Life is short; the world is full of wonder. Get out and discover what makes your corner of this planet amazing. - Aden Williamson
Last week on November 29, 2017, Aden Williamson, a loving husband, son, brother, uncle, and active member of the Outdoor Project community, passed away after a hard struggle against a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Aden wrote about his experience in a very eloquent, moving portion of his blog. He had just turned 36, and in that brief time Aden lived a life full of inspiration, love, and adventure. Aden discovered Outdoor Project in 2015 almost by accident...he wrote that he was working on creating his own "universal database of outdoor activities," a website that corralled the information and inspiration necessary to get more people outside, whether they were hikers, boaters, skiers, or mountain bikers. As he was researching a hike up Broken Top, he found Outdoor Project and realized the effort was already underway.
Aden became an Outdoor Project Contributor in 2016, and he has since shared 18 adventures with the Outdoor Project Community, the last of which, Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista Trailhead, was published on November 28, the day before his death. Aden's portfolio includes adventures from the Northwest, the Southwest, the Midwest, and the Northeast; his adventure types include hiking, parks, mountaineering, cross-country skiing, hot springs, and, of course, mountain biking. From his images to his writing, each and every one of Aden's adventures carries with it a tone of excitement, encouragement, and thoughtful attention. Aden's goals for sharing these adventures completely aligned with Outdoor Project's own: to provide people with the information and inspiration to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. As he wrote in his blog, which is its own work of careful construction and inspiration:
For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved being outside. I have lived and traveled a lot of places. Everywhere I have lived, and everywhere I have traveled, I have discovered amazing adventures. My experiences have made me incredibly happy. And in the end, I guess that is why I want to document and share them. I relive the happiness every time I look back at an adventure. And I hope that someone, somewhere will be inspired to go outside and create and document their own happy experiences.
Among his friends and family, Aden's appetite for adventure and his stamina while out in the field was understood as part of his nature. After he posted a selfie in 2009 showing a particularly brutal set of abrasions, his mother wrote (with the perspective that only a mother can have) that "You always look the happiest when you have learned something new or nearly killed yourself doing something active. I don't understand it, but I love you anyway." And Aden brought this vitality to the very end. Aden's friend, Jenny Citrin, remembers a hike he was on just a few weeks before his death:
We were supposed to go for an easy 3 miles, and it turned into a moderate/strenuous 6 miles, which was not at all surprising considering Aden was in the lead. Out of the group of six people, three of us thought to ourselves that it was too hard and dangerous (very slippery and sometimes steep) and we should turn back. Aden was not one of those three. Aden was hiking a couple hundred feet ahead of us. He was still faster even after brain surgery and two rounds of chemo. We reached the top and it was gorgeous. We still couldn't see the top of Mount Hood because of the clouds, but we had a gorgeous view and sense of accomplishment. This is Aden. Always quietly inspiring everyone around him to push their limits.
We at Outdoor Project can't say enough about Aden and the spirit he brought to the adventures he shared with the community. We all feel very lucky to have worked with him, and our thoughts are with Aden's family and friends.