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!
I recently posted a picture on my personal Facebook page of Pup with piece of paper and asked for everyone to guess what it meant!? I loved everyone’s responses! Well, the answer is…Alaska!
After finishing the road trip across the Lower 48 states in the van and a trip to Hawaii I contemplated settling down in Southern California again. Not really knowing what I wanted, I bounced around Orange County for two months. Once I wrapped up 49 states I told myself Alaska would have to wait for another year or two. I took a recent short trip to Sacramento to visit family over Easter, with a stop at Yosemite and Carrizo Plain National Monument on the way back south.
I began to apartment hunt with 100% intention on calling Vanlife quits. With a week into the search I began to remember why I chose Vanlife in the first place. The stress of finding a place that was pet friendly and affordable was topping out on the ridiculous meter.
I text my dad about the stress and a got a lengthy reply that would plant the Alaska seed. “Hey Joel, something to think about. You realize that you have not finished your state road trip. You are 2600 miles from Juneau Alaska…”. This text brought back the same feeling of when my dad sent me the photo of my van for sale in my home town back in September 2014
The older I get the less time I take to think about doing things I want. Talked about moving to California for 4 years before doing it. Talked about living in a van for 2 years before doing it. Took me a few months to actually leave my home town once the van was ready. Now Alaska, that only took me a day to decide on a HECK! YES!
I have no clue where I’m going, if roads are even open or what trails I’ll try to run. I did just purchase the book The Mile Post 2017 – Alaska Planner which is jammed full of all I need to know. For now…I’m headed north to Washington and I’ll plan along the way!
My legs are officially trashed from the last couple of days, but well worth it
Did 8.5 miles at Guadalupe Mountains NP. That same day I drove to El Paso and knocked out 9.5 miles with Tommy up to Mundy’s Gap at Franklin Mountains SP. The next morning Tommy and Meike let me crash their hike to North Franklin Peak (never made it up there last time I was here). That was another 8ish miles of climbing. Although, I think I was only invited so Meike could meet the fluffy Pup! 😉
To end the day I’m thankful that Rick opted to meet for beers and some food instead of a run. He’s a buff El Paso Police officer and a beast of a runner so my legs might have fallen off if I ran anymore…haha. It was great to meet Ricks friend Scott too, who just recently completed his first full marathon – The Battalion. Awesome catching up with you Rick and hearing some more cool stories!
Again El Paso showing love! Thanks everyone…see y’all on the next time
Reflecting on 2016 at a spot that makes my Top 5, the Buffalo National River.I’ve now been to all Lower 48 states and Hawaii. Finally got my passport stamped with trips to Nicaragua for an epic trail race and the Netherlands for some family ancestry searching.
But if I’m honest, 2017 scares me a lot. How can it compete to the journey I’ve had over the last two years? I guess the only thing I can do it wait and see where my path leads.
75 years ago today on December 7, 1941 — “a date which will live in infamy”.Describing my visit to Pearl Harbor this last month is not possible. Everyone will have different emotions. Everyone will be effected in different ways. I watched peoples faces of sadness as they looked down to see “the tears” of the fallen. I witnessed a kid, about 13-15 years old, crying after the tour to the USS Arizona.It’s hard to comprehend the tragedy that took place that day. One thing we can do is never forget, no matter how many years go by.
So today take a moment to remember and honor the men and women of a generation that rose up and did make America Great.