In every walk of nature, one receives far more than he seeks – John Muir.
Every hiker has a story to tell, a story that would make eyes go wide with amazement and even teach you that life is all about experience and that we must follow our passion and intuition. Today we share an amazing story of a hiker, best seller author, leader, speaker- Branch Whitney, whose story would motivate you to become friends with nature, forget the hustle bustle of the life and to find your soul.
The vibrant Las Vegas is all gambling, shopping, and nightlife… right? We thought so too until Branch Whitney came our way. Mind you there’s more to that city than the casinos. Branch Whitney leads us through a hike on Mt.LivingIt for the series #iamlivingit, like so many lost souls, through unknown trails and undiscovered paths. Hang on to the cliff, as Branch unravels his journey of Hiking and his passion for adventure!
Branch moved to Vegas in 1983 and had never climbed a mountain, but the mountains called to him.His hiking journey dates back to 1996 when he started hiking with the Sierra Club in Las Vegas. Back then there were no guidebooks or mentors that would tell you all about mountains. Yet, his drive to reach for the mountains motivated him to hike and find the paths that were unexplored.
His first hike to the mountains motivated him to explore more and ever since then Whitney has done 2000 hikes in Southern Nevada and is still exploring more. Whitney believes that mentors cut the learning curve down in any field and since he had various mentors, it helped him hike better and even lead hikes for mountaineering club in Las Vegas.
He wrote his first book on Hiking Las Vegas (1997) and it was the book that changed the history of hiking in Southern Nevada. Since then he has never looked back and he has created hiking guidebooks, peak clubs which help the hikers to follow their passion. He has been hiking for 21 years and his passion for hiking made him find 62 routes in Southern Nevada and he has led more than 8000 hikers to close to 100 peaks. This shows that if you are passionate about something, you are sure to become successful.
Our passion is always on our bucket list, but most of the time our busy schedule comes in our way. We don’t have time enough to invest in ourselves, let alone our passions. Branch tells us how having a good mentor can cut the learning curve and reduce this time. He recommends, “If you want to get professional at anything, find a good mentor.”
Branch Whitney is the owner and creator of the 52 peak hiking club and has the perfect experience of solo and group hiking. When asked upon which he would prefer, he suggested a group. Whitney says, “Hiking in a group is much safer for obvious reasons. Obviously, if somebody gets hurt, one person can stay back while the others go for help. I have done some solo hikes, obviously, the downside is there’s nobody to talk to and if you get hurt you are lost. So I prefer hiking in a group. It’s safer and better.”
Since he enjoys group hiking, he fondly remembers that his first group was the Sear club in Nevada. His passion and dedication for hiking made him the leader of the group. Thereafter, he joined a mountaineering club for which he again became the leader. Since he had amazing leadership qualities he decided to start his own Meetup group for advanced hikes and he is now the leader of Meetup Hiking Group which has more than 2000 members.
As he is a hiking pro, he believes that gears play a very important role. When he hikes, he wears sturdy sports shoes with insoles that protect his legs from any injury and prefers darn tough socks that are resistant to wear and tear. He even carries the outdoor gear Geigerrig Packs which are important during hiking, mountaineering. Since he knows in and around in the mountains he never uses GPS!
Whitney also shares that hiking requires a fit and trained body and indulges in a blend of gym exercises such as weight lifting, cardio, and bounce training. Constant workouts had helped him stay fit in his 21 years of hiking career. It is beautiful and rewarding when passion becomes a career and Branch Whitney made sure that he paved a career out of his passion for hiking.
Today he earns from hiking, books that he wrote about hiking, his website (hikinglasvegas.com), and endorsements. But he even shares that he found his love of his life, his girlfriend through hiking. She shares the same passion for hiking and he has truly found hiking a rewarding career from him.
Trekking is all about going wild and pushing your limits, Whitney’s trek to the Fence Post Peak in Tecopa gave him a wild experience worth sharing. The dirt mountains in Tecopa were difficult to climb, but with a determination to climb the unclimbable, Whitney used a sledgehammer and fence post to cut the dirt mountains into steps which helped him climb the mountain peak vertically. Once he reached the peak, he threw a rope down, so that the other hikers could reach the peak. This experience of his was definitely unique, thrilling and nail biting.
Another fascinating story that Whitney calls a memorable experience is the trek to Mt. Whitney which was the highest peak of the Contiguous United States. It was a group trek to the Mt. Whitney where the leader of the group had canceled the night before of the trek and back then as there was limited information on hiking, Whitney and his group went with their intuition and had a gratifying experience while climbing the mountains.
But along with best memories, come worst experiences and it was when one of his friends fell 35 feet down the mountain and hurt his foot. It was his luck that he didn’t break any bones! Whitney shares that he fell due to worn out shoes and suggests never to compromise with hiking equipment.
Branch shares that while hiking, weather is one thing that is unpredictable and recommends to always carry a rain jacket during hiking. He also recommends other hikers to research well before the trip and when it comes to overnight hiking it is best to get a reservation and permit for the campgrounds.
Also, being a leader of hiking groups he vouches for a smaller group as logistics and safety are two things that can turn a trekking trip into a nightmare. He suggests every hiker carry water, food extra layers of clothing, smartphone, maps/ GPS, windbreakers to have a safe and comfortable trekking experience. When asked upon an advice to the aspiring mountaineers, he recommends finding a good mentor who can guide you up in the mountains and make the trip safer. Also, he advocates never to travel without proper knowledge else an enthralling experience of hiking can turn annoying and clueless.
Branch Whitney also wants to explore the peaks in Colorado. However, he even says that everyone needs to slow down in their 50s else you might hurt yourself. Branch Whitney’s hiking journey truly tells us that- “Have a passion, take the action and a magic will happen.”
So what are we waiting for, still think hiking is just another hobby? Go climb that peak, maybe you could make a career out of it?