On September 2nd, 2021 Alumnus Jared Burris ’15 followed the same trail that John Muir did in 1886 from Indiana to Florida. Soon after he returned from the trip, he visited Wabash on October 22, 2021, as a special guest speaker for the philosophy department.
Burris has lived and worked all over the world since graduation. His travels have taken him to the islands of Hawaii, the forests of Main, New Hampshire, Georgia, and the beauty of Spain and Italy. Working various seasonal roles in these places has given him time to develop his hiking skills for a journey like this.
Burris said that the trip he took was, “very challenging but also rewarding”. It required him to walk 27 miles a day and Burris thought about quitting on day one. After that day, he made a lot of simple changes that really helped him out. Among them were changing his shoes and buying a hat to wear.
Even though Burris passed through some memorable sites along the way, Burris said he “was interested in going where not a lot of people go,” and that “I had to remind myself that I wasn’t a tourist and had a mission.” When asked if he saw a lot of amazing places Burris said, “the places I went were beautiful but not awe inspiring.”
Burris met a lot of kind people along the way who were willing to give him food and whatever else he needed to continue on his journey. When asked about the difficulty of the hike he replied, “it never got easy. I had to push myself every single day.” A notable phenomenon Burris noticed was, “the people who offered me rides were in the junkiest cars.”
His favorite town that he got to visit was Murphy, North Carolina. The people were kind and generous to him here. It was with this generosity and kindness that Burris realized “even if I didn’t need something I accepted it.” Burris knew about certain stereotypes present in the rural south but, “learned the lesson over and over to be open minded.”
When asked what was important to him he replied, “relationships are very important to me.” The thoughts of his friends and family always serve as a place of home to Burris. Coach Morgan who had coached Burris during his time on the track and field team was in attendance of his talk and said that “this doesn’t surprise me”, in regards to the trip that Burris took.
At each low point, Burris faced along the journey it was people who motivated him to keep going forward. Another way to motivate himself was keeping a journal that he wrote in every night that “took a lot of willpower.” The hike was continuosly demanding of Burris mentally and physically, but he survived and made it back to tell the tale. It is about the destination for him.