In celebration of International Day of Awesomeness we sat down with Grand Trunk Ambassador Brian Hamilton to share his incredible story with you. We feel he’s one AWESOME human with a wealth of knowledge in the outdoors.
Welcome Brian, tell us a little bit about yourself:
My name is Brian Hamilton and I am an Illinois native who became familiar with backcountry travel during my childhood. Some of my earliest memories are family summer trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. These family camping trips gave me a passion for wilderness exploration in remote destinations.
Tell us how you got into adventuring and eventually becoming a guide?
My childhood memories drew me to seek further adventures. A few years ago, after exploring around the high Rockies and enjoying various adventures, I re-discovered what fuels my fire most: an adventurous life that inspires me to create and share, striving to capture the beauty of the natural world.
From remote 4WD overlanding expeditions to high-elevation hikes and trail runs, running marathons, mountain bike tours, and backpacking trips. My unforgettable journeys are documented with videos, photos, and blogs that reveal all the details independent adventurers need to put together their own trips. That’s why I created my adventure blog, Skyblue Overland. Skyblue Overland is a guide to the adventure and outdoor lifestyle. It's built on a passion for adventure and the outdoors. (this article goes into more detail on my journey: https://www.skyblueoverland.com/journal/what-on-earth-is-overlanding).
What is your most memorable “risky” adventure?
My version of adventure doesn’t involve me being a daredevil. Probably my craziest adventure story is a few years ago when I was recovering from a meniscus injury to one of my knees. Most likely caused by over doing it during one of my marathon training builds.
After resting for a few months, I was just starting to train again in preparation for another race. I hadn’t gone on a hike in a really long time and I wanted to go on a challenging hike. So, I got up early one morning and hiked up to the Longs Peak Boulder Field in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hiking to the Boulder Field is a challenging 12.3 mile out and back trail with a 3,360 feet elevation gain near Allenspark, Colorado. (https://www.skyblueoverland.com/journal/field-guide-boulder-field-via-the-longs-peak-trail-rocky-mountain-national-park-colorado) (Photo of Boulder Field: https://skyblueoverland.smugmug.com/Longs-Peak-Trail/i-6gnX3bq)
It was the descending that really impacted my knee and delaying my marathon training by several more weeks. I still finished the New York City marathon that year. Probably out of determination more than anything else. I still enjoyed that hike a lot.
What are some tips you would give to fellow adventurers?
My best advice to anyone going on an adventure in the Rockies is to be prepared. Do you have everything you need to get yourself down in the dark, or in the worst-case scenario, wait out the night at 11,000 feet? The difference between living to tell the tale and riding it out in comfort is simpler than you think.
The answer to this question was first codified in 1935 by The Mountaineers, an alpine club based in Seattle, WA, with the “Ten Essentials.” Their list of the Ten Essentials expanded into ten systems for managing all the short-term problems of survival in the backcountry. Whether you’re setting out to tackle the Pacific Crest Trail or just going for a day hike in the mountains, having the Ten Essentials covered ensures you’re equipped to handle a potential emergency, accident, or survival scenario. (Here’s an article that does into more detail: https://www.skyblueoverland.com/journal/the-ten-essentials-how-to-equip-yourself-for-the-backcountry)
What future trips do you have planned?
I’m always heading out for a weekend of adventure. To me, making the most of my weekend means packing the Jeep with gear, heading off to the mountains for the weekend, and returning late Sunday night, exhausted but completely recharged and ready for the upcoming work week.
My adventure plans were impacted a lot by the pandemic, just like everyone else. This year I have several backpacking trips scheduled in the high Rockies. I just got a new gravel bike that I plan to gear up and take on a couple of multi-day bikepacking trips. I’d love to go on a mountain bike adventure on a portion of the Colorado Trail this year, perhaps making the run from Silverton to Durango over a long weekend. Probably the biggest adventure on my schedule in the next few months is the 2022 London Marathon. I’m already gearing up my strength training and running. I can’t wait to travel again.
What are your top 5 pieces of Grand Trunk gear?
The thing I appreciate the most about my Grand Trunk gear is their functionality, versatility and ease of use. Whether I’m hiking, backpacking or on a 4WD overlanding adventure, I’m always carrying my favorite gear from Grand Trunk. My favorite items include:
- Trunktech Hammock: I enjoy taking this lightweight and strong hammock on my backpacking trips in the Rockies.
- 360 ThermaQuilt 3-in-1 hammock, underquilt, blanket and sleeping bag: It’s so versatile. This blanket keeps me warm on my adventures.
- Hangout Hammock Stand: This is my favorite gear for my overlanding adventures. Not only is it stowable in my Jeep, but the installation is also quick and easy. It’s a great way to relax in style while on the trail.
- Adventure Sheet: This is another very versatile packable blanket. I can use this blanket in a variety of situations from lounging at a music festival, camp or the beach. I especially like the anchor pocket design that keeps the sheet in-place with stakes.
- Double Deluxe Hammock: This is my go-to hammock for day hikes. It comes with everything I need in one pack including the tree friendly, state park compliant hanging straps and the double parachute nylon hammock. I was excited recently to find these at my local Dicks Sporting Goods store. I had to take a couple of photos.
Anything else you’d like to share with others?
My dreams of epic adventures during childhood continue to inspire me to make investments in my Jeep and take these great trips. I find it amazing how powerful those things that inspire us during childhood can influence the things we do later in life. My memories of my childhood inspirations remind me of what fuels my fire most—an adventurous life that inspires me to create and share, striving to capture the beauty of the natural world.
If you also grew up dreaming about epic adventures, such as remote 4WD overlanding expeditions to high-elevation hikes and trail runs, mountain bike tours, and backpacking trips, perhaps you are reminded of your own childhood inspirations and want to get out there and experience some great overlanding adventures. I encourage you to gear up and head out into the backcountry.
Thank you Brian for sharing your incredible story with us all. We are honored to have you on our Ambassador team and look forward to seeing more of your epic adventures.