In seventeen days #LHX2018 will be here. The team, made up of experienced backpackers from Pennsylvania, New York, Ilinois, Arizona, and Utah will begin a five-day journey on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.
It all started three years ago when I had an idea to bring friends from across the country here to Pennsylvania to backpack one of my favorite trails and help raise support for a non-profit called Gear Forward. I shared my idea with some friends, heard their feedback, began planning, and within a month #LHX2017 was born.
Last year’s #LHX was a success. The #LHX2017 team not only raised funds to support Gear Forward but was also able to successfully gather gear donations and spread the word about this great non-profit helping to equip the next generation so they can get outside.
Jump ahead almost three years later and only seventeen days from our second #LHX and I find my mind is flooded with thoughts with what still needs to get done before the team arrives. Most of the logistics are done with the exception of a few minor details.
But with #LHX2018 only seventeen days away I’m too excited and more than ready to be on the trail with friends then allow the to-do list to overwhelm my mind. There are too many people counting on me to lead them on this give-back adventure.
So while I continue ahead with the planning and prepping what is actually on my mind? One word, selfless.
Scott Gauvin, Executive Director of Gear Forward set out several years ago to turn his dream into a reality by providing kids in need with gear so they can enjoy getting outside on a camping trip. Since launching Gear Forward they have helped equip various youth programs across the country and into Canada and Puerto Rico. Because of scheduling issues, Scott was not able to attend #LHX2018. So when I told him I was doing again this year he made sure his schedule would allow it. I’m excited to have him on the trail this year to hike alongside me and disconnect from daily routines and connect in person. Scott’s heart to help others has been and continues to be an inspiration to me and others. He is an example of what it means to be selfless.
Jen Glascow-Potts is from Southern Illinois, loves to be outside and is a spitfire when it comes to inspiring others to get outside and actively give back. To say she is actively involved with Gear Forward is an understatement. She has taken her role as a Gear Forward Ambassador and has run off with it like a thief in the night. While she runs her own blog Jenny the Trailhead, is an ambassador for Mtn Chicks, Honey Stinger and Epic Social Adventurer’s, she never boasts of those roles. In everything she does you can clearly see one simple message, get outside and give back to others. Selfless
Rachel Fonstad is Minnesota born and raised now transplanted in New York City. She’s come to appreciate the city but is at heart an adventure girl. Rachel runs Backcountry Petite, a blog dedicated to helping those in and around the city find adventure and get outside. Her dog Harlee is her adventure partner and will be joining us for #LHX2018. And don’t let her petite size fool you. Rachel is a badass when it comes to the outdoors and an advocate for fitness and health. I am looking forward to learning from her and sharing the trail. And I’m sure Harlee with teach me a thing or two as well. Rachel’s heart to inspire others to get outside comes from her own experiences in life and she’s turned that into her passion. Selfless
Adam Nutting is from Arizona and when not working his job as a digital marketer he is outside hiking and exploring a trail somewhere in the west. Here’s the thing about Adam, while he could easily use his talents, gifts, and knowledge of social media, web development, marketing and the outdoors to promote himself…he doesn’t. I am constantly impressed with his heart to step back and not be in the spotlight and showcase others and what they are doing in and for the outdoor community. And I can say first hand that he’s given generously to the outdoor community. All you have to do is see his hard work and heart he puts into Epic Social and Hiking the Trail. Adam is returning for his second year of #LHX. I remember while sitting in front of a campfire during #LHX2017 listening to Adam talk about growing up in the Scout’s, his childhood, obstacles he had to overcome, and his love for the outdoors. And I remember thinking to myself, this is why he’s on the team and why I consider him a good friend. Selfless
Dane Cramer is from Pennsylvania and an avid backpacker. He has thru-hiked the LHHT six times and at #LHX2018 will yo-yo the trail. I don’t know anyone else who knows the LHHT as intimately as Dane. In 2016 I had the opportunity for the first time to backpack an overnighter with Dane. Since then we have connected on the trail for #LHX2017 and one other overnighter in 2017. Each time I’ve been on the trail with Dane we end up sitting around a campfire talking for hours about our personal lives and one thing we have in common besides getting outside on a trail, our faith and relationship with Jesus. Dane devotes much of his time leading Bible studies from his home as well as in the local prison. He uses his talent for writing to share his outdoor adventures as well as his journey and walk (hike) by faith on his website Featheredprop.com. He also has a talent for capturing and telling a story through video which he shares on Youtube. I am always eager with anticipation when he produces a new video. They capture my attention and I even find myself watching them multiple times. His written and video stories along with his desire to share the Gospel reflects a heart for others. Selfless
Shawn Parry is from Utah and works for Teton Sports as the product design and marketing guru. If you own Teton Sports gear, Shawn is the guy behind the gear that is providing you with an epic adventure. Here’s what I will tell you about Shawn. With every piece of gear he develops he has one thing in mind…YOU, the adventurer. His passion and heart are to get you outside, explore someplace new, have an amazing experience, and enjoy life. Now you might be thinking, that’s his job as product designer and marketer. While that is his job description, and we all have one to follow, his heart is for people. Shawn and Teton Sports have been a vital part of giving back to the outdoor community by donating gear to various youth programs and even adults in need. Here’s an example, the Teton Sports tents, backpacks and sleeping bags the #LHX2018 team will be carrying and using will be donated to Gear Forward at the end of the trip. I have had a number of phone calls and text messages back and forth with Shawn. Each time we talk I always say these words, “thank you for everything you are doing.” Shawn always replies with, “let me know what else I can do to help.” Selfless
I am grateful for each team member and their hearts to give back. I am grateful for a team that is SELFLESS.
The adventure begins in seventeen days. Help us give back by donating to Gear Foward. Because future #LHX team members may come from your generous hearts giving back to help a kid get outside.