Who is Greyhound – How I Found Myself On The Trail and On The Road
Right now I'm in the picturesque little town of Patagonia, Arizona, waiting to begin my next adventure, the Arizona Trail (AZT). The AZT runs through the heart of Arizona. Beginning on the Mexican border, it traverses roughly 800 miles through arid desert landscapes with little water, dense pine groves atop sky islands, through the majestic Grand Canyon, and finally ending upon red earth at the Utah state line. After all this, in July of this year, I will begin yet another trek, the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT).
My name is Greyhound. I’m from Portland, Oregon and as a former Pacific Crest Trail hiker class of 2018, I love to walk a lot. Unbeknownst to most, however, there is much more than a red beard and tattoos to the name. Mine is a face only a mother could appreciate, but with a story anyone can love. Stars are created when they collapse under the weight of their own pressure; so to was the creation of my journey. Unsure if I walked away discovering what you the reader, have had yet to fully learn.
I was a young, angry, disenfranchised youth and at 17 years old, was incarcerated for second-degree robbery. That charge carried a minimum sentence of 70 months (five years, ten months) but while inside, I acquired additional time for fighting that ultimately allowed me roughly seven years to reflect on my life.
During that time, I really dug into myself and metaphorically performed open heart surgery; I began to figure out who I was. I read every book I could get my hands on and stepped out of prison with a general direction of where I wanted to go and the goals that I wanted to accomplish. But, I quickly learned that those would change as I adjusted to the new world around me. I set out to better myself. I went to college to become a youth counselor and later went on to pursue an English degree. I joined public speech clubs and even dabbled in motivational speaking, but it wasn't for me. Perhaps I was the one in need of motivation? I knew there was something greater calling me, but at that time I didn't know what it was. I knew there was something inside of me burning like a hot coal that said I had to do something great with myself. I had to contribute to society and to the community around me in a positive manner. I had to give back.
Over the years, I tried to fill that void and find the answer to my calling. I tried numerous avenues to find my path, but everyone I traveled upon lead to wrong turns and dead ends. I was exhausted and still hadn't found the answer to my calling, so I settled and went back to the comforts of my youth and started a trucking company. I'm a fourth generation truck driver so this seemed to be a natural fit, especially since this was something I had wanted to do since I was a child.
In the Arms of a Goddess
When I discovered hiking, I put everything on hold. Little did I know that this would later evolve to the current situation of living in a van, drooling over topography maps, eating dried foods, and wearing hiker shorts as a daily outfit. I set out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on April 1st, 2018 and by the time I reached Cabazon, I knew two things: I was in pain and I was in love.
Being that I just started long distance hiking, my body was not up for the same challenge that my mind was. The IT Band on my left leg was inflamed, tight, and it was telling me to stop. I was standing on the trail in tears from the pain and frustration. I felt like this was the end and I wouldn’t be able to answer my calling. I wanted nothing more than to continue the trail and finish the hike, so I ate a handful of Ibuprofen and continued. Nothing was gonna stop me. I was in love with the trail, the environment, the people, and all the new experiences that I had only been exposed to for two or three weeks. I was quickly transforming into pure Hiker Trash and I loved every dirty mile of it.
Eventually, I did make the decision to get off trail early and go back to running my business. Within one week of being off trail, I started to experience what I now know to be post-trail depression. I felt like a failure. I set out to accomplish the Pacific Crest Trail and follow my own path, yet the demands of the world, financial income, and this status that I was trying to achieve all came to a head, separating me from my new found love, and put me back in the “real world” just as fast as I had left it.
Like most, we return to the things that comfort us and that's what I did. I returned to being a truck driver and chalked up my experience to one of great memories and moved on with life. I had money to make, right? Wrong. All of those talks around smoky late night campfires and the energy there started to sink in. I came to understand that I was disillusioned with the world and where I belonged. I decided that I didn’t want to be a truck driver anymore. I wanted to roam the earth and be free with no fences.
For me this was big. What would my dad say? I’m fourth generation. My father is still driving trucks and my grandfather, my grandfather’s father, all drove trucks. A change like this would be nothing short of failure. However, thru-hiking had fulfilled me in a way that I’ve never thought possible.
In November 2018, I returned home after a month of being gone on the road, closed the doors to my trucking company, and bought a van. I made the decision I was going to be a full-time hiker. I was gonna do this and this is what I wanted. This is what I loved to do and it was my therapy. I wanted to create and inspire other people to get outdoors and hike. But it wasn’t that easy.
I started to doubt myself. I just gave up a house, most of my creature comforts, and a six-figure job, for what? To live in a van? To be basically homeless? To wear hiking shorts every day, be lost in the wilderness detached from everyone and everything for months at a time? I wanted to be free. I wanted to be free and to be loved. And now I am.
The Goddess Mother Earth spoke to me so I listened. She filled my heart with love and fulfillment. She gave me a home that cannot be taken away. She gave me a tribe of beautifully misunderstood people who often only understand each other and the way the wind blows them.
Mother Earth, I’ve found love with you. I’ve never felt that I was worthy of you. But now, our hearts are in harmony and the dream has come true. I stand amazed without a doubt and know that, despite the past, the trail is what made me better today. So here I am, with my hand held out waiting to see you again. Waiting for your embrace. This is why I love you; because you loved me!
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