Western Voices

July 10, 2017 Comments Off on Western Voices Big Posts, Features

Western Voices

By Eric Lombardo
J
“I was seeing this guy in the Bay area. I was really into working out at the time and told him I could only date him if we did a lot of stuff outdoors together. He told me we’d go hiking … it never really happened. After we broke up I realized that the relationship had been for him and hadn’t been giving me what I was looking for. I needed to do something self-reliant. So I quit my job and my old lifestyle, and went on my second backpacking trip ever, the Pacific Crest Trail.
 J
It took me 1,200 miles before I really felt like a hiker. By then I learned that I could hike 35 mile days. I was my own leader, I chose when to take breaks and where to camp, but it takes a long time to get to that confidence. You always hear about all the beautiful views and wildlife, but nobody tells you that it will be hard as shit, too. People say to ‘face your fears’ in normal life, but they don’t mean it. When it’s raining and you’re on an icy climb and that taking every step is a challenge, then you’re facing your fears.  Since I finished, I’m not as worried with the regular life stuff anymore. I learned to change my attitude and consciously choose to be happy. I’m not being struck by lightning. I’m doing just fine.
J
At high camp, known as the Lunch Counter, in the late afternoon on Mount Adams, Washington
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 Note from Eric:
This week’s post, coming from a glaciated peak in Washington, is the last in the Western Voices series. My goal for this project was to engage with outdoor lovers across the West and hear their stories. Each resonates with its own message on leadership, self-confidence, adventure, success, or community. While editing the interviews, I realized that weaved through each is a sense of place atop a mountain, in the desert, on the water, or among the forest.
 J
In making this project I considered my own sense of place in nature and at home. While this project focused on the West, my place in nature has been back East—learning to backpack, setting new goals, and sharing adventures in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I thought too of places at home—the pond behind my house and the rocks along the lake on campus. I turn to you now and ask: where is your place? Why do you feel at home there? How do you share your place with others?
  J
As we think intentionally about our place in the world, themes like community and success emerge naturally. In our fast-paced society, and especially at Northwestern, sometimes we can feel like we have no place. If you know that feeling, I hope this project helps you find your way back to your place. It did just that for me.
  J
As always, if you have any questions about the project please contact me at ericlombardo@u.northwestern.edu. This project was funded by the Wolfgang Schlitz Adventure Fund from Dartmouth College, the institution of my project partner, Alex Lochoff.
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