Explorer Spotlight: Dan Loch

Name: Dan Loch | Age: 29 | Location: Ashland, Oregon

What’s your day job?
Physical Therapist & Sports Medicine Specialist

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Climb, hike, camp, catch a sunrise/sunset from summits, and watch the Milky Way pass overhead at night.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
Camping with my dad when I was growing up in Wisconsin. Listening to wildlife at night scared the daylights out of me back then, but it peeked my curiosity and I loved getting away from the lights to see the Milky Way.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
Hiking or Snowshoeing along the PCT just a few mins from my backyard. My favorite hometown brewery is Caldera in Ashland. But my favorite place to escape to is Crater Lake in the winter, just a little ways from home. Favorite place to grab a brew: anywhere along the rim :) The place that encompasses it all for me though, is Bend. You can't beat climbing a few 10,000 footers in one day and throwing back a few micros at Good Life or 10 Barrel breweries.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
I never hit the trail without my knife, lighter, camera, journal, and compass.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Chocolate covered Acai and peppered beef jerky.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
"Intro" by The XX, "Iron" by Woodkid, "Hopeless Wanderer" by Mumford & Sons; for the climb: "Lifeproof" by And So I Watch You From Afar, "Sail" by Awolnation, "Sweet Dreams" by Marilyn Manson.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
On one of my solo first trips in Oregon, I was glissading and trudging my way down to the base of a partially frozen waterfall. What I didn't realize was the river it formed jutted in a different direction under the snow from what was visible after it left the plunge pool. I fell through, down to my shoulders, and could hear the roar of the hidden river below me. Luckily I had just unbuckled the waist straps of my pack and as it flipped up, it wedged me in the hole. Once the initial panic subsided, my brain turned back on, and was able to crawl back out with some solid ice footholds. I dragged the my pack and crawled to a point where I could no longer hear any water. Worst part about it, no cell service for miles and that was an unscheduled waterfall visit, so I would have been $^%$ out of luck even if I would have made it out from under the river somehow.

Funniest thing: My wife and I got chased by open-range cattle in a canyon in Utah. At the time, this was not funny whatsoever as the bull had every intention of driving us into the ground. But in hindsight, we escaped up some boulders and I heard my wife drop the f-bomb for the first time, so it was a success in my opinion. Who needs Spain when you have Utah?

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
My wife. For a girl that never climbed a thing before we met, she never ceases to amaze me on our trips. Of course, I get an earful when the difficulty is "under-estimated," but trips are so much sweeter when you can share the experience.

Who inspires me: There are a handful of children and adults with paraplegia or quadriplegia that I have had the opportunity to treat. Their gratitude and grasp on what is most important in life inspires the hell out of me and I strive to emulate their outlook on life. I can only hope that I made an impression on their lives as much as they do on mine.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
Switzerland and the Alps have some of the most amazing scenery and mountains I have ever backpacked through. The Tetons are truly incredible and I can't wait to go back. Of course, I am biased to the Pacific Northwest from the North Cascades all the way into California.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
Climbing Mt. McKinley is at the top; on my way currently to climbing 50 of the tallest peaks in US & hopefully catching a sunrise from each.

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

1) The most incredible place I've laid eyes on, Lake Oeschinen in Switzerland. This place is an absolute gem. My wife and I backpacked into this lake in the snow and never knew what was surrounding us until the following morning when the storm pulled out. This mountain studded turquoise lake gradually emerged from the clouds and mist. It is riddled with knee buckling drop-offs and waterfalls like the one on the left. In my opinion...heaven on earth.

2) Bernese Alps, Switzerland. One of my most memorable backpacking trips with unbelievable scenery. We left our "cozy" hostel hours before dawn to snap this shot. Even better, shots of home-made Schnapps and sipping on some Scotch beneath the Eiger afterward.

3) My favorite playground in the winter is Crater Lake. I spent my first night in Crater Lake on this particular trip and also had my first experience of camping in thunder snow. I snapped this shot from the top of Watchmen Peak before the storm rolled in. The sunrise shots in the morning were equally stunning.

4) Mt Rainier Sunrise. Climbed Mt Rainier during the Supermoon. Between this sunrise in front of me and the Supermoon and shadow of Rainier looming behind me, I hard time keeping my gaze and lens in one place.

5) Toketee Falls. One of my local favorites. Sensory overload down there with the roar of the falls blasting off the basalt, mist in the face (and lens), and rapids underfoot. Surreal setting.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
I can't take credit for this but I strive to live by it everyday and have it tattooed on me when I need a little clarity: "Life is not about weathering the storm, but learning to dance in the rain."

Check out more of Dan's adventureshere.

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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.