As a veteran who has been positively affected by nature, Dan Pollock wanted to live a more intentional life. Not only did he want this for himself, but he wanted to inspire other people to do the same—so he and his wife, Liz Pollock, started Experience 62.
“We’re just two regular people trying to figure out how to make the world a better place by doing what we love.”Dan Pollock
What is Experience 62 and what inspired you to pursue all of the national parks in America?
DP: Liz and I came to the realization that we are in charge of our own lives. We decided that we would live a more intentional life and make decisions that support our values, goals, and dreams. We started Experience 62 as a way to share our journey and encourage others to chase their goals.
At the base level, our mission is to do exactly what our name says: experience all 62 (now 63) national parks in the United States. But our goal goes much deeper than that. We want to inspire others to live intentionally and create a life that makes them happy and fulfilled. We figured the only way to do that would be to lead by example and do it for ourselves first.
Tell us about your 22-day challenge in CVNP
DP: We read the Conservancy’s article in the Fall 2020 issue about Bryan and Susan Kinnamon and thought it would be a really cool challenge to hike all the trails in CVNP. We also thought it could be a good opportunity to do something a little more significant with Experience 62. Plus, with it not being the best time to travel to other national parks, we thought it would be a good way to stay close to home but still spend time in a national park.
Liz and I both get a lot of enjoyment out of helping others, so we wanted to use the CVNP challenge to help people. We thought it only made sense to spread the word about Remedy Alpine since the Kinnamon’s met Luke while doing the same challenge.
I remembered the 22 push-ups for 22 days challenge that I saw on Facebook a lot and thought maybe we could do something like that. Once I had the idea, it all just kind of seemed to make sense.
We raised money for Remedy Alpine while also bringing awareness to other organizations that support veteran wellness to eliminate veteran suicide. We raised $280 for Remedy Alpine during our challenge.
As a veteran who has been positively affected by nature and greenspace, what advice would you give to others struggling with mental health?
DP: Obviously, my first piece of advice would be to spend time outside! For me, spending time in nature is the best way for me to think. Especially when I am in a familiar place and I don’t have to think about where I’m going or be interrupted by seeing something new and exciting.
Another thing that has helped me a lot is knowing who I am and who I want to be. Most of my struggles come from the dissent between the person I know I can be and how I actually see myself. But, if I am able to focus on what I want from my life and do something each day to get closer to that goal then I feel okay knowing I am making progress.
The hard part is actually figuring out what you want your life to be and how to get there. It’s all about acting in coordination with your values and goals—which can be hard at times.
It also helps me to realize how small I am in the grand scheme of things, in a good way. It helps me realize that my issues are really not that all-important. Any time I am in nature I think about all of the hundreds of years the trees, rocks, rivers, etc. have been there, and it just helps put everything in perspective.
Be on the lookout for the summer issue of the Conservancy magazine to learn more about Remedy Alpine!