Hike into hell: Springfield man chosen to test limits in mountains
By Carla Jimenez
Posted Aug. 30, 2014 @ 10:00 pm
Updated Aug 30, 2014 at 11:52 PM
The past winter was so brutal that only the thought of a week-long hike through hell could keep Scott Gauvin warm.Gauvin, 37, Springfield, is one of 14 outdoor bloggers from all over the country to undertake the six-day Hell Hike and Raft — named for the trip through the Seven Devils mountain range and the Snake River running through Hell’s Canyon in Idaho. It begins Tuesday.Planning began during one of the bleakest winters in recent memory.“This is what we were discussing last winter when it was too cold to do anything else,” Gauvin said. “It’s what kept me warm inside.”Throughout the excursion, Gauvin and the group will document their experiences on social media and their personal blogs. They will also be testing equipment provided through various sponsors.The genesis of the idea came from Gauvin’s friend, Adam Nutting. Nutting participated in a program called OmniTen, put on by Columbia Sportswear. OmniTen selects hikers and outdoor enthusiasts from all over the country to test out its outdoor products and gear.When Gauvin found out Nutting was a part of it, he couldn’t help but feel a little jealous. Then Gauvin started thinking about all the other outdoor gear companies that operate on a much smaller scale.“There are a bunch of, what I would consider boutique gear companies, that can’t afford to do what a multi-million dollar company like Columbia gets to do,” he said.So Nutting, the primary organizer who lives in Arizona, started coordinating the Hell Hike and Raft trip. In February, the Americas Rafting Company, an outfitter in Idaho, approached Nutting about sponsoring a trip to promote its business and tourism in the state. Then other smaller boutique companies started pitching in their own products — everything from tents to water filters to socks.The group will test all of the products and blog about them and the experience to their respective followers.“Everybody gets a win-win here,” Gauvin said. “We get a win, we get to experience Idaho. Idaho Travel Council, is sponsoring us … because they’re getting something — because we’re promoting Idaho.”Hiking forwardGauvin’s blog, Hiking Forward, has a large following in the outdoors world. His presence and his brand took time to establish, but now it stems from his passion for experiencing nature.He calls his blog Hiking Forward because he looks at life as one big hike.“The mindset there is that it’s more than just hiking,” he said. “To me, it’s a way of life. And you’ve got to hike collectively. You’ve got to move yourself forward to allow yourself to hike. If you’re stagnant, you’re not going to have the ability to go hike.”
That isn’t to say he’s going to be a little bit apprehensive about leaving his actual family behind. He and the rest of the adventure bloggers are going to be retreating into the deep wilderness, where there’s no cell service or even Internet service. Gauvin won’t be able to be in touch with his family for a whole week — but that just means he’ll have to lean on his newfound trail family even more.“I’ve got to take that and dump it into the hiker family that I’ve got,” he said.Fulfilling the tripThe group is planning on completing a 40-mile hike along the Seven Devils Range at 9,392 feet, which is the highest Gauvin has ever been.This means he has to train.Gauvin has been preparing for the big trip by packing up his backpack and hiking through the more backwoods area of his neighborhood in Springfield. He’s been hiking all his life, and he’s hiked several famous trails including the Appalachian Trail. But this is going to be a whole new challenge for him.Since he’s never been on a trip like this one before, his wife helped him train by setting up a tough training schedule. She acted as his personal trainer leading up to the trip by making him walk up the treadmill on the highest incline and by going over tough terrain all over the city.He wasn’t the biggest fan, but Joanna put her foot down.“If you want this, you have to adhere to my regimen,” she said. “That was the trade-off.”The trip also presents a lot of other firsts for him. Not only is the Hell Hike and Raft the first time he’ll be in Idaho, it’s also his first time to go whitewater rafting.But among all the firsts he’ll get to experience while on the trip, the thing he’s most looking forward to is proving that he can do the trail on his own terms.“There’s completing a trip, but then there’s completing a trip the way you want to complete it and knowing that you gave that trip everything you had in you,” he said.“I want to feel like I soaked up every moment that was possible. … I want to really capture as much as I can, whether it’s scenery or whether it’s just soaking up nature like it’s supposed to be.”Contact Carla Jimenez: 788-1542, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/CarlaJimenezSJR.
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