This I Believe

J.J. - District of Columbia
Entered on September 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: nature, sports
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This I Believe…

I met Josh at the edge of a creek in Virginia’s Green Mountains. He sat crouched pumping water, and when I approached the young man he said hello. Josh, like myself, had set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, a 2,069-mile footpath through the Appalachian Mountains. He had been walking over 300 miles before we crossed paths at that stream.

I had the same ambition as Josh. Before meeting him, I hiked alone for hundreds of miles. That solo trek stands out to me today as one of the most empowering chapters of my life. Empowerment can only take you so far, and after 200 miles I was beginning to get lonely. That’s when I met Josh. Josh had a desire similar to my own. He believed in adventure and hungered to explore the limits of human endurance. We set off from that Appalachian creek together having only shared a few words. After several weeks we developed a symbiotic relationship; we shared gear, and it seemed our very cores shared the same philosophy.

1,700 miles later, Josh and I finished the Appalachian Trail together in Georgia. On that snowy day, in the southern Appalachian foothills, we made a pact that we would get together each year and share an adventure. Josh and I had developed a unique bond that tied our lives tightly to this mutual passion. It was then I realized my calling: I believe adventure is my form of expression.

Three years later, on a bike trip in the high arctic, I remember crouching next to Josh in pain. We were eighty miles south of the petroleum fields of Prudhoe Bay–our final destination–on a 1,200-mile bicycle tour. It was mid July, a strong wind blew off the Arctic Ocean making the early morning temperatures difficult to bear. Josh and I did pushups and jumping jacks for warmth while our coffee brewed. When we began our approach to Prudhoe Bay we ran next to our bikes for several miles to circulate blood to our isolated extremities. I remember feeling queasy from the spike of pain as my hands began to warm. Next, I remember laughing with Josh while we ran; our laughter was the type that comes only at the point when you feel hope has played a cruel trick on you.

That same day, I stood next to Josh on the bank of the Arctic Ocean, the northern terminus of this adventure. I looked out to the point where the blue from the sea met the blue from the sky and felt all the stillness of an eternal second. Adventure has given me the most beautiful moments of my life. Perhaps, through adventure, I can inspire others as those before have inspired me.