Signing off

Thank you to all of those who have sponsored me, supported me, and followed me, over the last few years!
Thank you to all of those who have sponsored me, supported me, and followed me, over the last few years!
For those who do not know, as it seems some folks do not understand this article, this article is not about me never writing again, rather it is about me taking a significant step away from writing highly detailed article over the 2014 hiking season. I have, and will continue to, write article.

The time has come for me to hang up my keyboard and step away.

The last few years that I have been blogging, writing white papers for the industry insiders, writing articles for the masses, and posting videos, has been a mixture of pure fun and intense focus on details.

Pre 2010 was learning all there was about UL hiking.
2010 & 2011 was spent learning all I could about SUL/XUL hiking.
2012 was me pushing the boundaries of XUL in every possible way.
2013 was about doing big mile days for 200+ days.
2014 is about expeditions!

What I have planned for the 2014 hiking season is just going to require so much of my focus and effort out on the trail, and here at home in front of a computer, maps, and reams of paper, that I just need to sign off for the foreseeable future. I might be back and start writing articles again, but at this point I am thinking the time has come for me to pass along the movement to other folks.

When I first started posting and writing about SUL/XUL almost nobody in the hiking community was talking about SUL hiking, and I only knew of 4 guys on the internet writing about XUL hiking – and none of them were still actively writing. Times have certainly changed over the last few years and that is just so great to see!

To the thousands of hikers, runners, adventure racers, rock climbers, summit baggers, and those doing huge expeditions… everybody that I have had the amazing pleasure of being able to help in some small way… keep going at it! Keep getting out. Keep learning. Keep learning both the hard way and the right way. Those who are able to, keep pushing the boundaries of both adventure and technology!

I have updated my hiking gear list to include the setup I will be using as the core setup for all of my 2014 expeditions. Each expedition will of course vary a small bit but it will be the core set of gear that I plan to use for most, but not all, of the trips. They are by no means going to be SUL/XUL adventures, but what I have planned is taking me into locations that are at the highest risk of the hiking world – and doing it all solo adds even greater risk to the already risky.

I am ready for the challenge. I believe the last few years have taught me what I needed to learn, have put me into situations that I needed to experience, and have allowed me to push myself and my gear to the point of failure and beyond – all things I am going to need for this next phase of my hiking life.

None of my trips will be the “OMG” type of hikes that guys like Nimblewill Nomad (my true hero in the world of hiking)  and Andrew Skurka (the modern day master of non-polar expedition) have done over their time out on the trail, but rather the type of shorter hikes that put you into very high risk places – and that really is all I am going to say for the safety of myself and those involved, beyond: One expedition involves attempting to hike a trail in one of the most deadly places in the United States, for a hiker, that has not been transversed in over 200 years, is all but lost and forgotten, and that I have spent the last 2+ years trying to piece back together. Another involves over 21,000 feet (6.4 km) of elevation change in just under 150 miles (241 km) and is something that has never been done before. And three other trips I am just not willing to share anything about until, and unless, I accomplish them and feel safe sharing about them – because all too often hikers without enough experience want to do what other hikers with far greater experience have barely been able to do – I have learned this the hard way the last two or three years while building a 500 mile trail in Northern California.

It was sometime in mid-2013 that I decided to put aside the big miles and massive amount of days out on the trail (223 days in 2013) and instead put my focus towards something new… higher risk trails that have never been done and/or are ones that all but forgotten about. If even one of the five I have planned succeeds I am going to hopefully be filled with joy by this time next year!

To all of those companies that have helped me out over the last few years, I owe you a lot of my success. Thank you for what it is that you do and thank you for helping me.

If you are on facebook I invite you to follow my HikeLighter page, as I will still be keeping it going and trying to post throughout the year.

If you are not on facebook and want to drop me a message, you can do so here.

Thank you so very much for all of the amazingly wonderful comments!

Signing off,
+John Abela

38 thoughts on “Signing off

  1. It’s definitely been educational reading your blog. Thanks for putting in the time to make it happen and best wishes on your upcoming expedition adventures.

  2. Thank you for all you have done and for what you have shared with us. Stay safe on your journeys and don’t get completely lost. Your experience and real-world reviews are invaluable to those of us in the unwashed, huddled masses of hiker trash.

  3. John,

    I owe a lot to you in my progress over the last couple of years as a lighter weight backpacker, amongst other things. For these things, I say thank you.

    I hope to hear from you on occasion, and look forward to hopefully hearing all about your adventures for 2014…

    Happy hiking friend!


  4. Have a wonderful 2014 of adventures. Be well, be safe. Most of all dont be cold wet or hungry! Thank you for the wonderful advice and help you have provided to all of us. May peace prevail on earth through some of the difference you have made.

  5. Happy Trails John. i was hoping to connect up with you in the near future for a venture out into the bush. Gonna miss all the info and stories. It’s been a good time.

  6. I’ll certainly miss reading your detailed reviews and reports, but completely understand where you are coming from and can respect that. Good luck in 2014 and always feel free to ping me if I can be of help in any way. All the best my friend.

  7. John,

    Thanks for all the dedication and hard work you have invested over the years to help all of us who are trying to lighten our loads as backpackers. While I will miss your videos, reviews, and reports, I am happy that you have listened to that little voice within you and I am excited for you and all the wonderful adventures that await you in 2014 and beyond. Happy hiking and enjoy the journey.

  8. We’ll miss you for sure. I think it’s safe to say we’re all better hikers because of your efforts. Stay safe out there. I’ll look forward to hearing about your adventures!

  9. John,
    In the past, when I would get a notice of a new post from you, I would always save it to a night where I would have plenty of time to read every word and take in all the details and try to understand your point of view. I will surely miss those evenings this coming year. But I’m super stoked that you are off on this great journey into God’s beautiful outdoors that we so love. Have as much fun as you can and come back worn out N’ tired, but refreshed in having tested your metal. May it be the time of your life. Godspeed to you my friend. -You will be truly missed.

  10. I’ll miss reading your blogs, and personal insight and opinions. I’ve found reading your posts has been incredibly informative. If you ever feel the desire to do some long distance walking in Australia feel free to contact me. The Australian Alpine Walking Trail and the Bucentennial National Trail beckon! Cheers, Shelly

  11. Safe travels John. While I miss The Godfather of XUL hiking next year I am excited to learn about your expeditions eventually. Boundaries sometimes are there for a reason so do take care and enjoy yourself as well.

  12. I’ve benefited so much from your writing John. You will be missed. Please start writing again when these trips are behind you. Be safe, have fun.

  13. Hats off to you for knowing when enough is enough and it’s time to write another chapter in your life story. Thanks for sharing your experiences and research. It’s been very helpful. Will you leave your blog up for those of us who reference your postings?

  14. Godspeed John, and best of luck on all of your adventures. I am relatively new to your blog but I hope that given enough time we’ll hear back from you, perhaps in a book or other form. Take care!

    PS I second the suggestion to keep the blog open and would be more than happy to contribute to this effort.

  15. Boy, I (and many, many others) are gonna miss you big time……until we hear about new exploits in the coming future! You’ve given me so much info/inspiration………

  16. Definitely a great idea to keep this site up. It is literally a treasure trove of helpful reviews. Don’t know of any others that actually use gear for an extended period before writing about them. As mcdcrook states above, all that you’ve plowed into the backing community, I hope and pray it all comes back and more. Now go have the time of your life! (and fill us in once in a while too)

  17. May God bless you with a safe year and show you his glory on the trail in Jesus name .loved reading your posts thanks Darrin.

  18. John,
    Thank you for sharing your vision and dream with us and not just drop off the end of the earth. You have been extremely helpful to me personally in my question to fine tune my gear set. I will miss your valuable contributions but will follow your adventures on Facebook. Be safe and be well.

  19. Thanks for everything John, I’ve enjoyed reading your considered thoughts on all kinds of backpacking topics, and wish you the best on your future endeavors.

  20. I think you’ll be back, you will want to share the awesome things you have done. That’s when blogging gets really fun when you can start telling crazy adventure stories. Like me for example I just up and left it all behind and am headed to Hawaii but I will write on my blog about all the crazy things that will be happening :)

  21. Hey John,

    Never been much of a commenter, but as a longtime reader of your blog, I am sad to see you go. I’ve come to rely on your site for your in depth reviews. Whenever I’m considering a new purchase, or just want to learn about the cutting edge of ultralight gear, I always turn to your site first.

    Hope you enjoy your freedom away from the keyboard, and as a Nor Cal resident myself maybe I’ll run into you out on the trail someday!

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