Explorer Spotlight: Rumon Carter

Name: Rumon Carter | Age: 40 | Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

What’s your day job?
I’ve worked - and continue to work, at turns - as a biologist, lawyer, writer, photographer, film producer, and advisor to governments and progressive organizations.

What are your favorite things to do outside?
I’ve been described as a “high performance generalist,” which is a reference to the fact I love exploring outdoors via a variety of sport modalities. Which is to say, my favourite thing to do outside is to move. In the past I’ve held spots on our Canadian National Teams in biathlon (cross-country skiing) and triathlon. I continue to represent Salomon as a trail runner, which is the sport with which I’m currently most often associated (I hold the fastest known time for running the 40+ miles and 15,000+ feet of elevation gain to summit the tallest mountain on my home island, Vancouver Island) . If pressed to nail down a short list of my favourite things to do outside, they would be, in no particular order, beach-combing with my young step-daughters, running mountains with my partner, Jennie, and backcountry skiing.

What first drew you to the outdoors?
I think the first and biggest influence was the fact I was privileged to grow up with a forest in my backyard, literally, on Vancouver Island. Being able to roam freely, play and explore at will, and undirected, left an indelible effect. I think, in no small part, that that effect drew from the calming, grounding influence that time in nature had on me as a child, and continues to have today.

What’s your favorite hometown adventure? ...and, almost as important, where’s your favorite spot to get a beer after?
I have to shout out here to all the things you can do on Vancouver Island, close at hand, even in a single day. To prove that point, a couple of years ago I travelled dawn to dusk from one side of our island to another, along the way standup paddleboarding, trail running, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, rock climbing and surfing. Right in my hometown of Victoria, though, I’d have to say that it’s the simple pleasure of running the local forests and small mountains in my backyard. We can run year-round here, but the faces of those places are always changing, and always engaging. Afterwards, to cap a perfect Sunday morning, I’ll hit Wheelies, a motorbike-shop-slash-cafe (yup, kinda odd) to get a cast iron skillet breakfast washed down by a local microbrew. Yes, beer with breakfast.

What’s your essential gear that never gets left at home?
I have a heart condition, so especially if traveling alone - but regardless alone or with company - and heading deep into the backcountry, I always travel with a SPOT personal locator beacon. I’d love to upgrade that to an inReach so that Jennie and I could text her girls when we’re away. I always have my Suunto Ambit on my wrist, no matter what sport I’m doing. Doing our best to document our adventures while on the move, we’ve been on the lookout for the perfect lightweight / high quality camera solution - we recently landed on the Sony a6000 and have so far been really happy with the results.

What’s your favorite trail snack?
Boiled potatoes, butter, lots of salt.

Any go-to soundtracks when you’re hitting the road?
Lord Huron’s “Born to Run” haunts me, probably unsurprisingly. Otherwise, I’m all over the map musically and, time allowing, like to put together an eclectic-though-thematic playlist for longer trips. “Songs for Driving in the Dark - Vol. 1: Caffeinated & Accompanied” is an enduring favourite.

What’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened while you were adventuring? And/or, the funniest?
That heart condition I mentioned earlier has led to some scary moments. The most recent of those happened while Jennie and I were thru-running the 77km West Coast Trail. As it turns out, Jennie’s imitation of me in the midst of that heart episode - typically recounted over drinks amongst friends - has become one of the funniest. The short version is that I get really tired, out of breath, dizzy, etc. - it proves a bit of a drag when you’re trying to downclimb in the Dolomites (example 1), run a narrow ridge in the Rockies with a precipitous drop off one side (example 2), or finish the aforementioned run in support of your gal setting a female fastest known time.

Who’s your number one adventure partner-in-crime? Who inspires you?
Probably clear from preceding answers, and my answer to both: My partner-in-everything, Jennie. She’s my fave for a variety of reasons, but near the top of those are her combination of hard-woman speed and ability, her chill disposition, and her wicked sense of humour. She inspires me because she’s all those things while being the epitome of humble and for the fact that she’s returning to a life of adventure after years of being essentially forced away from it, and doing so with characteristic grace. I’m also generally inspired by two categories of people: (1) folks who take on a life of adventure in the face of hard odds; and (2) folks who keep pursuing adventure and its values late into life.

What are your top destinations for adventure travel?
Vancouver Island, Kauai, northern India, the Canadian North, the American Southwest.

What’s on the top of your must-do adventure list right now?
A big river rafting trip - as a family - in northern British Columbia / Yukon / Northwest Territories.

Show us your most memorable photo, and tell us about it!
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the most technically stellar photo, but hey, it was shot on an iPhone and memorable isn’t about pixel quality, is it. This one makes my Most Memorable because it’s from the first time Jennie and I did a big mountain run together, and the first time she’d been sitting up high on a summit in a very long time. Sharing that moment, and that return to the hills and to her preferred lifestyle for her, knowing all that it had taken for her to get there, was incredibly impactful. And Vancouver Island’s mountains are just plain beautiful, even without a beautiful woman in the foreground.

And last but not least…What’s your personal motto?
Dum Vivimus Vivamus. It’s an Epicurean motto that translates, literally, to “While we are living, let us live.” I got it tattooed on my forearms after my second heart surgery. My personal translation goes something like this: “While that heart’s still beating in your chest, do your damnedest to not waste a single fucking moment.” Cliche? Yeah, a little, but I find the reminder useful.