I am so excited to see a second Grit and Grace coming up next Sunday on 3/5/17 in North Bend, WA. If you came to the first G&G you'll remember that it featured 4 female pioneers of outdoor adventure. Liz, 65 y.o., shared her story of running through motherhood and how she still regularly finishes 100 milers. Cheri, 62 y.o., shared her stories of running at least a marathon every month, and taking up open water swimming, and scuba diving. Carmelita, 72 y.o., shared about her experiences sea kayaking, running, and cycling. Then Helen Thayer, National Geo explorer, shared her breath-holding story of when she encountered polar bears while being the first person EVER to ski to the North Pole.
I heard from attendees for months about how that event inspired new adventures. This was true for me too! I left to walk the 2650 mile Pacific Crest Trail within a month of the first G&G, and I thought of and told other people who I met along the trail of these inspiring women and their stories. This event and the adventures of these women occupied my thoughts during the monotonous steps on so many occasions.
A major criticism of the first event, if you can call it that, was that it seemed to the listener like these women had to sacrifice their families in order to follow their grand adventure dreams. Knowing them, I do not think this is the case, it simply was not the story that we focused on during the event. Actually, I think this idea of 'I can't do that because I have responsibilities,' is the story that our powerful minds craft so that we can convince ourselves that we cannot possibly seek out a giant, beautiful, powerful adventure.
After 2 years, I am excited to share Grit and Grace 2: Adventure Family Edition. It is meant to appeal to the person who has family responsibilities, yes, but MORE IMPORTANTLY it is meant to appeal to all of us who want to take-up a grand adventure. I have hand-picked 2 families who got extremely creative in order to achieve their family adventures in spite of the daily responsibilities and obligations that we all face.
The first is the Martin/Wade family who hiked on the Appalachian Trail for 7 months with 4 children-including 6-year-old twins and a daughter with Down Syndrome. The second is The Fagan family who biked across Tanzania all together and skied unsupported to the South Pole while pulling 220 pound sleds behind them, well Chris and Marty did, but they had to get creative with how they would loop their son, Keenan, in on that adventure. Check out the separate website to learn more and get creative yourself to find a way to come to this event. Go ahead: BUY TICKETS HERE!
It isn't too much of a stretch to say that we're starting this project, Boldly Went, because we want other people to meet Carlos, the guy in this photo. Not figuratively, but literally. We want you to get on a plane, fly to Veracruz, Mexico, hop on a bus to his house, and hang out with him.
Carlos is a former lawyer, and hosts an AirB&B in Coatepec, Mexico - a small, picturesque town in the verdant hills of Veracruz state, a few minutes from Jalapa. We met him because we needed a place to stay on our trip between Mexico City and Veracruz, and we read in a Lonely Planet guide that Coatepec has awesome coffee. (It's true - they've been growing and roasting there for centuries.) We'd planned to stay for just a day, but in large part because we met Carlos, we got sucked in for a week before a plane ticket home pried us away.
Carlos is 72, but not slowing down. When we got to his place, rather than handing over the keys the way a lot of hosts do, he insisted on making us dinner (eggs, beans, bread, un poco cafecito, pasteles for dessert). We bonded over a shared love of El Camino de Santiago in Spain, and once he figured out that we were active, and into the outdoors, he insisted we see his favorite places in Veracruz state.
The morning after we arrived at his place, he drove us to the spot in the photo above - a massive spring at the start of the Actopan river, called El Descabezadero - roughly translated, "The Head Cutter Off-er". It's a spectacular natural wonder that isn't in the guidebooks, and the picture of a tropical paradise, and I have no idea what it has to do with cutting off heads. After the photo was taken, we turned around just for a second, and Carlos had stripped to his skivvies and was swimming in one of the pools at the base of the falls.
One thing led to another, and by the time we left town, we'd met Carlos' wife Angela and son Charlie, spent a day scrambling up a canyon with his daughter Karla and her rafting guide husband Antonio in the nearby adventure town of Jalcomulco (a place with the spirit of an Ed Abbey-era Moab), gotten the full run of a local resort, had our butts kicked mountain biking with one of their friends, and (long story) appeared in a political ad for a guy running for mayor of Coatepec. When Karla dropped us at the bus station to leave, we were exhausted and seriously contemplating buying real estate.
Meeting Carlos allowed us to tackle experiences and fall in love with places we wouldn't have otherwise. And, in a nutshell, that describes the genesis of all good adventures:
Inspiration - to try something new, to go somewhere different, to do something harder - develops from direct, personal connections with good people who know something you don't.
Our goal is to facilitate the type of connection we made with Carlos - not in a figurative "hey read our blog about this guy" sense (although it is an awesome blog), but in real life, and face to face.
Getting people together to share their stories is the best way we can think of to accomplish that quickly and effectively at a local level. As outdoor athletes ourselves, we know we tend to exist in our own silos and communities. We're trailrunners, and we always get inspired by the trail community, but we rarely meet like-minded people doing different things - paddlers, paragliders, skiers, hikers, climbers, sailors, orienteers - because everyone serious is off doing their own thing. Boldly Went events bring together adventurers and outdoor athletes from across the spectrum, and help establish connections that can open up new opportunities and inspire new ideas. And after just a couple of events, we think it's working: participants have been hanging out for an hour after the events to talk, and hikers have been meeting bikers have been meeting sailors have been meeting paragliders.
Podcasting the stories from those events is the next best thing to being there, we think, and our goal is to build an audio database of adventures from around the world for people looking for inspiration or entertainment. Again, we're off to a great start, with stories ranging from hiking naked to sailing to a prison island.
And in a literal way, as founders we want to actually be like Carlos by helping people who are visiting Seattle to adventure like locals. We're busy setting up ways that people who are looking for great things to do outside in Western Washington - on the trails, in the mountains, on the water - can get in contact with us for beta or partnership. Click here for current details!
And finally, along the same lines, we're working on creating ways that people like you can connect with people like Karla and Antonio - locals doing hardcore things in non-touristy, cool places that genuinely need and deserve the money. We want to make new adventures possible. We want to give local outdoor communities a gathering place that's connected to a larger network. And we want to ultimately get money and opportunity to places like Coatepec and Jalcomulco - freaking awesome spots that might otherwise get overlooked.
So for a start, I literally want you to meet Carlos and his family. Coatepec and Jalcomulco aren't hard to get to. You should go, and if you do, we recommend looking up Carlos, Angela and Charlie on AirB&B, and Karla and Antonio at Ruta Verde. They're the real deal.