Nate H.

Trip leader, Leadership Summit

Nate was a five-year Adventure Treks student and is now transitioning into his 16th season as a trip leader and educational director—he is one of our longest tenured instructors! After graduation, he led immersive therapeutic backpacking programs for teenagers in Grand Staircase National Monument in Utah. He has since led trips in all over North America; whitewater rafted the length of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon; and thru-hiked the Long Trail. Nate currently lives in Asheville, NC, where he performs as a musician, and is a wilderness first responder. In his free time, you can find Nate baking artisan breads (and trying other gourmet recipes) and mountain biking on western NC’s trails.

What led you to work in the outdoors? On the Leadership Summit course as an AT student, I remember our second day in the Goat Rocks Wilderness and the pure enthusiasm we had to adventure into an unusual amount of snow. It was July. Outfitted as a summer trip, we had only regular hiking boots, so our first two days of hiking were slow and tedious. That afternoon we stopped by a creek to set up camp, and we split up to find campsites. I felt something then—some kind of magnetic pull—and before I knew it, I was running up toward the first piece of exposed ground I had seen in days. At the crest of the hill, I turned around and sat down. In front of me, a hill of wildflowers swept down into a full presentation of the high range of the Goat Rocks—the rocky alpine crags, snow-covered and silent. In that moment, with tears in my eyes, I fell in love with the wilderness.

What keeps you at AT? When we’re outside, we often think about how small we are, or how easily the world gets along without us. My years at AT (years of adventure, work, connection, and challenge) have left me with a certain feeling I continue to return to. It’s that the wilderness is us, and we are it. Every day of my life, I feel enormous gratitude for this, and every day I seek a path back to that silence of the backcountry, so it can be filled with friends, laughter, and good will. What more can anyone want?

Why do the outdoors and teaching young people matter to you? Almost a decade after my Leadership Summit trip, I found myself in a similar position, sitting on a ledge above our campsite, 18 days down the Colorado river in the Grand Canyon. With the flow of the river echoing like time up the wall through my feet, I contemplated the tight-knit community of friends and coworkers I could see below. I considered our backward progression through the tiny slice of history written in the layers of sediment apparent in the canyon walls—only an estimated 1,250 million years, a drop in the proverbial ocean of time.