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B.J. Cassell

BJYou know when you ask some people in their twenties where they're from and they give you a vague and seemingly deliberately mysterious answer about how they've "lived in a bunch of different places and so it's kind of hard to say..."? That sort of answer annoys me, almost as much as run-on sentences.

Although I've spent significant time in various locations, for most of my adulthood, I've considered the Pacific Northwest "home." The Northwest is where my love for the outdoors began, and the Cascades are where I found myself as often as possible growing up. After spending five years in laboratories earning my engineering degree, I dedicated myself full-time to pursuing more natural endeavors. Though I find satisfaction in all areas of life, my inner strengths are most clearly revealed while pushing myself both mentally and physically in challenging outdoor environments.

Searching for other opportunities, I've "officially" left the NW on multiple occasions. Some say the gravity is just stronger up there, and that's what actually keeps bringing people back to settle in, rainy season after rainy year. Personally, I've worked too hard to be where I've been to consider any location my home by means of settling. Home is where I've established my community of close friends, home is where I invest myself into my work, and home is the reward in the back of my mind where I wish to return after long days of climbing or extended trips away.

If one is as fortunate as I have been, by my own definition, home isn't necessarily confined to a single geographic location. Mobility gives me a sense of freedom, and so far, my ambitions and intentions for my life have been best met by expanding my horizons. Maybe I've just felt threatened that moss might actually grow under my feet; with all the dark rainy days in the PNW, it may actually be both literally and figuratively possible.

On what came to be my first annual migration to sunny Southern Utah, I first pulled into Zion back in the Fall of 2007. Although initially intending to exclusively climb some common routes on uncommon rock formations, I ended up discovering much more in Zion than I had realized I was looking for. Aside from the amazing canyons and towers, I immediately recognized the whole landscape and the Park in its entirety was (and is) truely an inspiring and special place on this earth. My time spent on that trip was far too short, but I swore to return to realize and experience more of Zion's limitless potential. Again to my good fortune, several years later the opportunity to work for Zion Adventure Company came up, and I found a new reason to come back to Zion. When I met the people whom I was to work with, to live around, and ultimately to grow with, I found a new place to call home.