I’m honored that you’ve found your way to our site. Simply by being here I feel like we already share a common desire to live as fully as possible and both have a burning desire to experience the magic of active travel in the great outdoors.
Walking The World
In 1987 I started Walking The World, specifically for those adventurous souls 50 years of age and better. At the time I had attained the ripe old age of 37. Since then I’ve had the privilege and joy to lead thousands of older adults, just like you, to some of the world’s most magical destinations. My goal since the beginning has been to help as many curious souls possible to learn the necessary skills and knowledge and build the confidence to have the adventures they’ve always dreamed about.
The Early Years
I grew up in Illinois, deep in the heart of some of the finest farmland in the world. The land was, for the most part, well, flat, and the nearest town was aptly named Flatville. Still, there were tracts of forest and small creeks to explore and I did my best to wander those areas as often as possible. At the advanced age of ten, our family drove west to explore the wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park. My first view of the Rockies, massively perched on the horizon, generated a spark of passion for the outdoors, a spark that became a lifetime fire. Those two weeks exploring the lakes, peaks, and forests in RMNP captured my soul and eventually led me to move to Colorado and a career in adventure and environmental advocacy.
Formal Classroom Education
Sitting quietly for hours at a time was never easy, but I did graduate from the University of Illinois with an undergraduate in Recreation & Park Administration and a Master’s in Urban & Regional Planning.
3-Piece Suit to 110-pound backpack
My first job as a county planner in Illinois required that I wear a 3-piece suit in my work to help preserve prime agricultural land from development. I loved the work, but I was already feeling the call of the wild, particularly since my office had floor to ceiling windows facing the Fox River and the recreational trail that ran next to it. All-day long, people walked, ran, skateboarded, and biked back and forth on the trail. Increasingly, like a lone domesticated wolf hearing the excited call of its pack, the fabric of my ability to withstand the call of the wild shredded a bit more. (By the way, I think that “call of the wild” is what you’re feeling right now as you search out adventures in the great outdoors!)
The Day it Happened
I remember the day well. I was in my office overlooking the Fox River, working diligently when the call of the wild struck, full force, piercing every barrier I had constructed against following my heart. Clear as day I could hear John Muir when he said, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” So, I did.
I cleared my desk, went into the director’s office, and resigned. Immediately I signed up for the National Outdoor Leadership School’s Semester in the Rockies, a 105-day intensive training in outdoor skills and group leadership. We spent all but about five of those nights sleeping outside, either in a tent or under the stars. And, yes, for the first five weeks my pack weighed 110 pounds. For the rest of the course though it felt light at 85 pounds. We spent five weeks learning mountaineering in the Wind River Range in Wyoming, four weeks climbing and caving in Wind Cave National Park and the Needles in South Dakota, three weeks in Canyonlands in SE Utah, and three weeks winter ski-touring in the Absaroka Mountains in Wyoming. NOLS was the best thing I have ever done, period. And, it was definitely what I needed. Until then, even with an “education”, I felt something was missing.
What I found was the connection to my wild self and the outdoors where, as humans, we lived and our strengths were forged, until recently at least. My goal at Walking The World is to help you rediscover your inner strength, your connection with your wild self, and with the unbelievable beauty and joy active travel in the great outdoors can bring.