Caroline "Earthcake" Himbert

 Photo Credit:  Samantha Pannier  

Photo Credit: Samantha Pannier 

Utah Waymark Gear Co. Ambassador talks about her career path, the trail, and what inspires her...

Where are you from and what brought you to Utah?

I was born and raised in Germany close to the French border. I came to Salt Lake City about 2 ½ years ago to perform a research project at Huntsman Cancer Institute as part of my MD thesis. I realized that cancer research is the way I want to go for my career and so I stayed longer than expected and I am now a PhD student in Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah.

What do you currently do for a living and how did you get into this field?

As mentioned before I am currently a PhD student at the University of Utah. I am a Research Assistant at Huntsman Cancer Institute and oversee an exercise intervention trial in lung cancer patients undergoing surgery. Oncology is one of the fields where there is still so much that we do not know. That’s why I chose this field as my primary research interest and will most likely stay in this area.

Tell us about the trail you just hiked.

In 2016 I thruhiked the PCT. It took me 114 days and was one of a life time experience that I do not want to miss.

Why did you choose this trail?

I had to choose between the 3 main long distance trails in the US to start the attempt of a triple crown. The CDT was out given that I have never done this long if a hike before and 99% of CDT thruhikers have already done one of the others. Thus, it left AT and PCT to choose from. The PCT seemed to be more attractive to me because: i) it does not rain as much, ii) even when it becomes more popular every year, you have still section where you don’t see too many other hikers, and iii) it is very scenic and therefore the better views.

What other big trails have you hiked in the past few years?

I thruhiked the John Muir Trail (JMT), the Sunshine Coast Trail (SCT, 111 miles), Trans Zion Trek (TZT, 50 miles), and Rim2Rim2Rim Trail (46 miles)

How did you get your Trail name?

In the southern California desert I hiked with two guys for a little while, Muffin and Andy. One day we randomly talked about earthquakes. About a week later I ran into them again and they told me that I always said “earthcake” instead of “earthquake” and that it should be my trailname because of i) wrong pronunciation, ii) I am always covered in dirt when I hike a lot of miles on one day, iii) I love baking cakes!

What are the Top 3 pieces of gear you can’t live without?

            Backpack: Thru 40L Waymark Gear Co.

            Sleeping bag: ENIGMA 20 Enlightened Equipment

            Down Jacket: Down Anorak Montbell

What Luxury items do you like to carry that aren’t critical to your survival or safety?

Entire jar of Nutella, hairbrush, playcards

What skill would you like to learn that would help you on the trail?

Rolling a burrito correctly so that none of the filling falls out. I usually thruhike stoveless so tortillas and any kind of filling are my way to fuel up on trail.

Name 1 person, a trail celebrity or other, who has inspired you most to get on the trail.

It was actually a person I met while I hiked along the PCT. Jeff aka “Legend” attempted and completed the calendar triple crown in 2016 and is now the 5th person who has ever accomplished this.

Name 1 person you’d like to meet on the trail.

Anish, the record holder of the PCT. She currently attempts the calendar triple crown 2018 as the first woman ever.

Name 1 animal you have seen or would most like to see on the trail.

I ran into a porcupine on trail, which was my absolute highlight on trail. It got me so many animal points as PCT hiker! I was just walking through the northern California area and saw a bush with needles moving forward on the side of the trail and at first I didn’t know what it was. 

What can we learn from hiking in the wilderness?

We can learn to appreciate the beautiful environment we are living in and to appreciate the small things in life.

What lessons can we take from the wilderness, and how can we apply them to Urban life?

We do not have to follow the path that the society defines as the one and only path that will make you reaching your goals. You can take another path if it feels like the right thing to do for you and you will also reach your goals.

What are a few of your favorite hiking trails in Utah?

Too many to name just a few but I will give it a try!

  • Close to Salt Lake City, I really like White Pine Lake because of its scenic view and you can basically do it year-round.
  • High Uintas: I just LOVE the High Uintas! Try to spend as much time as I can in summer (sometimes also in winter) there. Red Castle Lake is one of my favorite hikes. Very easy 25 mile round trip. Extremely beautiful mountain views!   

What is your next big hike that you are planning on?

In July 2018, I will thruhike the Colorado Trail (CT, 500 miles) from Denver to Durango in preparation for my next big thruhike next year: CDT 2019, which I am super stoked about!!

Tell us how we can connect with you and your organizations on all of your social networks:   

            Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/im_earthcake/

            Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caroline.himbert.7

 

HIKER SPOTLIGHT: Brian and Nick Cornell

 Brian Cornell

Brian Cornell

 Nick Cornell

Nick Cornell

 

Where do you both call home?

BRIAN: Originially from the Front Royal, Virginia but for the last three years my home has been Mammoth Lakes, California.

NICK: Most recently I spent this past winter living in Mammoth Lakes, California. However now all my belongings are in storage with my parents in Virginia. Legally though, I am a resident of Montana.

What do you currently do for a living and how did you get into this field?

BRIAN: I have worked seasonal jobs as a ski instructor and a rental technician but for the past year before departing, I was working in packaging at Mammoth Brewing Company in Mammoth Lakes.

NICK: For the past few years I have been doing seasonal work. I have worked in the ski industry during the winters and spent summers thru hiking or working in Glacier National Park as a tour guide. These jobs only operate on 5 to 6 month obligations so it make it easy to get a whole summer off to go for a hike.

Why did you choose the CDT for your upcoming Thru hike?

BRIAN: Less crowded, more of a challenge, and my brother asked if I wanted to go for a hike.

NICK: Well I wanted to finish my Triple Crown. I wanted the adventure of it, it seems like the CDT now is what the PCT was like 15 years ago.

What other trails have you both hiked?

BRIAN: Hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2014, also with Nick! Spent the last two summers exploring the Sierra around Mammoth Lakes.

NICK: The AT in 2014 and the PCT in 2016.

What will be your starting base weight at the beginning of your trip (all carried weight in your pack, minus consumables like water, food and fuel)? What will your Max weight be with everything?

BRIAN: My base weight was 12.5 lbs at the beginning of the trail but I think I’ve already gotten it down to 12 lbs, possibly less.

NICK: My base weight is 9.5 pounds. My pack with 4 days of food and 4 liters of water, for example, would be about 26 pounds total. I doubt that I will ever be carrying over 30 pounds.

What are the Top 3 pieces of gear you can’t live without?

BRIAN: Enlightened Equipment 20 degree quilt, chapstick and my glasses.  A way to stay warm, properly moisturized lips and my eyes so I can navigate and look at the beautiful scenery.

NICK: I've been a fan of my 20° Enlightened Equipment quilt. I also have enjoyed my Zpacks Hexamid shelter. I have only set it up 3 times so far this trip, but it only weighs 17 ounces so it us not a burden to carry around. Lastly I have of course enjoyed wearing my Waymark pack. This is the first time trying a frameless pack and the first time using a 40 liter pack. It fits well and comfortably carries everything in my kit.

What Luxury items will you be carrying that aren’t critical to your survival or safety?

BRIAN: Journal/pen to write and a small book about mindfulness.  Might pick up a novel soon if I can find a decent used book store in New Mexico.

NICK: I'm carrying a little blow up pillow this time! I think it is improving my sleep. My umbrella is also a luxury item. It comes in handy for the sun and for the rain. It might get ditched soon though.

Name 1 thing you will miss most about leaving civilization for your hike.

BRIAN: I already miss eating fresh fruits and vegetables every day.  Although I am doing better with packing some produce out to eat within the first couple days out of town.

NICK: A kitchen and a real grocery store! I was vegan before starting this hike and it has been fun to get creative in the kitchen. I'm not staying completely vegan on trail, but I'll be close. I also hike stoveless so a kitchen would be a treat.

What skill you would like to learn that would help you on the trail?

BRIAN: If I could learn how to sleep on my back that would be great.  I’m a side sleeper which cause me to wake up in the middle of the night quite often with hip or shoulder pain.  Something about sleeping on my back just has never felt quite right.

NICK: I would like to improve my efficiency. So every little movement, whether I am hiking or setting up camp, becomes a part of an efficient and economical day on the trail.

What is 1 personal strength you feel will help you most on the trail?

BRIAN: I love being outside.

NICK: I feel comfortable pushing my body and staying mentally strong. I would like to see where my limit is.

What is 1 personal weakness that will conflict with this strength?

BRIAN: Sometimes I find it difficult to get out of my quilt early in the morning to face the cold.  Being on vacation, the temptation to sleep in takes over me but I always feel better when I rise with, or even before the sun.

NICK: Sometimes I tend to make my hiking more about the miles rather then taking in the experiences. I do get very motivated by my mileage, but I would like to find a balance. That balance can come day by day or maybe even between different hikes.

Name 1 person, a trail celebrity or other, who has inspired you most to get on the trail.

BRIAN: Buddy Backpacker; if he can hike the CDT, then I sure as hell can.

NICK: Nobody comes to mind. I feel you have to do these hikes for your own inspiration.

Name 1 person you’d like to meet on the trail.

BRIAN: Ran

NICK: I just want to meet some cool people. I have friends I still talk to from the AT and PCT, most people out here are pretty cool.

Name 1 animal you have seen or would most like to see on the trail.

BRIAN: I wouldn’t mind seeing a grizzly up north, at a safe distance of course. 

NICK: I would like to see a mountain lion, only if I am with someone else though and not alone.

What lessons can we take from the wilderness, and how can we apply them to Urban life?

BRIAN: The ability to live simply and to do with less!  Living out of a backpack for 5 months really makes you realize that you don’t need much to be happy. 

NICK: Spending months hiking through diverse wilderness areas makes you appreciate each one individually. I think we all should carry an appreciation for nature in this world. Whether you see it outside your window as one tree on a sidewalk or you see it as an expansive national park, each one matters. Nature should not be seen as a resource for us to use, rather it should be seen as a resource for us to learn from.

Tell us how we can connect with you and your organizations on all of your social networks:

BRIAN: Instagram is @lifeofbri92 and my blog is at www.thetrek.co/author/brian-cornell

NICK: https://thetrek.co/author/nick-cornell/   Instagram @nickrc90

 

 

 

HIKER SPOTLIGHT: Lisa and Kyle Reischman

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Where do you both call home?

      Lisa: Southwest Washington

      Kyle: Vancouver, WA

What do you currently do for a living and how did you get into this field?

      Lisa: I’m an independent consultant for Arbonne. Over the last year I’ve been focused on health and weight loss; I started using the supplements because they are vegan, gluten free, dairy free and soy free and wanted to share with others.

      Kyle: I am a delivery driver with a FedEx contractor. Being a delivery driver gives me the flexibility to take time off and return to the contractor to still provide for our family, and it helps keep me in shape!

What Trail are you hiking for your upcoming hike and why did you choose this trail?

      Lisa: We’re thru hiking Washington State via the PCT. I made the decision lying in bed recovering from an emergency cholecystectomy. At the time my health was so poor, hiking 500+ miles seemed like an unattainable goal…

      Kyle: What she said, but we chose to do it together because we work well as a team…and the love haha.

What will be your starting base weight at the beginning of your trip (all carried weight in your pack, minus consumables like water, food and fuel)? What will your Max weight be with everything?

      Lisa: 11lbs 9oz is my starting weight; our longest carry will be between 7-10 days (so we’ll be carrying 10), which will add 20lbs. All together, with fuel, food, and water my heaviest carry will be around 37lbs

      Kyle: 14lbs 10oz. I carry all the fabric parts of the tent, so it’s a little more than Lisa carrying the poles and stakes. And…some of my bushcrafting tools are hard to leave behind.

What are the Top 3 pieces of gear you can’t live without?

      Lisa: Hahaha, so obviously…

1.    My custom Waymark 38L! Seriously though, I went through three different packs in a few short months and the trouble I had with straps cutting into my shoulders was terribly painful. I thought I’d have the same issues with every pack. My Thru 38 has never even caused a bruise, let alone bleeding. I was even able to remove my hip belt and it still carries like a dream.

2.    Hair Brush! Sorry guys, but most of you will never understand this struggle…my hair is thick, like add another 3lbs to my base weight thick, and down to my waist. For me, it’s a luxury item, and a necessity!

3.    Cnoc Vecto – hands down the best water carry device I’ve used, and they stand behind their products, which I love!

      Kyle:

1.    Definitely the Vecto! What she said, it’s amazing.

2.    A hat for sure because I shave my head, I like hats better than most other head coverings.

3.    I also often carry an ESEE Izula neck knife and/or a military issue Kabar – I just like to feel prepared for everything.

What skill you would like to learn that would help you on the trail?

      Lisa: Foraging! The Northwest has such amazing wildlife, I’d love to be able to disappear and live off what the land provides.

      Kyle: So, I grew up on a piece of property near the Yacolt Burn and have spent my life learning outdoor skills. I would, however, like to learn more about the desert. I haven’t spent a lot of time in that climate.

What is 1 personal strength you feel will help you most on the trail?

      Lisa: According to Kyle, it’s perseverance. He says I put my mind to doing something and won’t stop no matter how difficult. It makes me think of climbing Bell’s Mountain in Washington last June. For me now, it’s not a terribly difficult trail; but last June beginner me decided to push and hike it. It’s a fairly steep trail (especially for a beginner), and it took me about 5 hours to go 3 miles…but getting to the viewpoint…that’s a feeling I’ll never forget and will continue to pursue.

      Kyle: She says I’m level headed and even tempered.

Name 1 person, a trail celebrity or other, who has inspired you most to get on the trail.

      Lisa: Lying in bed after my surgery I came across Dixie’s YouTube channel (@Homemadewanderlust). I watched every video from her AT series, then the gear series, and was inspired to start making health changes using hiking (keep in mind, at this point, I couldn’t even walk around the block without getting out of breath!)

      Kyle: Devin from @backcountryexposure He hikes in the desert and I’d love for us, or our families, to meet up sometime for an extended backpacking trip.

Name 1 person you’d like to meet on the trail.

      Lisa: Ayesha “Heaps” @wilderbound …she’s my kind of crazy and I love her!

      Kyle: I have to say Ayesha as well…but mostly because when they meet I know it’s going to keep me laughing for weeks.

Name 1 animal you have seen or would most like to see on the trail.

      Lisa: This is a tough one…I get really excited for all the little critters on trail, or when a pack of equestrians pass by, the herds of elk on Mount Saint Helen’s were cool to see but I think it would be really awesome to see a bear or a cougar from a distance!

      Kyle: A cougar, because they’re amazing and elusive.

Tell us how we can connect with you and your organizations on all of your social networks:

Lisa and Kyle:

Here on Instagram @steadfasttrails is the best way for us both.

We’re also using our hike this summer to help raise money for the annual youth led GracePoint Mexico Mission trip (#hikeforhomes). Our son has gone several times to build homes for families in Mexico, as well as host a free vision clinic, and a vacation bible camp for the local children.

By fundraising, we hope to help provide youth, who cannot afford to go, a way to cover passport and travel expenses. In addition, the funds will go directly into the local economy, by purchasing food for the families, and home supplies.

If you would like to know more, or see a video highlighting one of the trips (our son is in the video several times…he’s the lunatic working in a black hoodie and the red/blue luchador mask, and leading the run at bonfire), visit https://squareup.com/store/gracepoint-student-ministries or click the link in our bio.

 

Morgan "Storm" Dzak & Dean "Boomer" Krakel

 Morgan "Storm" Dzak

Morgan "Storm" Dzak

 Dean "Boomer" Krakel

Dean "Boomer" Krakel

Where do you both call home?

     Morgan: My roots are in the Midwest (northern Illinois-southern Wisconsin), but I’ve called Denver home for the last four years.
     Dean: Originally from Wyoming and have lived in Conifer, Colo. for 28 years.


What do you do for a living (currently or otherwise) and how did you get into this field?


     Morgan: Multimedia Journalist, currently freelancing. Writing was my first love, so I went to Mizzou’s Journalism School to learn how to be a professional storyteller, and here we are! Out telling stories on the trail! I met Boomer when I was working as a digital producer at The Denver Post in 2015, right before he took a buyout and hiked the Colorado Trail.
     Dean: Photojournalist and photo editor, currently freelancing. I previously worked at the Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post for many years. Until hiking the Colorado Trail ruined my life.

Why did you choose the CDT for your Thru hike?


     Morgan: The CDT is local in Colorado and gave me my first taste of backpacking. I asked Boomer one day, “If I get my stuff together, can I go out hiking with you?” So we ended up trying to find the CDT off Georgia Pass near Breckenridge and climbed over seven-foot snow drifts in search of this elusive trail that later, we discovered, isn’t even an identifiable path at times. And somehow, I just loved every part of the wild challenges the CDT presents. Boomer will tell you the whole thing was my idea. 
     Dean: It takes a lifetime of wilderness skills and experiences and combines them into one big adventure. I grew up on the Continental Divide and have always dreamed of documenting life on the trail.

What will be your starting base weight at the beginning of your trip (all carried weight in your pack, minus consumables like water, food and fuel)? What will your Max weight be with everything?

     Morgan: I would like to take this opportunity to provide false information about my base weight. It was 12 lbs. But since I stand behind truth, I will tell you the scale read 22, but I weighed it with food, so. Pack weight has fluctuated a ton on the CDT since the Bootheel, where there is no water, and the Gila River, where this is arguably too much water. In the Bootheel, my pack felt around 50 lbs. It probably wasn’t, but oh the pain of water weight.
     Dean: My base weight is meaningless to me since it’s changed so much over the course of this trip. I guess it was around 12. I actually never really understood what’s important about base weight. I’d rather just get on the scale and see what everything weighs. It’s like, “Here’s your base weight — okay, now add 12 pounds of water.” In New Mexico, it’s like 50 freakin’ pounds.

Tell us more about what you are looking to get out of your CDT hike this year?

     Morgan: To become a more knowledgeable, experienced and innovative outdoors woman. I’d like to hone my adaptability and patience, because part of the trail is that things don’t always go your way. Actually, things don’t go your way a lot of the time, and I hope this trip will give me a more levelheaded approach to life challenges and problem solving. The CDT tests every wilderness skill you have, your nerves and will expose your weaknesses. But it also makes you much stronger person.
     Dean: To strip everything away and gain some clarity about the stage of life I’m in. I also love physical challenge, and this is about as physical as it gets.

What Luxury items will you be carrying that aren’t critical to your survival or safety?

     Morgan: Biodegradable toilet paper that I do pack out because leave no freakin’ trace. I don’t know. There’s probably of a ton of crap I don’t need to survive, but still carry with me. I do value my hygiene on the trail, so I may carry a few more face wipes that other people.
     Dean: My down booties — but not in New Mexico.


What skill you would like to learn that would help you on the trail?

     Morgan: Improving terrain association on maps while navigating. Navigation is a big part of the CDT because there are so many different routes and alternates you can take. It truly is a “hike your own hike” kind of deal. But, again, there isn’t really a trail some of the time, so you have to know where you’re at.
     Dean: Ditto on the navigation. Probably my biggest weakness on the trail. And food planning, but you never truly nail that one down.

What is 1 personal strength you feel will help you most on the trail?

     Morgan: Navigation, because obviously Boomer can’t navigate us anywhere.
Dean: Patience.

What is 1 personal weakness that will conflict with this strength?


     Morgan: Waking up in the AM. I am NOT a morning person, but getting in those miles before the heat of the day hits or the afternoon storms roll in is crucial. Can’t navigate anywhere if you’re still sleeping in the bag.
     Dean: Age. I’m 65. Gotta keep up with Morgan, who is the navigator. If I can’t keep up, I can’t navigate. So.... If I get left behind, I get lost and she has to come back and find me. Also — I tend to overthink things, particularly water.

Name 1 person, a trail celebrity or other, who has inspired you most to get on the trail.


     Morgan + Dean: A unanimous Liz Thomas, super-hiker. Amazing role model and such a down-to-earth woman who has really made an awesome career and hiking legacy for herself.

Name 1 animal you have seen or would most like to see on the trail.

     Morgan: I seem to stumble across many a striped Whip snake. We always make eye contact, but dang they’re fast to GTFO. I’d love to see a rattlesnake... Or even a Grizz. Maybe not a Grizz. But definitely from about 500 yards away. Predators are fascinating, no?
     Dean: A mountain lion. Morgan always scares the snakes away before I can get there though.

What lessons can we take from the wilderness, and how can we apply them to Urban life?

     Morgan: Forget about all the material things in life. Everything you have out here gets dirty, wet, sandy, dusty, covered in mud, breaks, gets lost, falls off a mountain or floats down a river. It’s all just crap at the end of the day. We aren’t defined by what we have, but who we are and what we can contribute to the world. The wilderness really gives you time to be your truest self and really get to know who you are. I think the great thing about the CDT is it challenges you so much, you always come out a better person on the other side. We all go through challenges in life, so learning to accept them as things that will only make us better is kind of a life-altering mentality.
     Dean: Simplicity, flexibility, acceptance, surrender — especially when it comes to walking up the river and just getting your freakin’ boots soaked already. Embrace it.

Tell us how we can connect with you and your organizations on all of your social networks:


     Morgan: I’m an Instagram junkie, so you can follow me at @morgandzak, or Boomer and I made a great joint account — @greatdividehikers — since we’re trail ambassadors for the Continental Divide Trail Coalition. We post a lot about other hikers on the trail and in the CDT’s gateway communities. My blog is morgandzak.com, although it’s been tough to update lately.
     Dean: You can follow my personal Instagram at @dkrakel and my website is deankrakel.com.

 

Sam Hopkins

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Where do you call home?

Home for me is Augusta, Maine. Lived there for the first 18 years of my life, and I still love going back.

What do you currently do for a living and how did you get into this field?

After graduating in May with a degree in psychology, I got a job as a children’s targeted case manager in the central Maine area. When I first applied to college, I thought engineering would be my path. After quickly declaring “Undecided,” my first two years of school were mostly spent thinking I would eventually go to law school. However, at the end of my sophomore year, I had realized that psychology was where my true interests were…and that my previous career aspirations were mainly status/financially driven.

So, you have started hiking the Florida Trail, how has that been for you so far?

The Florida Trail has been amazing! Starting in the Keys was a good way to get the feet broken in, and I can't complain about the weather. The hardest part is waking up almost every morning with a tent that's soaked from dew. Being from Maine, the wilderness that I'm seeing in Florida has been unlike anything I've ever seen before in my life. Cypress domes, palm prairies, expansive farmland, and endless dikes… I'm enjoying every bit of it. The network of volunteers and trail angels down here is amazing, as well. They're always posting updates on Facebook, and they really love getting to know all the hikers (with only about 50 per season, it isn't hard to do!). I must say, though…I'm glad I'm doing this BEFORE the AT. Listening to a few hikers that have already done other long trails, much of what I hear is disappointment with the anticlimactic Florida Trail. If you saw in one of my previous posts, I have decided to call this The Trail of Hidden Reward. You don't get the summit views, the rolling hills, the beautiful forest lakes… but what you do get is much more of a mental reward. The reward is knowing you've walked across a state that most Americans would never dream of hiking thru. The reward is meeting locals and telling them about the national scenic trail that happens to pass right thru their sleepy old town. The reward is seeing and enjoying these towns, to which I will likely never return.

What is your ultimate hiking goal for this year?

KATAHDIN OR DIE.

Also, I want to meet new people… and complete the half gallon challenge.

Why did you choose this trail?

I've always known about the Appalachian Trail. When I got interested in hiking about 3 years ago, it seemed like this giant pinnacle that I would never have the opportunity to reach. As graduation got nearer, I suddenly realized how possible it would actually be. After doing a little bit of research, of course, I came across the Eastern Continental Trail. Here's the thing: before college, I was always an over-achiever. I guess this hike is my way of proving to myself that I can still impress even myself. For some reason, the AT wasn't enough. I wanted to be able to tell myself that I did something that far fewer people actually accomplish. So, I'm stopping at Katahdin. No need to continue into Quebec. It will be special for me to end this journey so close to home.

What was your starting base weight at the beginning of your trip (all carried weight in your pack, minus consumables like water, food and fuel)? What will your Max weight be with everything?

My starting weight, calculated using my very accurate 10-years-old body weight scale in my parents’ bathroom, was 12.8 lbs. After sending a few things home a couple weeks ago, I believe I dropped that to about 11 lbs. With 2 liters of water and 4 days of food, I'm probably sitting right around 20-25 lbs total.

What are the Top 3 pieces of gear you can’t live without?

Hmmm well my favorite would have to be this pretty sweet pack that I got from a relatively new company out of Utah. It's called Waymark…you may have heard of it ;) Aside from that, I love my EE 30 degree Revelation quilt, and I definitely couldn’t live without my Melly.

What Luxury items will you be carrying that aren’t critical to your survival or safety?

Can I say Nutella here? That stuff is basically a constant factor in my pack. I also have a pair of pink Walmart socks that I got so I could wear dry socks at night when I needed them. I'm thinking of sending those home. I guess you could say my NeoAir isn't critical to my survival. Same with the pee bottle that I've had since south Florida.

Name 1 thing you will miss most about leaving civilization for your hike.

Easiest question on here… My dog. Kevin is my best friend. He was going to be joining me, but logistics would've been a nightmare and he would probably try to be friends with every rattlesnake he saw.

What skill would you like to learn that would help you on the trail?

I mean…it would be cool to know how to make a fire with my bare hands. But that wouldn't help much in general. Lighters and matches are pretty reliable. I took a first aid course years ago, but I suppose Wilderness First Aid would be a useful tool to add to my bag of tricks.

What is 1 personal strength you feel will help you most on the trail?

I’m a very outgoing person. While there weren't many hikers on the Florida Trail, there were plenty of times that we had to interact with locals who had no clue about the national scenic trail that went right thru their town. Some people think those moments are awkward. I saw it as part of the whole experience. I'm also certain that this trait will help on the AT, as it's frequently referred to as “the most social” of the big three trails.

What is 1 personal weakness that will conflict with this strength?

Sometimes, I have a low tolerance for stupid people. Because of how outgoing I am, it can be difficult to hide my opinions when someone around me is doing something, well, stupid. That being said, I'll try my best to keep my mouth shut on the AT.

Name 1 person, a trail celebrity or other, who has inspired you most to get on the trail.

Just 1 person? Hmmm… I guess my biggest inspiration in planning this trip had to have been Jupiter. The Beast from the East. Beast Coast. I watched his videos religiously, and even sent him a couple questions, to which he responded with paragraph after paragraph of helpful information about the Keys, the mainland route to get to Big Cypress, the Alabama roadwalk, and a lot more.

Name 1 person you’d like to meet on the trail.

I would love to meet Jabba (the Hiking Viking). He seems like a hilarious person to be around, and I've heard great stories from a couple people that have actually met him on trail. He seems like a sweet person to party with.

Name 1 animal you have seen or would most like to see on the trail.

There were a lot of snakes in Florida. Water Moccasins, Banded Water Snakes, Black Racers, coral snakes, and some kind of rattlesnake…but I never saw a python, which I was pretty disappointed about. I also saw a few black bears down there. One mother perusing someone’s front yard with her cub, and a couple more strolling down a dirt road.

Are you looking more for solitude or for a social experience on this hike?

While I'm a very social creature, I enjoy the time that I get to myself. Literally hiking with someone throughout the day is next to impossible, but there have been a few people that made the first half of this journey much less lonely than it would've been otherwise. That being said, I've been super excited to get to the highly social world of the AT. I think this is where I'll slow down and enjoy the company.

What lessons can we take from the wilderness, and how can we apply them to Urban life?

I'm a fan of the motto “Keep calm and…” Fill in your own blank. Out here in the woods, life is gonna throw you a lot of curveballs. With 15 lbs on your back, the resources you have to deal with those curveballs are limited. Rain isn't gonna hurt you. It might dampen your day a little, but you're still in good health and you're still doing this thing. I think off-trail inconveniences are gonna be laughable when I'm done with this hike. Wilderness teaches you to appreciate the little things, and it also teaches you not to sweat the other little things.

Tell us how we can connect with you and your organizations on all of your social networks:

Facebook is for my family to know I'm still alive, and will probably be deleted again when I'm done. Instagram is the best place to find me @samwell_hop. I've managed to make it 1900 miles without getting a trail name, so I still go by Sam