Paul Osborn #JMT2013 Hiker

Paul Osborn is a blogger and YouTube contributor focused on outdoor adventures and survival. His community is 5,500 strong and growing. In July, he'll join a group of backpackers on the John Muir Trail, a crew that includes Sierra Trading Post videotographer Chris Martin, Sierra Trading Post blogger Andy Hawbaker, and independent blogger Adam Nutting and vlogger John Chlarson. Over the course of 200 miles of unbeatable scenic beauty, including 10 passes over 10,000 feet, these men will be getting to know each other pretty well.


How do you know the other members of this hiking crew?

I had been traveling for the past few years, so I only know the crew via Social Media and seeing a few faces on YouTube. I haven't even chatted with the guys over Skype or phone!

What do you do "in real life"? Do you have children? What's the impact of this sort of trip for your work/family? How do you balance it all?

I just returned from a 4-year term of volunteering in South America with my wife and (now) four kids. Before that I was a computer nerd. I've taken the summer off and will probably return to computers again in September. Taking about a month for this hike is hard, because it is difficult to be away for so long from my family, but I'll be reporting in via my GPS messenger and satellite phone so they can at least track our progress! My wife has been wonderfully supportive and shares my passion for the outdoors. Maybe next time the whole family can come with me!

Have you ever done a trip like this before? If so, where? When? How long was that trek?

I do a lot of your typical weekend and 3-day hikes. My longest thru-hike was a 3-day backpack of the Choro Trail in Bolivia. It covers about 40 miles in 3 days and takes you from about 16000 feet at an Andean pass down to a surprisingly tropical 5000 feet.

Obviously this is a big undertaking. Tell me about your guiding philosophy when it comes to taking on challenges like this.

I've always been a guy who sets his mind to do something, does his research, plans, and then just goes for it. I remember hearing it was possible to convert a car to run on used vegetable oil. I spent months surrounded by blogs and books and advice from experts and planning spreadsheets, then finally bought an old Mercedes diesel and in a few weeks and a few ripped fingernails had it running on used french fry oil, with a full-on oil filtering system in my garage. I took pretty much the same approach in planning for the JMT... but with less grease.

How have you prepared for this particular trip? 

In Bolivia I did a lot of long-distance walking every day at over 11000 feet. I've put in a bunch of miles on lightweight trips, but I'm planning to do some more endurance tests in the next few weeks and some running. Does carrying a chunky 8-month-old in a back carrier count?

Aside from hiking, what else have you done to prepare your mind and body for this trip?

I've done a bit of solo hiking just to test my sanity. If we do get separated or someone has to drop out, I want to make sure I can handle the independence of the trip. I've bought a SPOT messenger system and will have a satellite phone... for my wife's peace of mind! I also took a wilderness first aid course, which hopefully someone else has also taken...

Word on the trail is that you'll be making sushi for this trip. How?!?! Can you give us a little hint?

The secret is out. I just sent off the supplies (minus fish) to the trailhead. I'm planning to pack my Tenkara fly rod along for the trip to make up the fresh fish portion. With a bit of success, seaweed, and the ingredients to prepare sushi rice it's not too hard! I was on a trip a couple years back where a friend pulled in a nice fresh trout from a mountain lake. Here's the final result:

Paul Osborn

The only question is who will be carrying the carrot and avocado! If the fish don't cooperate, it might just end up being vegetarian rolls...

What's the thing you're most looking forward to on this trip?

I'm looking forward to the mountains. I can't say how much I like to be away from city life and in the back country. Things are simpler out there.

What's the thing you're most nervous about today?

I'm actually nervous about the drive down from Seattle to Merced. I'm picking up Adam at the Sea-Tac airport at midnight and from there we drive straight down to Merced. Also, I'm nervous about the Half Dome. I'll be hiking up and down the Half Dome before I officially start the trail. That same day I'll be hiking another 5+ miles up the trail. All in all it's a good 21+ miles I'll be doing on the first day!

What kind of content can readers of look forward to during and after your trip?

I'll be checking in via Spot Messenger on Twitter and Facebook during the trip. Once I get through the editing the footage I'll be putting together gear reviews, gear lists, food recommendations and a couple trip videos. A "lessons learned" will most likely be in order. 2 weeks on the trail will really put my gear to the test. I hope my experience can be of use to others!

Learn more about Paul and his adventures on his blog, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter accounts and find out more about this trip here: John Muir Trail 2013.
Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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