Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hike the PCT. Never leave your desk.

What started with a What's in my Pack video turned into me watching Biophthera hike the PCT. He's actually hiking it right now, with his last check-in being at 2,155 miles(!!). It's hard to believe that while I've been hacking away on various projects, Biophthera (aka Joe Brewer, aka Apache) has been logging miles through deserts, mountains and every terrain in-between.

Each video in the playlist below is about 20 minutes long and covers 150-200 miles of hiking. The first couple videos suffer from some sound issues, but that gets worked out in later videos.

There's a number of things I like about these videos. The scenery and terrain are gorgeous, and vary incredibly. One video may show a section of scrubbed desert, and a few videos later, snow and high mountains are the new setting. The narration on the video is well done, too.

Naturally, I'm also impressed with the technical aspects of the setup. Using little more than an iPhone, recharagble battery, and something like the StickPic (or maybe a DIY version), Biophthera is able to capture remarkable footage from a number of different angels. YouTube then provides a no-brainer publishing platform where the world can follow along. It's amazing how effective all this is, especially considering the weight and cost.

My favorite part of the videos though, without a doubt, is Biophthera's unbelievably steady demeanor. Everything that he encounter's is some degree of cool. There are probably hundreds of dangerous aspects to what he's doing, and yet his confidence never waivers even slightly. Wildfires in the area? No big deal. Scorching heat from the desert, or deadly drop-offs in the mountains? It's all cool. Seeing a couple of bear cubs on the trail? Again, very cool. Never mind the fact that getting between a mamma bear and her cubs is a truly dangerous situation. As he's hiking the last section of Half-Dome he encounters the so called cables, which are described by another hiker thusly:

I vividly remember my reaction upon first seeing the route's cable section: I was astonished and terrified. Astonished that such a flagrant hazard could exist in modern-day, liability-adverse America; terrified I was actually going to go up it.

Even this sight doesn't stand in his way. A few moments later, he's filming from the top of Half-Dome. The cables freaked me out so much, that I had to actually take off my headphones and look away as he filmed them. And I'm sitting at my desk, with full knowledge that he's uploaded later videos so he *has* to be OK.

This all makes me wonder: does this kind of confidence come with experience (once you've hiked 1,000 miles, what can phase you?) or is it just something you're hard wired with? I don't know, but I'm impressed, and I'm going to focus on channeling his totally chill attitude next time I'm faced with a stressful situation.

So watch and marvel at what a person can do. It's such a gift to have a front row seat to this experience.


  1. Ben, I'm with you 100% with your assessment of this guy. Never too much info, no rambling on about what doesn't matter, but he's connecting the dots in a better than Nat Geo way. My hat's off to this Biophthera fellow. It's a real treat when you come across something that truly leaves you feeling enriched.

    Best regards,

  2. Very well said Rey!