Turning Over A New Leaf
An explanation behind my long absence, and a look at what the future holds:
Mangrove trees are odd things. They sprout like fingers from sandy tidal beds, twisting together into gangly groves that rise from the shallows. They’re phenomenal at stopping costal erosion. And they’re one of the few plants that can live off pure salt water.
Of course, no one can soak up that much salt without getting a little salty themselves. Red mangroves solve the problem by concentrating all of their toxins into a single leaf, which turns bright yellow before falling off.
In short, they’re excellent at compartmentalization. But I don’t think it’s a behavior humans should try to emulate.
Humans Don’t Have Detachable Leaves
A few months ago, I reached my breaking point. I wasn’t fulfilled at my day job. A classic cascade failure of quitting coworkers left me juggling the work of multiple people. I started dreading going into the office each day.
But that was alright. Substack would be my escape route. I thought if I started showing promising growth, I could transition to being a full time independent writer within a couple years. To this end, my spring board was supposed to be “The Alpine Amusement Park,” a documentary about trail access and conservation in Colorado.
The goal was to use this landmark project as a huge subscription driver. Maybe push me past the 2,000 mark.
By the way, previously, I’ve been very guarded about sharing my subscriber numbers. My thinking was that by keeping it vague, I wouldn’t lose potential interviews for being “too small.” I think I’m past that.
In the interest of transparency: Cole’s Climb has 1,323 subscribers at time of writing. Is that a lot? A little? Who knows. You decide.
Anyway —I worked on the doc for more than a year, interviewing a long list of experts, and summiting multiple mountains with my camera equipment. For my troubles, I earned 8 subscribers. 13 if you include my follow-up articles.
By comparison: this reservation guide earned me 121 for a fraction of the work.
“My day job had been my yellow mangrove leaf. I didn’t care how toxic it was — I always planned to shed it in good time. Now I couldn’t.”
Go figure. I’ve given up on predicting what people actually want to read. But the documentary flop hurt. It made me question whether I’m actually providing any value to the community.
It also led to a crushing realization: this endeavor wasn’t replacing my 9-to-five anytime soon. My day job had been my yellow mangrove leaf. I didn’t care how toxic it was — I always planned to shed it in good time. Now I couldn’t, and the poison was starting to spread.
It sabotaged the other areas of my life, leaving me drained of creative energy. Trapped.
I realized I wanted to be able to really carry on this project — not just limp along like I’d been doing for months — I needed to properly balance my life. That meant directing my full attention toward finding a new job, and a new place to call home.
Looks like that place is Florida.
Obviously, this is a massive change for someone who spent most of their time scaling mountains and snowboarding down them. But making this my new base of operations feels more peaceful somehow. I missed the sunsets and the sound of the waves.
I’m excited to continue to share adventure stories with you, while continuing to cover the nation-wide news on conservation and outdoor access. For you, the reader, this (hopefully) means a return to consistent content in your inbox.
Thank you for your patience, and for sticking with this project for so long. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
P.S., — The substack app has a ton of new features now that make it worth the download. I’ve been using the new “notes” feature to keep up with fellow writers and followers between posts. Check it out!