Talkin' trail with TandemTrekking
Lindsey and Kyle sure seem like regular people, but do you ice climb, scale mountains, or cross the country on foot every change you get? Yeah, us neither.
Together, Lindsey and Kyle run Tandem Trekking, a blog, photo journal, and resource center for those who want to live vicariously through their adventures, as well as those interested in taking on some adventuring of their own. We asked them a TON of questions and they generously obliged (seriously - this is just an excerpt. Check out their site for more). Just like on their blog, the words comes from Lindsey and the photos are from Kyle.
Okay, so how did Tandem Trekking begin?
Tandem Trekking started as a way to communicate and capture some truth. When we were getting ready for our thruhike of the Appalachian Trail I felt the need to keep our loved ones in the loop. I wanted to find an easy way to share with them, and with anyone else who cared to read, what our lives were like as we stepped off the cliff into the vast unknown of trail life.
I also felt a desire to do something I have done almost my entire life: write it down. For me, putting pen to paper is the best way to reflect, decompress, record, and remember what really happened. To combat nostalgia and try and keep some magic alive. Creating a blog, which would also feature photos - Kyle's preferred form of communication - seemed like the perfect way to smoosh ourselves onto a platform that family and friends could enjoy. And so with the click of a button (and many more clicks and hairs pulled out later) I created a space for us to open up about the next chapter in our lives.
Does your relationship with (they’re married <3) impact the way you think about these trips?
Having a built in adventure buddy has definitely enabled me to adventure more. We empower each other - to take on harder and scarier things, to believe in ourselves, to reach our goals and to dream big. We have really built our relationship around what we think we can accomplish as a couple and that has been a huge benefit over the past seven years. I think at this point we are also starting to explore what adventuring as individuals or with other friends looks like as well, which seems like a whole new world. While it is fun to try out new things I actually enjoy adventuring with Kyle the most. We think alike and laugh for the same reasons. We want the same outcomes and enjoy the same realities. Adventuring is always fun but with him it feels like a well choreographed dance.
I wouldn't say either of us was particularly outdoorsy until 2011. I'm not sure if there was something specific that drew Kyle to the outdoors but for me there was kind of this deep longing for more time in nature. So after college I headed off to the American Conservation Experience to do just that, which is where I met Kyle. Really we were both taking a leap because neither of us had any idea if we could hack it - if we could be outdoorsy.
Neither of us had slept outside that often or hiked that far or suffered that much. We learned to be outdoorsy together and we weren't always graceful. We carried completely unnecessary things, our packs were heavy, our food was clunky, and our gear wasn't technical, but our passion was pure and our desires ran deep. We learned to be outdoorsy because we were unabashedly eager to spend time outside. In our excitement it didn't matter what outdoorsy looked like - it only mattered that we were doing it.
Eventually we learned the ways. We hiked enough to notice what other people were up to. We camped enough to discover which pieces of gear we really needed to upgrade. We undertook adventures and trips that prompted us to do our research. But no matter how capable we have become I am happy to say we haven't lost that joy that drives us to head outdoors.
What you would tell someone who's outdoor-curious about how to ease into it?
If you are feeling the pull of nature don't be shy - just start with day hiking! Find trails near you and set some goals - maybe a trail a month to start? Join groups on social media to find hiking partners if you don't want to hike alone. Put on a comfortable pair of tennis shoes and hunt down the ten essentials in your house, throw them in a backpack and just start walking. That is really all it takes to get going. The rest will come! Just make sure you are following good Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics and are educated about how to be low impact on your adventures.
Any favorite trips?
There are too many to count but honestly I have a hard time considering our Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail thruhikes in the same category as everything else we do. Those are obviously my favorite trips but can they even be deemed trips? Or were they lifestyles for a bit? Little blips of paradise in a life well lived. I think other trips that really stand out are ones that we have done with my brothers. Those moments with them were so truly special. To have siblings that I love to spend time with is perhaps one of the greatest blessings in my life.
We noticed that on your Instagram account you don’t geotag, but you do acknowledge Indigenous territories…
These are big conversations in the outdoor social media realm. I personally have never geotagged because I have just never used geotags. I know people like to use them to find hikes and whatnot but that has just never been my M.O. (perhaps because we have the Washington Trails Association so there is already SO much information out here about trails and hiking). However, I know some people feel that purposefully not geotagging is elitist and restricts access to the outdoors for underprivileged groups. On the other hand, I do share the worry of many that geotagging leads to uneducated outdoor enthusiasts visiting fragile locations in unprecedented numbers. Perhaps the issue isn't as big as some have made it out to be but I can see the potential for it to happen, due to the fact that there are so many people with huge followings exampling terrible LNT ethics on their social media pages. This is deeply disturbing to me and I do my best to try and model good behavior on my own pages as well as talking about proper LNT ethics when I can. As more and more people discover how fun it is to spend time out side (yay!) it is more and more important that we do so in an informed, respectful, humble way.
When it comes to land acknowledgements I do it because its the right thing to do. Understanding the history (past and present) of land rights in the United States is essential to recreating on public land. This knowledge deepens my respect for the land and keeps me honest about my relationship with it. It also keeps me honest about my existence on this continent and the colonial roots I come from. I helps me recognize my privilege and allows me to support those people who are working hard to dismantle systemic racism in this country which is intrinsically linked to land rights. It is really a drop in the bucket but just like with LNT it is so important to model good behavior so as a white person putting a land acknowledgement at the bottom of my post is really the least I can do.
So, do you consider your wilderness activity political? How do your politics play into your adventures?
Anyone who claims recreating in the outdoors isn't political is too privileged to see the politics of nature in this country. I mean, at this point it is hard to find a corner of our society that isn't touched by politics and you won't find that corner outside. Why? Because even the nature of public lands (where most of us recreate) is political. How do you think those lands became public? The became public after they were signed away or taken away from Native Americans, that's how. If you aren't considering the history and the politics of the spaces you play in you are doing a disservice to the people who used to live there and are still around. On top of the history of our public lands, the management of them is highly political. Which lands are open to resource extraction, which lands are protected, who has a say in how that is determined, etc. All of this is political. If you aren't paying attention to who you vote for and who is given control over our wild places you might very well discover your favorite hike or favorite climbing crag sold off to the highest bidder for oil extraction or fracking. It is so important, now more than ever, that we pay attention to the politics of nature, that we support and recognize the people who have stewarded our wild spaces long before colonialization and that we are engaged in protecting them in the future. When you are actually in the woods or on a mountain top or kayaking on a lake or running on a trail through the desert or perched high up on a rock wall, dangling from a rope, you might not be focused on the politics of that place. But you damn well better be thinking about it when you get back to the "real world." Mother nature doesn't have a voice - it is essential that we be one for her and that we follow the leadership of native peoples in this country and in this movement.