Planning and coordinating #LHX2017 was not only a lot of fun but also a privilege. The team not only met my simple expectations (I like to keep things simple), but also during our short time together reminded me of what’s really important in life…connections.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “#LHX2017 was in April. That was four months ago and you’re just getting around to writing about it?”
In these last four months since #LHX2017 I took time to step back from planning events. Whether local to my community or larger outdoor events through HBF Outdoors. I needed time to process what I learned from the team as well as the adventure itself. I’ve also used the time to focus on my marriage and spend time with my wife. Planning, coordinating, and hosting an event with a team from the U.S. and Canada requires time and a lot of detail. And as #LHX2017 crept up closer to the day we hit the trail life became even busier.
These past few months have also come with some challenges as some changes to my career took place that were not foreseen. Time became even more valuable. And while I haven’t done everything I had hoped to accomplish this summer, the one thing I have done is make connections a priority.
Let me explain what I mean…
During the first day of #LHX2017 I spent it at the Pittsburgh airport waiting for the arrival of the team. Adam Nutting from Hiking the Trail and Epic Social Adventures had a later arrival time so when Dean Cattell and Steve Holliday arrived from Canada we had about three hours to kill. Up to this point I had not met any of the team members face to face. All of our interactions took place via social media and phones calls.
Once Adam arrived we had a two hour drive to my house where my wife had dinner waiting. That evening we all sat around my dining room table enjoying a hot meal and conversation. After dinner it was time to get our gear packed and hit our pillows for a good nights sleep. In twelve hours we’ll be on the LHHT heading southbound to Ohiopyle.
The next morning as we drove to the trailhead I noticed something about our time together pre-trip. We spent more time telling stories of our outdoor adventures and life then we did talking about gear. We had only been together as a team for 24 hours, have not hit the trail yet, and have already established a connection of common ground, a passion for the outdoors. I say gear because if you notice, the outdoor community on social media loves to discuss outdoor gear. And while we did at time talk about the gear we brought along, especially from our #LHX2017 sponsors, it was not our focus.
From the moment the team arrived at the airport we connected about life.
I remember one night deciding to sleep in the shelter. That evening was chilly and we had the fire in the fireplace ripping with warmth and I thought sleeping in the shelter in front of the fire would be toasty. Adam, being from Arizona, was feeling the chill of our Pennsylvania spring nights even more and had also decided to camp out in the shelter. Exhausted from a fifteen mile day through chilly air, misty rain, and a steep climb to the top of Seven Springs none of us were long for this world once we hit the bags, yet we still found time to talk about life as Adam shared with me his experiences growing up in the Boy Scouts.
Conversations about hockey, his daughters and life in Canada is how I connected with Dean. From those talks as we hiked the trail I could hear in his voice his love for his family. There is no doubt Dean loves the outdoors. As a matter of fact he and I both have a love for the art of bushcraft, but his love for his family is what I heard the most as we connected on the trail.
Stories of cabin vacations, a very snowy winter season, Vancouver camping with wildlife, and his wife’s passion for photography is how I connected with Steve. I learned we both can tend to think alike on certain issues, but what I learned about Steve the most is his love for his wife as well as his support for her passion for photography.
Dan Human joined us later on the trip, but in the short time we were able to connect it was stories about his career with SAR, his A.T. thru-hike journey and his love for his family that were shared. I knew his love for his family and time in the woods with his son are valuable as it’s something he shares often through his social media, but it became even more evident through our conversations as we hiked from the Rt. 653 shelters south towards Ohiopyle.
HBF Outdoors is about inspiring you to get outside and connect with others through an experience, and #LHX2017 accomplished that goal. We connected on a level that truly matters. By design we as humans crave interaction and REAL connections with others who share our likes, interests, and passions. And while we will say we enjoy social media because we can “connect” with others. Nothing can ever replace real life connections where eye contact and body language go hand in hand with conversation. The truth is social media is not the place to truly “connect.” If you believe that you’ve been misinformed and also missing out. Here’s my advice and what #LHX2017 reminded me about; use social media as a tool to network, to make initial connections, but get outside WITH people, truly connect, and watch what happens to your life through real life experiences.
For more information about #LHX2017 click here
But I really encourage you to check out #LHX2018 because we’re doing it again with a whole new team.