Aloha, my name is Paul. Some folks call me ‘Spice’ but only if you met me along a very long trail, somewhere far from the standard of civilization.
Growing up in Minnesota I learned the value of a sense of place. The northwoods have a way of enchanting the soul and the great Lake Superior will cast a spell upon the heart. At one time I served as a sea kayaking and canoe guide, leading groups into the Apostle Islands and the Boundary Waters for multi-day trips upon those clear, cold northern waters. Other times I was found canoeing stretches of the Big Fork River, winding my way through the deep northwoods, pondering if sasquatch might exist in such remote lands.
Adventures west led me to western Montana and Idaho where I discovered a love for backpacking and mountains while leading trail crews with the Montana Conservation Corps. Along the journey discovering stands of old growth western red cedars and salmon holes far enough into rugged Wilderness that most humans will never find.
A month of exploration upon Kauai and Hawaii, living in a tent and discovering the magnitude of the earth’s fiery core and feeling the power of the ocean, in addition to exploring the wildness abundant upon those verdant islands left an impression upon me. An impression that a place is more important than a name, more powerful than a location, a place resonates with our soul if we allow ourselves the opportunity to connect with it. In my explorations, I seek to discover the underlying value of a place, to develop a sense of the place in my soul, and in this way to share the wisdom gained through experience in the wonderful places of this world.
Road-trips in the US have taken me to both coasts and almost every state between, from digging for quartz crystals in Arkansas, to mountain biking among bison in North Dakota, experiencing alien nights in the Mojave, to climbing in the City of Rocks, Idaho. In 2015, I decided that just experiencing the value of these places was selfish. I wanted to give something back.
Together with two friends, Seth Orme and Joe Dehnert, we founded the Packing It Out initiative with a mission to inspire a heightened stewardship ethic among recreationists. We accomplished this mission by thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, cleaning up the litter we found on our path. We weighed and documented our journey so others could see the difference made and the challenge our public lands are facing. That year we cleaned up 1,100 pounds of litter. Such an experience lights fire in the soul that cannot be held back.
The following year we set off on a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, again Packing It Out with an intention to leave the places we travel better than we found them. Over 2,650 miles of rugged mountains and desert later and having packed out over 720 pounds of litter, we arrived at the northern terminus of the PCT and thus completed our thru-hike. With cigars and champagne we celebrated our 5 months of experiences.
After those experiences of thru-hiking and cleaning up trash and sharing the stories, the Adventure Stewardship blog was born. I realized that I value living a life filled with incredible experiences and being a good steward more than anything else and I wanted to continue sharing the adventure.
Our world is not a place to use and pillage and trammel. It is a place for us to protect and serve, so that we may continue to share in its infinite value throughout our future and the future of our children.
Nature has formed the basis of who I am. It has developed the most raw, as well as the most refined, aspects of my personality. I have a deep sense of gratitude for each of my experiences in the wild. I hope to inspire others in developing a sense of curiosity, and an appreciation for the land, one another, and the creatures of this world through sharing these adventures.
P.S. While I still work, my life is now centered around doing things that bring me joy. Allowing me to be creative, work with my hands, and enjoy the world we live in. A large portion of this work still revolves around cleaning up litter on public lands because I find value in pristine wild spaces and I aim to leave them better than I found them. Other work I do is of a creative type – leatherworking, woodworking, and anything that draws my attention and will enable me to build skills.