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Episode 1 | Trail Evolution: Navigating Personal Growth On and Off Trail

Have you ever had an experience so powerful and so life changing, that you didn’t know how to move forward? The life you knew before doesn’t quite resonate the way it did. Your relationships have changed, and you suddenly feel this tug between the life you lived and the life you’re headed towards?

Meet Aaron Ibey. Known on trail as "Wankles," Aaron is a nature photographer, rock climber, and Appalachian Trail thru-hike finisher. Aaron hiked the AT, which runs about 22 hundred miles from Georgia to Main, in about 6.5 months.

Aaron Ibey, known on trail as "Wankles"

From the moment you meet him, even through this podcast, you’ll come to recognize Aaron as a genuine friend and artist. His calm and steady demeanor brings a refreshing perspective to the table, as we chat about:

  • His journey on the AT, including the tough return back to civilization.

  • Humanity’s tendency to try to relive and recreate experiences, which usually fall short of our expectations

  • The temptation to document our lives while ironically missing out on the present moment right in front of us

  • Community and friendship

  • How to navigate personal evolution both on and off trail.

To connect with Aaron and view his work as a photographer, you can find him on Instagram @ibeyprofin

Climbing photo taken by Aaron

In part of this episode we discuss zero-drop trail-runner shoes. If you'd like to learn more about trail-runners and zero-drop, here is a helpful article from!

To get further connected with the Switchback Community, visit our website at or follow us on Instagram @switchbackcommunitypod

To get further connected with your host, Kelsee Keitel. Follow @kelseekeitel on Instagram, or connect with her professionally at

Trail photo taken by Aaron

Thank you to Circadian Coffee for Sponsoring the show. Switchback Listeners get 10% on their first order at with the special code SWITCHBACK.

Catch you on the switchbacks!


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