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Explorer Spotlight: Colin Ayers

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Name: Colin Ayers | Age: 19 | Location: Spokane, Washington

What’s your day job?
I am currently a Chemical Engineering student at the University of Washington in Seattle and an intern at Novelis Aluminum Casting during the summer.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Mountaineering, backcountry skiing, rock climbing, and kayaking.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
My high school Chemistry Teacher and personal mentor leads a club where he takes students on backpacking trips all around the Northwest. He taught me everything I know about the outdoors and turned my simple fascination with nature to a profound love and passion that pushes me to always pursue higher peaks and more distant places.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
It’s not exactly in Spokane, but a quick drive to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness takes you to my favorite spot in the world: Jade Lake just north of Mount Daniel. On the way back be sure to stop by The Brick Saloon in Roslyn, Washington, made famous by the 90’s sitcom Northern Exposure, and of course for its delicious burgers and beer on tap!

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
I take my Eno Doublenest hammock and my Sony A600 camera everywhere I go.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
I always bring at least a pound of sour gummy worms with me, and for something sweet I love a couple Rice Krispy treats, they’re light and delicious and never go bad.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
Most of the time I spend on the road I’m listening to audiobooks from Audible.com; I’m a huge fan of reading but I find I rarely have free time to actually do it so I listen to books while I drive. When I have a taste for music I’ll pick just about everything by Old Crow Medicine Show, specifically the albums Carry Me Back and Remedy.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
One week long backpacking trip I took to Tuck and Robin Lakes was absolutely plagued by mountain goats with a deficiency of sodium in their diet and a pretty serious thirst for urine. They followed us around all week and trampled through our camp at night nibbling on our sweaty gear and lapping up any remaining puddles. By the end of the trip they had grown bold enough to even try to drink my urine straight from the source, one almost causing me to fall off a cliff in my haste to escape his tongue-waggling onslaught. What started as cute and charming turned quickly into a nightmare of soft hoof steps wherever we were and the constant threat of attack whenever we relieved ourselves.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
My greatest inspiration comes from other Outbound Explorers, the reason I got involved in the website in the first place. My most reliable adventure partners would have to be my friends Sara, Kian, and Whitney; their spirit for travel and adventure never fails to encourage me to get out there and go somewhere amazing.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
My favorite area has to be where I’ve spent the most time: the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the North Cascades. With enough untouched and isolated area to explore for a lifetime and the rugged beauty of the Cascades, it can’t be beat.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
Although I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to do this, I think that the top of my adventure goals should be something epic, so I would have to say the Great Western Loop, a 6,875 mile footpath created by Andrew Skurka that links together the Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, and Arizona Trail. Find out more about it here.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
This was taken in the Ammergau Alps on the summit of Mount Säuling on the border of Austria and Bavaria. It was my first opportunity to do any hiking in the Alps and even though it was on the outskirts of the great mountain range, the famed beauty of the distant peaks took my breath away. After a harrowing free climbing experience getting up the mountain it was especially good to get to the very top and look south upon Austrian peaks as far as the eye could see.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
“I always mean what I say, but I don’t always say what I’m thinking” -Dean Smith

One of the greatest college basketball coaches ever and an incredibly influential man, both on the court and off, he was famous for speaking profoundly but also having a solid grip on his words and actions, something I try to emulate daily in my thoughts and actions.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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