What is ”adventure consulting”? At Stone and Sky, it encompasses 3 things:
- Trip & Gear Planning
- Freelance Writing
- Adventure Presentations
People on the trail and readers of the Stone and Sky blog may know me best as ”Mountain Man”, due to more than 10,000 miles of hiking experience on long-distance trails alone. The other sides of me you might know less about? Writer. Gear junkie. Tech enthusiast. Former classical vocalist (true story). Certified Wilderness First Responder. Engineer. Lover of spreadsheets. (Okay, those last two are really the same thing).
Whatever flavor of adventure consulting you’re looking for, that diversity and depth of experience is the best resource I have to offer. Whether you need help with trip and gear planning for your next big adventure, have a freelance writing gig to pitch, or are looking for an inspirational presentation at your next event, look no further than Stone and Sky.
Trip & Gear Planning
Whether you’re a first-time backpacker who’s overwhelmed by where to begin, or a seasoned veteran looking to prepare for a multi-month thru-hike of a Triple Crown trail, I’m here to help you overcome whatever obstacles may exist between you and your goal of getting out into the wilderness.
Inspiring people to love rather than fear the idea of visiting wild spaces is at the heart of Stone and Sky. Turning that inspiration into a plan that you can confidently execute on the trail is where the magic really happens. There’s a lot to consider in building a successful plan for a trip of any length, and I can help you with all of it:
- Wilderness regulations
- Bear safety & food storage
- Leave No Trace (LNT) principles
- Navigation (paper maps & GPS)
- Current trail conditions
- Multiple itineraries of varying length & difficulty
- Town information for resupply stops
- Travel to and from the trail
“If you’re planning a hiking trip to an unfamiliar place, check with Stone and Sky. If Mountain Man has been there before (and chances are, he has), you are in luck. After hearing him speak in a webinar, I asked for tips on Wyoming’s Wind River range. I expected a “try-this hike”; instead, he provided a well-tailored catalog of information on backpacking routes, safety concerns (bear spray, GPS use, etc.), local establishments, camping options, detailed maps, and more… Overall, Stone and Sky is a great resource for outdoor adventure.”Bruce B.
Of course, even a perfectly planned trip can be made miserable without matching attention paid to pre-trip physical conditioning and the gear that you’ll be carrying on your back. The golden rule: pack as many skills as you can. The world’s best first aid kit isn’t much help if you don’t have the training to use it. Feel like your skills could use some polishing? I can point you in the right direction for how and where to hone them.
Obsessing over gear is a favorite pastime of outdoor enthusiasts. Take too much, and your feet—and the rest of your body—may never let you hear the end of it. Take too little without the skills to match, and a pleasant jaunt can quickly feel like a survival scenario. The cheapest gear you can find might seem tempting, right until the moment you heave it onto your back. On the other hand, the “best” gear that money can buy won’t walk the miles for you either. I’ll help you find the sweet spot, with detailed suggestions tailored specifically for your experience, goals, and budget.
Ready to get planning? Great! Let’s get started.
“When presented with the opportunity to do a section of the Long Trail, I couldn’t say “no”, but I then realized that while I love day hiking, I despise camping and have no idea how to prepare. So, I asked Mountain Man for some advice, and, of course, he went above and beyond.
First was a phone call where he went in depth on the essentials (tent, sleeping bag and pad, backpack), detailing where I could skimp and where I should splurge. He explained the importance of packing light and gave me a target “base weight.” The very next day, he provided me with a custom spreadsheet (I’m a nerd, so I loved that) listing ALL the items I needed (and examples for each)… I give Mountain Man 100% of the credit for preparing me for this journey.”Jesse S.
If you’ve read much of the Stone and Sky blog, you already know what my writing aims to do: explore the experience of wild places and make those experiences resonate with readers in a myriad of different ways. That’s what keeps my eyes open long enough to write each night on trail. Think: weaving beautiful photography with any number of topics that—on the surface—might seem unrelated to the trail experience. History, philosophy, climate science, art, literature, trail stewardship, and many more.
As a former engineer, self-declared gear and tech junkie, and avid reader, my previously published articles have cut along the same lines, covering the intersection of the outdoors, technology, and philosophy. The brief sampling of articles and blog posts below encapsulates both my writing style and the diversity of perspective I bring to each piece.
Have an idea for an article that you’d like to pitch me? Let’s hear it.
On the Trail with Ulysses
Writing, like sleep, has never come easily to me. There’s a restlessness to it. Perhaps, because the search for the right words is a struggle that haunts every writer—the burden of imperfect communication. Then again, perhaps it’s because nearly all of my writing happens in the unlikeliest of places…
Wilderness First Responder
The wilderness is—news flash—a wild, and scenic place. The fact that it occupies a romantic place in our brains outside the familiar is, in large part, the essence of its appeal. It also explains the sheer terror that many people associate with being out in that wilderness.
Trails of a Different Kind
Skiing isn’t an inherently sensible thing to do. Think about it. From the time we realize, as infants, that standing up seems like a cool thing to do, we spend nearly every moment from that day forward trying to avoid the pitfall of that decision. Namely, we try not to fall flat on our faces. Gravity, it turns out, is an effective teacher.
The Trail Itself
What is at the heart of any trail experience? It’s a question I’ve had more time than most to ponder over, the luxury of a charmed life whose privilege is never forgotten. And over many years and many thousands of miles, I’ve come to the realization that the experience of a trail is not about the trail itself, not the thing physically beneath your feet. It’s about where it takes you.
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Nostalgia
When I was a kid, I loved geography. Couldn’t get enough of it. Maps, atlases, countries, flags, states, capitals. It was the first way I remember trying to understand the world I was a part of. To learn about my place in that world, and to exercise that childhood curiosity about places I would likely never see with my own two eyes…
In August 1914, with the world peering into the void of what would become the First World War, a wooden ship unique among all but one set sail from Plymouth, England bound for Antarctica. Apart from its cousin ship, Fram, no other wooden ship had been built—or has been since—with such attention given to strength and the ability to withstand the crushing power of an Antarctic winter’s ice floes.
Over 30 years of experience in the wilderness and 10,000 miles on the trail gives you a story or two to tell. Stories of perseverance, laughter, friendship, stunning scenery and the subtle—and occasionally not so subtle—ways in which climate change is influencing that scenery and the future of our trails.
Much of what I write for the Stone and Sky blog is an effort to expose the hidden connections between life in the city and life on the trail, exploring both the experience and the philosophy of visiting wild places. It’s that same approach that I endeavor to infuse in presentations of my past adventures, such as the two below that span the experience of thru-hiking 6 different long-distance trails. Engaging and personal talks that both inspire others to seek a wilderness experience of their own—perhaps for the first time—and bring attention to what we all stand to learn from time on the trail.
Know an audience who’d love to have these presented either in-person or online? Wondering about other presentations that might be a better fit? Let’s chat.
The American West is a land shaped by fire. From the ever more dangerous wildfires that have become a fixture of the hiking season to hulking volcanoes that conceal their fiery past and future, no hike through the mountains of the West escapes the forces—both seen and unseen—that have forged these breathtaking landscapes.
Even for those who really love to walk through wilderness, the Triple Crown of hiking might never be more than a dream. Spanning more than 7000 miles, the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails together form a challenge that few have the luxury of attempting, let alone achieving. From the blistering inferno of the Mojave and Chihuahuan Deserts, to the dizzying heights of the Wind River Range and Sierra Nevada, and to the rarely paralleled ruggedness of New Hampshire’s Presidentials, perhaps it’s no surprise that fewer people have completed the trio of America’s greatest long distance trails than have been into space.