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Explorer Spotlight: Jonathon Reed

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Name: Jonathon Reed | Age: 22 | Location: Ontario, Canada.

What’s your day job? 

I’m a teacher in a private school and freelance designer.

What are your favorite things to do outside?

In the winter, snowboarding and cross-country skiing. In the summer, canoeing and rock climbing. Any time of year, backcountry camping. Always sunrises.

What first drew you to the outdoors?

I grew up in an large isolated property that borders on an undeveloped provincial park, so as a kid I was almost always immersed in nature. My siblings and I would spend entire days exploring the forests, fields and swamps of the surrounding countryside, and as a family we would go on multi-day canoeing and backpacking trips.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?

Cross-country skiing in the forest north of my home is something I look forward to every winter. In Kingston, I love hiking the Rock Dunder Trail. As to where to grab a drink, I love Tir Nan Og downtown but that might be because it always makes me think of the time I spent with beautiful friends in Ireland.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?

My DSLR is a given. Latest gear addition is my first down sleeping bag, the Therm-a-Rest Antares HD with the NeoAir XTherm MAX sleeping pad. Roasty toasty.

What’s your favorite trail snack?

Homemade gorp. My mom always said it stands for ‘good ol’ raisins and peanuts’ except we add chocolate chips, too.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?

I’m hugely into music and I’ve made myself dozens of playlists for different trips. Some of my favourite indie folk artists are Alexi Murdoch, Noah Gunderson, Gregory Alan Isakov, Roo Panes, The Paper Kites, Bear’s Den and Mighty Oaks. Plus any song with a harmonica in it.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/ or funniest? 

Scariest would be spending a night in a snowstorm in an outhouse outside a refuge in the French Alps. 15 km from help, no cellphone. I was so cold I hallucinated. Funniest would be hitchhiking with an exorcist. No offence to exorcists.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?

So lucky to be able to say my twin sister, who is eight minutes older than me and a much better cook. When we’re hiking together I usually walk in front because her pace is too fast for me to keep up, and we barely need to talk when we’re setting up camp because we are so in sync. For inspiration, I actually have a list of my favourite adventurers that I follow, like Alastair Humphreys, Ben Saunders, Daniel Ernst. Too many to name.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?

Most recent favourite places in the world are the backcountry of Yosemite NP and the edge of Island in the Sky District in Canyonlands NP. From years ago I would say Gros Morne NP in Newfoundland. 

What's on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?

I have a world map that’s covered in pins of places that I’ve been and places I want to go. Most recent addition to that and my bucket list was the Tombstone Mountains in the Yukon, Thor’s Peak in Nunavut and Torngat Mountains in Labrador. Around the world, I’ve got my eyes on Patagonia, Iceland, New Zealand and Nepal. In a winter mood. Clearly got at thing for mountains. Hopefully can squeeze some surfing in there somewhere.

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

I took this photo while camping beneath the northern lights in Abisko National Park, Sweden. I was 19 and had travelled solo from southern France to the Arctic Circle. It’s memorable because it was one of the first times I really took a risk while adventuring by myself. I remember being really scared the afternoon before I skied into the wilderness. The temperature was far below zero, the tundra of Lapland far from hospitable. But it paid off. Clearly. I took photos of the aurora until my feet ached from standing on the snow, and then fell asleep with the skies dancing above me.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?

I’ve got a lot. In the context of adventuring, I hold a line from the Raggers’ Creed close to my heart: “I would be brave, for there is much to dare.”

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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