It started as a test of commitment and became a way of life.
Jeremy Stubbs, a 30-year-old math teacher at Tacoma’s Charles Wright Academy, vowed to make it into the backcountry every weekend for a year.
It wasn’t about getting in shape, appreciating nature or finding a hobby. He just wanted to prove to himself that he could stick with something for the long run, that he could hold true to his word even when the excitement faded.
Stubbs invited students and colleagues along on his journey, which has since passed the two-year mark.
“I started hiking on the weekends to prove to myself I had the capacity for big love and big commitments,” Stubbs wrote on the blog he keeps for chronicling his adventures. “This last year really stretched and grew my commitment. This year it got hard, it got inconvenient, it got uncomfortable. A big commitment is not always easy, it is not always convenient, it is not always comfortable. I guess that’s why it’s a commitment.”
The idea came to him Labor Day 2010 as he was reflecting on the end of his five-year marriage. Stubbs had always professed a love of wilderness but had hiked only sporadically, so he decided to test his commitment level with Mother Nature.
He set parameters when choosing his weekly hikes. There had to be an actual trail, not a sidewalk, and the plants along the way could not be gardened. He abided by his own rules most of the weekends, though a busy schedule meant he once had to make do at well-groomed Point Defiance Park.
The hikes gradually got longer, steeper and farther away. They took him to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the state and helped him build connections within himself, and with the relatives, friends, fellow teachers and students he brought along.
Anthony Wilder Wohns, who recently graduated from Charles Wright, said Stubbs’ commitment to nature helped others as much as it helped the teacher on his personal quest.
“He really teaches that appreciation that you miss in the everyday life in school and the urban environment,” said Wohns, 19. “It speaks volumes of who he is as a person that he made this commitment and carried it through every single weekend, not just for himself but for everybody. He really taught us kids.”
Most of the students who hiked with Stubbs met him through the school’s outdoor club. They recount times when he woke up in the middle of the night to cook them a hot meal after an exhausting day on the trail, when he cut his own trip short to help an injured teenager seek medical treatment, when he inspired them to connect with the world around them.
Stubbs admits there were times in the past 104 weeks when he just didn’t want to hike. But he reminded himself that it was about commitment, and he persevered.
“Nothing worthwhile in life is easy,” Stubbs said.
He’s not sure how long he’ll keep hiking consecutive weekends. He likes the idea of aiming for 1,664 weekends (30 years) so he can one day say he’s spent the majority of his life hiking. Stubbs knows that’s “insane,” though, so he’s decided to keep hiking until it is no longer fun.
But tracking his success is no longer what’s important – it’s knowing that he’s improved his life and himself.
“I made a commitment to my own life,” Stubbs said, “to live life in a way that makes me at my best in all areas with a fierce dedication.”email@example.com