Return to Nomad

A new line is being drawn in the sand.

One between stagnation and everything else.

The reason I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail is returning as I come closer to finishing my degree and bursting free of this academic bubble.

Four months on. A few weeks off… On. Work. Work. Work. Think. Think. Work.

It’s fast and painfully slow.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed learning, but I’ve repressed all those emotions from hiking over the past few years. Tucked them away deep in my mental-emotional backpack. It almost feels like I have forgotten all about why. Why do I want to get out there? Why do I care? And that is terrifying.

The grip of concrete and steel boxes held on tight. My feet got soft. I had grown used to this world we call reality. The West. Society. Life. Whatever.


Now it’s in the feet again. It’s hard to focus, but more exciting to do anything. This life is moving forward with locomotion. I feel like I’m already walking again even though I’m still commuting to and from the city center for classes each day. When I’m not driving, I’m reading, or writing, or filling my face with the screen.

But sometimes I find myself walking, even though its mostly between classes.

But it’s coming back, the spirit of the trail that informs the way I want to live and learn. It’s Bilbo’s voice back in my head.

“It’s dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

It’s like finishing a good book or episode knowing the next one is going to be even more exciting.

It helps that I am guiding backpacking trips for the University of Texas now. Only one so far, but to be in the backcountry sleeping with only the sounds of wind, grass, and coyotes feels right.

Being around people who know and who care about something besides their box and the boxes built up by this faux-reality has been slowing destroying the concrete walls and steel barriers blocking off those buried away feelings.

Mel and I spent last weekend with more than a hundred other people who live on the road full time in their RV’s and make a living from it. It was hosted by Heath and Alyssa from the RV Entrepreneur. It’s something that sounds like a lavish lifestyle for the backpacker, but it’s a possibility for conducting oneself in the world on his or her own terms.

The backpacking lifestyle, with the comfort of home, wherever you want your home to be.

I’m just ready to be out moving. Walking. Going. I miss my point A to B’s. B’s to C’s.

I miss having a Katahdin that juts up from the earth.

This is our plan: Spend a few months backpacking in the United Kingdom, visit old friends from trail in Germany, then return to Texas, buy an RV and let that become our home. Hopefully I’ll get work as a park ranger and use that to pick our various destinations and adventures on the road. And of course write some stuff and makes some videos while we’re at it.

And when we want, we’ll park the RV and go walking again.

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Comments 4

  • Liz Wilcox : Mar 3rd

    Wow! I thought I had met just about everyone at the Summit but I don’t think I met you guys. I also had a wonderful time and it really got me motivated to go “back to my roots”, back to the way I used to live before marriage and a child. I can’t wait to “go nomad!” Great article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Troy : Mar 3rd

    The fissure that is breaking like a grand crevasse in your mind is indeed the call of the wild. Being caged in a cubicle be it at university or an office is no life for a Timber Wolf. Like Kerouac the “Road” beckons and calls in the whispers of the winds. Bilbo’s prophecy and the promise of the grand adventure toward communion with life can only happen with dirt under foot. Terra Firma, Gaia the real world calls and you must heed that call or you will perish into the confines of a 4″ smartphone screen like most of the society. Real connections with life and people can only be found in the wild open spaces of wonder and magic. Travel well, my friend.

  • Michael Boyink : Mar 4th

    Being an RVer doesn’t preclude you from being a backpacker…it just means you have a mobile home base..;) We are “aspiring hikers” – hoping to do more once we’re based out of a more nimble RV and especially once we lose the “I hate hiking” teen we have on board..;)


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