Tuesday, March 22, 2011


How it all began - Smoky Mountains - 2006

It's rare that I post on here two days in a row...but something has been on my mind a lot lately related to this sort of forum.  There's no doubt that we live in a completely digital age now.  Certainly there's voluntary component to how much of yourself you care to share with the world, but we've evolved to a point technologically that no matter how much you try to keep your life private, parts of you are out there for the world to see.  Don't believe me?  Just google yourself and see what you find.

There are a number of good weblogs out there that I pop in on once in a while...most of which deal with either hiking, ultrarunning, or ice/climate research.  There are also a few people's sites I visit simply because I've come to know, admire, or befriend that person outside of the interweaving digital tubes we call the internet.

I've also seen the dark side of it....and have even brushed up against it myself.  What starts as an innocent place to jot down thoughts and race reports, becomes a full fledged diary...a diary that everyone can see.  This is what boggles me.  Why is it when we were kids, we fought tooth and nail to keep that diary hidden from our siblings, our parents, ...everyone.  It was a personal account for your eyes only that you could look back on in years for your own reminiscent experience.  Yet now, we write these same sort of things down, and don't give a damn how many random souls steer their eyes towards it.  There came a point on this blog when I came to realize this.  I found myself having conversations with people I didn't really know that well here at school and they would ask me about how, "that trip up to New York went", or "how did that visit back to Cleveland go?"  Baffled I would ask myself how the heck did random person X know that I went up to New York last weekend.  Oh yeah, because I put it on my weblog.   Why?

Recently I've been reading a lot of training and running blogs and noticed that this happens a lot.  While most people do keep to training entries and an occasional rambling, a few bloggers have turned their sites into very personal repositories.  I know of a couple who are no longer together because one person decided to share too much of their relationship details with the world on their blog....and their partner didn't want that sort of detail out there for the world to see.  Now, the blogger blogs about why the blog broke up the relationship.  It can become a viscous cycle.  Needless to say, they are still separated.

What I've come to realize is there's a fine line when it comes to blogging.  On one side are the honest bloggers.  Those that simply put up some thoughts and insights on-line, perhaps interact with some like-minded others, then go about their daily lives and couldn't care less if the internet blew up tomorrow and that blog was lost forever.  Then on the other side are those who I seem to think are either extremely narcissistic and just love to talk and read about themselves, or those who desperately want people to be interested in them.

Of course I could be completely full of shit here too.  But over the years I've had several people ask me about this site.  "Why do you have your blog john?"  "Why do you put what you do up there?" "Is that site your little ego depository where you brag of your accomplishments?"  

Early last year, on top of other things, this entire concept came to a boil.  I had enough.  I stopped writing anything up here save PCT entries.  The world didn't need to know my ramblings.  There's no need to make them public...just write them in a personal journal.  So I did.  I kept the PCT entries up for informational purposes only.  Then I went walking

Since getting back from the PCT and Antarctica I've slowly started putting a few random posts up here again, but quickly I started thinking about this whole thing again.  Tonight, while out on a little short run, I came to realize what this site is for me.

It is a place to put down random thoughts that I have before I forget them.  Thoughts that have in some way inspired or moved me to the point where my life took a small turn.  This way, I can go back..reread and remember.  And who knows, perhaps someone else might read it and have a similar inspiration.  

It is also a place to put information on how I was able to plan or complete a hike/run/whatever.  After my AT thru-hike, I reluctantly put some videos up on youtube from my hike.  I didn't think anyone would watch them.  When I was planning the hike, I couldn't find any videos from the trail to watch that would perhaps give me that extra kick in the pants to get going.  So I figured, maybe someone will watch my vids and get motivated....and that's exactly what happened.  To this day, I still get at least 5-10 emails a month from a random person telling me they saw my AT or PCT videos and have now started their own thru-hike planning.  This is the most rewarding part of it all.   But...with that said, if this site were to go down forever tomorrow, I do still have my personal written journals that I can reflect on.  

This website used to be called "Lakewood's Adventures and Ramblings" and after some time I decided to change it to "Wanderings and Scribbles"....because that's what all these are.  They are just scribbles and some of my random wanderings.  If by writing a few things down on here, someone reads something, and then goes out and does something magical......well than it was all worth it.

A year and a half ago I got a random message on facebook from a guy named Greg.  This message was like a lot that I get.  Usually I respond to these types of inquiries with answer to their specific questions and invitation to contact me any time with further questions about thru-hiking.  Most of the time I never hear back and I almost never find out if the person actually went for it.  Here was Greg's message:

Hey John, I stumbled across your videos on Youtube which led me to your website.  I had a few questions for you. I'm sure you get a lot of people asking you about the AT but I am planning on the ole big one here April '10.

1. The number one concern for me is money. How much of a concern was this for you and what did you do about this?

2. Another concern is sending my packages ahead. I can't seem to find anywhere where someone actually goes into detail about sending their stuff to a post office ahead of time. Did you have someone that did it for you on a set schedule or did you send them all at once?

3. Do you ever get sick of people asking your advice about the AT?

This was rather random message, with rather random questions.  After a few short messages back and forth, I could tell that Greg had that little voice in him, that drive that I so easily recognized.  After months of planning and emails back and forth...he finally made his dream a reality and started walking on April 1st.  And this was Greg six months later:

Congrats Greg....I never doubted you'd make it.   This is why I put my little stupid videos on youtube and trail journal entries out there.  So that maybe someone that is on the fence about doing something incredible, might stumble across something I put out there and decide to go for it.  

The first picture in this post is from 2006.  I decided to go hiking with a friend in the Smoky Mountains.  My life was in disarray at the time.  I went out with a 50 lb backpack, wearing jeans, and big ol' smile on my face.  I was clueless, but didn't care.  That weekend changed everything.  When I got back I started surfing the web and found a few websites.  I read some quotes, watched some videos, and stumbled across some journals.  Then...that little spark started in me.  The next summer I was thru-hiking the AT.  Now, 5 years later, I look back so happy at how I finally took that first risk.  I'm so blessed and fortunate to have ended up where I have.

Moving forward, I will continue to throw scribbles up here and try to keep up on the informational training/running/hiking posts.  However, the real living that I plan to do, and the real magical moments that I carry with me, are those that no one will ever read about on this site.



Sara Montgomery said...

Very interesting stuff. The fact your blog can inspire people to take action is great, that's huge. In general blogs bring people of similar intersts together, fun for anyone, but for some people it is hugely, life-changingly valuable if they don't have people in 'real life' who share their interests.

I guess everyone has their own line of comfort with how much to share, and it can change over time, even day to day. Personally I don't feel comfortable putting much up about my personal life, and mostly keep it running-related or topical, but not diary-like.

Lakewood said...

that's a good point sara. There aren't very many people that I interact with here in school that share my ultrarunning interest, so it is nice to connect with people over the web...and through this blog.

Carri Fegyveresi Westbrook said...

I am glad that you are continuing with your blog - I know myself and the rest of your family really enjoy reading about your upcoming events and what you have been doing. It is our way to keep connected to you. I understand the personal part keeping to yourself because those are your memories to keep and not for the whole world. Please don't stop writing your blog.
Miss Ya
Carri - your sister :o)

R A said...

Well - I guess I am one of those people who read your blog and don't know you. I thoroughly enjoy reading your wanderings and scribbles, so hope you continue.