Joshua Ebert

Trail Runner | Misadventurist | Storyteller

Category: Adventure (page 1 of 3)

The World Is Not Your Petting Zoo

When I was a kid there were these VHS videos you could order like “Marty Stouffer’s Wild America: Dangerous Encounters.” Later the Fox Network would go on to produces shows like “When Animals Attack.” The latter were essentially snuff films couched as nature documentaries. The viewer would be treated to grainy security camera footage of a man being kicked in the face by a moose or a lion attacking a safari truck, as a breathless narrator gave you a play-by-play of the mayhem. Maybe for how tactless those films were, they might have had a positive effect. For it seems now that people are forgetting that wild animals can be dangerous.

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Baring It All On The Trail (NSFW)

So June 25, 2016 will be the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland, Oregon. This reminded me of an article I read a few years ago about the nude trail running scene. That is right, there are runners whom are so minimalist that anything more than a pair of shoes and socks is too much. Of course I’ve heard of Hike Naked Day, but I struggle to wrap my head around running naked. Even when I ran in a kilt I wore compression shorts for support.

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Death In the Backcountry


I recently finished listening to the book “The Last Season” about a backcountry ranger who disappeared in 1996. Randy Morgenson had served as a seasonal backcountry ranger for almost 30-years and was an expert at wilderness survival and Search and Rescue. When someone got lost in the Sierra Nevada, the park supervisors turned him. So what do you do when your best man goes missing?

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Trip Report: Hanging Rock State Park


This past Sunday my wife and I took the drive up to Hanging Rock State Park, about 2.25 hours from Raleigh. We arrived mid-morning and after checking out the Visitor’s Center, we hiked three of the waterfalls. These were short hikes from the main parking lot that offered some great views and allowed us to get in the mood to scramble around the mountain.

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The Dirtbag Calling

The Dirtbag Calling

23 years ago Matt Foley (Chris Farley) attempted to warn teenagers about how life choices can lead to living in a van down by the river. When he asked if they wanted to live in a van down by the river there was a group in the audiences who said, “wait that’s an option?” Like Christina Applegate, they found the idea of nomadic living appealing. So they packed up their climbing gear, kayaks, running shoes, backpacks, and camp stoves. Then loaded it all into vans, RVs, and campers and set out to establish a non-traditional life.

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Managing My ADHD With Adventure

Story of the

This is a topic I have been bouncing around writing about for a while. I’m partially motivated to write about my experience with ADHD because of my friend René’s blog “Black Girl, Lost Keys.” Another motivator was a recent article in Outside Magazine “ADHD Is Fuel for Adventure” by Florence Williams. I thought I would share some of my experiences and how I have coped with my ADHD.

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5 Adventure Stories You Should Read

So I thought I would share some of my favorite adventure stories that I have read over the years. I did not want to focus on the obvious ones like Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” “Into the Wild,” or John Muir’s “My First Summer in the Sierra.” Instead, I wanted to give you books that you may have overlooked.

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Over the weekend, I watched the documentary “Jumbo Wild.” It is about the debate as to whether they should build a ski resort in the Jumbo Valley of British Columbia. The film does not actively attempt to vilify anyone but shows you the point of view from the developers and the activists. For the First Nations people, it is about protecting a sacred area while the conservationists feel that these wild places need to be preserved. This got me thinking about our struggles to the South of the border.

Here in the United States, there has been a renewed call to remove large tracts of public lands from under federal management. Some proponents argue that the states are better suited to manage these lands. Many have ulterior motives such as selling off the mining or timber rights to bolster states’ budgets. Others just feel the state is better situated to understand and manage the land around them. Even this concerns me as many public lands cross state borders this puts the federal land managers in a better position to see the big picture with management goals.

As state versus federal control has come up in the public debate I thought I would attempt to make a case for keeping these lands protected. Here are a few points I wanted to make:

  • They are public lands, not government owned lands: While some places such as military bases and government facilities are restricted from public access, most public lands are managed to provide equal access. Some people think that means that they can use these lands for their profit, which leads to most arguments over public lands. What public lands really means is that they are managed to provide access to everyone. That’s hunters, fishermen, ranchers, hikers, runners, and mountain bikers alike. While some activities may be restricted in areas, that is typically done to protect a threatened species or ecosystem.
  • We should protect wilderness areas: Overdevelopment leads to a decline in biodiversity. Unless you are looking make your grandchildren’s biology class simpler by reducing the animal kingdom to sheep, horses, cows, pigs, dogs, and cats then we need to preserve the areas where wild animals live. Are we not the country where buffalo roam? We almost weren’t after a near extinction in the 1800’s. Do you really want live in a world where your children do not know “Guy on a Buffalo?”


So here are a few of the reasons I think we should protect our wild areas and possibly work on bringing green spaces back into our cities. What do you think? How often do you get out into a green space? Do you prioritize it? Please leave comments and questions below.


So I did it, I got a new pair of running shoes and they are not Salomons. I got a pair of Altra Lone Peaks. I’ve only gotten one run in them so far so we will see how they do. Time will tell how much I actually enjoy them.


We first met in Italy, you were in your second incarnation as the SpeedCross 2’s, and I was a budding half-marathoner. I fell in love with your aggressive outsoles and rugged rubberized lugs. You were the perfect temptation for someone with trail runner aspirations. I bought you even though you were a half size too small. I crammed my feet into you and loved you anyways.


Together we toured Italy, ran a race in Davos, Switzerland, and then tackled the rugged mountains of West Virginia. Even though you were too small I was happy with your performance. I converted to your brand and then I started experimenting with the rest of your Salomon family. There were packs, shorts, t-shirts, and more shoes. For over five years we’ve had an on and off relationship, sometimes I saw other shoes, but I always kept a special place in my heart for you.

Then you reinvented yourself as the SpeedCross 3, a lighter, new and improved version of your old self. I was over the moon and did not think things could get better. I continued to order you as I spent at minimum 500-miles with each pair of you. You carried me through my first ultra marathon, the Triple Lakes 40-miler. You were part of every ultra I ran after that. Frozen Sasquatch twice, Leatherwood Ultra 50-miler, Uwharrie Mountain Run 40-miler twice, and most recently the entire Mountain-to-Sea Trail (MST) 50k.


It was during the MST that I started to think about our relationship. It’s not you it’s me. For these past 6-years, I have been making myself fit into you. This is not how a relationship with a shoe is supposed to work! You are supposed to fit me.

I found my feet hurting a lot, more than I think they should during an ultra, so I started to question if you were actually right for me. Yes, my feet will always hurt, but maybe another shoe would make the hurt less. I’m not mad. I just think it is the time that we both move on.


My last pair of you is circling the 500-mile mark and I do not think I am going to reorder you. To be honest I’ve already started looking around to see what my options are.

I want you to know I will not badmouth you to my friends or other runners I meet. I will just say that we both moved on. It will be difficult at first because for so long I’ve told people I’m a SpeedCross guy. It will be a major change of my identity. No longer will I be Josh the SpeedCross runner. It will be hard because I would always tell people there were no better shoes, and to me, this was true because I did not stray much from you.


Going forward I will be judging all future shoes by your technical capabilities. I just need to find a pair that fits me better. I hope it will not be awkward when we see each other at races or REI.

Thank your for all the miles and adventures but I must look out for my feet.

P.S. I hope you do not mind but I plan to still see your sister, Sense Mantra. She will never replace you, but she is great for an easy jaunt.

Have you ever read a book that changed your worldview? For me, it was “The Monkey Wrench Gang” by Edward Paul Abbey. This first book that I read by Abbey spawned a love for the man and the myth of “Cactus Ed,” sending me down a dozen different paths of topics of interest. So I thought I would tell you about my three favorite Abbey books from those that I’ve read so far.


I was turned on to the Monkey Wrench Gang when I was 18 or 19 years old, a very impressionable time in life. The book focuses on four individuals who come together to wage war against the destruction of the wilderness. Ultimately it culminates in them attempting to blow up the Glen Canyon Dam, something that Abbey actively campaigned against. The book is most notable for inspiring many acts of eco-sabotage since then.

What this book did for me was help me realize the importance of protecting wild areas. I loved being in wild places, but I never thought about protecting them and the wildlife that occupied them. Abbey, who was originally from Pennsylvania, fell in love with the wide expanses of wilderness provided by the American Southwest. He was afraid that the west would become crowded and overdeveloped like the East Coast and fought tirelessly to preserve it.

Next, I read “Desert Solitaire.” In this book, he flexes his philosophical muscle as he recounts his time as a backcountry ranger at then Arches National Monument. Abbey had a master’s degree in Philosophy, so he would often observe and remark upon environmentalism and society through unique philosophical lenses. This is where I was first exposed to the ideas of anarchism. I’m not talking about smashing something while drunk and listening to the “Dead Kennedys” yelling anarchy! I am talking about a more self-reliant, small community version of anarchy, which is really just an extreme version of libertarianism where governance is reduced to local government.

Edward Abbey as an anarchist did not trust the government and has some great quotes about that stance. This has led to people like Cliven Bundy and his militiamen to misuse some of his anarchist quotes. Similar to the Bundy family, Abbey too had a beef (pun intended) with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Ironically, the Bundy’s anger with the BLM was how they thought that they should be allowed to graze their cattle on public lands for free, while Abbey was angry with the BLM for allowing ranchers and other industries to destroy these lands.

“The most common form of terrorism in the U.S.A. is that carried on by bulldozers and chainsaws. It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it. Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” – Edward Abbey


Since those first two books, I have read several others. “The Brave Cowboy,” which was turned into a great Kirk Douglas film called “Lonely Are the Brave,” and “Hayduke Lives” the sequel to “The Monkey Wrench Gang.” This brings me to my third favorite book so far, “The Fool’s Progress: An Honest Novel.” This book is semi-autobiographical in nature as the main character’s life shares more than a passing resemblance to the author’s. The reader follows Henry Lightcap as he decides to return to his family home in West Virginia after his wife leaves him. Leaving Arizona on this journey, the reader is treated to memories of past romances and adventures that lead up to the current point in Lightcap’s life.

Throughout “The Fool’s Progress,” Abbey is a bit of a curmudgeon as he argues against technological progress and how society has forgotten its wild nature. One of the more memorable moments in the book is when Lightcap’s father lays out an argument against America’s involvement in the Second World War. Until then, I had never heard about people being against us joining WWII since our involvement is typically lauded and our cultural narrative is that we came in and were the heroes of the war (Note: To my readers from places other than America, I realize that the story of WWII is much more complicated than that and heroic actions are not just limited to America’s actions in the war).

Also memorable in the book is a funny bit in the beginning where Lightcap calls the nearby Air Force base’s commander to complain about fighter jets flying over his house. He identifies himself as being the rank of “Private First Class retired” and demands all honors and respect that rank deserves. As someone who served in the U.S. military, this cracked me up since Private First Class is one of the lower ranks in the rank system.

I think I identified with this book since I also grew up in rural Appalachia and longed to experience the Rocky Mountains or the Southwestern desert. For my younger self, there was a lot of hero worship of this man who was an anarchist cowboy, a rogue, and an adventurer. He did not fear to be alone in the wilderness, but instead reveled in it.

A final note: Part of growing up is realizing that your heroes are human and that you should incorporate what was good about them into your life while leaving their flaws behind. The picture that Abbey presented of himself was not entirely accurate, as he cultivated a mythology around himself. An example is that he claimed to live in rural Oracle, Arizona, when really he lived in the more urban area of Tuscan. He also advocated that people use direct action methods to preserve the wilderness but there is no evidence that he himself participated in such. The truth is that Edward Abbey was an alcoholic and a philanderer. He died in 1989 of esophageal hemorrhaging connected to his drinking and lifestyle while married to his 5th wife. Those who were close to him often had tumultuous relationships with him, as was most famously the case with Douglas Peacock. Peacock is most often cited as the inspiration for Abbey’s most famous character, George W. Hayduke. Both the character and the man were Green Berets in Vietnam who returned to the American West suffering from addiction and PTSD, angered that it was not the wild place they had left. Peacock did not like that Abbey had hijacked his story and made him an eco-warrior icon. In the end, Peacock was at Abbey’s side when he died and went on to be one of the few involved in his illegal burial.

Arches - Edward Abbey

Edward Abbey opened my eyes to see the world in a different way. The spirit of his works continues to influence the decisions I make and the lifestyle I choose to lead. That said, I do not agree with him 100-percent. For instance, I am not a radical eco-warrior nor do I agree with all their tactics. I instead believe in the democratic process and do not attempt to physically destroy public or private property. I work to advocate and educate others on why wilderness should be preserved. I am not an anarchist. I believe in society and think that a central government is necessary.

Wow! As I review this post, I realize it went long and got sort of political. This was not my intention when I started the post, but writing about Abbey and his ideas drew me back in. I continue to find him very relevant to my thinking about current issues. Also, you got to learn a bit more about what I believe.

So these are my favorite books by Abbey, what are yours? Or, is there an author that inspired your life and maybe changed how you saw the world? Please share your thoughts and comments below. Thank you for reading.

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