I used to live two different lives I felt I had to keep separate from each other. In one, music, and being part of an insular collective with common values relating to that music, was everything. In the other, experiencing nature and the world at large in a path to discover my place in it seemed to point to a different set of values entirely. I constantly felt on a pendulum between the two.

Landscape photographer Ansel Adams wrote in a letter to his future wife:

Dear Virginia. If you only knew the yearning to get into the mountains that fills me these days! Music is wonderful — but the musical world is bunk! So much petty doings — so much pose and insincerity and distorted values…I find myself looking back on the Golden Days in Yosemite with supreme envy. I think I came closer to really living then than at any other time of my life, because I was closer to elemental things. I love you immensely at this moment — and will be so glad to see you again. I am coming to Yosemite sometime in the Spring — or bust! Ansel
— Ansel Adams

I don’t think I’ve ever related to anything more in my life.

A Place To Bury Strangers @ Saint Vitus - Brooklyn, NY

A Place To Bury Strangers @ Saint Vitus - Brooklyn, NY

In 2016 I left my office in NYC to travel. For a year I hiked, hitchhiked, and volunteered at hostels across the States to keep my costs as low as possible; then for a few months I worked at a ski resort to replenish my funds. In the end, I returned to the music industry in Los Angeles, as planned. Everyone asked me how I felt about my sabbatical, if I regretted abandoning the game for a year. It turns out what I regretted was returning. Having experienced what felt like a life of freedom and a never-ending possibility, I found it impossible to report to a desk every day, model myself after the interests of someone else, and scrap guiltily for sick or vacation time. 

I quit at the end of 2018 to pursue travel full-time, and haven’t looked back. I work seasonal jobs where I have free rent and bills while living and working in fantastic locations - currently Grand Canyon National Park (where I hike below rim or road trip around Arizona every day off or morning off that I get). My expenses are low but the amount of adventuring and growing I get to do has no limit, and every season I have the ability to relocate without inconveniencing anyone, my conscience in tact. 

Jake, Pat, and guests @ Base Camp Hostel - Anchorage, AK

Jake, Pat, and guests @ Base Camp Hostel - Anchorage, AK

The stories you find on this blog will sometimes pull from my experiences backpacking for extended periods of time, and will sometimes pull from my experiences exploring my surroundings more conventionally while working full or part-time. I don’t intend for this to be a music blog or to talk at length about the industry, but inevitably my brain will create those pathways in any story I tell, as they’re so inseparably tied. 

I travel because I don’t want to get stuck in any one version of myself, but the places and people I find sometimes resonate with me so much that I don’t want to leave. I prefer to travel slow with no set agenda, so I can get “stuck” on purpose (I consider myself always "on-trail", even when I stay put). Other times I get literally stuck due to lack of hitchhiking/camping/hiking preparation - just call me Wrong Way Ramsdell. 

This is a hitchhiker’s guide to getting stranded - literally and figuratively. Stranded in one system of thought, stranded on the side of the road for three hours, or stranded for months in a city I intended to leave in a week.


You've got to burn
straight up and down
and then maybe sidewise
for a while
and have your guts
scrambled by a
bully
and the demonic
ladies,
you've got to run
along the edge of
madness
teetering,
you've got to starve
like a winter
alleycat,
you've go to live
with the imbecility
of at least a dozen
cities,
then maybe
maybe
maybe
you might know
where you are
for a tiny
blinking
moment.

- Charles Bukowski


FAQ:


GREW UP IN: Southeast Texas

LIVED IN: Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Anchorage AK, Minturn CO, Grand Canyon, AZ. 

CURRENTLY IN: Grand Canyon National Park

HEADED NEXT: Plan was Scotland, but I may be detouring off-course by doing a thru-hike instead? Haven’t decided yet but I’m currently training remotely for long-distance hikes with Luis from Soho Strength Lab and am a Honey Stinger Hive ambassador. Maybe munro bagging or the West Highland Way could combine the two, but I’m jonesing for the John Muir Trail or Arizona Trail. We’ll see!

MUSIC HISTORY: I have a Bachelor Of Science in Music Industry and worked for rock bands at various record labels, artist management firms, and talent agencies.

HIKING: Some of my favorites include portions of the Appalachian Trail around New York, Wildrose Peak (Death Valley) and Mount Wilson in California, trails around Leadville, Twin Lakes, and Buena Vista, Colorado like Turqoise Lake, Interlaken, Sleeping Indian, and Hagerman Tunnel, Sedona, AZ hikes like Boynton Canyon and Wilson Mountain, and of course my recently completed Grand Canyon Rim-to-River and back in 9 hours and my Rim to Rim to Rim multi-day backpacking trip. I’d love to thru-hike the West Highland Way, Camino De Santiago, Pacific Crest Trail, John Muir Trail, and Arizona Trail. 


Photo notes:

All travel photos taken by me with either a refurbished Canon Rebel T6 or an iPhone.
Any good music photography has been credited. Bad concert photography taken drunkenly by me on an iPhone.