We are so delighted to introduce our first guest blogger, Tyler Socash. Born and raised in Old Forge, New York, Tyler has called Rochester home for the past 10 years. He earned a BS in Biological Sciences: Neuroscience and a Masters in School Counseling from The University of Rochester.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Tyler on his upcoming yearlong adventure. What I discovered was that upon submitting his Master’s thesis, he announced an early retirement, booked a plane ticket, and started preparing for the adventure of a lifetime.
Many may consider planning an escapade of this caliber just after graduation risky, but Tyler’s pragmatism and reasoning behind taking this trip speaks to the contrary. He will begin by taking a southbound thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, an undertaking that only an estimated 10% of PCT hikers attempt due to its rigorous nature. Next, he will fly to New Zealand and complete a thru-hike of the bucolic Te Araroa Trail. Finally, he will return stateside and hike home by way of the Appalachian Trail in typical outdoorsmen fashion. Vestigo is honored for the opportunity to follow along as Tyler blogs about his experience over the next year. Stay Tuned for more Trail Stories from Tyler.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR PASSION FOR THE OUTDOORS?
Tyler: Growing up in the Adirondack Mountains (ADK) I had a lot of access to waterways, trails, and mountains. I was constantly immersed in the outdoors. I took advantage of it. A lot of people take their surroundings for granted, but I never took the trails, or water for granted. I tried to do something fun outside every single day.
WHAT IS YOUR FONDEST MEMORY OF GROWING UP IN THE ADK?
Tyler: The first thing that comes to mind are all of the island camping trips that I took every year with my family. We have gone for 23 years now. My favorite activity was water volleyball, or as we called it, “Wally ball.”
I also remember driving up to Lake Placid as a child and having my face pressed against the window the entire way. I was so impressed with the Adirondacks and how huge they were. I developed an appreciation for the natural world at a young age. The Wildlife intrigued me and sparked a deeper interest for the natural world.
WHAT IS THE LONGEST TIME YOU HAVE LIVED OUTDOORS?
Tyler: I lived in a tent, for 6 months, in 2010, in Lake Placid. There, I worked as a guide for the Adirondack Mountain Club where I was a “Wilderness trip leader.” It was my job to guide people on wilderness backpacking trips to the 22 high peaks of the ADK that are trail-less, meaning that they are not marked, or maintained trails.
I’VE BEEN TOLD THAT YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE BY THE AWESOME PRINCIPLE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE AWESOME PRINCIPLE?
Tyler: The Awesome Principle is if given two options, it is not that you have to choose the more awesome option; you are actually forced to choose the more awesome option. It allows you to have fun every single day.
Another thing that spurred the Awesome Principle was Tyler’s love of Journaling. Tyler has journaled every single day for almost 12 years without ever missing a day. However, it is a different kind of journaling. Tyler calls it calendaring. If there is nothing to write down he told me that he “didn’t reach the potential that day, and he will do something to make the day awesome.”
Calendaring is simply writing down the highlights of his day in the square of his calendar every single day. This forces him to have a calendar day every day. Tyler said, “The worst thing that could happen is that I didn’t do anything interesting that day.” If that happens he does something small to make the day calendar worthy.
What made you decided to leave corporate America and pursue a life of adventure?
Tyler: It was really a combination of my schooling and desk job responsibilities preventing me from pursuing my passion. Most everyone works to make a living because it is necessary. Over the past few years, I served as an admissions counselor for the University of Rochester, took Masters classes at night, and interned as a school counselor at schools around Rochester. I became so busy that I couldn’t escape my responsibilities. I grew tired of the 9-5 gig. Like most Americans, I have had 2-3 weeks of vacation a year and it hasn’t been enough. Now that I have completed my Masters, I am taking the time back that I lost in the classroom; time that took away from the woods, where I feel at home. So now I will have a year in the woods to do what I am passionate about.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR WHEN YOU RETURN?
Tyler: I will always have my education, and they can’t take that away from me. I can’t predict the year, but I have always had a passion for protecting the planet and the outdoors. We are in an age with [growing] population, deforestation and resource usage exploding. This means that the wildlife population is also diminishing. I am hoping that I will have a fire lit and become a preservationist (that’s the thought at least).
I hope the coming year will show me the best each place I visit has to offer. Once I see the rarity of the places I adventure off to, I think that it will make me want to protect and advocate for wilderness preservation in those locations even more.
WHAT IS YOUR GOAL OF SHARING YOUR STORY WITH OTHERS?
Tyler: By sharing this journey with others, I hope I will encourage others to get outside and see how awesome the natural world is. Once they see the natural world – and all its beauty – I hope they will want to see more of it, and protect it as well. So much of this world is paved. Malls, parking lots, and roads are outgrowing the forests. I want to bring us back to preserving the natural world and not destroying it. It is hard to protect something you don’t understand. By giving people a window into what the natural world is and how important it is to keep it that way, I hope that others will gain, and share the appreciation I have for the natural world.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO PURSUE ADVENTURE?
Tyler’s advice: first tip would be go out and try it. If you love it keep doing it. I climbed the first high peak, Cascade, and from there I looked around and wanted to climb all of the peaks I saw. I went home and memorized the names of the mountain peaks, and knew I had to return to them. By the end of one short vacation, I had climbed seven high peaks.
I went out, tried something, fell in love, and got the hiking bug. Since then, adventure has become the only thing I know. Every vacation is planned around making it an awesome outdoor experience, all because I gave hiking a try. I study maps, read guidebooks, and do my homework. I have made mistakes but haven’t been discouraged by them. I climbed the 12th highest ADK peak without any winter equipment. It wasn’t easy, but I got to the top. I have learned from my mistakes, and self-corrected. I still do that.
Stay tuned for more Trail Stories from Tyler!
Follow Tyler on Instagram @tylerhikes
Follow his personal blog @ tylerhikes.blogspot.com