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Self-proclaimed former ‘couch potato’ takes a 4-month solo hike, shifts how he sees the world

Bill Bernat
Bill Bernat is no longer a couch potato.



Bill Bernat jokes that he used to be secretly arrogant — so secretly, that he didn’t even know it himself. 


“I didn't realize how crazy my behavior was at the time,” he said. 


That included things like starting meetings at work with angry outbursts at people who didn’t deserve it. 


“I was really unable to empathize with other people,” he said. “I had a little of that in me, and then you combine it with addiction and, say, a diagnosis of bipolar 2, and I was hurtful to people.”


Underneath that, he says, was a feeling of hopelessness. Eventually he tried to end his life. 


That crisis led Bill to the determination that he had to change … something. He just wasn’t sure what. 


So he decided to strike out into the Sierra Nevadas, alone, on a four-month solo backpacking trip. This was an odd plan for a self-proclaimed “couch potato” who had never spent more than a couple of days in the woods before. 


It would take a lot more than one backpacking trip for Bill to overcome his demons. He’s still working on it. But on that journey, he learned that a change of scenery can fundamentally shift the way we see the world. Listen above to hear his story.