When you meet Ben and Nicholette you wouldn’t think that they were weird, per se. You’d probably think they were lovely young newlyweds living the typical newlywed dream. But once you spoke to them you’d learn about their new company, Appalachian Altitude, and that they started it in order to make radical changes in their newlywed life. Very shortly after their wedding Ben dissolved the prosperous (and stable!) landscaping company he built from the ground up, and Nicholette left her job. In just a few short days they’ll be moving to a cabin in the mountains of West Virginia. Appalachian Altitude is the means to making their new mountain life permanent. In short, they want to live a life closer to nature and they have the balls to take a huge risk in order to make it happen.
Yes my friends, Ben and Nic are hard core. Yeah, yeah, starting a new business from scratch is hard core, too. But when I say cabin, I mean CA-BIN. Like, stone fireplace for heat, 800 square feet, going to have to put all their shit in storage, for REAL cabin. In the woods. Where there are bears. And snakes. And no Target.
Weird is relative, right? Their normal just seems to be different than most. I mean, Ben had really made a name for himself with his Baltimore-based landscaping company. He was able to support the life he and Nic were living and he probably could have continued to grow it, with very little risk, for many years to come. But what is most important to them is not that picture-perfect stability the majority of us need in order to sleep soundly.
What you should first understand about Ben is that he’s truly one of the best people you’ll ever meet. He genuinely cares about other people in a way you just don’t see these days. It’s a huge part of why his landscaping business was so successful. But he became frustrated that the integrity of his business was dependent upon the integrity of others. If someone called out, it was on him. If someone was late, it was on him. If someone else did a crappy job, it was still on him. After a while caring so much and having to pick up other peoples’ slack all the time just started to burn him out. So they chose a new adventure that allows him to depend much more on his own integrity than that of others. If this adventure fails, it’s not because an employee overslept or had some family emergency. It’s because somewhere along the way they didn’t get it right. For most people, that thought alone would be enough to send us running for a 9-5. Hell, it’s why I’m writing this at 6:00 AM instead of at a more reasonable time of day as I’d prefer. In a few minutes I have to head off to my normal, safe, stable job. But to Ben, that stability isn’t worth the price he was paying for it, at least at this point in his life.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure they’re nervous as hell. How could they not be? But that’s what makes this whole story even cooler. They are scared, but they are taking the risk anyway. From what I’ve experienced, the steps that make us most uncomfortable are the steps that lead to something amazing.
So onward they go, into Appalachia to begin their new journey. Appalachian Altitude will put on adventure-type races throughout the year. Think “warrior dash” but using nature’s obstacles instead of man-made ones. Their first race, The Top Of The Mountain Challenge, is being held July 9th in Canaan Valley, West Virginia. The course will take participants up and down the ski slopes of Canaan Valley Resort, and they’ll finish at the (you guessed it) top of the mountain.
Sounds awesome to me! Except for the whole running part. I’m thinking I’ll buy my spectator pass and ride the ski lift up the mountain where I can point and stare at all the crazy people who actually like doing this kind of shit. Then I’ll go back to the bottom and enjoy a nice cold beer with my risk-taking, mountain-loving, adventurous friends.
Check out their race site at www.appalachianaltitude.com for more info and to register as a bad-ass runner, or beer-drinking spectator (like me!).