Angelo Valkenborgh's current address is: "the bush in Slovenia since 15 May 2015."
He is just one of a seemingly growing number of people who have found the typical Western lifestyle lacking. At 31, this fellow born and raised in Belgium was working, had bought a house, had done many of the expected things.
"But it didn’t fit," he says. "It wasn’t right. I was stuck. Stuck in a system that I felt I didn’t belong to." He started spending more time outdoors, going on camping trips and setting up a workshop so he could organize his gear and practice techniques for living in the woods.
After a three-week backpacking trip to Sweden, he returned to find his wife had left him.
He's realistic about his breakup. He writes: "Who can blame her? I went from a salesperson who cared a lot about going out and having a good time to an always-dressed-in-outdoor-gear geek."
Valkenborgh learned how to create sturdy shelter by hand, starting with hazel branches for the dome. (Photo: Angelo Valkenborgh)
He writes that he spent the year after the breakup in deep depression, trying to save the house the couple had bought together. Because he blamed the time he had spent on his outdoor pursuits for the breakup, he banned it from his life, which made him more depressed.
But then, he switched gears, making outdoor living his full-time pursuit.
His journey into self-reliance, as he calls it, has already survived chilly temps and cold rain, since he began his adventure last November. But now, Valkenborgh has learned how to live with less, how to create his own fire and how to craft a sturdier shelter by hand (above) — as well as how to relax in the sunshine of a beautiful summer day (below).
He's documenting the process on his site and on Instagram, where he has many supporters cheering him on and offering information. Sometimes friends join him on his adventures, and sometimes he travels alone as he did camping in Sweden over the winter. He often provides practical, how-to information, but he also offers suggestions for dealing with depression, which he recognizes is something that many people face.
In a long post about how to handle being depressed, he writes: "As long as you will look for the joys of life in materialistic matters, you will remain empty. Instead start going out in nature. Leave your phone in airplane mode and take pictures. Walk slow and study everything from up close. We live at a very high pace, this is unnatural, in nature everything is for the slow beholder."
Valkenborgh isn't alone on his journey; while he had to find a new home for his older dog, he brought his younger one, a border collie called Lana, along on his adventures. "I trained her to become my outdoor partner in crime, and it seems that she is loving it even more than me sometimes" he writes. She sure looks like it in the image above!