This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

Spring Musings

It’s been two months since I returned from working in Japan, even longer since I’ve written my last post and I’m more than ready to be blogging again!

I’ve continued to teach online for an international company and have really enjoyed the rapport with my students. In order to teach more and to reach a wider audience, I recently launched my own online English tutoring site: Open Roads English. This was a time-consuming project and I’m pleased with the results. As learning English – and specifically online learning – grows in popularity around the world, having an internet platform makes teaching possible from “virtually” everywhere. This is exciting to me and my challenge now is to learn how to market my online services better. (Feel free to send the link to anyone you think would be interested!)

I’ve been working on all of this from Basecamp (my parents’ house). The Camp Managers (my parents) have been very welcoming and are supportive of my online pursuits and are curious about other ideas I talk about trying. I’m constantly making new plans, then letting the idea perk or fade away on the winds of “reality”, which tend to be the sad sack of many exciting thoughts. Some of my latest plans: Getting an RV and teaching online from the road. Or perhaps there’s another thru-hike to be done and a book to be written. Or a walk/run/hike across America. I’ve analyzed, tested and, to greater and lesser degrees, semi-started all of these ideas. But as of this post, I’m still at Basecamp, which, by the way, is a fine place to conduct research.

There’s great energy in this unconventional life I’ve created for myself. Once I’m moving, I know I’m doing the right thing. It’s the transition stage that’s the bear. But the creative process is like that, isn’t it? Restlessness and angst form the crucible for creativity. It’s a time of deep thought, extravagant and impractical ideas. It’s the playground for audacious thinking and experimenting; for trying on the latest adventure to see how it fits.

But that pause can also be a place of self-doubt. Too much time allows the “what ifs” and the “that’s nuts” to creep in. Must keep moving. Set dates. Do something.

And pay attention – a holy kind of attention.

Because mediocrity and complacency are sneaky, and are willing to slide right in and make things just a little too comfortable for action. Ah-ha! Back, you, Mediocrity and Complacency! (They are also easily frightened.)

Teaching, hiking, running, skiing, walking, traveling, writing – these are the common modes of progress in my life. Being in motion is what generates the ideas. It’s the adrenaline. One example: Last week I decided to walk from Longmont to Katahdin in Maine (which may or may not be 2,290 miles). I dressed for the first leg of the walk, strapped on my CamelBak, packed it with snacks, my phone, wallet and started to walk east. I walked for three hours. As I walked, I imagined how I could continue, a few days at a time. What friends and family would be willing to shuttle me back and forth, out across the Colorado plains (I still had to be at Basecamp or somewhere with internet access to teach online).

By the end of my walk, reality (the sad sack) had overtaken my adrenaline-induced state and I understood the impracticability of this plan. For that day. It’s still possible. According to USA Crossers, 252 people have run/walked across the US. It’s possible and it’s in my sites.

Where the plains meet the mountains in Boulder County.

The flatland of Boulder County.


My goals range from the short-term to the long-term, but the intertwining themes have remained constant: they have to be independent, growth-oriented and engaging.

Amid all the planning and contemplating, I’m always thinking about the trail. THE trail. The Appalachian Trail. The AT. I simply love it. It constantly calls and I constantly look for ways to answer. I always miss that rugged path, the trail culture, and the as-yet-unknown kindred spirits that are also called to that winding, rocky, unforgiving route. I know the trail will always be there, but that doesn’t help me now, which is when I want to be there.

It also doesn’t help that now is peak time for Springer Fever. That relentless pull that past hikers feel to be at the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. The trek northward to Katahdin and Baxter Peak begins in the spring at Springer Mountain, Georgia. It’s a crowded, nutty episode in March and April, and it’s hard to ignore. I’ve managed to resist the call to the southern end, but I keep thinking about the northern peak…Katahdin, where southbounders begin.

Fortunately, I have a temporary remedy for the Fever. I live near the foothills of Colorado, and my access to the mountains, trails and the peaceful western woods is a mere 20-minute drive from Basecamp. My running and hiking have increased, and I’m replacing and repairing my backpacking gear. Just in case.

Here’s a look at some of the places I’ve hiked and skied in the last few weeks…


In the foothills of Boulder, Colorado. The Flatirons in the background.

Heil Valley, between Boulder and Lyons.

Heil Valley, between Boulder and Lyons.

Trail in Heil Valley.

Heil Valley.

The old stone house. Heil Valley.

The old stone house. Heil Valley.

Spring snow is common in Colorado.


 Essential footwear.



Near Estes Park.

Cross-country skiing near Estes Park, Colorado.

A bluebird sky.

A bluebird sky.

Lumpy Ridge. Estes Park, Colorado.

Lumpy Ridge, Estes Park.



9 responses to “Spring Musings

  1. Jane June 20, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I just published a post about hiking on my blog that you may be interested in.

  2. Jane June 20, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I related to many things you said in this post. I also used to teach in Japan and I’ve enjoyed the posts about that too. Great stuff, Robyn.

    • Robyn June 22, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Hi Jane,
      Sorry for the late reply! Thanks for your comment. Yes, I miss Japan but always excited about the next adventure. Will read your post now.

  3. Nicole April 5, 2015 at 8:23 am

    What a great idea Robyn! Your website looks great. Let me know when you need an employee!
    I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing.

  4. brickthomas April 3, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    I found your thoughtful post interesting, Robyn. Whatever you choose to do I am sure once you’re in motion you will find it fulfilling. That first step is the toughest. But you already know that. Best wishes.

  5. Uncle Dan April 3, 2015 at 10:55 am

    What a great blog. What great web page for your ESL business. I have been on lumpy ridge several times with cousin Phil.

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