The Journey I am currently on started in February 2018. The Journey started because the path I was on did not lead to a place I wanted to end up. Looking at those around me that were 10 to 20 years older and it was a place I most definitely did not want to be. They have nice houses, expensive cars or trucks and lots of toys, but they just seemed bitter and angry quite often so obviously these things and the money was not making them happy, it just never seemed to be enough. Everything seemed to be about them and they did not seem to care how their actions impacted others, it was not the person I wanted to become, and I could see myself picking up some of their traits, when I came home I found myself having a shorter temper, and buying things I did not need to fill a void that just wasn’t being filled. Some people might say that I did not have to start acting like them unless I wanted to, but I subscribe to the thought process that you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. So I decided I needed to change the 5 people I spend most of my time with.
Up until very recently, work had been a necessity and I had never considered the impact my work was having on my personal life. But in June 2017 I went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat that forced me to look at who I am, and where I was going. The result was not evident at first, but when the retreat was over it quickly became clear that my behaviour up until that time had been mostly reactionary and not intentional. My reactions were a series of actions that were expected of me by those that surrounded me. It was about November 2017 about one year after having stopped drinking and 5 months after the silent meditation retreat that the decision that something was going to have to change was made.
After the decision to change was made, a lot of research commenced. Looking at where I could spend time with people that enjoyed many of the same things, the idea of co-op workspace started to appeal to me, the thought that other people who wanted independence were all in one place was too tempting and I signed up for a co-op workspace in Feb 2018. From there many long weeknights and weekends of searching and trying different things commenced. I did not have as many companions as initially expected as my day job allowed me the ability to work from 6pm-10pm and on weekends, and most of the other co-workers left at 5 pm and did not work the weekends. However, the co-workers that were hungry stayed late and they were the people worth meeting.
At first, I started writing a blog it was both to write about what I was thinking and to see what I really wanted to do and would enjoy. It had also been a long time dream to start a website and this was a great opportunity to knock it off the list. Sure no one read the blog and I did not promote it, but it was a great way to collect my thoughts and get them out there. The more I wrote the more I realized that I wanted to do something that had meaning for me, and could be easily communicated to others. You can read more about this here. After looking at my “WHY” it was clear that my current job did not satisfy my need for contribution, it did, however, pay well and that would be a difficult hurdle to overcome. However after clarifying my “WHY” it became a lot easier to figure out my next steps.
To figure out my “WHY” I looked at what I enjoyed and thought others would benefit from. I realized one of my favourite activities is hiking. Hiking affords you the freedom to explore, and it gives you a sense of self-reliance, it provides an escape from the noise and consumerism of daily life. Hiking also allows a person to reconnect with Nature and with who they really are, and not what advertising and society tell them they should be. With a purpose in mind, I then needed to figure out what was the best way to help get people out hiking. I thought back to my first solo trip and remembered what I had done right and wrong and realized that my biggest impediment had been being able to afford quality gear. On my first trip, my gear was too heavy and created a lot of pain and discomfort, to the point where I cut my trip short by a day. I thought that if I had this problem others would too. So I settled in on quality, lightweight and locally made gear.
When I first wrote My “WHY” is sounded mechanical (to provide comfortable and conscientious adventure gear that lasts, so you will always have the freedom to go where you please even if you have never hiked before, the aim is to make hiking as accessible as possible.) It took a while to come up with this and it’s really not short and sweet, but it covered what was needed. The most recent version of my Why is “to help people get out hiking, by making it easy and give them the tools to do it”, and as time goes by it will likely continue to evolve as things become clearer.
With a “WHY” in hand, I researched what camping gear would be most widely received in the community and settled on a hiking quilt and a one person tent. Quilts, because there are not a lot of hiking quilts being offered and made in USA quilts, are very expensive so I went about finding a US manufacturer that could make a quality down quilt, and to be competitive sell it for a small mark up. For the tent again lightweight tents are very expensive and ones made in the US are not easily found, so again I set out to find a USA based manufacturer for a one person lightweight hiking tent, that was as affordable as possible. I then figured out how to create an Amazon listing to sell these products.
Before actually placing an order for quilts and tents I had a quilt and tent sample sent to me to test. I wanted to ensure that the tent design would work and that the quilt was warm. I took the gear samples on overnight trips with rain and on canoe trips until it was clear that the tent was durable and kept me dry and that the quilt was also durable and kept me warm. Once the quality was verified I placed my first order.
Parallel to choosing and making products I also wanted to start engaging and conversing with people looking to start hiking and people already in the hiking community. With the intent of providing content that would inform and hopefully get people out hiking. The best method I could find was to create a Facebook Group and Facebook Page. By creating the Facebook Group it enabled direct communication with people who shared the same interests and to get insight into their perspectives it also helped me know that I was not alone and that other people also enjoy the same things I do. Being a part of the group has introduced me too many amazing hikers and hopefully has brought others together too.
The first Quilts and Tents are available for the public to order. I find myself nervous because I cannot guess how they will be received, in retrospect perhaps I should have set up a page with the gear and asked people if they were interested, but I felt that the gear was great and affordable that it will help people get out on the trail, so I forged ahead and now will soon find out if my journey to help people get out hiking will continue as planned or will need to be rerouted, because the journey does not end it just might take an unexpected turn. If anyone has any recommendations or ideas from products they have tried please let me know as I am always open to hearing what people have to say.
May you be free to roam,