The impetus for Wompus...
Growing up in the shadow of Wyoming’s Big Horn Mountains as an only child to two hard working parents had a way of forcing me into adventure. My father was a coal miner and my mother a seamstress. Their work schedules were often long and tiring. Our property sat on a gravel road, five miles outside of a small town and felt suitably remote. We lived next to a creek and adjacent to ranch land so vast, that to this day, I still couldn’t tell you if or where any structures lie on it—and I have been all over it. There were rolling plains as far as the eye could see in one direction and stark, dark mountains in the other. Swimming and snorkeling snowmelt creeks, fishing, kicking up pheasants and rabbits in the creek bottoms, and hiking on long excursions just to see what was in the next valley were commonplace. Most special of all to me, though, were my summer and fall camping trips in the mountains, full of hiking and rock scrambling.
While I spent a fair amount of time in our creek in the warm months and on it (mostly ice skating) in the winter, I didn’t have a lot of deep-water exposure. Realizing I had not had a chance to experience the ocean, college seemed like a good opportunity to rectify the situation. The United States Naval Academy seemed like the only reasonable school choice. Not only did it offer as much ocean exposure as I desired but boundless opportunities for adventure of all kinds. And it truly was epic! I took every opportunity to travel and see new versions of nature. I conducted training on both coasts of the United States. And doing a short stint on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean gave me the chance to see the landscapes of Italy, Greece, and Turkey. I rounded that out with my own trips to Belgium, France, and Spain. Cash was scarce, hostel stays were the only possible boarding, but the sense of adventure was high. I took every chance I could to swim in the blue waters of the Mediterranean but also realized that floating atop them (or any body of water on a large ship) wasn’t really my thing.
My local ride. Iraq, 2006
With the wars ramping up in Afghanistan and Iraq and my preference to be on the ground, I chose a commission in the United States Marine Corps and a post in Southeast Asia upon graduation. From there, I was fortunate enough to deploy to Iraq on two occasions and even more fortunate to have assignments that allowed me to work with locals. Stress was high; the learning curve was steep; and paradigm shifts occurred—above all else, though, I was shown a whole new opportunity for adventure. The fact that I was able to truly adventure in the cultural realm opened my eyes to the fact that there might be opportunities over the horizon that I had yet to consider.
I resigned my commission in the Marine Corps in 2008 and entered Georgetown’s MBA program to broaden my skillsets and search for the next big thing. Upon graduation, I took a job as a management consultant for a big four auditing firm but found the work lackluster and the leadership opportunities scarce. So feeling the pull to adventure again in a familiar realm, I jointed the National Guard and tried out for Army Special Forces. I was selected, and my “reserve gig” turned into a couple years of active duty training, language qualifications in Spanish and Arabic, and a few great trips leading missions in the Southern Hemisphere. Additionally, “Green Beret” training considerably honed my land navigation skills, exposed me to top-notch bush crafting and survival skills, and taught me to truly innovate.
There have always been strong undercurrents—a purpose beneath my adventuring. Whether by desire or necessity, with others or going solo, it has always been about me, alone in nature. Sometimes “nature” has included not only the land and animals but the unique and beautiful people and cultures around me. I am forever in the throws of a running internal dialogue. And at the forefront of my conversation with myself is the testing of my own grit against my environment and how I fit into the overall picture. Ultimately and repeatedly, I am humbled and left with new perspective.
Now residing in Idaho, Wompus is an extension of my desire to continue to innovate, adventure, and blaze a path in a new realm. The vagabond lifestyle of the military taught me to “grow where I am planted” and also made me truly cherish the ability I now have to plant some roots and nourish the relationships I share with my wife and three kids. As I grow in this new place, I hope to build out a community of like-minded souls and provide opportunities for others to gain their own unique perspectives from nature. Wompus Events are intended to achieve just that, allow you to test yourself against nature’s obstacles in new and creative ways. Wompus Education provides skills so you can feel more confident in “free-styling” exceedingly epic backcountry adventures of your own. And the Wompus Labs allow us the ability to bring to market some of the many inevitable ideas left by the “Good Idea Fairy”—it seems she always appears when we are wet, exhausted, hungry, and still only half-way there (with the sun setting…). In the light of day, many of her ideas don’t hold water, but some prove to be truly innovative. We hope that they ultimately allow you to have more fulfilling backcountry experiences.