So Much More To Learn With Others


Feels Like Redemption Video Shoot – 3 Days of Backpacking

Location: Reavis Ranch
Side jaunt: Circle Stone Indian Ruins on Day 2
Total distance: 20 miles (day 1: 7miles + day 2: 6miles + day 3: 7miles)
Conditions: Day 1 unexpected all day rain, Night 1 temps dipping below 25 degrees, Day 2 sunshine with moderate wind that made difficulty for filming, Day 3 sunshine and mid-60’s
The Crew: Myself, Chuck Norris the DogSeth Taylor, David Taylor, Jason Shafer, Adam Palmer, Dave Vahey, Chris Ratziaff

Of the six guys, I was only close friends with Jason beforehand. David Taylor and I had hiked 18miles in Alaska this previous summer. The fitness levels and the interpersonal dynamics with the other four guys were complete unknowns. My role was that of host, sherpa and guide to set up a backpacking based video shoot for the Feels Like Redemption book & guidebook soon to be released by XXXchurch.

The days spent together were a unique enough experience that it’s worth reflecting on what I have learned from our time together, what I learned from each of the guys, what I learned about myself, and what I learn with others.

Jason: An unfailing friend who is easily one of the easiest people for me to spend extended amounts of time with. I was reminded again just how consistent he is both in his character and our ability to share common interests in athletic undertakings. Since Jason has moved, I have yet to find a local friend with whom I can train, ride, adventure or just hang. It is a blessing to have a friend like him where we can always pick up where we left off and then just keep going in life and in our love for the outdoors.

Adam: A curious mind for life, art, literature and cinematography. I was blown away by Adam’s humor, quick wit, ready recall for movie lines, and his breadth of knowledge. Through the physical challenges of the backpacking and the burden of the weather and the gear, Adam kept his humor and his overtly friendly nature.
Photo Jan 14, 8 30 48 AMSeth: This man possess an unquenchable passion and zeal for God, theology and ideas that he is wrestling with. He is ever ready to engage in deep conversations about his personal journey, his victories, his honest life challenges and shares from a true sense of conviction. Love this guy’s energy and thirst for the supernatural influences in our lives, although I can’t quite keep up with the ever expounding conversations… I wonder if he has a quiet moment?!

David Taylor: One of the fastest friends I have ever met. Oddly, I would call him a kindred spirit of sorts. On our hike, as he shared a personal story with me, he told me to stop him if he had already shared it with me. I had to remind him that prior to this trip we had only ever spent 1 other day together in our lives and that there was certainly no way I had ever heard the story before. For me, this quick, deep connection with another man is fascinating, fun, valuable and one of the most interesting “dumb luck” relationships I have ever formed.

Dave Vahey: Although the most challenging of the six guys for me to connect with on a personal level, I was again reminded of Dave’s strong ethic to create and produce high level excellence in his art and work. Dave was responsible for filming, directing and then finally editing an 11 part video series. The outdoor / backpacking conditions significantly increased the difficulty of his already weighty responsibility. Through all of the challenges, Dave stayed very focused on completing his work. This is nails and a rare quality to find in any co-worker.

Chris: We met years ago briefly at a conference I was co-hosting & teaching at. Without much context for exactly how fit and ready Chris was for the small adventure that lay ahead, I would have initially sized him up as one of the guys who would struggle the most. He’s a “band guy” who looks the part with his Portland scene clothing, tattoos and a knack for smoking occasionally like myself. Guys with a nature like Chris’ always intrigue because of our differences. I found his ability to be ever relaxed, easy going and affable made him a great fit for spending lots of time with in the outdoors or just about any place we ended up hanging. Aside from his panache to hike in Vans skate shoes (which was hilarious), I gleaned a ton from his peaceful spirit.

Chuck: A six month old Australian Shepherd mixed with one part Pit bull and ten parts badass. Sure he shivered on the rainy cold day with nothing more than his puppy hair to keep him warm, but his pure delight for being outside and exploring was infectious. I am becoming more and more stoked that we got this dog as companion for home and for the trails. I think we will have some great adventures together and I’m curious to see what else I learn from him as we go. Certainly he’s one tough little puppy who knows how to throw down some serious miles for his age.

It hit me again how over the last two years I have became more withdrawn and for survival purposes, more focused on my own personal needs than those of my friends. This isn’t a positive, but it is a reality. Reflecting on this 3 day journey, I missed several opportunities to encourage, serve and to be active participant in the group conversations and dynamics. I am often very content to do my own thing, especially when backpacking or working out, but this isn’t who I want to be, especially in moments where there is something greater to be accomplished together.

Not too many years ago I was fearful of spending time alone in the wild. I have always loved the outdoors, but often I didn’t dare enough to journey out onto paths alone or very far from civilization. Detaching from the wired world was even harder. Today, both of those things are no longer true and I love it. Other than reconnecting with the people I care most about, I loathed turning my phone out of ‘airplane mode’ when we arrived back within cell service.

I miss coaching and teaching more than I often willingly recognize or admit. Many of my days are filled with chasing down technical details, managing software development or marketing initiatives, responding to endless streams of emails or scheduling out budgets and projects. The sadness in those items doesn’t come from a lack of capability, but more so from the absence of leaning into one of my best leadership qualities and contributions. I must continue to push myself to get back to my love of coaching and developing others. I need to not waste experiences like taking the opportunity to coach other guys about how they too can succeed in enjoying the outdoors, become physically fit or thrive as leaders, businessmen or fathers.


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