Interview with Mark 'middle' Hubbard

Tell us about your outdoors experience. How much do you like participating in outdoor activities?

IAlthough I’ve always loved the outdoors, a family legacy, I got my current hiking bug about eight years ago when I encountered a grass roots group in the Birmingham, Alabama about eight years ago. They were inclusive, humble, unpretentious, and focused on a love of the outdoors. Once I started I was hooked and wanted to start my own local group, find other groups, and get out there on my own.have been hiking mountains and canyons since college. 

If you knew someone who was thinking of starting with outdoor activities, what advice would you give them?

Don’t be afraid. Start slowly. Save your energy and don’t re-invent the wheel. Be willing to learn by investigating who else is doing it and networking. Know your interests, capabilities and strengths as well as your limitations and boundaries; proudly and confidently be who you are and pursue what satisfies your desire to connect with nature.

What was your first GO excursion? How did it turn out?

I haven’t yet done one that wasn’t part of my own group. We have a long track record of success, although no one bats a thousand.

What do you like about GayOutdoors?

So far it has helped me meet like-minded guys from around the region that I probably never would have otherwise.

Describe Tennessee to our outdoorzy members who’ve never been there? Is there a lot to do if you are an outdoor enthusiast?

While those who have visited and some others may well appreciate that Tennessee is a beautiful state, many are surprised at just how beautiful and diverse its geography and landscapes really are. On a single hike you may pass through multiple types of ecosystems and encounter different types of flora and fauna. We have mountains and plains, dry sandy areas, swamps and watersheds. The opportunities and options are bountiful across the state. We are very fortunate to have state and local governments (as well as federal involvement) that is very supportive of maintaining and protecting our natural resources and growing our network of parks, natural areas, greenways, and water resources. We benefit from a network of strong collaborators which is ambitiously and continuously working on expansion. There are nearly infinite possibilities!

What changes have you made to better our environment?

We support the organizations who work to preserve our natural resources in our state and beyond. We actively encourage and express our appreciation to those front line staff and volunteers who do the day to day work. We periodically have a “clean up” event during which we gather and remove litter from a trail or natural area.

What is a memorable mountain moment?

Taking a lunch break on the Appalachian Trail – on the Roan Mountain area balds –and actually having cloud wisps pass between us.

What is your favorite day hike?

I don’t like to pick single favorites – particularly since there are so many different types - but currently Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area near Pickett State Park has to be up there near the top.

What is your favorite place?

The same applies but the middle western portion of the Big South Fork is spectacular. Closer to home we can travel east or southeast and quickly encounter options that include waterfalls, mountains and gorges.

What is the scariest experience you've had during an outdoor excursion?

Early in our existence, one of our members slipped off a boulder (he had climbed up to take a photo) into the water below a waterfall. Because of the unique layout (he was kind of under a rock) and the slipperiness of it all, he needed help to get out. We had trouble figuring out just how to do this, we couldn’t tell how much danger he was in, and he was a little too scared to be able to tell us. Fortunately the danger was not as serious as it appeared and we got him out. Needless to say we come more prepared these days, and before every OUTing we discuss safety basics and remind participants that no photo is worth taking a risk. ;)

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GayOutdoors has a 25 year legacy of being the premier outdoor network for gay and gay friendly men in New England with a national reach. We are transforming lives, building a community and promoting visibility through outdoor recreation for gay and gay friendly men. We invite you to join us on our events, to post events for other members to join you and to share your adventure photos, stories and advice.