My friend Kristin sent me a link to this video the other day, and while I'm not sure who Eustace Conway is (besides a Southern guy who looks like Daniel Stern with ponytails), I love the spirit he describes here.
I hope you'll forgive my brief foray towards the edge of sappiness when I talk about it, but "Most of the things people tell you are impossible really aren't" is exactly the idea that got us hooked into the outdoors community in the first place.
About 7 years ago, at a time when I was leaving behind a career that I'd spent my 20's pursuing, and feeling like I was potentially making a giant mess of my life, we got into running as a way to get healthy and manage stress. When our local running shop guys (Brian Morrison and Phil Kochik) pointed us towards the trail runs organized by the Seattle Running Club, we found a group of people who embodied that spirit perfectly. Seemingly normal folks, who'd at some point realized that running ultra-marathons through the mountains wasn't just possible, but was fun.
At the time, that idea seemed unbelievable to (previously sedentary) me, but also important, and the pursuit of completing a mountain ultra, and ultimately a 100 mile race, stood in as a cypher for everything else in my life that initially seemed impossible (which was a lot of things at the time). Success in running goals, like Eustace's success in, say, gathering hundreds of turtles, made me feel like, actually, a lot of those things that seem unattainable actually just take a bit of planning and a willingness to suffer.
When Angel and I finished the Cascade Crest 100, in 2013, just a few minutes apart, it felt like accomplishing something impossible and, surprisingly, having fun doing it. We finished, probably not coincidentally, just a few months after I finished nursing school and started a new career - the completion of a transition that had started at almost the exact time we started running, and initially felt as impossible as a 100 mile mountain ultra did to a noob runner, but now just feels like a thing I did.
So much of the spirit of the outdoor community is wrapped up in that idea, and it's so much at the heart of what got us going as a bootstrapping, unfunded startup within that community. It's a place where "Climbing Mt. Everest" isn't a metaphor for some unattainable goal: it's actually something people do. It's maybe something one of your friends has done, even, and they're not that much different from you. Maybe they can give you some beta, and maybe you'll do it some day.
And so, while "the outdoors" is about recreation for so many of us, we also believe that Conway is right on in pointing out that it also teaches that base value for a fulfilling life, that most things people tell you are impossible really aren't.
It's funny that Kristin posted this video to me when she did, because this week's podcast highlights something like the opposite reality: that sometimes even simple things can elude our grasp. But actually, the storytellers, Karly Wade and Angie Sowell, both embody the spirit of resilience and possibility that Southern hippie talks about above, as they've both managed to place outdoor pursuits at the center of their lives despite early and/or repeated missteps. When you have a minute, check out more about these local adventurer's on a new section of this site that Angel's developing called Field Notes.
It's also worth putting in a plug here for our sponsor and friend Seth Wolpin, who we met trail running and who has literally climbed Everest. Through Himalayan Adventure Labs, and working with Nepali locals, he is gathering 5 - 10 people for a fastpacking trip this December on and around Everest, and it sounds like a genuine life-goal epic. There are still spots available and I'm not just trying to sell you by pointing out that it's a surprisingly affordable 18 day trip. Our audience, we think, are just the type of hearty adventurers he's trying to find, so we hope you'll check it out here.