Congratulations to Soleful2001 (aka Joe White), Trailspace's newest Reviewer of the Month!
Each month we recognize and get to know a different member of the Trailspace community. This month it's Joe, a North Carolina backpacker and photographer who hikes light, but without "the ounce counting obsession."
Congratulations, Joe, and thanks for sharing your many helpful gear reviews with us, including of your Sawyer Mini Filter ("solo hikers will enjoy the convenience and protection") and the NEMO Astro Air Lite 20R ("compact, lightweight, well-designed"), which you tested for the Review Corps.
For your contributions, you win this month's featured Reviewer of the Month prize: a Fusion backpack light, thanks to GoMotion, to illuminate your nighttime trails ($59.95 value). Plus, we're sending you a pack of goodies from A3, Clif, Kind, Larabar, Gerber, and Trailspace.*
What’s your favorite outdoor place?
Uwharrie National Forest, North Carolina.
Describe your happiest moment outdoors (and/or proudest or hardest).
My happiest moment outdoors was on a serendipitous trip my wife and I took to Dennis Mountain in Uwharrie. We were desperate to get out of the suburbs so we could view the Leonid Meteor shower occurring that night. I suggested we go up to Dennis Mountain where we could have a good view and darker sky.
That November night was perfect, cool and clear as we lay on our backs and watched as fiery bolts flashed across the sky again and again. I awoke at dawn the next morning just in time to see one more meteor streak across the sky.
Joe hikes the Uwharrie National Forest in 2012.
As for the proudest moment, I have never considered pride in my trips to the wilderness. I must say I have never had a proud moment, but I tell you I have had humbling moments.
The hardest moment was when my dog and I were bushwhacking near Water Rock Knob where I slipped and slid on my pack down a very steep ledge into a shallow pool of water that helped break my fall. My dog was still at the top of the ledge about 20 feet up. He panicked, leapt off and missed the pool, hitting a tree trunk about three feet before he hit the ground. That was when I panicked until I could see that he was miraculously uninjured.
That incident humbled my young foolishness and I have never forgotten the lesson.
Do you have any outdoor regrets?
Only that I have not seen more, hiked more, met more wonderful people on the trail.
Do you have any outdoor plans/goals/dreams you want to share?
I still have aspirations of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Joe and fellow hikers Bern and Christine after a 40-mile hike on the Uwharrie National Recreation Trail in May 2014.
Describe your ideal day outdoors.
Fair weather, good route, great scenery, and good photos.
What motivated you to share your reviews with Trailspace?
I am somewhat of a gear head. I love keeping up with the latest innovations, and sharing my experiences. I also enjoy reading about what others have experienced.
What’s your favorite piece of outdoor gear? Why?
I have to say I like stoves. Why? I guess Beavis and Butthead said it best "Fire! Fire! Fire's Cool!" I own six backpacking stoves.
Got any good, bad, funny, or epic gear stories?
Once while in the mountains, I was deep in a lovely cove where I had my own private little waterfall. This was a long time ago, and I was just starting out with a cheap kit. My Korean Svea knockoff stove decided it just was not going to light. So I tried my hand at lighting a fire with some white gas and damp wood.
The predictable result ensued, where my Sigg gas bottle catches fire and I throw it down the hill, thus starting several small fires as it rolled into the creek. Fortunately everything was wet and I was able to staunch the flames and log — a lesson learned about cheap gear.
What’s in your backpack right now?
Summer time stuff: Hennessey Hammock Ultralight Backpacker Asym with ENO Pro Tarp, Vargo Triad alcohol stove, REI Travel Sack, REI Hiker Shocklight Staff, tiny camera, GPS, small first aid kit, spare batteries, food, spare socks, headlamp, and not much else.
Joe takes a selfie in the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness, Uwharrie National Forest, in the winter of 2009.
Who or what has been the biggest influence on your life?
For backpacking, I learned from the best, Colin Fletcher. His books Thousand Mile Summer and The Complete Walker (I own all four editions) helped me change the way I traveled in the backcountry.
What's your favorite book?
The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey.
Where does your username come from?
Soleful2001 references my feet, the most important part of backpacking!
What would Trailspace members be surprised to learn about you?
To be honest, I don't think I have any surprises.
Anything else you'd like to share with the Trailspace community?
I love the Trailspace Forums, and I find myself recommending Trailspace to anyone who asks me for advice on hiking related stuff.
Featured Reviewer Prize:
Joe wins a new-for-2014 GoMotion Fusion
backpack light for hiking and running the trails at night ($59.95 value).
Thanks and great job, Joe!
*Besides Trailspace appreciation, Joe wins a Fusion backpack light, thanks to GoMotion ($59.95 MSRP). We hope it lights many miles of trail ahead for you, Joe.
Joe also gets a goodie pack with A3, Clif, Kind, and Larabar energy bars, a Gerber Mini Paraframe Tanto knife, plus a Trailspace Trail Runner Cap and stickers.
Join the Trailspace community in recognizing other helpful reviewers by voting up the reviews you find most useful.
Write your own helpful gear reviews and you could be our next Reviewer of the Month.
Top image: Joe relaxes on Green Mountain in Panthertown Wilderness, North Carolina. ("I spent a beautiful long weekend up there back in May 2008. The scenery is spectacular."). Photos courtesy of Joe White.