Monday, October 15, 2012

Cedar Inspiration, a Jog Log post

I've been friends with Josh for the better part of 10 years. He's intelligent, funny and loyal - a hard-worker, a poet, a photographer, a romantic, an athlete, an outdoorsman, a lover of God - an all-around great guy. Josh grew up in California, went to College with me in Canada and now lives in Arizona. These have been great places for him, because perhaps above all other loves (save Jesus), Josh loves the outdoors - mountains, rivers, forests, praries, deserts, you name it. He loves the feeling and the challenges that come with being out in the wilderness. To give you an idea of how he ticks, some of his greatest influences are The Bible, John Muir, Thomas Merton and Ray Lamontagne.

On the surface, Josh and I have very little in common. You'd probably not peg us for friends were you to meet us separately. However, by some act of God's providence, he's one of my best, and I'd like to think he'd say the same of me.

Every year Josh leads a group of men into the wild for a few days of backpacking, exploring, danger, adventure and stupidity. He calls it Manventure. I went with Josh for what I believe was the inaugural year. However, then we didn't call it Manventure. That year there were just three of us. We drove about 2 hours north of Sacramento, into the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, with a plan to hike down to a series of small lakes that the other guys had been to before. We arrived at the trailhead a little later than expected, and actually started our hike in just after dusk had fallen. We later realized how stupid this was, considering that there were bears and mountain lions in the vicinity, we had no guns, and we had little more than a vague idea of where we were going. What should have been a 1-2 hour hike, took at least three. We got lost on the way down and completely lost the trail. Since we knew we were close to our destination, and that we were aiming for lakes, we found the nearest streambed and followed it downhill until it brought us to the edge of a small lake. We didn't think it was the right one, but it was getting cold, windy and very very dark, so we decided to make camp. As it happens, it was the right lake. We were just on the opposite side of it. It was an amazing two days of adventure, relaxation and exploration.

Last year, it was a much bigger endeavor. 12 guys, 5 dogs, guns, axes, cliff jumping and blood. This only begins to describe last summer's Manventure.

Next summer promises to be just as glorious, and for the first time in 4 years, I'll be able to join them for the adventure.

The only problem is that I'm overweight and out of shape. Here on the blog, I've recounted some of my flirtations with exercise. I've tried on multiple occasions to cultivate a habit of exercise and discipline. However, now, I have the means, the freedom and the motivation to make it happen. Ferial and I have joined a gym, I've started playing disc golf again, we're walking everyday and on days we can't get to the gym, we let The Shredder deal with us. We are serious this time.

It hasn't been easy, though. I've been using the elliptical, swimming and lifting weights. I've started burning calories and truth be told, it's very satisfying (and slightly addicting). Just last week, I was struggling, mid-way through a set of 100 chest flies (#humblebrag), when I smelled something unusual. It was the unmistakeable smell of cedar, and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Ferial was nearby and I asked her, "Do you smell that?". "Smell what?", she answered. Out loud I replied, "Nothing. Don't worry about it." However, in my mind, the answer came to me and I knew. I smelled "Manventure" and with this in mind, pressed on.

**All Photo credits: Joshua Laughery

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