Explorer Spotlight: Jason Hatfield

By: The Outbound Collective
January 15, 2016

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Name: Jason Hatfield | Age: 31 | Location: Denver, CO.

What’s your day job?
I've been a freelance photographer for a number of years and made a full-time transition in 2015. A lot of my work comes from teaching nature photography workshops around the U.S. as well as image licensing and assignments.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Photography is definitely my favorite activity outside and is usually paired with another of my outdoor pursuits like trail running, backpacking, mountain biking, or skiing. Of everything I photograph the night sky is my favorite; there's nothing more rewarding to me than capturing an incredible image of the Milky Way or Northern Lights.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
My parents got me started outdoors at very early age with camping trips around Ohio and Michigan, as well as out west. Between that and more camping with the boy scouts, I knew I was hooked.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
This is a hard one because I spend so much time on the road and I feel most at home in the high country or deep forests. Close to Denver my favorite high country place for adventure is Mt. Evans; it's home to beautiful trails, amazing views, and the best night sky photography near home Mt. Goliath. When it comes to adventures closer to home, I love running the Dakota Ridge trail near Red Rocks. The rocky and challenging trail follows the top of a narrow ridge with stunning views of Denver and the Red Rocks Amphitheater. The Ale House at Amato's in Denver is one of my favorite spots in Denver for a drink and food.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
Some form of a camera and my puffy jacket.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Dark chocolate peanut butter and huckleberry jelly sandwich.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
Usually a mix of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Phoenix, Daft Punk, Lorde, and Death Cab for Cutie.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring?
This fall while backpacking to Mt. Assiniboine I came across 3 adult grizzlies next to the trail. Before I saw them I heard the biggest and closest of the 3 after it started jumping and huffing when it spotted me. I immediately pulled out my bear spray and was bluff-charged by the other two grizzlies. After standing my ground and about sh!tting my pants, I was luckily able to slowly move away, get behind trees, and down the trail before they changed their mind. I'll never forget how the wave of fear moved from the top of my head to bottom of my toes and was followed by a huge rush of adrenaline that unfroze my terror.

...Funniest?
The trip became slightly humorous when over the following three days everywhere I went I found bears had just been there or were coming that way. I eventually made some friends to hike out with and didn't see another bear.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime?
My dog, Koda, joins me on almost every adventure. I've only had her a year and half but she's been to 10 states with me climbing 14ers, hiking desert canyons, running through redwoods, exploring beaches, and skiing in the backcountry

Who inspires you?
Being part of the ultra-running community, I'm constantly inspired by a lot of my friends and their ability to push beyond what most would find impossible. I'm most inspired by my friend and fellow photographer, David Kingham, who took the difficult leap into a nomadic lifestyle and works very hard to pursue his dreams.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
My favorite spots are the PNW, Southern Utah, Canadian Rockies, the Dolomites, Iceland, and of course my home state of Colorado.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
Getting back to the Dolomites for a hut-to-hut backpacking trip and the Trans-Zion Traverse run.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
I took this photo while on a week long trip hunting the Northern Lights with David Kingham in Iceland. On our second night in Iceland we were rewarded with another incredible show of aurora while on the road near Höfn. After looking at the forecast we decided to try our luck at Vestrahorn and when we arrived the sky was completely clouded over. After an hour or so of waiting the clouds cleared and the light show kicked off again; we were beyond thrilled with our luck! Soon the sun started to rise and the lights faded, but we had another amazing night in books.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
I wonder where that goes…