Team #LHX2018

Brian Ford, Owner HBF Outdoors, LLC. – In 2016 I reached out to some friends with an idea for an adventure that would give back to @gear_forward By September 2016 I launched#LHX2017, formed a team, and we set out to collect donations to help kids get outside. By April 2017 the team and I backpacked the LHHT, connected IRL and experienced an adventure.
Now it’s time to do it again. As the founder of HBF Outdoors, I am honored to coordinate #LHX2018for an adventure and experience. The team will focus on connecting with their local community hands-on in support of Gear Forward. In April 2018 we’ll spend five days on the LHHT for an outdoor adventure.

Scott Gauvin is the Founder and Executive Director of Gear Forward, a nationwide non-profit that collects unused outdoor gear for donation to youth in need looking to experience the outdoors. Scott is also the blogger behind Hiking Forward. Scott grew up in New England where he honed is outdoor skills growing up in the Boy Scouts of America and later earning his Eagle Scout Award. Scott now lives in Illinois with his young family and is working to pass on the love of the outdoor world and the skills he has honed to his daughters as they travel to national parks around the United States.




Dane Cramer grew up in rural Somerset County, PA. In around 1992, he went on his first backpacking trip on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT). Little did he know that that first trip would launch a love affair with this local trail.  As of 2017, Dane has thru-hiked the LHHT six times and has hiked each individual section so often that it would be impossible to estimate the number of miles he has accumulated on this local pathway.

Having an interest in writing, Dane began to publish his hiking journals online in 2000.  In 2007, Dane published his first book, which was written about and for the LHHT, called, “Romancing the Trail: Six Days Atop Laurel Ridge.”

Dane manages a website that features information about the LHHT. His hiking journals and other writings can be found at

In addition to backpacking the LHHT, Dane has also hiked sections of the Appalachian Trail as well as trails out west.  In addition to chronicling his hikes in writing, he also enjoys shooting videos, which can be found on his Youtube channel:

Dane lives in Somerset with his wife, Cynthia.  Dane has worked as an investigator for over 30 years. He and Cynthia are active in their church, and hold weekly Bible studies at their home as well as the county jail.

Rachel Fonstad recently moved to the East Coast (NYC) after time in the Midwest and Southwest.  Inspired by outdoor adventures in the Southwest she searches for ways to get outdoors and escape the Big Apple. She knows there are other people stuck in concrete jungles looking for ways to escape so she shares her experiences and hopes to inspire others to get outside more.  She is excited to be a part of #LHX2018 because this region is so underrated as an area for outdoor adventures!

Jennifer Potts (my friends and family call me Jen!) My outdoor story starts when I was young, growing up at our family lake house surrounded by woods, giant rock piles, and creeks to explore. I was a muddy, frog catching, scraggly tomboy and could always be found coming in reluctantly when the streetlights came on at night.

As an adult, my place in the outdoors began when my grandmother; my most cherished person, was diagnosed in June of 2014 with acute leukemia.
I was stricken with grief and fear and didn’t know where else to turn. I was lost.

One afternoon in August that summer I went on a camping trip and ended up outside, sitting in a cold spring fed creek in the pouring rain, with my eyes closed and my arms open. All of that aforementioned fear was washed away. It was like I was cleansed of the negativity I had been basking in for months.

It became my priority to get outside; camping at different state parks and eventually hiking any trails I could find nearby. It made me feel like a different person. By the time my grandma had passed nearly one year to the day of her diagnosis in June 2015 – I wasn’t afraid anymore. I had come to terms with her leaving us by letting it all go on the trails and falling asleep listening to the woods and the wind in the trees over the course of that year. By no means was I okay, but I knew where to find her now; it was where I found myself. In nature.
And so began my deep passion for hiking and then backpacking. I started an outdoors-inspired blog ( in April of 2016, focusing on loss, personal growth and my travel and hiking adventures with my husband and our dogs.
One year later, in April 2017 – I found Gear Forward on Midwest Adventures, a Facebook group I am part of. Becoming an Ambassador for this incredible non-profit awoke inside of me, even more, love for the outdoors. I had a new mission. Nature wasn’t just going to help me anymore; I was going to help it, too.
Getting kids outside at a young age and instilling in them respect for the outdoors and the importance of Leave No Trace is the best thing we can do for the future of our public lands and the next generation of adventurers.
I am also a Midwest Chapter Ambassador for Mountain Chicks ( – where my duties include organizing group hikes and events, blogging and most recently; getting to volunteer alongside organizations such as 52 Hike Challenge and REI Opt Outside.
To give back is just in my nature. I am so honored to be a part of LHX2018 and can’t wait to make and share great memories with this team!
Jen Potts (IG: @jennythetrailhead)