I grew up in the small town of Hollis, New Hampshire with my parents and my sister, Kara. Although there were plenty of mountains and rivers to explore we never really did. Even when we spent time in Maine in the summers we never left the lake very much. I honestly only remember hiking once when I was a kid. I have no idea where the hike was, however I do vividly remember falling as we were hiking and landing face first on a root or stick in the trail and being very thankful that I was wearing a ball cap and it's visor somehow folded down and protected my face from certain puncture from the root.
Despite not spending any time in the wilderness, I was a very active little Matt. I skied quite a bit, played hockey a lot, and was always riding bikes and playing wiffle ball with friends in the summer.
My first great wilderness experience was in 1997, just prior to my freshman year at the The University of New Hampshire. I joined the New Hampshire Outing Club at school and went on a Freshman Trip. We canoed for a week in the Northern Maine waterways before starting school. I have great memories of this trip including seeing the first moose of my life, then another and another. We must have seen 20 moose in just a few days!
Over the next several years I finished school and, in 2000, moved to Connecticut. During these years I never really got out into the woods, and as I remember, never really had the desire to. I had graduated from UNH with a degree in land surveying and spent every day working outside, so maybe I just didn't want to be outside after work too.
Life again changed and I ended up moving to Portland, Oregon in the spring of 2005. Once settled in, I realized all the people in Oregon seem to spend a lot of time outside. Everyone I became friends with skied, hiked, biked, ran, boated, fished and whatever else outside you can think of.
I guess at this point this story changes to my "Hiking Life"...
I lived in Portland for about a year and half and, thinking back on it now, so many great things happened! I chose Portland because my sister, Kara, had moved there a few years earlier and I figured I'd at least know one person moving 3000 miles from home. I began joining Kara and my new friends on hikes in Portland and on Mount Hood, our local wilderness wonderland, and the biggest, most amazing mountain, I had ever seen! I was in love! Everything about being outside and the peacefulness of nature was what I had been searching for. Speaking about being in love, and life long searches, it was during this time in Portland I met the true love of my life, my wife, Angela. I lived in a house with a couple of other people and the guy who owned the house was preparing to go on his annual white water rafting trip with his friends and he ask if I'd like to join them. Thankfully I did. It was on this trip Angela came into my life. Although we didn't really spend time together on the trip we did meet and met again a few weeks later while out with friends. It turns out Angela loved being outside and hiking as much as I did. After a few months of enjoying each other and the outdoors together, during a hike on Powell Butte, just outside of Portland, I asked Angela to marry me.
Shortly after that, in the Fall of 2006, we got in the car, moved back to the east coast and landed in Boston, and less than a year later bought a house and moved to New Hampshire, where we lived for about 5 years. During this time our hiking trips really took off. Even with the White Mountains being about a two hour drive from our home we spent a lot of time there. We started working on the list of forty-eight 4000 foot peaks in New Hampshire, currently we have completed 16 of them! Despite all this fun we both worked a lot, and didn't really enjoy it, and found it hard to find time for what we really loved, the woods. In the spring of 2010, we both up and quit our jobs on a whim and decided to we would thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. We had done plenty of hiking but neither of us had any experience backpacking. So what better way to learn than go and try to hike 2,180 miles! Anyways, we ended up hiking for 5 weeks and completing about 450 miles from Georgia to Virginia. A pretty great accomplishment!
After returning home all we could think about was hiking and backpacking. Every day we were trying to find a way to making hiking a job somehow. We both returned to work after our summer of hiking and things were heading back to where we didn't want them to be. Over the next couple years life changed again in a dramatic way. In the Spring of 2011, Angela was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and underwent treatment. It has been a long road, and we continue to battle, but there has been no sign of cancer in almost two years now! This diagnosis really opened our eyes.
In the meantime Kara had moved from Portland to Bend, Oregon and Angela and I had visited once or twice and discovered Nirvana! So, once again, we packed the car and drove the 3000 miles back to the west coast with dreams and aspirations to leave the "real world" behind and follow our dreams. After all, what's life if you can't follow your dreams!
Inspiration for this website
We arrived in Bend in February of 2012 and the dream chasing began. Needing to make a little money, Angela got a job at the local hospital. She only works part time and that allows us to "play" a lot, including a six day, 70 miles, backpacking trip on The Colorado Trial in the Summer of 2012. For that first summer here in Bend I got a job as a white water raft guide. That was amazing and I was fortunate to see all the spectacular beauty our Central Oregon rivers have to offer.
As great as rafting was, its not hiking (my true passion), and not as quiet and serene as being in the woods with no one else around. Over the winter, I began to educate myself on owning and operating a small business with plans to become a hiking and backpacking guide in Central Oregon. I have always wanted to share what our world has to offer with others and what better way than to bring a few people into the forest each day and show them why I love it so much!
I figured this was a perfect opportunity for me and it seemed a niche needed to be filled as there are no hiking guides in this beautiful area. While doing my research I discovered why there are no guides; The National Forest Service won't issue permits for guides in all the areas I had intended to guide in. Needless to say I was devastated to learn this. But, from that disappointment comes this website. It took a few days and Angela and I brainstormed another way to make hiking a "job", and came up with this.
So here we go...