From as far back as I can remember, I enjoyed spending time outdoors. In fact, it was likely the hobby I loved the most. More than warm beaches, coffee shops, roller coasters, entertaining friends, or spending time in cities, I enjoyed the great outdoors. I found a love for hiking, and soon, a passion for exploration. Without cell service or GPS, I would often hike trails while using a map to guess where I might be in a vast sea of trees. Hours easily turned into days, and flat trails quickly became steep. I often found myself exhausted. Not knowing where I was going, what I might see, or if I would ultimately get lost. Too often then not, I spent hours, or even days searching for mystical views only to find more trails leading to endless other options. It was in the midst of this exploration that I unleashed a disease in myself which has affected me to this very day. A disease that can be dangerous if not tamed, but powerful if used appropriately. It's difficult to give this disease a specific name, so instead, I will describe its side-effects.
Soon, hiking the usual trails became monotonous. I started to set out to find areas of wilderness barely touched by human kind, where paved trails didn't exist, and majestic sights could be found around every curve in the trail. I desired challenges few had conquered with the need to complete them myself. My ideas started small until I received a phone call from a dear friend. He lived outside of Wyoming (where I currently lived) and he asked if I would be willing to join him on a backpacking journey to Wyoming's Cloud Peak Wilderness. He spoke of summiting a mountain called Cloud Peak, the tallest peak of the Big Horn Mountain range, in the middle of the state of Wyoming. He expressed a desire to climb the 13,171' tall mountain in two days in order to explore it for future backpacking trips with groups. He explained the trail was approximately 24 miles long (round-trip), with a 5,000 foot elevation gain, and it would likely be difficult. Neither of us knew how difficult it would truly be, but for the sake of time, let me say we found it to be extremely difficult....Both of us has to push through limits we had never reached before...I was used to running 7 miles a day, but this mountain, was a much steeper giant to conquer. As we reached false summit after false summit, we became discouraged wondering if we would even reach the top, or if we should have given ourselves more time. Our legs became weak due to the lack of oxygen at that altitude, it felt as though we could not inhale deep enough to fill our lungs with vital oxygen our tired muscles needed. The incredibly steep rock face continued to mock us until we finally reached a ledge where we could see the summit. It still took us two hours to reach the top from this point, but we did, and the reward was well worth it! With 2,000 foot cliffs all around us, we could see from one side of the state to the other.
The hike out was exhausting. When we reached the trailhead, I felt as though I did not have enough strength to press on the brake pedal of my truck. For the next year, I told myself and others I was done, and would never climb such a mountain again......
.....That was until the next summer, when I decided to participate in raising funds for a non-profit group benefiting orphans, missionaries, and teen camps. Only this time, I decided to climb Cloud Peak in ONE DAY. The view, the excitement, the achievement....the disease...begged me to return, to prove to myself this was possible. So, I did it...I climbed the mountain in one day, with great assistance from milky way candy bars. Again, I hated the pain, but loved the wonderful feeling of accomplishing something so difficult.
The Physical Trail Leads to the Technical Trail
At this point, you might be wondering why I would start my first blog (ever), and more specifically my first technical blog, with a story about hiking in the wilderness and some weird disease infecting me. I understand how this might be confusing, but I think it might help those who read this understand me: I am someone who strives to take on difficult tasks (whether physical or mental) and work at them until I can achieve them. This mindset has allowed me to help others, and solve major technical issues for many church congregations across the United States.
So, this disease that led me to climb mountains in an impossible manner, is now leading me assist in solving impossible tech problems around us. I am excited to see where the journey leads me and the others I will meet along the way. I hope my background shines a light on who I am, and why I decided to take on the challenge of software engineering.
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