On August 7th I’m heading out to Cimarron, New Mexico. It will be my third time backpacking at the Philmont Scout Reservation.

I was 15 the first time I went and 26 this time around. After this trek I will have hiked around 200 miles during my time there. Having grown up in New York, spending a few weeks in the mountains of New Mexico opened my eyes. First of all, I had no idea that scrawny 15 year old me could carry all of that gear over 60+ miles. The trip also gave me my first ‘raw’ view of nature; from mountains in thesunrise to a deer that had been mauled by a mountain lion. The first night sky I saw revealed a blanket of stars that are hidden in New York City. Finally comprehending the sheer vastness of it humbled me. Unfortunately a few months later I received the news that my neighbor, a fire-fighter, had perished on September 11th. I was devastated for quite some time after that. While it has never been easy to deal with, it certainly shaped who I am today.

I feel like I’m lucky to have had that “Oh… the universe can be dumb and sometimes I can’t control everything” moment so early. Your life is what you make of it and you won’t get far if you fear the unknown.  That said, I’d like to request that you do the two following things. They’re easy, I promise :)

Get your friends together and go on a hike! If you’ve never gone on one, I’m urging you as much as possible to do this one! The feeling of reaching a summit is tremendous.

Most importantly: Do more of what you love.