Back in July 2020 we did forty-five miles in just under 72 hours. Three nights on the trail. There was, of course, satisfaction as I shared a beverage with my friend. This hike allowed me to finish the portion of the AT which traverses the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
In November I would complete Georgia. Over 200 miles on the AT in 2020 alone, leaving me just under the 300-mile mark. I was not tired. I was energized for more. And I was bored.
I find myself seeking greater challenges. I feel a need to push myself. To find my limits. I desire to level up.
There are potential challenges on my horizon. An 80-mile hike in late May. I would like to plan a section on the CDT (fifty miles in Colorado, summiting two 14k peaks). I am researching backcountry touring in the snow for next winter.
Though these have the potential to provide physical challenges, I am not certain it will be enough. Self-fulfillment is fine. What if I want it to have meaning?
When people work to bring awareness to a cause, whether through a voice or financial contributions, it is usually a result of a personal connection. A family member lost to a specific cancer. The anguish of experiencing abuse, or racial inequality.
At times, however, for real change to take hold, I believe the “haves” need to become a voice for the “have nots.”
What if I can raise awareness for human and environmental causes as I seek greater challenges traversing my favorite places on Earth? The mountains.
I want to support things for which I’ve never been affected. I was never abused. No one in my family has ever been a victim of domestic violence. I have access to inexpensive health care. I have access to clean water. I’ve never known hunger.
I’ve never known what it is like to be discriminated against as a result of race, religion, or sexual orientation. I am male, and I am white. The most privileged demographic in all of humanity.
I have already been, and will continue to be, an active voice for equality. This, and voting, is one of the most impactful things I can do. Yet maybe I can increase the volume. For other causes, I can raise money. This can be impactful as well.
There are organizations dedicated to the victims of domestic violence. As a male, I feel I need to be a voice. Women and children are the overwhelming majority of the victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence ebbs and flows within the priorities of mainstream media.
Soon I will post an article on why I left the NFL for a period of time, when domestic violence was the leading story across our nation.
There are organizations who feed the hungry in my local town, and organizations which focus on clean water access in nations across the globe. There are organizations which provide essential medical aid to those in great need.
For the environment, for the Earth, I can do more than what I’ve done the past two years. I can begin to tell my story. How I have worked to reduce my impact on our ecosystem. Here I can also turn up the volume.
This is Project Blaze. This is a level up. Coupled with the adventure I seek, this could be fun.
The Sum of Actions to Come
For change to happen, people who aren’t affected have to join the cause. Men should become a shouting voice to stamp out domestic violence. Adults need to be a voice for abused children. The white race should become the strongest voice to rid the world of minority oppression.
Access to medical care and clean water should be considered among the basics of human rights.
Sexual orientation and self identity should not ever limit freedom.
Support local? Of course. It takes a community to support a community. But for me, not exclusively, nor prioritized. I view humanity as a global community. To state “me before humanity”, or more apt, “my country before the world”, is destructive. It is antithetical to being human. The blue planet is our home. Why would we not endeavor to work together to make it a better place?
The Earth. Human kindness. Racial and gender equality. Teaching and leading people.
I will continue to teach what I know. Through my blog and my YouTube channel, you will learn how to live in the backcountry for days on end. And maybe you will learn some ideas on how to make the world a better place.