living room and I could not be more stoked!
Let the adventure begin.