I THINK THE WORLD IS MORE BEAUTIFUL WHEN THERE ARE MORE FOLKS FEELING AWESOME IN IT.

It’s no secret my parents spent a lot more time developing my sense of adventure than my sense of fashion.

 

Typical Carlbon family digs (and outfit)

 

PLANTING THE SEED

As a kid I envied classmates who came back from “real” vacations with braids and beads in their hair, tanned skin, and brightly colored souvenirs. I’d come home with a pocket full of “crystals” I found at our campsite or a fleck of “gold” I discovered when my parents took us panning out west on our outdoor wilderness adventures.

DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE HIPSTER WHO BURNED HIS TONGUE ON HIS COFFEE?

(HE DRANK IT BEFORE IT WAS COOL.)

Back then, I didn’t realize how cool it was that my parents spent time crafting road trip itineraries back when gas was cheaper than airfare; carefully packing the cooler, paring down our belongings, teaching me and my little brother thrifty and sensible habits of exploring and instilling within us the thrill that adventure was always right around the corner, right at our fingertips, and that there was always more where it came from.

 
conversion van
 

TRIPPIN' IN THE VAN

The summer before I turned nine, we drove a northerly route across the country in our van, tent camping the whole way as weeks became months. We saw lightning storms, hail storms, buffalo, and moose before reaching Alaska (you could catch GIANT slimy slugs and write in your journal by daylight inside your tent at 11pm) and then we meandered our way back south and eventually east, still camping all the long way back home. That whole summer we only slept indoors for two nights. As an almost-fourth-grader, I had no idea how amazing this was.

WANDER THE WORLD

When I got to college I pounced on a study abroad program. I bought my first backpack and my very own crappy tent — it had stuck. Those days hitching trains and learning languages would become some of the most joyous memories of my lifetime. I’ll always be grateful to my parents for getting me up close and personal with curiosity, wonder, and the thrill of simple exploration early on.

 

Mountain gazing in Switzerland.

 

WANDER THE WILD

More and more these days, people are really connecting with the opportunity to do things that make them come alive. After college I tasted that rush doing and then teaching yoga, and then deepened it tenfold when I took my first solo backpacking trip: 130 miles on the Appalachian Trail, just me and my dog, Paco on a wilderness backpacking adventure!

 

First few steps on the trail ... that's thinly veiled terror you see in my eyes.

 

BUTTERFLIES

Of course I was nervous beforehand. I remember chatting with my dentist about my plans and then thinking “Crap, now I have to go.” My mom fought back tears and I fought back nausea as she reluctantly dropped us off, me and my dog, at the southern start of my northbound trek. We both avoided conversation about that bear everyone was certain would eat me. We squeezed each other too tight and I set off feeling an exhilarating/terrifying mix of “I have no idea what I’m doing” and “Hot damn, Paco, we’re doing this!” My second night in the tent I remember thinking, “More than ten nights from now, I’ll still be doing this.” On the surface it was what I knew it would be: a whole lot of sweat, one foot in front of the other, pitch tent, make dinner, sleep, pack tent, lather, rinse, repeat. Pepper in a few funny-but-embarrassing rookie mistakes (like the time I washed ALL my clothes in a swamp and nothing was dry in the morning …) and that was it. The unglamorousness of the bulk of the time out there wasn’t surprising, but I’m a firm believer that in so many cases people are capable of way more than they might think, and that’s pretty enchanting to me.

BIG BALD AND THE MAGIC MEADOW

What I couldn’t have imagined was the range of experience from exhaustedly pitching my tent and passing out before sunset after a grueling day’s climb (the kind that makes a grown woman audibly whimper in misery; the kind that made even spry little Paco turn around with a look that said “Seriously, dude — you’ve got to be kidding.”) to the utter exhilaration of waking up pre-dawn in that very same spot next to a picture perfect meadow, catching the sunrise, trekking for a couple of hours, and then emerging from the endless green tunnel of trees into an enchanting sunlit strand of emerald, bald mountains. I hadn’t done enough research to expect them and so they took my breath away with wonder. We were the only wanderers in the entire mountain landscape on the grassy summit in the noonday sun. Paco and I had arrived there alone on our own six feet after who knows how many days of walking, and it made me feel like wonder woman, just me and my pup sharing the thrill. We were on top of the world! I kept saying, “Paco, we are amazing! WE ARE INCREDIBLE!” I loved watching him see the world like that. I’ll never forget that afternoon … or that feeling.

He gets it.

MORE FOR ANOTHER DAY

There are so many vignettes from this adventure, but there’s always time for another story. Today, not much has changed since that first photo. Outdoor adventure retreats, wilderness exploration, hiking trips right here in New Jersey, and exploring the rest of this beautiful country are still a part of my regular routine. I may have (thankfully) ditched the armpit-high fuchsia shorts over the 80’s-style bathing suit, but my adventure lust has only grown. There’s always another thrill calling from just around the bend, waiting to dazzle, and I’m gonna go chase it. Come with me.

 
 

GET IN ON THE ADVENTURE

It’s always been my belief that the world is more beautiful when there are more folks feeling awesome in it. I started Twisted Treks partly to feed my own adventure lust and partly to spread the stoke of people feeling awesome in the world. To me, there’s nothing better than getting outside with my dog and some great company to celebrate the day and feel the aliveness of my body through some good clean sweat and some solid heart pounding and foot stomping. If packing up shop and wandering on your own sounds daunting, you can explore with us on one of our outdoor yoga and backpacking adventure retreats. Bring your pups. Adventure awaits.

Above group of Twisted Treks photos by Nick at Yeti Nest Films.

Adventure is a click away.

Adventure is a click away.

FOOTNOTES: Big love to my original crew, Mom, Dad, & Noah, for always encouraging curiosity and wonder, and my current crew, Nick, Paco, & Archie. Adventure with us.

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