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Circumnavigating Death Valley

Earlier this week I was standing in line and couldn’t help but overhear a young man complain about walking a mile to work. He apparently missed his ride and begrudgingly opted to walk it out. It was annoying enough that he spoke into his cell phone as if it was a megaphone, but even more annoying to hear a healthy young man complain as if one mile was a trek around the world.

Ironically, as I was beginning to lose hope in the human race, I returned home that evening to find an email about two individuals who were polar opposites to the young man I had seen. The two individuals that I speak of are Dave Heckman and Marshal Ulrich. These two men recently circumnavigated Death Valley on foot during the hottest time of the year. Their journey lasted over 16 days as they covered over 400 miles with temperatures soaring well past 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

A related story about their journey can be found here.

Two related videos can be seen next. Both are brief yet well worth a look. There is some incredible scenery seen within each.

In summary, Marshal Ulrich and Dave Heckman are prime examples of what the human body is capable of performing. When prepared properly, we are a tough, resilient, and enduring creature. These qualities seem to be less common in today’s softer world, but such qualities are still within everyone’s reach. And while not everyone will attempt to circumnavigate Death Valley, it can be useful to occasionally test yourself physically and mentally. Doing so will often teach you about yourself and the world around you. The knowledge acquired by overcoming rigorous challenges cannot be delivered in any other way. These lessons aren’t found in a video or book.

Get up, challenge yourself, and find out what you are made of. The answer may surprise you, as we are all more capable than we’ll ever realize.

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When you strip away all the luxuries we’re accustomed to in day-to-day living, you realize how little you really need, how distracting a lot of that stuff is, and how it gets in the way of a certain peacefulness you can find within yourself without it. – Marshall Ulrich

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4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Eric November 18th, 2012 4:04 pm

    Sometimes I imagine if some of our ancestors could watch the modern man go out to run just for exercise, go to a gym to lift weights, or do pushups or some other calisthenics to workout his muscles, they would be amused. People who had to chop & split wood, stack & carry firewood, plow fields walking behind a mule, walk for miles out of necessity, ride horses, dig and shovel, heft & toss bales of hay, etc., would definitely be amused at some white collar guy leaving the office, jumping in his car and travel a couple of miles to workout and exercise. I’m sure our ancestors didn’t worry about their cardio, how many carbs they were eating, or whether to train chest with shoulders or train chest with back.

  2. Jim November 19th, 2012 5:02 am

    I remember being a Marine and stationed in Okinawa in the summer of 1986. We trained every day,which included forced marching, Marine Corps PT, running, calistenics, pullups, pushups, etc. On our free time we went swimming, running,lifted weights,went waterskiing, snorkeling etc. All my possessions fit into my two USMC issued seabags. One of the happiest times of my life.

  3. Lewis LaLanne November 19th, 2012 1:40 pm

    I love what Marshall says about stripping away luxuries.

    Most people never step out of their comfort zone because they’ve created a comfortable routine of retreating to distractions that keep them from hearing the voice within that’s hurting because this spirit is not sharing it’s gift with the world.

    Instead, as studies have revealed, the average person is only “working?” three hours of an actual eight hours they got paid for and then as soon they’re off the clock they’re looking for anything that will mute the voice within by seeking distraction in the form of alcohol, music, video games, TV, Movies, porn, Facebook, sleep, etc. rather than nurture their spirit via practices that ask them to become more loving and more valuable as a human being.

    All of these distractions are nice and serve can serve a positive purpose but only when they’re indulged in as a treat; not as the main course that consume the most valuable asset you possess – your alert attention.

    Much love to you Ross! I just found your blog even though I’ve been a raving fan of yours for going on 5 years now ever since I purchased “Never Gymless”. I love that you’ve continued to be a force for good and have broadened your ability to share your wisdom and inspiration with this kick ass site!

  4. peter November 22nd, 2012 11:16 am

    HI ROSS, AFTER HURRICANE SANDY HIT US ON LONG ISLAND THERE WAS A LOT OF WORK TO DO. NEIGHBORS CAME TOGETHER TO CLEAR TREES FROM THE ROADS AND CLEAR FLOOD DAMAGED HOMES. MANY LOST HOMES AND MANY CAME TO HELP. FOR MY FAMILY IT WAS ONLY A MINOR INCONVENIENCE AS I HAVING NO POWER FOR 2 WEEKS AND NO GAS FOR THE CAR.BEING BROUGHT UP IN ENGLAND IN THE 1950S AND MY WIFE IN CHINA IN THE 1970S WE GOT STUCK IN WASHED CLOTHES BY HAND AND WRUNG THEM OUT AND HUNG THEM ON A LINE, WALKED TO THE GROCERY STORE WITH BACKPACKS AND CARRIED FOOD HOME EACH DAY AS THE FRIDGE WAS OUT AND TOOK COLD SHOWERS. MY SON WHO WAS BORN IN THE 90S JUST JOINED IN WITHOUT COMPLAINT. AT NIGHT WE HAD CANDLES AND TOLD STORIES. MADE ME REALIZE HOW MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE A SIMPLE LIFE IS.
    REGARDS, PETER.

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