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Explorer Spotlight: John Sunich

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Name: John Sunich | Age: 32 | Location: The Evergreen State

What’s your day job?
Environmental Specialist at the City of Tacoma. This could get boring quick if I elaborate too much :).

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Hiking, Whitewater Rafting, Backpacking, Camping, Snowshoeing, Skiing, and Steelhead Fishing.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
My parents started me camping, fishing, hiking, skiing, and road tripping in an RV across the North America through most of the major national parks at very young age. I don't actually remember being "drawn in" as I feel like it's always been part of me.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
Hard to pick a favorite, but probably heading up towards the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park and finding a nice uncrowded area to explore. I grew up 30 minutes from here and am still surprised at the lack of traffic/visitors.

On the way home you have to stop at the Pick N Shovel in the small town of Wilkeson, WA. It's a dive but the beer and burgers taste great after a long day on the trail.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
Probably a gore-tex rain jacket. Seems like if I forget it rains but if I have it with me, it won't rain.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Dry Salami, cheese and crackers or any sort of homemade cookies/brownies.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
Nope...Probably just some good rock music.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
Scariest?? That's a tough one. Probably some of the things I did on skis back in high school or college? Or rafting the green river gorge and getting stuck between another boat and rock and eventually flipping my raft in the rapid called "the nozzle" has to be right up there.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
I don't really have a number one partner in crime for all types of adventures other than my dog Henry, who is always up for hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, and road trips. I probably have a number one for each type of adventure: one for rafting, one for hiking/backpacking, and one for fishing etc. Hopefully my kids will be up there on the top of the list soon!

I think I get my inspiration from within but as a product of my upbringing. As I mentioned earlier I started outdoor adventures at an early age and don't know life without them. So when I feel like I haven't been getting enough outdoor therapy I start to "feel it" mentally/physically which generates my inspiration. Seeing all the great photos and blogs on social media only fuels the fire even more.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
Olympic Peninsula/Olympic National Park
Pasayten Wilderness
Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Mount Rainier National Park
Middle fork of the Salmon River
North Cascades
Mount Saint Helens/Mount Adams/Gifford
Pinchot National Forest

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
5 day whitewater rafting trip on the Wild and Scenic Selway River, Rogue, Main Salmon River, and Green River in Utah
Patagonia (rafting and fishing)
Alaska (fishing, backpacking, pack-rafting expedition)

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
This photo was taken toward the end of my wife and my trip down the Middle Fork of the Salmon river in July 2012. A great do-it-yourself 7 day,100 mile whitewater float with 5 other couples through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. The trip had great camping, hot springs, wildlife, hiking, waterfalls, mining relics, petroglyphs, lounging on sandy beaches, fly fishing, and some exhilarating whitewater. Had so much fun that I went back in 2013 and plan to return again in 2015.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
I realize you only get one chance at life and that you better make the most of it while you are young and healthy. Whether it be on an adventures in the outdoors, with your family, or with your friends, don't let other unimportant distractions get in the way of doing the things you enjoy or spending time with those you care about.

Check out more of John's adventures here.

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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