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  1. Erik's been a "Thru-Hiker" since several years ago; a desire to be truly "be free" and see the world, Erik took every cent of his recently deceased (in December 2017) father and put it into a fund to explore the world; Erik's father, Edward, was a relatively wealthy engineer that helped design machinery for several companies in America, and made a fantastic profit and was quite frugal in his years up to Erik being born. With a relatively healthy personal budget, Erik set off on his 21st birthday to hike the Appalachian trail, and the very next year following it the Pacific Crest trail in the United States. After seeing his own country on his own two feet, Erik decided early on it was worth it to see the rest of the world...but that plan was put on hold. Erik's father had passed just as he got back home from the PCT, and Edward left his financial fortune to Erik. In order to combat the loneliness and show his father what he could do on his own two feet, the goal was to go back-packing overseas, visit as many places in greater Europe that he could, and learn the language while walking around the continent. After some time to prep and relax his body (and seeing counseling for the passing of his father), Erik set off after his dreams later that year, around the beginning of November, 2018. Upon arriving in Europe, Erik was immediately excited and found many people like himself on the trails. While he had been practicing basic phrases in Russian to get by, he's only ever been adept at reading the language, not exactly speaking it fluently...but that didn't bother most people. There were folks of different nationalities and races all along the West Highland Way, and as Erik walked with his Earbuds in, he was able to relax himself in nature. His previous excursions taught him a lot, so surviving in the great outdoors on his own with little to work with was an every-day for him, and he thrived in the beauty of both nature and silence. As he continued towards his goals of backpacking all of Europe, the very beginning signs of something going on in the world were completely averted by Erik's gaze; he hadn't really had information about what was going on in the world, and it wasn't much later there were discussions of of a "flu" or "virus" spreading across the populace, and many places in Europe began closing their doors. At the time, he was in South Zagoria, hoping to hike the region's famous "Rainbow Trails" as folks in the USA called it; a series of weaving roads in the woods of the little province. It was said there were many sights to behold, and that hiking in the region was "pleasant, yet very rewarding", as towns and cities dotted the region. Erik figured it would be a convenient way to stay stocked up on supplies for his travels, and places to stay off the trail if weather was either bad or he needed a "Zero" day. Oh how wrong Erik was. From the very beginning of locking down places, to present day, Erik's funds have been rapidly depleted. From needing to stay indoors to stay away from the virus to the cost of living with no incoming cashflow, Erik soon saw the violence of South Zagoria first hand. Trapped in a small area of a greater country was scary, as it impacted Erik's sense of freedom and self. The news never made it better. And even though vaccine's for the said "flu" were in mass production towards the of 2019, all of 2018 and 2019 had taken its toll on Erik. He managed to get by part-time washing dishes at a local restaurant in the city of Zelenogorsk for a few months, but rarely ever made enough each week to do more than eat. He was living in the woods outside of town, and while he was "surviving" as he always had, his life had come to a halt. Erik had tried to learn the language more in his time working, but most people tended to brush him off as an ignorant American. While the curfew's of the region eventually lifted and he could leave the province to head home, his funds were so incredibly low he wasn't going to be able to afford the trip back home without contacting his family, and without means of proper communication (his cell-phone had long since been rendered unusable after his first day on the job due to an accident), he was left to fend for himself. As the outbreak came back early in 2020 and showed us exactly how bad things could get, Erik finally had enough. While he didn't have enough saved to go home, Erik could once again survive. The amassing people who were panicking outside his forest in the city below were needing aid. And it was then that Erik had a realization; the only way to get through this, just like how he had achieved his dreams before, was with the help of others. Erik knew he wasn't going home any time soon, and that instead of cowering in the dark allies of cities and towns in South Zagoria, he could instead get his life together and make friends; ones that might help him in his efforts to return home someday, should this "flu" ever come to pass.
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