Inaugural Wilderness and Friendship Tour, 2016

The Wilderness and Friendship Tour is a combination of soul-feeding and awareness; recreation and education; forging relationships and building new ones. It’s really so much more than that, too, I just can’t write for the next 8 hours.

Hitting the road in early November, the WFT is a season-long effort to connect with nature(surprised?), to learn about America's special places and to meet the cool people doing the coolest things in support of our wild spaces. I want to speak with and interview those who can help us understand the significance of these areas; of land stewardship and being a citizen of Earth, among other topics. For the course of three months, give or take some days, I’ll be heading south, then west, then north, then east, then south, then east (!) in the company van, also known as The Blue Whale to Adventures Accessed Alumni.

This is hopefully the first Wilderness and Friendship Tour of many more to follow. I think a lot of people know there’s a lot of beauty out there but may not understand why it is important to keep these places thriving, and to continue preserving new areas as well. This goes beyond the fact that majestic forests, or landmarks exist therefore protection is granted. This tour is to unlock knowledge that can provoke change in how we see and use our wild spaces and planet.

What began as my off-season to explore has suddenly snow-balled into a massive project to enlighten those willing to listen. Curious to know where I’m headed? Here’s a teaser of some of the places on the itinerary. This should take me into 2017:

You can keep in touch and ride along with me here.

Mark Twain National Forest, MO - Old mountains, clear springs and our first stop!

Buffalo River, AR – The first national scenic river, one of the few un-dammed rivers, too.

Davy Crockett National Forest, TX – A pioneer deserves respect!

Austin, TX – Will need to shower, celebrate the Marine Corps birthday, Veterans Day, BBQ and Music.

McDonald Observatory - Is it dark here? I want to see the stars and learn about them too. The night sky is just an orange glow in Chicago so I've gotta maximize my star gazing.

Gila Wilderness, NM – Hot springs, anyone?

Superstition Mountains, AZ - Sounds like something out of a scary movie, let's see what happens.

SoCal – Too many good people to just drive through, plus I will be conducting an introductory backpacking course.

NorCal – Thanksgiving, Big Sur, Shasta Triniti NF, organic farms, peace and quiet.

Oregon and Idaho – National Forests abound! Mountains in winter are my spirit animal.

Glacier National Park, MT – Glacier in winter - where solitude meets fortitude.

Wyoming and Colorado – The Tetons are a dream destination for this dreamer. Colorado is packed with lovely people and Brooks, my favorite yellow lab whom I get to spend quality time with.

Badlands National Park, SD - Are they bad lands, or good? Like so good they're bad? Anyone know what I mean?

Minneapolis, MN - You think I'm going to drive back to Chicago without stopping here?

Madison, WI - The childhood home of John Muir, an inspiration to so many and the forefather of our public lands.

Chicago, IL - Can't hog all the adventure for just myself, I need to be back to lead groups with Adventures Accessed. We will be planning next year's Wilderness and Friendship Tour so stand by!

These companies have been a great help in this plan and to Adventures Accessed. I'd love to have you aboard the team too! Would you like to sponsor? Here's how you can get involved.