Dirtbagging is romantic.

Wearing a Patagonia tee shirt, living simply, and having adventures seems to sum up the ambitions of a dirtbag well. We strive to be unemployed and climbing, running, skiing, and biking full-time. We’re essentially like animals migrating towards the sun (or away from it depending on the season and our activity of choice).

I went climbing the other day and there were some non­-dirtbags there.

We were talking about what the spring and summer were going to look like. Should we go to Indian Creek or up to Bend, Rifle or Maple, Renier or Alaska, aid climbing in Yosemite or alpine climbing in Wyoming, or should we venture out to Kentucky? The debate was lively—none of these destinations are poor choices.

A girl from South Carolina—one of the non­-dirtbags—chimed in and said,

my life is so boring, you guys have so much freedom,

which was flattering and something I often lose sight of. Being so entrenched in the climbing community, it seems completely normal that people hit the road for the summer or winter … Non-dirtbags look at our lives and think it’s awesome.


Related: 9 to 5 Ruins Lives


I know that I did before I moved into my car.

But what about the fear and loneliness I feel sometimes? When you’re at a climbing area and it’s raining, being stuck in your tent or van all day can really suck. Looking for a reliable and safe touring partner in the miserable Montana winters can feel extremely lonely.

What the Fuck am I doing with my life?

is a thought that crosses my mind often. Am I going to wake up in ten years and realize that I’m just okay at a bunch of sports that know one gives a fuck about? Am I going to die alone in some remote mountain range because I was arrogant enough to think,

I don’t need a partner for this

There are so many YouTube videos, stories, books, and podcasts about how awesome it is to give up everything and just ramble on down the road. And it is. Humans need passion, joy, freedom, experience …

But what about routine, accountability, security, and personal relationships?

I feel like I don’t have much of the latter in my life. Sometimes I feel intense fear because of my life choices; especially when I don’t have a partner and I’m stuck in town. I also think that too often we look at dirtbagging as being perfect; however we don’t talk about the negative aspects of our lifestyle.

In my experience, mountain folk are people who wander and question. Do “normal” people with regular jobs fear these things as a general rule? I don’t know.

Looking back at the last few years of my life I have no regrets.

I’ve driven highways end to end, I’ve hiked (and hitchhiked) the width of the country, I’ve climbed in dozens of different climbing areas, and have experienced the most beautiful sunrise run ever in Clover, Texas. Where the hell is Clover, Texas? I’ve spent my adult life exploring the United States. I know my home.

Looking at my reality objectively, it’s fear that makes me question my life’s trajectory. Fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all. I do not want my life to be run by fear and indecision. So today I’m going to stay fearless and live a charmed life.


Related: Solo Travel & Climbing: How to Maximize Your Time on Rock When Traveling Alone