Explorer Spotlight: Nathan Szwarc

Name: Nathan Szwarc | Age: 18 | Location: Knoxville, TN.

What’s your day job?
Currently, I am a full time student at Farragut High school and have a part time job at a local fitness center.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Hiking and camping would top list definitely, but I also really enjoy kayaking and trail running when I want to switch it up.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
My parents are very outdoorsy people and they have influenced me since a young age to also be attracted to the outdoors. Since just about as early as I can remember we would go hiking or road trip across the U.S. going to national parks or even just spend all day outside in the backyard, so no doubt they influenced me heavily to include the outdoors in my life.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
Hiking Mt. Cammerer in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, not just because of the amazing 360 degree views, but also because I love a challenging trail and that certainly doesn't disappoint. Not off drinking age yet. I do love a post-hike cherry limeade from sonic though.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
I never leave without my camera and tripod no matter what the hike. Nor do I ever go out without my apple-green Patagonia hat which is starting to get quite worn.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Usually just a chocolate-peanut butter protein bar to give me some extra energy.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
The Blind Pilots, Local Natives, and The World's Tallest Man are usually always playing. If it's early in the morning though and we all need some energy to hike/drive I don't mind blaring some Future, Rich the Kid, or Childish Gambino.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/ or funniest?
The first time my friends and I went out backpacking we went to Mt.Sterling in the dead of winter and weren't expecting that cold of temperatures since in the valley it had been unseasonably warm. I think we prepared for around mid 30's temperature wise and it ended up being in the single digits. I also had mono at the time and that night I got frostbite on my fingers so the next morning I was pretty worried for my health, definitely worth it though. For the funniest time it's just anytime I'm out there with my group of friends I always go hiking with, I usually laugh constantly.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
I really have four people that have gone on literally every hike with me and that would be, Andrew Conaway, Justin Ellis, Jarod Mowery, and Austin Birkholz, great guys to say the least. Chris Burkard, Taylor Michael Burk, and Quin ( EverChangingHorizon) have no doubt inspired me to try and live a bit differently and get outside as much as possible.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
I love everything about Thailand, as well as Utah, Colorado and Washington are up there.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
Iceland, Glacier National Park, and Indonesia.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
We left my house about 2 A.M. after having an all night madden tournament and drove three and a half hours too Rough Ridge, the place pictured, to see sunrise.I can remember that definitely being the longest drive ever, mostly because I was driving and I think I was the only one awake. Once we got there and hiked up we saw the most amazing sunrise, everything had turned a beautiful orange and there was nobody else in sight, we were elated to say the least, I think at one point all just in awe. This was also the first time I had used my new camera so I was so excited to snap some photos of my friends. I got this photo and thought how amazing it was to capture beautiful moments like this forever. That really motivated me to try and take better pictures and capture great times.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
The routine is the killer of all time, so see something new everyday.