Hiking for me was initially the culmination of a fitness journey that really hasn’t ended. But when it began, I had a target weight (as did my wife, Lauren). I’d always wanted to climb a mountain. One mountain. Just to say I did it. And after we hit our target weights, we took a trip down to the Adirondacks and rented an AirBnb in the mountains. That was when I climbed my first – Cascade Mountain. It was thrilling, the view was incredible and as soon as I realized this mountain was part of a challenge known as the Adirondack 46 High Peaks, I knew I had to do them all.
2- What led you to start a blog about your adventures?
Maybe I was just at this point in life where I wanted to start doing all the things I always wanted to do. I’m obsessed with film and have always wanted to write scripts and direct movies. So, in similar fashion to discovering the mountains, once I’d committed to climbing all 46 Adirondack High Peaks, it was just a natural progression to want to write my way through them. The pandemic has put a hold on my actual blog and I’m not writing any longer, but I do journal about my hikes. And one day, I bet you’ll have a book in your hands written by Joe Wilderness!
3- Why “Joe Wilderness?”
What is the significance of the name to you? It was as simple as my wife making fun of me when I first started hiking. I didn’t know whether this was a hobby I’d stick with or not. But I ordered a ton of gear anyway. To which she – or her brother – commented something along the lines of “who do you think you are, Joe Wilderness”, like a John Q Public generic-type nickname. At the same time, I was trying to come up with a name for the blog. And even tho you aren’t really supposed to give yourself your own trail name, I took it on and then went on to become world famous. Or something.
4- Who is Jaymie Secord?
Deep question! And one I’ve never really been asked before. Jaymie is many people, I suppose, depending on the situation. The quiet guy in the back of a room or the center of attention. I’m mostly a loner by choice. I love community on a small scale, but am not a fan of what society as a whole has become. Besides my best friend who I don’t see enough of, my hiking partner, Joel, who I don’t see enough of and my family that I don’t see enough of, I’m perfectly content keeping most people at arms length, on the fringes of my world. I have a deep appreciation for the art of filmmaking. I love hip-hop. I try to put passion in to everything I do and try my best to inspire and be inspired. Jaymie used to be a guy content with hoping to do epic things. Joe Wilderness has taught me to work towards and actually do those epic things.
5 – What was your most memorable journey?
So many choices, it’s hard to pick just one. The sunrise hike of Mt. Batur in Indonesia was pretty special, mostly because it was so far from home and because Lauren was with me to enjoy it. But I think this past summer, my trip to Alberta with Joel (aka Johnny Mountaintop) has been my most memorable. We only hiked for three days and then flew home, but it was so nice to see some different landscapes in the middle of the pandemic, since we’ve been missing real mountains for so long now.
6- What is it about being in nature that get you?
I’ve always loved nature. But for a long time I was pretty content with just living vicariously through David Attenborough on my television screen. Once I discovered the solitude and the peace and quiet that comes along with being out in nature, I was hooked. Add to that the incredible views you earn by hiking deep in to the woods or up a really big mountain and you can’t lose. Unplugging from the unnatural world of social media and connectivity and just immersing myself in the sounds of the world is soothing and allows me to purge a lot of the everyday stresses that come with life.
7- Has anything scary ever happened on one of your trips?
Just once. I was winter hiking in the Adirondack mountains – a mountain called Sawteeth – and was completely solo. Not only was I hiking alone, but I didn’t see another souk on the trail that day at all. The snow was deep and at one point about a half hour away from the summit, I took a wrong turn. Off the trail and trying to find my way, I started panicking a little bit. And then I fell through the snow and was buried chest deep. I can honestly say that in my early days of hiking, I did so much research, especially with respect to how to get out of certain situations. And just the week before, I had watched a few videos on how to get yourself unburied from the exact scenario I found myself in. I calmed myself, got out from the trap I was in and managed to get back on the trail. And make it to the summit for the win. But there was a moment of instant regret before I got out that the idea of becoming a statistic crossed my mind. I was happy to have done the research and had the proper gear to get myself out of the situation, but it put a very good scare in to me that day.
8- What is on your bucket list? What comes next?
Like most hikers, I could just say “yes, it’s on the list.” Whatever it is you’re talking about. I want to go everywhere and see everything. But if I had to nail down a real bucket list, there’s a few. I want to complete a walk across Canada, from East Coast to West. I’ve mapped it out and done a bit of research, but it’s a lot to chew on. Of course, Joel and I are still waiting for the border to open so we can finish our Adirondack 46 High Peaks. I’m currently halfway through those and they are my #1 priority. Mountaineers will tell you Everest is overrated and commercialized, but if anyone out there wants to sponsor me for about $150,000, I would love to take my shot at the world’s tallest mountain. There’s a ton of places I want to hike. France, Italy, South America, Antarctica, many places in the US and Canada as well. I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with trying to get an opportunity to climb a mountain in North Korea, which is obviously not very realistic, but who knows! Up next, aside from continuing to explore Ontario and Quebec as much as I can, Joel and I will be heading over to Tanzania, Africa in July of 2022 to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, which should be a pretty memorable trip.
9- Where can people read more or follow you?
I’ve given up writing on the blog for now. Without big mountains in my life right now, I’ve lost a bit of the writing bug. The best place to find me and where I am most active is on Instagram. @joe.wilderness is my username and I post on there pretty often. I do have a Facebook page too, which I use less often. And I’m looking start doing some really cool guided hikes later in 2022. If you keep on eye on my social pages, you’ll have the opportunity to join me in the future on some great experiences, both day trips and some overnight camps.
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