Most people like to relax on vacation and for some that means taking a leisurely stroll through the woods and maybe spending the night in a tent. For others, that sort of weekend adventure is inadequate. For them, an adventure has to move them far outside of their comfort zone and push them to the limit. Chuck Lewis, Director of the Carl Albert State Physical Plant, is decidedly a member of the latter group.
Once a year, Lewis plans an adventure for himself, and he spends most of the rest of the year training for that adventure. Lewis' most recent adventure? More than 228 miles backpacking through the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, alone. Taking only what he could fit into his backpack, 48 year old Lewis set off by himself on the Ozark Trail for what was planned as a 12 day journey on foot.
This was not the first of Lewis' adventures, however. Lewis has been involved in many hiking, running, and bicycle riding adventures, and each one has pushed the limit, going a bit further than the last.
“I could never get satisfied,” says Lewis. An active athlete his entire life, Lewis played team sports while growing up, but increasingly found himself unhappy with the team dynamic and eventually turned to the more personal challenge of running. Lewis says that he now runs 20 miles a week when not in training, and up to 50 miles a week when training. He has participated in runs from five to fifty kilometers and once completed a 100 mile run in 22 and a half hours.
“It took me about two months to recover,” Lewis recalls, noting that the most surprising after effect of his epic run was that after 22 hours of hard breathing, his lungs were sore.
Lewis' Ozark adventure was every bit as challenging, but in different ways. Many times, Lewis was utterly alone on the trail and he says he once went three days without seeing another human. Along the way, Lewis developed blisters and at one point, one of his knees almost completely locked up.
“I don't give up very easy,” says Lewis. Using what little supplies he had brought with him, Lewis wrapped his knee, and continued on walking. Every night on the trail, he slept alone only to wake up, shoulder his 30 pound backpack and keep walking.
Despite the hardships he experienced along the way, Lewis completed his monumental trek three days ahead of schedule, walking nearly 230 miles over rugged terrain in only nine days. Lewis says that his excursions are over for this year, but that by the time summer's over, he'll have turned his attention to a new goal and a new adventure.