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Explorer Spotlight: Phill Monson

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Name: Phill Monson | Age: 34 | Location: Salt Lake City, UT.

What’s your day job?
I work in sales for an incredible company that betters people's future through education.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
Photography, of course - I love capturing moments of light that will never happen again, and making a tangible memory. Seeing new places, seeing old places made new. Being outside is a good thing. Camping, hiking etc. what's not to love?

What first drew you to the outdoors?
I grew up in Idaho, Oregon and Utah - states well known for their outdoor activities, so it was almost impossible for me to not be drawn to the outdoors.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
If staying local, I love going up into the Wasatch Mountains - awesome hikes and scenery, as well as kid-friendly so I can take the fam. A close second is going out to Antelope Island on the Great Salt Lake - so much diversity there, as well as epic sunsets. I'm not a drinker, but I'll grab a Coke Zero anywhere I can. I know, lame.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
Easy - the camera bag.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
I'm a sucker for a good trial mix. There's some pretty creative variety out there these days.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
Oh man - I'm a little all over the place with music, but The Killers, Taking Back Sunday, Jimmy Eat Word are all essential. When I'm in photo taking mode, however, I've got a mix-tape of atmospheric music that I zone with. The Oblivion soundtrack is pretty amazing.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/ or funniest?
One night a few friends and I were taking night photos just sitting and chatting when we heard a rattle. Sure enough, a rattle snake was sliding under our bags about two feet away. We spent a good while pretending to be the Crocodile Hunter using our Tri-pod legs as a snake stick to remove it from the area. It was scary for us, though I'm sure hilarious to watch from an outside perspective.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
I'm usually flying solo on photo trips, but I've got a normal group of friends who will go once in a while. Obviously for the big adventures, the partner(s)-in-crime are my wife and kiddos. For those who inspire me, I'd need another page - so many amazing adventurers and photographers out there these days.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
Southern Utah captures my imagination like none-other. I can't seem to get enough of the place. The Desert Southwest in general is a vast adventure. I've also got a special place in my heart for Ireland - and hope to spend much, much more time there.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
#1 on the bucket list is Prauge, but who am I kidding, the whole world is on my bucket list, I want to see it all!

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
This shot from the rim rocks will always be fresh on my mind. After shooting a great sunset, my friend and I went back to our make-shift camp for the night. Around 3:00am, a massive thunderstorm rolled in and woke us up. We both looked at each-other and said "Lets go!" so we ran the half mile (90% asleep, full camera bag) to the formations. The storm was passing right over with an awesome display of lightning. We were shouting each time a bolt hit and experiencing what every photographer hopes to experience. We shot all the way through 8:00am still pumped from the awesome conditions.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
There are many sayings that inspire me, but one I believe and work on daily is "Where ever you are, be there." Always be present at the moment - adventure can be found in anything.

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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