Filmmaking and the outdoors have gone hand in hand since well before you could stuff a DSLR into your ultralight pack, toss a GoPro on a selfie stick, and broadcast your own YouTube adventure film. Explorers used to bring heavy cinema cameras all over the world to showcase “exotic” cultures and landscapes as opposed to just slideshows. Even Captain Robert Scott’s 1911 Antarctic expedition had a cinematographer, as did the third British ascent of Mount Everest in 1924. 

As cameras got smaller and more accessible, adventure documentary filmmaking fell into the hands of adventurers themselves; people who could access remote locations and perform unique feats of athleticism while clicking record.

Camera mounted on a tripod photograph the pier and sunriseiStock

Now, the art of cinema has blended the triumphs of adventure with the likes of adventure filmmakers such as Jimmy Chin, who double as world-class adventure athletes and directors/cinematographers. 

The appeal for more, and higher quality, documentary adventure films makes sense. Outdoor culture is full of interesting characters who don’t always fit the mold of societal norms and wild places that some of us will never be able to visit.

Documentary adventure films allow people to have experiences and see places from their couch that they otherwise would never have the chance to. That’s where the subject of my upcoming film, Jaymie Secord, started his journey. 


A Story for the Masses 

Jaymie exploring adventurePhoto of Jaymie Secord; taken by Mitch Bowmile

Jaymie is the subject of my latest film, Off The Couch. He’s an average Joe (probably why his wife jokingly nicknamed him “Joe Wilderness,” which is the pseudonym he goes by now) from Cornwall, Ontario who recently started hiking. Living within two hours of the Adirondack Mountains in New York state across the Canada-United States border, Jaymie has a goal of climbing all 46 of the Adirondack high peaks. Currently he’s at 24.

After watching climbing films like Meru, The Dawn Wall and Free Solo, a story about an average hiker with a modest goal probably seems somewhat unorthodox and uninteresting. To me, it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. 

While the aforementioned films have their place in recording modern adventure history, they feature world-class athletes accomplishing feats that may never be repeated. 

When searching for a character for my film, I wanted someone who was relatable; someone that could encourage participation in outdoor recreation for health and happiness.


Getting to Know Jaymie 

image of Jaymie mountains hikingPhoto of Jaymie Secord; taken by Mitch Bowmile

I knew of Jaymie through social media. Immediately it was clear to me that Jaymie had a genuine love for hiking in the mountains. He wasn’t chasing fame, fortune or any other commodity; he was doing it because it simply made him happy. After being connected for about a year, I reached out to him to see if he’d be interested in being the subject of my film. He was in.

I spent time getting to know Jaymie and his story through text, calls and emails. Jaymie and his hiking partner Joel ("Johnny Mountaintop") were working towards climbing all 46 of the High Peaks (summits above 4,000 feet, or 1,219 metres) in the Adirondack Mountains before the border closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic stopping them in their tracks. With the pandemic weighing on him, Jaymie had to decide if becoming a 46er (someone who’s climbed all the Adirondack High Peaks) was just a hobby to be replaced by something else, or if his love for the mountains was here to stay. I won’t ruin the story, but you can probably guess which direction he leaned towards. 

When it was announced that all vaccinated travelers would be allowed to cross the Canada-US border in March of 2022, we set the plan into motion to film the documentary in Jaymie’s hometown of Cornwall and across the border in the Adirondack Mountains.

When I got to Jaymie’s house, we spent a few days filming multiple scenes locally all around town, hiking, and enjoying meals and deep chats off camera. That’s one of my favourite parts about making films: the people. You get to really, really know someone through the process of listening to their story and looking to share it authentically. It’s a huge privilege and with that a huge responsibility to tell it accurately and fairly.

Jaymie’s a happy guy, an honest guy, one of those rare people who isn’t putting on a show for others. He’s just genuinely living his life on his own terms. He was open and honest. We talked about struggles, goals, views on life and a plethora of other subjects. 


Back to the Adirondacks 

JaymieSummit of Porter Mountain; taken by Jaymie Secord

The heart of the film was always going to be Jaymie’s return to the Adirondack Mountains. Besides a day trip in December of 2021 when the borders momentarily opened, he hadn’t been to the Adirondacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 5:30 a.m. wakeup had us in the car and across the border well before 6:30 a.m. Even from Cornwall, on a clear day, you can see the silhouettes of the mountains. When we crossed the border, they continued to get clearer and clearer despite the building rain pelting the windshield. 

We pulled over at a gas station en route, a stop that Jaymie always makes before starting a hike in the Adirondacks. He said something along the lines of, “I’m going to get a little something as a thank you for the clerk at the counter that we always see here once I finish the 46.” 

When we parked at the trailhead, the weather was awful. It was supposed to be a winter hike, but unseasonably warm temperatures brought rain, making the snow on the trail slushy, sticky and wet. There was a fog coming off the ground giving a unique aesthetic to the entire hike. While I wouldn’t get the shots I planned for, it gave a unique look to the footage making the not-so-difficult hike look more raw and rugged. I’ll take it. 

As we climbed higher in altitude the trees grew thinner and the wind grew stronger to the point where it was hard to stand. Without the cover of the trees we couldn’t hear each other. Holding the camera steady became a real hassle as the wet wind threatened to knock me over and ruin my footage. We trekked on, reaching the summit of Porter Mountain.  

“Joe Wilderness, Porter Mountain, don’t call it a comeback…let’s go!” Jaymie yelled into the camera. We took in the energy that comes with standing on the summit and backtracked until we reached the split in the trail that would take us to the summit of Cascade Mountain. 

The weather worsened. Angrier winds and heavier rain. I was worried about my camera, but I also couldn’t put it away—this was too good.  



For anyone who's ever climbed Cascade Mountain, you know the moment when the treeline breaks and you’re looking at a huge mound of exposed rock. With no protection, the wind intensified. On our way to the summit we were choking on the wind, barely able to breathe let alone stand straight. 

To film, I had to lean onto the rocks or take cover in small hollowed-out areas. The wind was way too intense to stand and film with both hands. Being tossed around, I got my shots and put the camera away for a moment as we both stood on the summit. Forgetting about the film for a second, I was just stoked to share the summit with Jaymie. 

I don’t know if I would call it a “summit reward” as Jaymie did, or just bad timing on our part, but as soon as we descended back into the trees, the rain and clouds broke, awarding us with a stunning blue-bird view of the mountains. 

“It never gets old,” Jaymie said with a grin. He truly loves it out there.


Lessons Learned

Jaymie outside adventurePhoto of Jaymie Secord; taken by Mitch Bowmile

This film serves as inspiration for people to chase whatever it is that makes them happy.

That was my biggest takeaway from Jaymie. He lives life on his terms and chooses his actions based on genuine love and passion. I hope that comes across in this film. It’s a story about the enjoyment that outdoor recreation can bring to your life regardless of the intensity, remoteness or complexity of your adventure. 

And hopefully, if you’re sitting at home on your couch watching Jaymie’s story, it might inspire you to get outside and start your journey. 

You can follow Jaymie on social media here.


Jaymie is currently scheduled to hike Mount Kilimanjaro this summer where he’ll use his hike to promote donations towards a local Canadian non-profit and non-profit in Tanzania. You can support him by purchasing a Joe Wilderness hoodie or t-shirt here.