Colin Rush has a passion for hiking and wants to push the limits of his body.
Imagine being out in the wilderness, carrying a forty-pound pack that carries all of your essential supplies, and hiking on a twenty-mile trail throughout a couple of days. Your knees are weak, your shoulders feel like they are about to break, and you’re sweating buckets. However, for junior Colin Rush, that is not that very hard to imagine, his most favorite thing to do in the world is backpacking.
For the Boy Scout and proud member of the Venture Crew, Rush thoroughly enjoys every bit of the trail regardless of the difficulty. Even the trails that he thought were terrible at that time. As Rush states, “There was this trail that we were taking. We were doing it 20 miles in two days. And the first day was 11 hours of straight uphill with around 40-pound packs on backpacks. And I remember, it sucked it, it sucked. We were having a rough time, we were sore, and it was really hot. But now that I look back on it, I had a great time,” says Rush.
While some may question the appeal of hiking and the issue of pushing one’s body for days on end, Rush sees the opportunity to connect with those he trusts on an even more personal level and support them.
“Backpacking is so appealing easily because of the camaraderie… You know, you, the worst thing you could do is get in your head, because immediately after things get quiet, you start thinking to yourself, I can’t do this, I can’t do this. But when you’re with other people. And these people are pushing you on just saying, ‘Hey, we got this. We just got to take one more step one more mile, five more miles.’ And we would do anything for each other,” says Rush.
But many of his peers and best of friends state that it is because of the escape that nature brings that Colin is drawn to backpacking so much. As friend Rachel Fewx(9) from James Logan High School and fellow Venturing member states, “I think he is drawn to nature for a few reasons — it gives him time to get away from the day to day life and a lot of the time is an opportunity to reset and relax and simply be in nature. It also gives him a challenge, and it is super fulfilling to complete a hard hike and sit down by a fire and just be able to hang out and talk to one another. Going hiking in nature is a super different and immersive experience, and I think those reasons go for all of us in the venturing crew that goes on trips together,” says Fews.
Colin’s fascination for backpacking stems from wanting to push and test his limits. This need to push his body and mind to the farthest he can go has earned him the title of “adrenaline junkie” from his peers. As fellow backpacker and friend Sofia Wang, a freshman at UC Santa Cruz, can attest to, there is no limit to what kinds of crazy stunts that Colin may pull.
“Colin mountain bikes a lot and has biked down many very steep slopes that are explicitly not meant to be biked down (and crashed a few times but that hasn’t stopped him). Also, climbing tall and potentially dangerous things (steep mountainsides, trees) on camping trips, though normally that’s stuff we all do together so I guess we’re all mildly crazy in that sense”, states Wang.
Joline Edwards(11), a student at Washington High School, another friend of Colin, and a Venturing member also adds, “One time he was teaching knife safety to younger scouts and he used the back of a hatchet as a mallet. He was teaching sharp object safety and he used a sharp object like a hammer. So he cut his hand. And bandaged it up. And then went back and kept using the hatchet as a mallet. Luckily he wasn’t actively teaching the younger scouts –I think he was between shifts or rotations or something– but the fact that the Sharp Object Safety Instructor was not being safe with the sharp objects, got hurt, and then kept not being safe with the sharp objects, is incredibly ironic. He’s a good role model and a good example in front of the younger scouts, where it counts, but he can do very stupid things on his own.”
His stunts and inability to back down have also led many of his friends outside of backpacking to worry about him. As a longtime friend of Colin and junior, Thinzar Htun, states, “I think it’s great that he goes out and has fun but I wish he was a little more careful: Some of his stories worry me”
Despite accomplishing all these incredible feats of perseverance and strength, Colin always makes sure that no one gets involved in anything that they could get seriously hurt on.
“My rule of thumb for a lot of my adrenaline things, especially with risky things, is that if it’s too much. I wouldn’t do it. If it would put other people at risk I wouldn’t do it.” Colin also adds on about an experience he had during his backpacking trips, “I remember once, we were backpacking and there was this trail, and we were with a bunch of newer scouts. And I’d stepped on the trail, and I immediately knew that it was steep, and it was muddy so it was slippery. Right. … And I told [The backpacking group] that we’re turning around, even though we had been told that there was a very beautiful waterfall. It was just too risky. So we turn back, So I’m an adrenaline junkie, Yes, but I don’t willingly put myself and others at risk.”
Audio of the interview: