I woke up this morning overlooking Compass Lake in Florida and decided that this is the time to introduce myself to you all. My trail name is Scooter (Austin Jenne) and I will be blogging my CDT 2021 thru-hike in partnership with theTrek.co. I have never had a personal blog before, so please bear with me while I enter and navigate this space!
I have been an outdoorsman for my entire life. I am fortunate enough to have grown up consistently visiting my grandmother’s horse farm in Alabama where I grew to love camping, riding horses, fishing, exploring creek systems, and generally enjoying being outdoors in all types of weather. Being from Alabama, the natural beauty that was expressed around me as a child was found mostly in ancient hardwood and pine forests, beautiful rivers, lakes, and some of the most green and lush forests and grasslands I have ever seen! My addiction to being in the mountains and pushing myself to work hard and appreciate summits and valleys comes from another fortunate happenstance. My mother’s parents live near Salt Lake City, and my parents would save up enough each year for us to take a summer trip to visit them. Enter: hiking.
After high school, I went to the University of Alabama to continue my education as an undergraduate student. Here, I met my friend Matt Meadows. Most people at that school enjoyed going to the beach to party over spring break, but he would go and hike short sections of the Appalachian Trail (AT). He would come back with stories from his experiences in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and of meeting thru-hikers on trail, which truly fascinated me. I had heard of the AT and thru-hiking before, but it was hearing his stories that caused me to gain personal interest. After graduating college, a series of events unfolded that caused me to see that the way that I want to live my life is by seeking beauty in my surroundings, be that landscapes, people, or circumstance.
After college, a series of events lead me to want to live my life by seeking beauty in my surroundings, whether through landscapes, people, or circumstance.
On March 26, 2018, a few months after graduating and working hard at a manual labor job, my wonderful cousin took me to the springer mountain trailhead and thus began the adventure of a lifetime, which slowly appears to be evolving into a lifetime of adventure. I met so many amazing people on the AT and saw so many amazing things out on the east coast. I had the first chance in my life to live without feeling the restraint of time or the pressures of society. For the first time in my life, I was living without a clock and without the pressures and demands of everyday life.
I felt the freedom of creating my own schedule, the beauty of using my body to get to places I had never dreamed I would be, and the depth of emotion that comes from reaching short and long-term goals. The pain of leaving people behind and being left behind. Injury, ecstasy, illness, love, fear, light, darkness; it felt as though I had lived an entire lifetime in goals months.
After completing the AT, it became my life mission to make it to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in 2020. I went back to working my old concrete job and lived in a single-wide trailer in small-town Alabama, working and saving as much as I could. I had plane tickets to San Diego, a place to stay, a ride, and all of my savings and gear ready to go. Then, disaster struck. Everyone in existence had plans and actions come to a halt when it became evident that the Corona Virus was spreading rapidly. It was a gut-wrenching decision, but I had to cancel my plans. Fortunately, I was able to make it out to Colorado and complete a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail (CT). I truly believe this was meant to be. I was able to see many of my good friends from the Appalachian Trail. It was actually a phone call with my friend H.A.M. Which ended up being the catalyst of my plan to complete the CT. We started and finished the whole trail together and met up with many familiar faces. I made so many connections with people who I hope will be lifetime friends out there, including others who write for the Trek and many who are heavily involved in the outdoor community. I also got my largest dose of Rocky Mountain hiking yet, and I’m hooked!
Directly after finishing the CT I was picked up by my sister who lives in Draper, Utah. I stayed with my grandmother just outside of Salt Lake City for a couple of weeks, submitting mountains, running, and loving life. When my grandmother offered me a place to stay, I picked up a warehouse job and moved to Sandy, Utah. I started peak bagging, rock climbing (new love, my hardest lead climb so far is a 5.10c), snowboarding, gearing up for the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), and hanging out with amazing friends both new and old. I have to shout out my friends Tanner, Newt, Doug, Shane, and Alex. They showed me how to get started into climbing, helped me get geared up for many different excursions, introduced me to many amazing friends, and were by my side for so many amazing adventures at crags, canyons, mountains, and slopes all over the state of Utah.
After spending the summer in the Rockies, it became my new mission to complete a southbound Thru-hike of the CDT. While in Utah, I started saving money, gearing up, and training for the excursion. After talking with a contact from the AT (Bugz/Emily) who shares similar plans, we decided to start together with a group of 4 on June 25, 2021. I quit my job about 3 weeks ago and immediately came back to my hometown to see my family, my music festival family, and to see as many of my friends who are in the area as possible before taking this dangerous journey. I’ve spent so much time inside of wonderful music, around water, in the forest, reminiscing and creating new memories with friends who are better than I could ever have hoped to associate with.
This brings me to my current state. One of my greatest friends, who just became a doctor, and I could not be more proud of the path he has taken and the work that he has done to get to this point, was kind enough to invite me along to vacation at Compass Lake. We have been exploring yoga, training, music, and beautiful scenery before he embarks on his professional journey and I continue on my constant endeavor for exploration of my physical and spiritual surroundings.
I hope that this post will let you know a little bit about who I am, and how I am feeling right now. I could not be more excited to get started on this trek and the next two weeks can’t go by fast enough, but I will continue seeking beauty and strength in my life and relationships until I leave this wonderful place we call Earth! Much love to all of you!
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