I pull into the Nairn Falls Provincial Park parking lot outside of Whistler, B.C. and go to the end that is shaded. As I park I see a young scraggly bearded kid sitting at a picnic table eating. Leaning on the table is an older red road bicycle loaded with what looks like everything he owns.
What’s his story?
The path through the picnic area leads to the short 1.5K trail to the falls. Pup being Pup, runs up to the kid thinking he will get butt pets or food. I apologize for Pups pushiness and ask if he is riding cross the country? He replied that he started in Las Vegas and was only going as far as Whitehorse, Yukon right now. He put a lid on his rice, grabbed an apple and banana and asked if he could hike with us (us being me and the Pup).
Our story swapping led us to the waterfall before we officially introduced ourselves. His name is Jesse. Being from Wisconsin his lust for living simple was just that, simple. At the age of 22 he has biked a lot of the lower United States. Returns home, saves up some money, regroups and hits the road on his bike. Sure wish when I was his age I wasn’t driven by money and material things.
We say our safe travels farewell and I take off for Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. I enjoy a crazy snow packed trail run/hike to upper Joffre Lake and Mt. Matier Glacier. After bombing the snowy down hill, with intermittent ski sessions, back to the van I hear someone say my name. It’s none other then Jesse!
“Dang kid! I was just thinking of where you were…how did you make it this far so fast!”, I yelled at him. The drive is only 22 miles from where we met but the whole way is straight up (13% grade)! We were both going to setup camp at the trailhead for the night. Jesse though, he was sleeping under the night sky in a sleeping bag on the lower lake view point. Total dirtbag!
I wake up to Jesse’s bike leaning up against the front of my van. I see him drying out his sleeping bag from the morning dew in the sun. He is usually up extremely early in the mornings. Sleeping under the night sky comes with the early morning sun waking you up. We exchange contact info before saying farewells again. I have a strong feeling our paths may cross again!
As a wandering traveler sometimes I get called crazy, sometimes I get called inspirational. The crazy part I can understand but the inspirational part is hard for me to wrap my head around. I only have myself and a dog to worry about. I have a bed in a van, eat junk food, drive to trails and run. Only thing different now then my old life is I quit my job to live in a van to travel until the money I saved runs out.Insert the “crazies”, or as I see it “normals”, from the picture above into this story. A single mom with three kids (4, 5 and 10) and two dogs traveling the country in a SUV. Now that’s inspiring! I was scared to death when my dream started to fall into place…I can only image what it must have felt like for Michelle to live out her dream!?
Our first interaction was when my aunt shared Michelle’s Facebook page, Restless Wanderess, with me. I reached out telling her if she had any questions about the part of the country she was going through at the time, I could try to give suggestions. From there we followed each other on social media wondering if our paths would cross at some point? Well, a year later we happen to be crossing the same path. I was headed east and she was heading west.
Ethan has great photograph skills. Photo Credit: Restless Wanderess
Long story short we finally got to meet up for a hike in Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming. In true wandering spirit form we clicked like long time friends. Michelle later said she wasn’t sure how I’d react to her rambunctious group. But, it didn’t phase me a bit. On the contrary I felt like a I was being a bad role model when I’d laugh at the funny things they would do and say.Topics of the hike: Snow White the hamster with cool black strips, dare devil trail running youngster, feeding the prairie dogs, their cross country journey, grown little man child needing a ride in mom’s back pack even with two bags of potato chips at the end of the hike to motivate him, tent vs hotel camping and a whole host of fun things.Coolest part about meeting Michelle and her family is that I got to see again another example that following your dreams is possible. I truly do understand that things may get in the way of what you want. Took me three years to finally pull the trigger to live out my dream. It can be a new car, traveling the world, getting in shape, or whatever your imagination creates just keep working towards the dream!