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What is your Land of Beyond? January 30, 2012

Posted by Marc Troeger in adventure.
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Robert Service was a poet who became popular writing verse about the Yukon gold rush in early 1900. He is often referred to as “the Bard of the Yukon” and is best known for his poems “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, from his first book, Songs of a Sourdough.

My personal favorite is one of his shorter poems, written as an ever-so-lightly jest to the dreamers, yet a very powerful message to those who seek adventure. Even though I have this poem memorized, I still carry a copy of it wherever I go, always rereading… always seeing some thing different in the words… always encouraged to keep my eyes on that “land of beyond”… always reminded that it’s not about where you are going, but what you have before you.

Read this poem once, twice, many times! Digest it and consume it. And then come back for more, always asking yourself, “What is my land of beyond?”

Land of Beyond
(by Robert Service)

Have you ever heard of the Land of Beyond,
That dreams at the gates of the day?
Alluring it lies at the skirts of the skies,
And ever so far away;
Alluring it calls: O ye the yoke galls,
And ye of the trail overfond,
With saddle and pack, by the paddle and track,
Let’s go to the Land of Beyond!

Have ever you stood where the silences brood,
And vast the horizons begin,
At the dawn of the day to behold far away
The goal you would strive for and win?
Yet ah! In the night when you gain to the height,
With the vast pool of heaven star-spawned,
Afar and agleam, like a valley of dream,
Still mocks you a Land of Beyond!

Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond
For us who are true to the trail;
A vision to seek, a beckoning peak,
A fairness that never will fail;
A pride in our soul that mocks at a goal,
A manhood that irks at a bond,
And try how we will, unattainable still,
Behold it, our Land of Beyond!

Adventure in the Little Things January 13, 2012

Posted by Marc Troeger in adventure, life.
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Ten years ago, a good friend lost her battle with cancer. It was heartbreaking to many of us. Karen was an inspiration to her family and friends, and, with her work with the Helsinki Commission, the world.

Karen was also someone who was full of passion and experienced many adventures throughout her life. I was fortunate to have been able to join her on a number of those.

Even as cancer began to take a toll on her body, she still held a strong conviction that remission would come. During this time, she insisted on experiencing the world as much as she could.

One warm, Fall day, a group of us took a hike along the Hazel River trail, in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains, an hour’s drive from Washington, DC where we all lived. Even though the trail was a level stroll along the river, Karen eventually began to tire and we decide to turn back. As the others walked on ahead, I stayed with Karen at her slower pace. Eventually, she asked to rest, so we sat on the banks of the Hazel River, under a large, oak tree.

Always being the curious one, Karen began poking at the ground with a stick and overturning small logs and rocks. I still remember the child-like amazement on her face and the laughter of delight as she uncovered many different bugs, worms and other insects. I joined in the discovery. The others soon came to find out what was keeping us. They, too, sat down and joined us in the search for the “little things” as Karen called them.

Eventually, the search waned and Karen soon dozed off under the tree; someone went off to wade in the river; the rest of the group sat on the riverbank, talking quietly and enjoying the beautiful day. At some point, someone pointed to the time and the sun that was lower on the horizon. Rousting Karen, she arose from her nap, deeming herself rested and we continued our short journey to the car.

As we approached the car to settle in for the ride back to the bustling city, Karen stopped us. With a tear in her eye and her impish, crooked smile, she gave each one of us a hug and thanked us for the days adventure. It was one of those images that burns itself into your brain, of a friend who is long gone, but forever part of your life.

For Karen… for us, regardless of our situation, adventures still abound, even in the “little things”.

What’s been your adventure today?

House of Representatives Tribute to Karen S. Lord )

Good Adventures, No Matter the Outcome January 12, 2012

Posted by Marc Troeger in adventure.
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racenumb This picture was taken in my garage. It shows some of my race numbers that I wore in mountain bike races I have taken part in over the past several years. Several of them are from the 24 Hours of Snowshoe race where my teammates and I completed as many circuits, up and down Snowshoe Mountain, in West Virgina, over a 24 hour period. The other numbers are from the Iceman mountain bike race held each early November in Traverse City, Michigan. Snow, ice, cold, rain, mud and mayhem is an expected element as you participate in this race.

What none of these numbers have attached to them are trophies or winning ribbons. That has never happened and most probably never will. You see, my passion has never been to become a pro and win the race. That’s someone else’s passion. Mine has always been to enter the race and finish, all-the-while having a great time doing it. And I have always been successful at that… until this year. This year I did not finish.

Two-thirds into this year’s race, my rear dérailleur snapped off and got caught up in my spokes, stretching my shift cable and snapping my chain. As much as I tried, I wasn’t going to be able to perform successful, trail-side surgery on that bike. A little later, a support truck delivered me and my broken bike back to the campsite where the rest of my team was celebrating their finishes and waiting for my return. Frustrated and humiliated, I dropped in a chair and related my mishap.

Sitting there, feeling sorry for myself, my friend Pete walked up and shoved a beer in my hand.

“Cheer up, Buddy!” he exclaimed. “Did you have fun out there?”

“Well, yeah, until my bike failed me.” I replied, a bit glumly.

“Then that’s what it’s all about; getting out there and having fun! None of us came expecting to win. We came to ride!” he said as he slapped me on the back.

I looked up at him and couldn’t help grinning. “You’re trying to push your Zen mountain biking crap on me again, aren’t you?”

Pete was always pushing his “be-in-the-moment-when-you-ride” philosophy on us. His idea of a good race is the one where he makes friends along the course or stops several times during the event to help other riders who have broke down. He rides for the experience, for the adventure.  It sometimes takes a good buddy to remind you of that.

“You bet!” Pete said as he clinked his beer bottle into mine in a toast of agreement.

I sat back feeling a little better and began to enjoy the company of friends, joining in with them as we recounted our anecdotes and stories of the race.

Good race. Good ride. Good Adventure, no matter the outcome.


Anatomy of an Adventure (in Everything) January 10, 2012

Posted by Marc Troeger in Uncategorized.
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I met Matt Walker last year when I attended the Cochise Stronghold Rock Climbing Camp, hosted by his adventure company, Inner Passage.  Matts patience as a teacher and leader made the three days of instruction and climbing in the desert south of Tuscon, Arizona, an amazing experience.   I walked away from that camp learning far more about myself and what I can accomplish.  It was an incredible adventure.

Prior to attending the climbing camp, Matt assigned us readings to complete, one of those was his Five Elements of Adventure, which he has since published in his inspiring and motivational book, Adventure in Everything.  The premise of the five elements is to guide the reader in discovering and developing adventure in all aspects of his or her life.

I have to be honest, I had hesitations in taking on my “50 Adventures” project until I sat down and finally read a copy of the book he had sent me a few months earlier.  It’s what opened my eyes and helped me to understand that adventure in someone’s life is more than a mountain to climb; it is, as he put is “finding it is a lifestyle choice that reconnects you with your dreams and passions”.

A synopsis of those five elements are below.  Read them once and then read them a second time.  Then, read them one more time and this time ask yourself the question: “How can adventure be a part of my life?”

The Five Elements of Adventure (from Matt Walker’s book, Adventure in Everything):

  1. High Endeavor – To aim for a life with high endeavor is to set goals for ourselves that are worthy of our energy, love and passion.
  2. Uncertain Outcome – adventures suggests not knowing how something is going to [ultimately] turn out; a series of uncertain outcomes and coming to peace with this concept allows for opportunity.  Opportunity activates adventure.
  3. Totally Committed – pursuit with flexibility about its outcome, detachment from its results and complete and total focus on the task at hand.
  4. Tolerance for Adversity – Being nimble in the face of seeming defeat; we can either succumb to defeat or turn the situation into an opportunity to find more creative ways to triumph.
  5. Great Companionship – When we pursue our endeavors with the benefit of the company of others, we have the opportunity to give unselfishly, receive sincere feedback, support one another and work together to reach goals that are unattainable on our own.

Her Race… Her Story January 5, 2012

Posted by Marc Troeger in adventure.
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My wife was doing consulting work in the Greenville, South Carolina area which required her to be there over New Years. Instead of letting her celebrate alone, I surprised her by flying down that weekend to be with her.

In support of my endeavor of “50 Adventures”, my wife asked to join me on my first adventure: a New Year’s Eve Resolution 5K race in Anderson, SC. While the race started before the stroke of midnight, the ending results and festivities carried over to the New Year, and, with my wife by my side, it made for a very special start to this grand adventure.

Both my wife and I completed the race with respectable times (though, we later found out the vehicle that was pacing the leaders took a wrong turn and cut the race short by about three tenths of a mile!). Later, while we waited to celebrate the stroke of midnight with all the other finishers, a woman crossed the finish line huffing and puffing… excited and beaming… with a Cheshire Cat smile… on crutches. The crowd clapped and cheered; many hugs and pats on the back. The woman was elated and excited, tears in her eyes. A companion, who had stayed with her along the way, gave her several high-fives.

I couldn’t help the smile breaking across my own face. Her race… her adventure… her own story to tell. That’s what an adventure is all about.