Beards, Teaching, and Hiking the AT
“For anybody that grows a beard or has hair on their face, I welcome you to the beard game. We’re all family. I encourage that. I encourage beards.” -Rick Ross
Hello outdoor lovers and beard enthusiasts. My name is Kristopher “Kyle” McDill. I am a lifelong resident of Mississippi and love to hike the outdoors. I have been married for almost ten years. Luckily, my wife, Kaci, also loves the outdoors and is the one who got us hiking. Now, along with growing a great beard, for the past several years hiking has been one of the biggest parts of my life. I, with Kaci, have planned ways that we could enjoy the outdoors and especially hike. Furthermore, hiking and being in the outdoors is an outlet like no other for me. It has made me an all-around healthier person. When I am outdoors I can cleanse my mind, body, and spirit. In the end, nature enables me to put my life into a better perspective and prioritize the things that are important to me.
That Bearded Teacher
Yes, I have a glorious beard and I am a teacher, but why should you care? Well, I don’t know, but here is my story anyway. I started out teaching history six years ago. The more I taught history, the more interested in the geography/geosciences aspect of the curriculum. This was probably from spending time outside hiking trails in state and national parks. So, this led me to a master of science program at Mississippi State University geared toward Earth sciences. Since I started hiking, sharing my experiences in the outdoors with others has become important to me. Many people I know do not have the same relationship with the outdoors as I do. Through social media, I have been able to expose others to outdoors and educate them about many aspects of the earth, along with why it is important to conserve its most beautiful parts.
That Bearded Hiker
Sometime last year my brother-in-law called me “That Bearded Hiker.” After that, I put the name on social media and started to video/photo blog the trips that Kaci and I took. I started doing this for a few reasons. First, social media makes it easy to communicate with family and friends. Next, social media helped me educate my students about the outdoors. Last, I wanted to document our trips for myself and others. So, fast forward to now. When Kaci and I decided to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, I knew I wanted to be able to inform others about what we are doing. This is the reason that I am writing this blog. To help educate and inform others. Also, the knowledge that I have gained has come from others sharing what they know or what they have experienced. I want to pay this forward.
Telling Our Story
As an educator, I teach kids how to write, but I am not a writer. This is the first narrative writing that I have ever done. Ultimately, I want this blog to tell our story. Mine and Kaci’s. In it, you will read about our successes and failures. Some of them extremely funny and some extremely uncomfortable. If nothing else, I hope that our escapades will help you enrich your experience with the outdoors. So let’s end this hiker introduction with something that a teacher would say: If you take care of nature, nature will take care of you.
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