What is your favorite place that you have been to on the planet?
A native of Monterey, California, I’m partial to a certain swimming hole in Big Sur. A twenty-foot waterfall cascades into a redwood grotto, forming an emerald-green pool about twenty feet deep. I was 18 when I first laid eyes on it, on one of my first real hikes. I’ve been back several times over the years, but I’m 18 again whenever I go back. It’s my own personal fountain of youth.
You're most likely to plan an outdoor excursion around what type of activity?
A weekend backpack with a few good buddies is very hard to beat.
Do you shoot pictures with a digital or film camera?
Digital, but I’m a total novice.
When you have a long weekend where would you typically go?
I’m spoiled. I’ve never lived more than a two-hour drive from a rugged wilderness: Ventana, Sespe, Matilija, the Sierra, Channel Islands National Park. There’s more exploring to do in those places than I could ever do in a lifetime, but I'm up for the challenge.
Do you prefer to save up for one big yearly trip, or take multiple shorter trips?
It really does depend; my two happiest trips ever were a long month in Spain and a short weekend in Joshua Tree. Go figure. My corporate job affords me scant vacation time, so most of my trips tend to be extended weekends out of necessity, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Knowing your time is limited makes you focus, so you get a different kind of discovery than you do when you’re wandering without an eye on the clock. Different, but not necessarily better or worse; it all depends on what you bring to the experience.
What's your dream destination?
I used to long to climb Kilimanjaro and pair it with a safari. But Africa is a mounting tragedy. I want to go where the big animals still have a fighting chance. I hope to take a packrafting trip to Admiralty Island some day. The natives called the island "the Fortress of the Bears." Grizzlies outnumber people there. My kind of place.
When travelling, do you choose your destination more for cultural discovery or to enjoy your favorite outdoor pursuit?
For me, it has to be about both, pretty equally. Hiking is basically an extension of my core interest in geography, and geography is both physical and cultural. I want to climb mountains, but I also want to know how those mountains have shaped and been shaped by the people around them. Granada, Spain is unimaginable without its Sierra Nevada, and vice versa, for example.
Where do you plan to travel next year?
I definitely need to get back to Montana soon. I've been eyeing a certain backpacking trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. After that, Alaska. I can't get my fill of Alaska.
What is your favorite type of lodging?
Clean and spartan, actually. I want basic comforts, and nothing extra that would distract me from engaging the place I’m in. Sometimes that’s a tent in the woods, and sometimes it’s a simple lodge from which I can make ambitious dayhikes in all directions. On the other hand, I love b&b’s on some trips. I recently stayed at one gay-owned b&b on California’s central coast where every shelf and nook and cranny was loaded with the proprietor’s souvenirs and found objects from past travels. That was charming and comforting.
When making travel decisions, how important are environmental concerns? If very important, what are your standards?
More and more, I’m thinking about minimizing my impact in my travel choices. I’m not too big on carbon offsets, so I think what might be more realistic are things like sharing outings with others and enjoying places that are a carpool rather than a flight away. The last thing I want to do is stay somewhere and feel as though I’m leaving it worse than when I found it, so I want to stay at places that lay lightly on the land. That central California b&b I mentioned, for instance, diverts its gray water to a meadow full of wildflowers! I like that kind of sensitivity and design.
What do you do to enhance your outdoor fitness?
I’m lucky to have a beautiful state park, Point Mugu, just a few minutes’ drive from my house. During the months of longer daylight, I’ll come home early from work a couple days a week and grab an eight-mile hike there before it gets dark. Most weekday afternoons, it’s my own 13,300-acre backyard. That beats the gym for sure, which I save strictly for strength training when I can.
What is the most significant gear invention?
The new generation of stoves, without a doubt. That’s what finally helped me make the leap from dayhiking to backpacking. The old stoves used to terrify me with all their priming and pumping and flare-ups. And freeze-dried food is pretty decent now, too. So it’s easier than ever to just throw a Jetboil and a pouch of something in your pack and head out somewhere for a night under the stars.
Your indispensable travel tip is...
I try to eat nutritious food and avoid junk food. I'm not a diet fanatic (chocolate, chips, and beer are on my list of acceptable foods), but I do feel better and have more energy for outdoor activities when I eat right.
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