Explorer Spotlight: Elyse Clark

Name: Elyse Clark | Age: 23 | Location: Blacksburg, Virginia

What’s your day job?
I'm a Ph.D. student studying water quality restoration on highly disturbed ecosystems.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
I enjoy hiking and I love exploring new places. I'm also pretty fond of biking.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
As a kid growing up, we had land with half forest, half cornfield behind our house. My brother and I would be outside most days running rampant through the woods and cornfields, and I guess that love for the outdoors just stuck with me.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
My favorite hometown adventure is hiking to Bald Knob. It is this rocky outcrop by Mountain Lake (where the film Dirty Dancing was filmed) that has awesome views facing directly west. I cant count how many times I've watched the sunset from atop Bald Knob. I'll never get tired of it. As for the beer after, there's a great place in downtown Blacksburg called The Cellar and it has an awesome beer selection, great atmosphere, and delicious food too.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
My DSLR and tripod. It always feels awkward if I don't have my camera with me.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
That's a tough one...I've been especially fond of croissants with chicken salad, a slice of cheese, and two pickles recently. And Skittles.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
Zac Brown Band makes any car ride infinitely better for me. Old Crow Medicine Show has the same effect.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
One time I was hiking Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park. There was snow and ice on the ground, and I stopped to take a picture of a stream. Being the photographer that I am, I naturally wanted to take a closer look and proceeded to scoot closer to the stream bank. I soon found myself slipping on a rock and fell into the ice cold stream, became immersed in water and my hiking partner had to help pull me out. Worst of all-I lost my camera, so I'll never know if the shot came out or not.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
My number one partner in crime is my boyfriend Wesley. He's always there to help motivate and push us through tough hikes (and carry some of the weight). I find myself inspired by all the other awesome explorers out in the world. They inspire me to keep pushing and searching for that next adventure.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
I haven't really traveled many places, but Acadia Nat'l Park was breathtaking, as were the diverse landscapes in Ireland.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
Travel to the West Coast. I've never set foot on the west coast of the US, and I think that needs to be changed soon.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
One day before work, I knew it was supposed to be a cold day, so my boyfriend and I left the house at 6am to go hike to a local waterfall. There was fresh snow on the ground and it was 5 degrees outside, but we were the only ones there. We blazed the trail to the waterfall, and found a frozen winter wonderland we'll never forget. We stood there in awe at its beauty until we were too cold to stay, headed back to the car and worked the rest of the day, happy with our unforgettable morning adventure. (See the first photo below).

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
Rain or shine, winter or summer, there's always adventure to be had. Just get out there.

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.