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Q&A with Seth Levy, Trailspace's Community Evangelist

by Alicia MacLeay
November 20, 2013

Seth hiking on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia, near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We know him as Seth Levy, Trailspace Community Evangelist and Review Corps Coordinator.

Today we turn the Q&A on Seth and learn much more. First, a little background.

Prior to Trailspace, Seth worked at American Hiking Society, where he worked to pass the 2009 Omnibus Public Lands Management Act.

He then fulfilled a lifelong dream by walking the southern half of the Appalachian Trail southbound in winter.

When he's not working at Trailspace, Seth is involved in numerous nonprofits. He's secretary of the Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail Association, which is building a trail across the crest of the ancestral Appalachian Mountains, from Maine to Morocco. 

He's vice chair of the board of Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, on the board of the Amazing Earthfest, and a consultant for the Pacific Crest Trail Association and Project Pangaea.

In his illustrious outdoor career, Seth also has worked many nights and weekends fitting boots, stacking boxes, and talking gear at outdoor shops.


What exactly do you do at Trailspace?

A lot! The diversity of my job is one of the things I really, really like about Trailspace. I help community members enjoy the site, oversee the Review Corps program, help attract new community members through outreach, work with our volunteer Moderators, resolve conflicts, get potential advertisers engaged, coordinate the Trailspace Gives Back program to support our nonprofit partners, and lots more!

Seth hiking near Kanab, Utah, site of the Amazing Earthfest.

What's a typical workday?

Start early with a pot of coffee, cruise through the Forums to see what's going on, plan social media, look for cool new Review Corps items to test, knock out a to-do list, and see where the day takes me!

I'll try to take a trail run around 5 to decompress, then get a few more hours of work in through the evening.

What's the best part of your job?

Hooking people up with cool gear to test. Helping people have fun outside. Facilitating Trailspace donations to cool nonprofits.

The worst?


Anything unusual your job involves?

Everything! Job tasks have involved making Trailspace logos out of pine needles, riding my bike in a sleet storm to test the new Black Diamond Dawn Patrol Jacket, and wrapping holiday presents.

I'm on a first-name basis with my local post-office. Everyone there sees me sending out Trailspace Trail Runner CapsPint Glasses, and stickers regularly!

How did you get started exploring outdoors? Any favorite stories, memories?

I got engaged through an Audubon Society camp in Maine, and carried on by backpacking and canoeing with my dad. His father worked long hours and seldom had the chance to take my dad hiking. My father vowed that wouldn't happen to him, so he prioritized the time to take me canoeing and hiking.

He did not, however, prioritize learning how to use outdoor gear and acquiring accurate maps, leading to some entertaining epic trips involving near lightning strikes, exploding stoves, and extended periods of being "locationally challenged."

What do you like to do outdoors? Favorite activities?

Seth on a bike tour of the East Coast Greeenway in Maine.

Hiking, trail running, riding my single-speed mountain bike, road biking, bike touring, canoeing, and yoga.

Describe your happiest moment outdoors.

One of my happiest moments was after a hard day in the Bigelow Range on the Appalachian Trail in Maine. After a bruising, long day, I set up camp, brewed a cup of tea, and watched as the light changed, and cloudy sky was inflamed with a vivid orange glow. One of the best sunsets ever.

How about hardest?

Hardest? Hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park the day after Thanksgiving in driving 34-degree rain. I froze two handwarmers and got so hypothermic that I forgot how to run.

Any outdoor regrets?

Not spending more time outdoors!

What are your favorite outdoor places?

I'm a big fan of the 100-Mile Wilderness on the Appalachian Trail in Maine. I also love Mars Hill, on the Maine section of the International Appalachian Trail. I'm actually secretary of the Board of Directors for the Maine Chapter of the IAT.

Seth (center) and the Board of Trustees of the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education break ground for the Canyon Country Discovery Center.

The Colorado Plateau is also close to my heart. I'm involved with several nonprofits there. I'm vice chair of the Board of Trustees of the Four Corners School of Outdoor Education, a nonprofit that seeks to build life long learning experiences on and about the Colorado Plateau. We're presently constructing the Canyon Country Discovery Center, a new facility in the center of the Colorado Plateau that will house research, adventure, discovery, and more. 

I'm also a member of the Board of Directors of the Amazing Earthfest, a festival that welcomes families to Kanab, Utah, to appreciate the diverse natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Colorado Plateau.

Describe your ideal day outdoors.

A long hike in early fall with a light pack, with a few stops for coffee. A sheltered campsite with good company, near moving water, a fire, a clear night, and plenty of stars.

What’s your favorite piece of outdoor gear? Why?

It's a real toss-up between my GoLite Jam Pack and my MSR Titanium Kettle. Both are so versatile, light, and functional.

Seth and Steve Pinkham on the summit of Maine's Deasey Mountain on the International Appalachian Trail.

Got any good, bad, funny, epic gear experiences?

I spent a week extolling the virtues of my ultralight tarp prior to a backpacking trip with a girlfriend. Around 2 a.m., she awoke to a friendly deer licking her cheek, whereupon she screamed, I screamed, the deer panicked and pulled the tarp down in his haste to leave.

I purchased a tent shortly thereafter.

What’s in your backpack right now?

A Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest, an EMS Velocity 35 sleeping bag, and a Sea to Summit pack liner. These stay in my pack year round!

What's your favorite outdoor book?

My favorite book about the outdoors is The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher.

My favorite books to read outdoors are short ones that take a lot of thinking, typically collections of Zen essays.

What's your favorite quote?

"In that 'not a single thing,' there is infinite treasure!" by Hakuin Ekaku

What would Trailspace members be surprised to learn about you?

I'm a former United States Senate employee and occasionally enjoy domestic beer.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The Trailspace community is a continuing source of personal and professional inspiration. I'll see you on the trail!

Got your own questions for Seth? Ask him below.