This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail


Welcome to This Open Road!

I’ve had several lives, sometimes one dovetailing nicely into another; at other times one suddenly bouncing off into a completely new direction. All have brought me to the place I am today with my experiences, successes, do-overs and strong impulse to explore the next thing.

For the last several years I’ve aspired to create a life that is in line with what my heart calls me to do. I’ve had a variety of jobs (waiting tables, backpacking guide, working in medical facilities, tagging salmon for the Forest Service in Alaska, a paid internship during graduate school), but my main work was as a librarian. I made a shift in 2010 and went to China to teach English to high school students. In 2012 I accepted a position with the Westgate Corporation in Japan, teaching university students. I worked for Westgate for seven terms – five in Tokyo (teaching in the classroom and working in the head office) and two for the E-Learning program. I’ve also taught Russian students online since March 2014.

I’m drawn to new countries and adventures, but my first love is the Appalachian Trail. I hiked 700 miles in 1994, then returned in 1998 and started over, completing a northbound thru-hike (2,168 miles at the time). In 2010 and 2011, I hiked it again in two sections (Georgia to New York / New York to Maine). On January 19, 2016, I completed a southbound hike, something I’ve wanted to do since my first thru-hike in 1998. That beloved, revered trail calls me and I always feel at home and the happiest when I’m in those beautiful Appalachian Mountains.

I also love living simply, and while I can’t call myself a minimalist, to some it might seem that way. Throughout the last few years, I’ve purged most of my possessions. In 2008, I donated my car to a charity. In the spring of 2012 I sold my condo before going to Japan, and moved the remaining boxes into a 5×5 storage unit. In January of 2013 I purged more things, emptying the storage unit.

As a backpacker, I know how little is required to be content on the trail. I try to apply the same principles to the rest of my life. In addition to the A.T., I’ve also backpacked the Long Trail, the Colorado Trail (2 1/2 times), 41 of Colorado’s 14,000+ ft peaks, and have trekked in Nepal.

Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.


The inspiration for the name of my blog comes from Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of the Open Road,” whose opening lines speak to those with a traveler’s soul:

“Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me, The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.”

The poem can be read in its entirety here.

contact – rcrispe (at) gmail (dot) com.

Banner: Mt. Katahdin, Maine

20 responses to “About

  1. tokyo5 December 26, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    How long have you been in Japan? How long will you stay?
    Please check my blog:

  2. Mom October 22, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Robyn’s mother is re-reading this part of her blog in October, 2014. She says she’s not a minimalist. Don’t believe her. She is. :-)

  3. Susan June 14, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Hi Robyn,
    Great blog! I was wonder if you ever thought about hiking the AT while teaching an online class. If the class content is already set up and a person carried a Samsung note 3 (or equivalent) for communication, etc, do you think it would be possible? I’m toying with the idea.

    • Robyn June 15, 2014 at 7:01 am

      Thank you Susan. Yes, I have thought about this and I think it’s possible. However, based on past experience I think there would be some challenges – there is no/little/intermittent connectivity along many sections of the trail; often shelters are crowded and noisy although being in one’s tent would allow for a private space; I’m usually focused on my immediate issues (hiking/sleeping/eating) while on the trail and not sure I’d want to use extra energy for teaching. But, none of that is to say it’s impossible. If you could teach from the trail, it would certainly add a unique and adventurous aspect to your lessons. And it would be even more possible if you could be in a hotel with wi-fi on a regular basis and do your lessons on your town stops.

  4. itisnovember February 13, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Oh Robyn, visiting your blog made me miss my times as a backpacker last year. Now I want to just start a new adventure tomorrow. If it would be only this easy! I followed your blog and hope to here more of your life soon. I wish you the very best of luck! Greets from Germany, Julian

    • Robyn February 13, 2014 at 11:31 pm

      Thanks so much Julian – I miss my times as a backpacker too! And it was only last summer…haha. Thanks of for following. I’ll resume posting soon! R

  5. Annie February 12, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Dear Robyn,
    I came across your blog as I was reading up about Westgate after completing the first stage of my application. Not only did you provide me with a great source of information, but you also made a difference for me today. Thank you!

    • Robyn February 12, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Thanks so much Annie – I’m glad the information was helpful to you! Good luck with your application. I’d love to know how it goes for you. :)

  6. YourHobby December 6, 2013 at 6:09 am

    Hi, A really refreshing blog, glad I stumbled upon it. Would really like to travel too, thank you Graham, YourHobby…..

  7. Karissa April 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Greetings from South Korea! I found your blog after searching for more info about Westgate. I’m currently involved in the application process for Fall semester. I’m also from Colorado! I grew up near CO Springs though I’ve been living and teaching in Korea for about 3 years. I enjoy reading about your experiences in Japan and would love to keep in contact with you as I prepare to make the move there myself. Perhaps you can also give me some tips on which trails to climb. I love hiking but my real passion is snowboarding. I hear Japan has amazing powder! Keep up the great writing. I hope to chat with you soon. :)


    • Robyn April 23, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Hello Karissa,
      Thanks so much for your comment, I’m glad to know you’re applying with Westgate! Good luck with the process – I’m sure you’ll do great as it sounds like you have some excellent experience. I have not been to Korea but hope to get that way at some point. I have some good friends in C. Springs and have climbed Pike’s Peak and the Incline.
      My time in Japan has been great as I knew it would be and I’m excited about the next few months. Let me know if you have any questions and thanks for following!

  8. February 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Hi Robyn, I was so pleasantly surprised when you popped up on our blog. I can’t believe it’s you! I have followed your journeys for years – Appalachian Trail, China, Japan! You’re my hero! Were you on WordPress all that time? I’m so glad to talk with you, and it sounds like things are going well in Japan. Very happy for you. Thanks for your very kind words, and I really look forward to staying in touch. All the best, Terri

    • Robyn February 28, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      Oh wow! When I found your blog I didn’t realize it was you either! I wanted to see who “liked” one of my posts and followed the trail. Yes, I’ve been on WP since I went back to the AT and then to China, etc. How fun to make the connection. But you are my hero. Just so impressed with all the traveling you’ve done over the years! I’m adding your site to my blogroll so others can enjoy your travels as well. Thanks for the note! Robyn

  9. Al Quist December 17, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    I was just reading through some of my Guest Book entries and reread yours and followed the link to this site. I’m speechless! What a pleasure it was to have met and hiked with you. I will share this site with some of the young people I work with. I’m sure they will be inspired. I wish you the best of luck in all that you do. I hope our paths cross again. BTW. Walt Whitman is one of my favorites.
    Peace always;

    • Robyn December 20, 2010 at 8:39 am

      Hello TM!
      it’s great to hear from you! Thanks for the kind words. I did a lesson on WW and it was so great to hear Chinese students recite the lines from Song of the Open Road. I also recently did a lesson on the AT. They seemed quite interested and perplexed at the same time! Just like the rest of us :)

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