Explorer Spotlight: Brian Fulda

By: The Outbound Collective
May 20, 2016

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Name: Brian Fulda | Age: 25 | Location: San Francisco, CA.

What’s your day job? 

I'm actually still in school, I have a semester left at San Francisco Art Institute, where I study photography. Before moving to San Francisco in 2014, I worked for an ad agency in LA handling social media channels for major video games. 

What are your favorite things to do outside?

Photography is usually the main draw for me, so most of my trips (usually) revolve around that! I also, like most people, love to go hiking, and get a bit of cycling in as well.

What first drew you to the outdoors? 

Being exposed to it at a young age by my dad and my grandfather played a huge role in my love for the outdoors. For as long as I can remember, we were always hiking, biking, and taking road trips together. I can't thank them enough for instilling a sense of wonder in me.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after? 

I love this question. Although I've lived in California for five years now, I always enjoy going back to my hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It's an old steel town that's full of history. Wandering down Main Street, seeing all the local storefronts, and walking past the buildings from the mid-1700s is maybe my favorite thing to do. It may not sound like much of an adventure, but being there takes me back to my childhood, which is the best kind of adventure there is, I think. As for beers, I'd have to say either Bethlehem Brew Works or the Keystone Pub!

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?

Well, as a photographer, I have quite a few pieces of gear I love. My MeFoto Road Trip tripod is a personal favorite. It's so compact that it even fits in my luggage bag when I fly. I shoot with a Canon 6D and a Sigma 24mm f/1.4 Art lens, which I always have with me. I carry all of this in my Langly Alpha Pro backpack usually, unless I plan to go on longer trips, in which I'll bring an internal frame pack. If I'm camping, I bring my Nemo Galaxi 2 person tent and my Thermarest Pro-Lite Sleeping Pad. Something I always have on are my Merrell Moab boots. Being able to traverse through small streams without getting my feet wet is something that often comes in handy for me!

What’s your favorite trail snack?

Something that always finds its way into my bag lately is Nature Valley's granola...specifically the oats and dark chocolate flavor. It's so delicious, and is a great snack at any time of day.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?

Oh man. I could go on and on here. Here are some songs that always find their way onto my road trip playlists:
Southern Sun by Boy & Bear, Ends of the Earth by Lord Huron, Mykonos by Fleet Foxes, Craving by James Bay, Going Up The Country by Canned Heat, Queen of California by John Mayer, and a ton more. Music is a huge part of my life, so I've always got an extensive soundtrack for the road!

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/ or funniest? 

Well, this one time when I was 18, my dad and I had just flown into Athens, Greece and we were leaving the airport to go to our hotel. We both got on the bus, but then he forgot something so he hopped off for a second to grab it. Naturally, the bus starts going without him, and I'm left alone. It was quite late at night, like 1 in the morning, and nobody on the bus spoke English. I decided to get off at one of the stops hoping my dad would be on a bus behind mine, but his never came. I ended up hanging out in a sketchy Athens neighborhood alone for an hour waiting for my dad. Eventually, I hopped back on another bus and some kids on there spoke English. Fortunately, I had remembered the name of the hotel we were heading to, and they directed me what stop to get off at, and I was able to reunite with my dad. Keep in mind this was at a time when cell phones were useless overseas, so I almost ended up very lost from my dad in a huge city with very little money! That was definitely the scariest thing. It was either that, or coming across a protective mama bear and her cubs on a trail in Yosemite.

Funniest...

Probably this time last summer in Germany. My dad and I were hiking in Berchtesgaden National Park and heard a weird clanking sound up ahead on the trail. We kept hiking, and sure enough, there was a whole herd of cows making their way down the trail. No cowhand, just a bunch of cows mooing at us as we walked by. We actually had to climb up the hill next to the trail just to let them pass. They were very curious, and I'm sure they didn't see people too often. It was pretty hilarious at the time, and I definitely got some good photos out of it that you can see here.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?

My girlfriend has been a fantastic adventure partner. Together, we've hiked to a secluded sequoia grove in two feet of snow, summited Half Dome, found the tallest tree in the world, and soon we will be going to Iceland to road trip around the country for 10 days. Couldn't ask for anyone better! So many people inspire me, but some who do are Aaron Huey, Michael Nichols, Chris McCandless, Natalie Panek, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?

Some of my personal favorites are Zion, Redwood National Park, Death Valley, Maui, Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland, the German Alps, and of course, Yosemite.

What's on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?

I've been really wanting to make the 10-mile hike to Havasupai Falls in Arizona for awhile now, which might be happening soon! Others include visiting the Faroe Islands, exploring western Canada and Alaska, and observing the stars in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!

I snapped this photograph on a road trip through the Southwest USA back in January of 2015. We had driven a couple of hours to the Arizona-Utah border to see Monument Valley, but it was all shrouded in fog and we couldn't see the famous "mittens." I was pretty bummed, because this was a place I had never seen before and I was looking forward to photographing it the most. As we were getting ready to leave, I saw these horses off in the distance with a butte as their background. I got out of the car and approached the horses slowly, but they were very shy and trotted farther away. As soon as I would get close enough to frame my shot, they would run away again. This happened a few more times, and before I knew it I was about a quarter mile away from the car. Eventually, the horses warmed up to my presence and allowed me to get close enough to snap this shot of them trotting in perfect unison. It was one of those moments you dream of having as a photographer. I walked back to the car and came back down to Earth, if you will, but for that moment I was suspended in a different state of mind. I can't really explain it, but I think what made it so memorable was going from the comfort of the car with people to being completely immersed in nature by myself so quickly. It felt like I was transported to a place where humans hadn't touched the landscape, and the only sounds were the wind, my footsteps, and the fluttered breathing of the horses. I'll never forget that.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto? 

There's no way I was born to just pay bills and die.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.