2017 Mentor Team
Jennifer “Lion Heart” Smart
In my mid-20’s, I remember standing in REI looking at guide books for the Pacific Crest Trail and thinking that something like that could be epic cool. But hiking long distances in wild places all by myself? Way out of my comfort zone!
In fall 2006 at the age of 29, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. After a total thyroidectomy, radiation treatment and parathyroid complications, the fragile balance of life was drawn into focus. In 2009, I finally set foot on the PCT for my first thru-hike. There’s no simple way to say that the trail changed me and the direction of my life. My fellow hikers, the angels, the scenery, the trail culture and the strength instilled within, became a permanent part of my soul. Listening to my heart and answering the call of the trail, I thru-hiked the PCT again in 2013. And because the trail never gets old, I’ll embark on my third PCT thru in 2017.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to team up with YAMA again and help future PCT hikers find their own path. The PCT community has given me innumerable gifts and I am honored to be able to give a small piece back. By guiding the next wave of hikers, I can do my part to ensure the protection and preservation of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Bill “Gee…SPOT” Anders
I first started volunteering on trail crews for the PCTA in 2014, not really knowing much about the thru-hiker world, but learning quite a bit that summer as we interacted with the herd as they moved through northern California and southern Oregon. Those interactions planted the seed. Several coinciding life-events led to a decision to thru-hike in 2015 with my wife. With the support of the mYAMAdventure mentor team, my wife and I, with zero long-distance hiking experience between us, successfully completed our thru-hike in October 2015.
Post-hike, I’ve continued to volunteer for PCTA trail crews and enjoy spending time in the various forums helping hikers plan their thru-hikes. Being a mentor for the 2017 mYAMAdventure group is yet another great way that I can pass on my enthusiasm for the trail and the community while continuing to learn more tips and tricks along the way.
Michael “Grizzly” Ivey
Growing up in Michigan I have always appreciated and loved the outdoors but, shockingly, never experienced camping or hiking while living there. In 2006 I moved to Colorado with my sister and got my first real taste of hiking and the beauty and brutality of the mountains! My love of the outdoors took me to Alaska in 2010 to work just outside of Denali National Park. It was during this time that my interest in camping and backpacking was really sparked. That spark ignited an interest in trying a thru-hike and on April 20, 2015 I began my very first thru hike – the Pacific Crest Trail – and my life changed forever. I discovered the solidarity, struggle, and pure satisfaction of completing the biggest challenge I had ever faced myself with – I was hooked! In the past two years, I have completed the Pacific Crest Trail, John Muir Trail, the Colorado Trail and half of the Continental Divide Trail.
I believe in carrying as light of a pack as you can to increase your enjoyment while thru hiking while pushing yourself to continually go lighter, hike farther, and test your own limits. YAMA Mountain Gear embodies this belief and is a natural go-to product for thru-hikers while also being convenient and easy to use for any nature lover.
My favorite place to spend time backpacking is still Denali National Park, closely followed by Glacier National Park, all of Washington on the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado. My future plans include completing the Continental Divide Trail and the Appalachian Trail and trying to get in as much camping, backpacking and hiking as possible!
Anthony “Cruise Control” Manello
I worked 10+ years as an Automotive Technician and I needed a serious break from my routine. I began seeking out traveling across the states by my own power. Growing up with the Pacific Crest Trail in my back yard, it was only a matter of time that I would decide, that was the break I needed.
I started and completed the PCT in 2015 and couldn’t resist to hike another 650 miles in 2016.This year I will be on the Continental Divide Trail. Everything I work for and look forward to now is long distance hiking. It is where I want to be and where I will remain as long as I see fit.
When not riding bikes and burning wooden pallets down by the river, Lint spends his time on the long distance trails in North America. His life revolves around long distance backpacking, or ‘thru’ hikes as they are known. Thus far he has completed end-to-end hikes of the Ice Age Trail, Appalachian Trail (twice), Pacific Crest Trail (three times), Continental Divide Trail (twice) and Colorado Trail and Arizona Trail. This adds up to somewhere around 20,000 miles, but who’s really counting? Many more hikes are planned, since he cannot find anything better to do with his time other than walk thousands of miles across this continent.
Noah “Prophet” Kanter
After completing his first long-distance hike on the PCT this past year, Prophet said, “Part of the reason I decided to hike the PCT is that I wasn’t sure if I could do it. When I hiked a 75mi section in 2009, I was firmly convinced I would never do the whole thing. I didn’t think I had it in me. I didn’t know if I could handle the mental element, let alone the physical challenge. This initial doubt, that I kept to myself until now, makes finishing even sweeter.”
“I’m excited about this program because it will allow me to give back to the community that has given me so much. While I was planning, I was sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of information and opinions about thru hiking. I connected with a few former hikers and it helped me tremendously to consult with them and synthesize all of that information. I look forward to providing that service to future hikers to keep the tradition alive!” ~Prophet
“When I decided to hike the PCT in 2009 I was lucky to have a friend who had hiked thousands of miles and enough patience to answer emails like this “I have some more questions for you about hiking and materialism. What are your thoughts on bivy sacs, sleeping bags, and sunto watches? Oh– and socks and shoes too…. Do you mind geeking out on gear a bit?” My hiking mentor, Shawn Forry, helped greatly to smooth out the rough edges of my thru-hiking learning curve, and aided in my discovery of the unmatched freedom and joy I have while walking long trails. It’s time for me to pay it forward & share some of the knowledge I have gained on my meanders through the wilderness.” ~Sage
Sage started out her thru-hiking adventures on the Grand Enchantment Trail in New Mexico, then went on to surprise herself by hiking the Triple Crown in 18 months. She’s also created her own 1,300 mile route across California called the Japhy Ryder Route, and in 2013 hiked the newly created Oregon Desert Trail.
Junaid “Speshul 41″ Dawud
My formative years were spent exploring the world around me and many of my fondest memories from childhood were collected in the great outdoors. Sometime in 2005 I found out about the Triple Crown of Hiking – the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail. I was quickly obsessed… in April the next year, I found myself walking north on the PCT. It was a truly life changing experience, though I didn’t make it quite the whole way (2420 of 2663 mi). I returned the following summer, 2007, and completed the remainder of the trail. In 2010, I was at it again, successfully thru hiking the PCT. ~Speshul 41
Speshul 41, with his friend Luke, recently completed a thru-hike connecting all of Colorado’s named fourteeners! Read about it at the link below.