Explorer Spotlight: Matthew Eaton

Name: Matthew Eaton | Age: 32 | Location: Boulder, CO.

What’s your day job?
From 9-5 I work as a Subcontract Manager in Supply Chain Management for an Aerospace and Defense company. Basically I get paid to spend money with suppliers and make sure that they meet the needs and requirements of my company and our customer, on time and on/under budget.

Of course this is my day job for now… lately I’ve been working almost another full time job managing and growing my photography business. I can’t wait to check out of the corporate world!

What are your favorite things to do outside?
This is a crazy loaded question and I certainly cannot pick just one as I like to get outside as often as I can! However, to name a few specifics, my favorites would include backpacking, fly-fishing, mountaineering and skiing!

What first drew you to the outdoors?
Camaraderie and Solitude… seems like a paradox, right? I was raised in a very outdoorsy family. I went camping with my parents and their friends as a kid and always had a great time, so naturally getting outside often became important as I got older. I remember hanging around the campfire, telling stories, laughing and enjoying the company of friends and family. Yet the outdoors is also my refuge. It’s hard to beat a solo day hike (well, solo not counting the dog) where you can get out with yourself and your thoughts. Best feeling in the world.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
Not exactly hometown, and it may seem like a cop-out, but Rocky Mountain National Park is just up the road from Boulder and is my favorite place to hang out. There are countless hikes, numerous peaks, valleys, rivers and meadows to explore. Ed’s Cantina in Estes Park is my favorite watering hole and I stop there every time I am in RMNP! Ground Buffalo tacos and an IPA. Ahhhhhhh.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
Aside from my camera bag, I always keep my phone handy. Not because I want to stay attached, but because it holds my iTunes library. Music makes my soul sing and I always have a soundtrack to my adventures. So, camera, music, headphones, map/atlas, sunscreen and a smile.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Haha, well, I’m a big fan of food, so I like to eat well. I’ve always been a fan of a tortilla, with beef jerky, packet of cream cheese and a packet of salsa for some spice. A couple summers ago on top of Mt Yale (CO 14er) a good friend of mine had brought an avocado to the top, so we added it into the mix and have a BOMBER snack. Has a good mix of carbs and protein to fuel the adventure.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
See note above… but, I do have a climbing playlist that I play regularly. It’s a solid mix of indie and classic rock.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
My scariest moment was climbing one of the 14ers with a friend. We were chatting and laughing, having a great time. Then all of a sudden (it seemed) we were off route, not sure how to get back to safety, and surrounded by nothing but very steep and loose rock. A little patience and not freaking out led me to scramble up some solid rock to safety and the summit. It’s amazing how quickly a situation can turn to scary in the mountains.

Funniest moment is hard because there are countless laugh til you hurt moments. But the one that immediately pops into mind is being bribed (with sour skittles) down the mountain when I was learning to ski. After just a few days of skiing, my friends took me to an ungroomed blue, and I basically whined for 10 minutes (I know it was 10 minutes because there was a gopro involved). I decided to go down to get said sour skittles, only to learn that they were in my jacket. Fail.

Wanted to go ahead and add one of my coolest as well. I was kayaking the Buffalo River in Arkansas for Thanksgiving with family. I had just come through a section of rapids in my boat, nobody else was around and I came around a bend to an overhanging tree. The tree reached well over halfway across the river, and I was aimed to go right under it (with solid clearance). As I approached, a large adult Bald Eagle landed, made eye contact, and just stared me down. It was incredible, especially on Thanksgiving Day! I’d give anything to have had my camera ready.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
I have to say my mom- she is 52 now and still finds adventure. She is currently hiking down into the Grand Canyon while I type this! I’d be there too, but I leave for Iceland in 4 days. She took me on my first camping trip, fostered the love of the outdoors in me, we laugh til we hurt, and I definitely get my easy going and adventurous nature from her. Cheers Mom!

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
It’s hard to beat the American Southwest for adventure, but my favorite area for adventure travel that I’ve been to is Alberta, Canada. It’s absolutely beautiful with countless opportunities for adventure.

For new places, Iceland, Norway, and Patagonia all top my list! I’m headed to Iceland and Norway this fall, and already want to plan a follow-up trip for the summer!

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
The photo I’d say is among the most memorable for me is of a sunset on an Alaskan cruise. I was standing on the back of the boat with my aunt, enjoying the view and it was such a special moment. I had bought my first DSLR for that trip and my time shooting up there is what got me back into photography. My aunt is also a photographer, and that trip, this moment, sparked a lot of follow-on adventure! While it's not my best photo technically, it's definitely filled with great memories.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
What’s your personal motto? There is no bad weather, just bad gear!