Through hiking broke my heart

Last summer I was sitting in the Heptio office figuring out my new life in Seattle, WA. I moved to a new city for a new job. I moved here alone, and to be honest was content in my life. I was able to focus on my career, and it was just me and Charlie tackling life one day at a time.

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was walking with Joe to get shitty teriyaki at sub-par-plaza (the nickname we had for the sub-par lunch venue near the Heptio office).

On our way back I felt my phone vibrate in my back pocket. Naturally I had my food in my hands, so I would have to wait to get back to the office to see what was going on. Naturally, Nova gonna Nova, and I forgot about the mystery notification and focused on my lunch and diet coke. I went back to my desk, and opened my laptop.

Hey if the offer is still on the table to date, I think I am finally ready to say yes.

It was a text message from my long-time mountaineer friend Callie. We had met the year before on Mount Fletcher when we climbed a mountain together. The first day I met Callie, I asked Callie out on a date. I was turned down the first year, but a year later it looked like Callie was finally ready to give me a shot at a first date.

I was thrilled! Someone who knew the true Kris Nova was interested in forming a relationship with me! This was someone who saw the side of me that few are given a chance to see. Someone who has seen me on top of a mountain in a blizzard. Someone who has held my life in their hands. Someone who I have slept next in the dirt under the stars. Someone who shared my love of instant Mac & Cheese in the wilderness with me.

There was one problem.

Callie was busy hiking from Mexico to Canada.

Our first date was in a small town in the Mojave desert, and that is how the relationship started. To my dismay, that’s also – how the relationship ended.

Callie hiked for the first few months of our relationship. August rolled around, the weather started to get colder, and Callie ultimately got off trail

Now for folks and home who don’t spend a lot of time long distance hikers, there is a concept of being on trail and off trail. When one is on trail that means they are currently hiking (usually without cell service) and of course every long distance hikers biggest fear… being off trail or stuck in a situation where hiking isn’t an option.



In August, my partner Callie…


…got off trail


I was so excited to have my partner at home! I would race home from work just to spend time with my favorite person. Winter began to close on us, and we began to plan our life together. Callie struggled with being off trail and the plans we made as a partnership began to fall through. This made me sad, as I started to notice I was losing trust. How do you take someone seriously when they promise something, and they don’t follow through? I tried to have empathy, and this lasted until February of this year.

I came home from work, and Callie looked at me and asked to borrow some money. Of course I was willing to do anything for Callie. I loved Callie! This did however make me scratch my head, part of the plans we made together were made so we wouldn’t ever get into this situation. Callie was very adiment about finding work, and I was very worried about what this might do to us if something went wrong.

It had been a long, cold, lonely winter with a very detached partner. Spring was in the air, and Callie was beginning to start talking more and more about the upcoming hiking season. Every day, was another day where Callie was longing even more about getting back on trail.

Callie took the money, and left to get back on trail.

During the spring I resigned from my job.


I started a job search.


I found a new job.


I started a new job.



I was very scared, and very alone. The person I had fallen in love with, had made empty promises, and was clearly more concerned with being on trail than with building a life with me.

I reached the end, falling asleep night after night crying was wearing on me. I reached out to Callie, of course it took several days before I heard anything back.

I mentioned I was struggling, and that I wasn’t sure I could handle much more of the abandonment.

We decided to spend some time together on a trip to Alaska. It just so happened, one of Callie’s long time hiking hero’s was planning an epic once in a lifetime hike, and of course we were invited to go along.

I financed the trip, and we set out for Alaska.

The first day of our hike… or being on trail (bare in mind there was no trail?) was… interesting…

After a few hours of walking I noticed that we weren’t really doing anything stimulating, and that I had another 5+ days of doing this. All I could think about was bills, work, open source, obligations with friends, my relationship with my old employer, my mind was going crazy.

But we just kept walking…


after hour…

I mentioned my anxiety levels felt higher than normal. Which is when Callie mentioned that listening to podcasts helped as a distraction.

This is the moment everything clicked for me.

Here I was. In the Arctic circle, hundreds of miles from any major civilization, with the entire world and my entire future in front of me. I realized the person I loved… who I was going to share my life… my soul… my everything with…








… had been listening to podcasts in the woods…








… instead of loving me …







I looked at Callie and I said


I am leaving.

This hike, and this relationship.

I picked up my backpack.

I walked East.

Callie walked West.

That was the last time I offered Callie instant Mac and Cheese in the wilderness.




















Callie declined my Mac and Cheese offer.















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