Going Back to the Trail, This Time Solo

As I stare at this empty page and Trek dashboard I can’t help but think –

So much has changed.

In my head, I’m the same person that I’ve always been–maybe evolved if anything; but that’s simply not the case anymore. I am Alex just as much as I am Creedence. I love cooking just as much as I love to take (really) long walks. I have always been a person of extremes, which is why cooking at an elite level appeals so much to me. Here’s the thing–I cannot have both at once. One of my favorite chefs, Marco Pierre White, said,

“I’m a man of extremes. I can’t stand things that are diluted–only drinks benefit from that. I want a hundred percent of everything, or everybody, or nothing at all.”

Let’s go back to the last time I wrote on our blog, elevenish months ago. Amanda and I finished the Appalachian Trail in October and found ourselves back in the same general grind we left the year before to take the leap and attempt a thru-hike of the AT. There was a bit of a belief between the two of us that the Appalachian Trail would provide every answer we were ever looking for anything. We were wrong in the sense that answers would not just come to us. I briefly went over that in one of our recent blog posts. What the trail did do was give us the courage to do whatever we want to. Give us any problem or situation, with the proper balance of determination, stubbornness, and perseverance, and we will accomplish anything.

With that said, we left Herons–the five-star, five-diamond restaurant we were working at after six months and where I also worked before hiking the AT. It just was not the right fit anymore. I personally owe several great men so much more than words as representation of my gratitude of the energy they invested into me. Chef Greene, Spencer, Jeff, Josh, John, Eddie, and Phil, every day I try to represent the man you taught me to be, whether I’m behind a stove or wandering down a trail. I love you all and only want to make you proud.

I’m now working as a butcher and as a camping specialist at REI. For the longest time, I defined who I was solely by how I made a living. I love(d) saying that I cook for a living. Cooking has always been a way for me to express myself in every way, shape, and form. I love the pressure, the push, the intensity, the dominance-driven environment, all of it. The issue was the cost of what I did for a living. I traded balance for the highest highs and lowest lows. It’s not healthy. I was watching Brink! one day, you know that Disney movie about the badass teens who do inline skating?

There’s a scene where Andy is being consoled by his father and his father says,

“You are defined by the company you keep and how well you keep it. Not by what you just happen to do.”

Those lines hit me like a freight train because on the trail Creedence was adequate. Why now that I’m home is Alex suddenly inadequate even though he just finished his greatest accomplishment (to date)? I’m using two jobs that maybe are not as prestigious and flashy as saying I work at Herons, but these jobs allow me to keep each personality happy; Alex can still talk about cooking and still “feel the push” while Creedence goes to work and gets to talk about tents, backpacks, water filters, camping stoves, all while reminiscing about the trail to those beginning adventures of their own. This could either be my worst idea ever or genius for finding a way to merge two completely different worlds. We’ll see.

This post has deeper meaning than catching you up with what I’ve been up to since finishing the trail a year ago. So here it goes.

I officially commit to hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019 on a solo northbound hike.

This hike has always been destiny for me and I am beyond stoked to take another walk. I’m going to miss my hiking partner more than anything but I think this trip will be a coming of age for me. I feel that after this walk Alex and Creedence will be much closer to being one person rather than one person stepping into two separate worlds. Many more blog posts will be coming in preparation for this next hike and I’m thinking about branching out to vlogging this time around as well.

It’s been great to get back to writing, and please reach out with any questions you may have. I love to connect with others who are like-minded and are have similar plans for next year.

See you on the trail.

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Comments 3

  • Rhys : Oct 18th

    This was great to read not only because I’m also planning to hit the PCT next year but mostly because i’ve seen Brink far too many times to not laugh when I saw that picture.

    Good on you, soul skater

    • Alex Wnorowski : Oct 18th


  • Weasel/Kerstin : Nov 3rd

    Oh man, I’ve never seen that movie but that quote hits just a little too close to home for me. The last few years I’ve been putting together my career as an Adventure Cartoonist, a long-distance backpacker and draws comics about it. It’s an awesome job and I get to do what I love: adventure and draw. But I was recently in an accident that left me in a knee immobilizer and contemplating my future. Although I’m healed now and can walk again (and soon: hike!), I had an existential crisis wondering what my identity is if I can’t backpack. Am I a backpacker, or am I someone that backpacks? Thank you for this blog entry. I took that quote and wrote it down to post above my workspace. Hopefully, by reading it every day I can remind myself that I am more than what I do and that I need to put more energy into my relationships with the other humans that share this world with me.


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