Month: October 2016
Rise and shine. 7 A.M. never felt so good. Team Carden woke up with a pep in their step as they knew the day ahead of them was light in compared to what they endured the past two days. Marshall led the morning charge cooking eggs, cheese grits, and chunky bacon. Breakfast was devoured and everyone headed back to the tents to clean up the campsite.
The weather started warming up, and for what felt like the first-time, smiles started cracking through everyone’s faces. Today’s journey was a 3.5 mile hike from Gooch Gap to Woody Gap, a test with some uphill and downhill terrain, but most importantly, very pretty outlooks that sought to inspire.
Spencer did his usual, took Carden first for about fifteen minutes. The camaraderie was high from the start as the team was cheering him on from the back. Marshall took Carden next for about half a mile. Then Virginia, Carden’s sister, did a great job bearing the load as she was fighting through a cold.
Not before long, we were almost two miles into the hike and we found the perfect lunch spot. It was absolutely beautiful.
After lunch, Harbor Hall, the owner of Venture Crossfit based in Midtown took Carden through a crazy uphill stretch of the journey. It was nice to finally have someone so fit on the trip and we were all very happy to have him because he supplied an abundance of gummy worms (aka, the best trail food you could imagine).
While Carden was being carried, Dusty was recording with his GoPro capturing some absolutely amazing footage.
Last, but not least, Bryan Wish who had joined the team the night before took Carden on his back for a big charge hiking a big downhill and uphill. By the time Bryan was done carrying Carden, there was only .3/10 of a mile left, and Spencer carried Carden to the Day 3 finish line.
Here is how we finished our day on the trail:
After we took this picture, we took the three cars we had on hand and drove 45 minutes to C.K. and Susan’s Walls amazing house right near Mount Yonah. This was our only day not camping, so everyone was relieved for their short 5 star retreat.
At the house, the team caught showers for the first time in three days. Everyone passed out on anything they could find. Spencer found the hanging bed that Sarah’s Dad built. Carden and Virginia found two comfy beds. Bryan found a swinging hammock and Marshall spent some time resting in his dedicated room at the Walls’ house.
About two hours later, it was almost 6 P.M. and we were waiting on Sarah’s parents’ famous spaghetti. While waiting, Spencer and Dusty made a fire and Marshall took the team around on a golf cart on the airstrip where mini airplanes fly in and out.
After dinner, it was time to recap the first two days. Bryan Wish began interviewing everyone asking in-depth questions about their experiences, trying to soak up every important detail for our amazing audience and followers to learn about. It was so cool to see the passion in people’s eyes and voices talking about their experience.
Sarah’s mom chimed in during one interview with Carden and said, “Carden, what were you thinking?”
Carden replied, “I was a bit nervous of course. When people slipped a little, I was afraid they were going to buckle … but I had this quiet confidence that everything would be fine.”
When Marshall was asked about the first three days, he replied, “it’s been absolutely amazing. I knew this was going to be great, but I didn’t realize how powerful and transforming of an effect this adventure would have on me.” … Pretty strong words for someone who leads a life of adventure.
Immediately after, Bryan headed to the table to begin typing away the recaps of the past 3 days. The team headed to sleep and their dreams began to shift to the challenge of the next day: Summiting Blood Mountain:
If you missed Day 2 blog post, click here!
Camrin Braun is fascinated by the marine life of our planet. In 2010, he joined a team of experts who employ cutting edge techniques to understand the ecology of the world’s most important fish.
Since then, he has been elected a National Geographic Young Explorer and become a member of the Explorer’s Club. His expeditions have ranged from sailing the remote Pacific to understand coral reefs to tagging sharks in Sudan.
He is now pursuing his doctoral degree in Oceanography at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where he explores the relationship between the movements of large, open ocean fish and the physical, chemical, and biological environment they inhabit.
On this episode we discuss:
“The crazy duality in our #piggyback adventures is there is one person who is physically incapable versus one person who may think they are physically incapable. But the beauty that lies within the two mindsets is there is a common dream, which bonds two people together step by step to achieve a common goal.”- Spencer Wyckoff
Day two began with an early rise, a chilling air and a gusty wind. Marshall started the day off by cooking everyone an awesome breakfast with eggs, bacon and grits. Shortly after, the team embarked on what would be their toughest stretch yet, an 8.4 mile hike to Gooch Gap with 3 added team members – Joe, Clay, and Tyler (and Shea the dog!).
While a bit sore from Day 1, Spencer Wyckoff, the notable “flag-bearer” took charge by carrying Carden the first leg of the trip. What followed was a consistent team effort where Marshall Mosher, Vestigo’s captain, took Carden on a steady push. Next was Carden’s Dad, followed by Joe, Tyler, Clay, and Virginia. Before long, the team was a few miles into the trip. While no end in mind, the team trucked forward.
One of the breakthroughs of Day 2 was creating an efficient system to take Carden off the harness and pass her along to someone else to keep the group moving. It was taking between ten to fifteen minutes to make the transition from one person to another on the first day. The team figured out that while someone was carrying Carden on the harness, another person would then take her and go “bareback” for shorter sprints.
The person who previously held the harness would let someone else put it on while someone took Carden on the bareback. This allowed for transition times to be reduced by roughly ten minutes per stop. This hybrid strategy improved dividends not only on time, but the physical impact on Carden, and the morale and camaraderie of the group.
As the group continued forward, there was a sign that left everyone a bit deflated. It read, “4.8 miles to Gooch Gap.” Spencer remarked, “this was definitely the low point of the day for me. It seemed like we had already gone so far, the GPS was telling us we’d gone further, and we weren’t even halfway to the campsite.” But, keep in mind the resilient bunch who were behind the idea of doing this from the start. Nothing was going to stop Marshall, Carden, and Spencer from moving onward.
Then there was a moment where the journey took a turn for the worse. It was a daunting memory that Spencer would ensure didn’t happen again. “We made a mistake when we were transitioning Carden to another body. Instead of using the 3 foot orange tripod we were setting her down on, we put her on a slanted log. All of a sudden we heard how much pain she was in being in such an uncomfortable position.” Spencer’s voice describing this moment only showed how much he cared about his sister and how to make this arduous trek as easy as possible for her.
The team’s high of the day was when they arrived at Gooch Gap around 6 pm, after almost seven hours of hiking. They did not just arrive to an empty campsite though, they arrived to a campsite where Sarah Isabel Wall’s (Marshall’s Girlfriend) Parents, C.K. and Susan were waiting with hot bowls of fresh chili for the team. It was just the refuel the team needed, eating quietly, devouring every bite until they were full in the stomach for the first time in a long time.
After dinner, Marshall’s roommate and officemate, Bryan Wish arrived to bring in some cooking supplies and support on Day 3 of the walk. The profound moment of the day was a moment only half the campsite heard. Bryan, Marshall, and Spencer were sitting around the campfire talking about their careers. Spencer began asking Bryan and Marshall about their businesses and why they started. Spencer began discussing his work at Home Depot and the great benefits and perks of the job.
Before long, Bryan said to Spencer, “well, what’s your dream?”
Spencer replied, “the tough thing about my dream is that it may be unattainable. I have a sister with a disease that I can’t stop from worsening.”
Goosebumps rattled down everyone’s spine, and there was a long pause.
Soon after, Bryan brought up a recent conversation with a group of medical students he had met at MIT where they discussed how some of the biggest breakthroughs in medicine have come from private enterprise. Marshall chipped in with a similar comment.
Before long, the “What if” of the moment started creeping in. We started questioning the system, being bold, and asking, “why do we give our money to nonprofits for FSH where there is no transparency for where our money is going?” There has to be a better way, a solution.
Soon the question was asked, “What if we started our own company and figured out how to solve this problem ourselves?”
The seed of an idea was planted, and Day 3 was only going to get better. #CardenCan
The Day 2 Crew:
How many of you would be crazy enough to take a stand for a cause you were committed to changing, by walking the whole section of the Georgia Appalachian Trail, especially when for the entire 79 miles, the special person you are raising awareness for had to be carried on your shoulders?
That special person is Carden Wyckoff, former University of Georgia student and current professional at Salesforce, who battles FSH Muscular Dystrophy. Simply, Muscular Dystrophy is a long term physical disorder that deteriorates the strength of the skeletal muscles.
So how did this crazy idea come together in the first place? Athens-based startup Vestigo works to empower the outdoors by inspiring local trips for outdoors guides to take people in the community for an experience that will challenge and push you outside your comfort zone. When Marshall heard about Carden’s condition, there was nothing more he wanted to do than to help through a mission he works to serve everyday.
Marshall believed he could do something extremely special and meaningful which led to the idea to embark on a crazy adventure. After three months of planning, working with partners, and helping Carden and her brother Spencer get ready, the significance of this event became even bigger. They realized were fighting for a cause bigger than any one person, but for an entire community of people who battle FSH Muscular Dystrophy every single day.
Day 1 of Piggyback Adventures
The Piggyback Adventures began on a blistering cold Saturday morning on October 22nd. First day trek: 7.4 Miles. It was 35 degrees Fahrenheit with wind gusts up to 25 mph. Not your ideal conditions to begin a 79 mile adventure. Like the weather, Carden’s brother Spencer Wyckoff seemed a bit uncertain but said with uncanny confidence, “I was nervous, uncertain, but ready.”
Since 2014, Spencer has been carrying Carden on his back in various events such as Tomorrow World and Spartan Races. But this adventure was different. Hiking and camping for 9 straight days would be quite the test. While Spencer has been the main person carrying Carden on his back the past two years, he realized that he would need to place trust in the other team members to carry his sister to the finish line.
Within the first two miles of the adventure, four different people had to carry Carden on their back. Little did they know how hard it would be to support Carden on the harness that was custom built just for this trip. Carden’s sister, Virginia Wyckoff said, “the hardest part about day 1 was getting the harnesses set, so much stopping and starting, figuring out how to make the towels work to make Carden more comfortable and adjusting as we went. Before long, we figured out how to make Carden more secure against our back by using a bungee cord that wrapped around Carden’s back so she didn’t flop around.”
Simply, there was not so much a plan for how this was going to work or even if the harness would hold up. You would think with Spencer being a Georgia Tech graduate, he would have lined up some mechanical engineers 3 months ago. Spencer felt it would be best to build an MVP prototype first, and then have his friends help.
While the group got off to a rough start the first two miles, the group was propelled by when Carden’s sister Virginia marched forward with Carden on her back for almost a mile. This was a big confidence booster to all the boys on the trip. What followed was Marshall putting in the headphones and carrying on for almost a mile.
Spencer’s mindset gained a big mental boost from watching this unfold before his eyes and truly stepped up to the plate next. Carden’s father also played a big role carrying Carden and made a big push for about 30 minutes. This was a team effort and no one was backing down. Before they knew it, the group entered the camp site around 7pm on a high … perhaps the first high of the day.
While the day started with the team having no idea how they were going to carry Carden on the trail, they had such a strong reason why. This greater purpose has been pushing them towards an end goal bigger than themselves. At the end of the day, that is what mattered. This is a special group, and they are making history step by step. #CardenCan
7.4 miles down, 71.6 miles to go
Special Thanks to the Day 1 Crew:
Spencer Wyckoff, Carden Wyckoff, Virginia Wyckoff, Sarah Isabel Walls, Marshall Mosher, Dad, Ben, and Chris
For those who are interested in learning more about the thru-hike of the Appalachian trail with Carden and Spencer Wyckoff, check out this amazing write-up on the Piggyback Adventures blog!
“When Carden Wyckoff was 9 years old, we found out she had a form of muscular dystrophy known as FSH (facioscapulohumeral). Over the course of the last 14 years, this genetic disorder has been the source of countless physical and mental hardships throughout her life. Just this year, she had to make the difficult personal decision of accepting an electronic scooter to aid her day to day mobility, something she had been fighting against for years. The mental toughness required by Carden and other individuals who have to battle day and night for their physical mobility and mental well-being is not easily matched – it’s safe to say that, by default, they have to be tougher for what they’re forced to endure.
This 79 mile Georgia Appalachian Trail piggyback hike is a tribute to those who are on that battlefield, fighting each day for their physical and mental well-being. Over the next 9 days, our team, who will each assist in helping carry Carden (115ish lbs) via a custom piggybackpack harness, will be tested both physically and mentally. It will be extremely challenging, we expect that. There will be moments where it just doesn’t seem feasible anymore to keep going, we expect that. Our feet will blister up and our back muscles will ache, we fully expect that too. But isn’t that just a small taste of what it’s like every day for a person with FSH muscular dystrophy? Isn’t that the struggle felt by someone living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy? Even though our journey may seem crazy, out there, and extremely difficult, the truth is that it pales in comparison to the daily hardships of hundreds of thousands of other people living with this terrible disorder. Well from October 22-30, 2016, we are taking a stand against muscular dystrophy and proving that anyone can overcome their perceived limits by pushing past their physical barriers – and we invite you to take that stand with us.
How do we plan to accomplish this? Well first of all, we have to recognize our amazing primary partner Vestigo, who has organized all the logistics for this trek including, but not limited to, our day to day trip itinerary and working with sponsors for our gear, food, and shelter. From the inception of this idea, they made it all happen with an unbelievable level of service and positive energy. We’ve structured our trip as a series of day hikes, almost always starting and finishing at a road crossing in northern Georgia, making it easy to join us for a single day hike, an evening camp out, or for all 9 days for the like-minded adventure seeker! The plan is wake up each day at the rising sun, fuel up with breakfast, make the hike to our next destination, camp out, sleep with the setting sun, repeat. Our average day hike will be in the neighborhood of 7-10 miles – for more information about the trip visit our Mission Page.
We warmly and enthusiastically welcome anyone to join us for any amount of time on this adventure. We’re also realistic (well sort of). So if you’d rather show your support through a donation you can find that option here: http://www.piggybackadventures.com/support
Finally, if you’ve made it this far, felt the tingle of goosebumps, and are inspired by our mission – you would help us tremendously if you PLEASE SHARE this with your social media network of choice. Our intention is to raise awareness for muscular dystrophy and to inspire others in the process and you just never know what that 1 share might do to motivate someone out there.”
To learn more about Carden and Spencer, and their upcoming adventure, check out the main Piggyback Adventures site!
Chris Shiver is a natural born entrepreneur and investor who has visited over 36 countries, living in 4 of them and working in 6. Chris was the founder and President of a NASA-based composite thermal materials and products company who’s proprietary material helped NASA patch it’s heat shield in orbit.Chris is also an avid scuba diver who’s spent 30 years in the sport and 5 years as the director of sales and marketing for 6 high-end diving resorts located in Fiji, Belize, and the Philippines. Chris is currently the CEO and editor of ColoradoAdventures.com, a one-stop-shop for outdoor recreation and adventures.
Some people run to get a natural high. Some run to avoid studying for Microeconomics. Some run to experience the small mindless nothingness that accompanies rhythmic strides. My reason for running is a combination of these things, but mostly the last one.
What do you do when you can’t seem to access the mindlessness, and are easily disturbed by the noise and aggressive wafts of exhaust streaming from the trucks that pass by? I find very few things more frustrating than needing an escape and being denied immediate access to it.
Last week I found myself struggling to find the instant calm that is inherently associated with running in conditions of near silence, like can be found in trail running. However, I didn’t have time to make it all the way to the trails on my run, so pavement and noise it was.
At the intersection of Broad Street and Milledge Avenue, the one where you feel like everyone and their brother is watching you jog across, and that’s approximately 0.2 miles from where I live, I almost turned around for fear of being overwhelmed with sound and distraction. Then, remembering something my yoga teacher said once quoting Rumi, I chilled out a few degrees. This poem by Rumi is called “The Guest House.”
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
This is an effective and quick reminder to retreat to when faced with stupid distractions like an East-West bus blowing exhaust in your face when you’re just trying to go on a morning trot. Say, “What’s up?” to that resentment you feel when someone nearly runs you over in a crosswalk, or “Hello” to that gratefulness you feel when someone asks you how your day is going.
Lisa Slagle is the founder and Creative Director of Wheelie Creative: A creative marketing agency that creates wild and meaningful content for the outdoor industry. They build brand identities, make videos, and work with businesses to help them tell their story in a fun and engaging way.
In this episode we learn how Lisa started Wheelie Creative, what inspired Lisa to get into snowboarding (Lisa has had 5 concussions in the last year from snowboarding) and how snowboarding, fear and the outdoors are closely tied together.
Ryan Stolp is the founder of Alpine Hammock and Deep South Mountaineering. Alpine Hammock has raised over $60,000 on Kickstarter. Deep South Mountaineering creates elegantly functional outdoor equipment that seeks to protect our shared natural resources.
On this episode, we learn how Ryan Stolp started Alpine Hammock, how Ryan used Kickstarter to fund his company, Ryan’s experience as a dog sledder and we hear the story of how Ryan and his friends summited a mountain for the first time and officially named the mountain!
Jon Bowen is a cartographer at National Geographic where he works on building interactive maps and atlases. Through cartography, Jon has worked in the Galapagos islands at The Charles Darwin Research Center and has also led numerous whitewater rafting trips in the back country. Jon was also nominated as one of the 30Under30 creative leaders in the outdoor community.
On this episode, we learn how Jon fell in love with cartography, how cartography can help people get involved with the outdoors, and a behind the scenes look at how maps and cartography shape our world. We also get to hear what Jon thinks of Pokemon Go!
Lance Haynie is the associate director of the University of Georgia Recreational Program. Lance’s primary responsibilities include leading, organizing and managing all the outdoor trips for the UGA recreation program.
On this episode, we learn what inspired Lance to get into the outdoors, the positive relationship the outdoors can build between your family and friends, and how the outdoors can strengthen you as a leader and communicator.
Fun fact: Lance is also who inspired our host, Marshall Mosher, to get into the outdoors. Without Lance, this show probably would not exist!
After spending 3 years as an event director, Adam Kimble spent 2015 with his wife traveling internationally through Chile, Thailand, Australia and many other countries across a total of 6 continents. Following their return home from the United States, Adam set out in February 2016 to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest crossing of the USA on foot, traveling from Huntington Beach, CA to Tybee Island, GA, completing the 2,500-mile journey in 60 days.
On this episode we get to hear how Adam fell in love with running after a half-marathon race with his wife (After the race he said he was not going to do a race ever again…quite the opposite happened), the intense challenges Adam faced running across America, and the life lessons Adam learned from being an ultramarathoner.
On November 1st, 2014, Hina Dar went hiking for the first time in her life. In 2016, Hina hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.
On this episode we get to hear Hina share her powerful story on how going through a tough divorce got her into working out and hiking, how she went from a beginner to hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro and the advice she would give to everyone else about getting started in the outdoors.
Kirk Reynolds is the founder and CEO of Discover Outdoors. Started in 2004, Discover Outdoors has been guiding local, regional and international adventure trips for thousands of city dwellers. Their team handles it all from transportation to logistics for adults, kids, private parties and corporate teams.
On this episode, we learn what got Kirk into the outdoors, how Kirk left a secure job at IBM to build Discover Outdoors and the impact that outdoor trips can have on your life.
Blair Braverman is a nonfiction writer and dogsledder whose work has appeared in This American Life, The Atavist, Buzzfeed, Orion, The Best Women’s Travel Writing and many more. Currently, she is training for the Iditarod, a 1100-mile dogsled race across Alaska.
On this episode, we learn how Blair got into dogsledding, behind the scenes of being a dogsledder and how she is training for the Iditarod.
Lauren Skonieczny is an ultra marathon runner who has completed half marathons, full marathons, and 50-mile races. Currently, Lauren is training for a 70-mile race in Iceland and has her sights set on a 100-mile race.
On this episode we talk about how Lauren got into running, the impact it’s had on her life and how she turned a hobby into her dream job.
Joe Jacobi is an American former slalom canoeist who competed from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s. Competing in two Summer Olympics, he won a gold in the C-2 event at Barcelona in 1992.
On this episode, we hear Joe’s journey of how he became an Olympic Gold Medalist, what he’s done after the Olympics and how to build a healthy lifestyle starting with your morning routine.
The summer before my first semester at the University of Georgia, I had the opportunity to spend five indescribable days in the wilderness with 14 other incoming freshmen. I can sincerely say it was an adventure unlike any other.
Before this trip, I had never slept in a minuscule tent next to two strangers (but really, how many people can say they have done that?), let alone camp at all for that matter. I can remember being so excited yet so scared for what the week had in store. Would I get to shower? What about food? I don’t even know anyone that is going on this trip; what if I don’t get along with them?
All of my questions and anxiety were quickly put to ease over the next few days. Through hiking, kayaking and white water rafting, I discovered something about myself and what I was looking for in the next four years. There is something so mysterious and magical about nature and the great outdoors.
The best way I can put it into words is feeling all alone while you are surrounded by hundreds of people who care about you. You feel lost, but also at home and at peace with what is happening around you. Nature has a unique way of putting you in situations that make you uncomfortable but end up teaching lessons you can’t get anywhere else.
I am a firm believer that the outdoors are a natural remedy to any issue troubling anyone. When you stand at the top of that mountain you hiked, when you see that breathtaking view, when you sit and listen to the birds, you feel unstoppable.
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