Up until the past year my life hasn’t been very eventful. I was honestly a very depressed and lazy person who didn’t take risks. I had a comfort zone and I really did not get outside of it very much. I have never been great at talking to new people, and I didn’t really ever want to do anything besides lay around and watch TV. My life had been empty and I was obviously not living it to the fullest.
After I graduated from high school, I moved off to play baseball at Johnson University which is a small private college in Knoxville, Tennessee. Conveniently, the school is about twenty minutes away from the Great Smoky Mountains, a place I didn't even think about when moving there. One day my Resident Assistant, Jason, invited me and a few other of the new guys to go hike the famous Chimney Tops Trail in the Smokies.
Little did i know, this would become a day that I would never forget, the day that I fell in love with the outdoors.
This past summer is when my life really changed. Me and a couple of my buddies decided to embark on a three day, 20 mile backpacking trip in the Smokies. Prior to this the most hiking I had done on a single trip was 5 miles in one day. In hindsight, this was a trip that I was nowhere near ready for.
We experienced things we never thought we would on this trip. This was the hardest hike of my life. One particular piece, Lost Cove trail which is only 2.7 miles in length, but it was all about a 60 degree angle all the way up. I was about ready to pass out when we finally reached the top. It had just turned dark on our second night when we encountered a mother and baby black bear. I’m from Alabama so I’ve never been even remotely close to a bear in the wild, but this night I was about 10 feet away from two! Having never encountered one, this was a very intense and scary moment for me. However, the most memorable part of this trip is when we reached the Shuckstack Fire Tower the next day, offering a beautiful 360-degree view of Lake Fontana and the surrounding mountains.
Because of my newfound love for the outdoors I’ve become a new person. I’m happier than I ever thought I could be, I’m full of energy, and I have a new optimistic outlook on life. My passion for the outdoors has now taken complete control of my life. I’m doing things I never thought I would and I am out of my comfort zone.
My next step in my journey is to move from my small town in Alabama out west to Salt Lake City, Utah despite never being west of Texas a day in my life. I hope through my adventures and story I can inspire others to get out of their comfort zones and try something new, because it might just change their lives like it has mine. I have discovered my Prime Adventure, so now why don't you go find yours?
Want to see more of Jackson's photos? Check out his Instagram here!