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

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.

Filed under: People & Organizations


Dave MacLeay (Dave)
346 reviewer rep
1,003 forum posts
November 20, 2013 at 9:57 a.m. (EST)

Seth is way too polite to say it, but his typical workday also involves a heavy dose of decoding and reconciling the often cryptic and sometimes contradictory priorities that Alicia and I throw at him. He handles all of it with aplomb. We're grateful to have the benefit of his good nature and sound judgement.

11,737 reviewer rep
1,399 forum posts
November 20, 2013 at 10:31 a.m. (EST)

Licking deer! Hilarious and frightening. I still have a tarp moment involving a raccoon on it's hind legs sniffing at me in my hammock...the thing is, I'm not sure if it was a dream or if it really happened.

Joseph Renow (jrenow)
1,747 reviewer rep
743 forum posts
November 20, 2013 at 12:29 p.m. (EST)

Awesome Seth!

I too have had a deer lick me while sleeping once (in a hammock)...this is nothing to laugh at...deer tongues are very gross looking...I might have a little PTSD from the whole affair:-(

Oh!...and the The Complete Walker is probably one of my favorite all-time books...great read even if you're not a gear head:-)

Alicia MacLeay (Alicia)
1,684 reviewer rep
4,254 forum posts
November 20, 2013 at 12:58 p.m. (EST)

Thank you, Seth! You rock and are a wonderful, positive asset for Trailspace and our community.

I am also grateful that Seth said the worst part of his job was spreadsheets. Whew.

3,173 reviewer rep
2,261 forum posts
November 20, 2013 at 3:05 p.m. (EST)

Awesome, thanks for the read! The Review Corp has already expressed appreciation to Seth (his efforts are clearly evident with that group) so it's really good to see an article of this kind.

I love my shaped tarp (I don't use a bivy) and I do get the occasional curious visitor but none as funny (or terrifying) as that! I say kudos to that girlfriend for even being able to sleep in an open tarp; my wife would try it but she would be up all night for sure.

Horn Rimmed Hiker
2,186 reviewer rep
493 forum posts
November 20, 2013 at 4:53 p.m. (EST)

You're a brave man, Seth!

I finally did without a bug net on my last trip, but opted to keep a few feet above the ground in a hammock! Don't know how y'all can manage on the ground like that! 

Thanks as always to a kind fella whose hard work's always appreciated here on TS - nice, too, to learn a little more about ya!

Bill S
4,534 reviewer rep
6,031 forum posts
November 20, 2013 at 9:44 p.m. (EST)

Never had a deer lick me (or a girlfriend). But when I was Nature Counselor at Camp Emerson (Idyllwild, CA) and had taken a troop of Boy Scouts out for an overnight, I was rudely awakened in the middle of the night by something forcing his way under my hammock. I looked out to see a 6-point buck staring at me over his shoulder - seems I had picked two trees to attach the hammock that marked the deer herd's trail to the nearby meadow. Some of the young scouts woke up and were staring in disbelief. I think I was lucky that deer know when to duck their heads and antlers as they go through the night.

A tip of the Trailspace cap and all hail to the Chief of Gear Reviews!

Jake W
5,150 reviewer rep
1,066 forum posts
November 20, 2013 at 9:47 p.m. (EST)

Some of the top beards of all time, in no particular order.....

Gandalf, james harden, the entire boston red sox team 2013, tom hanks in castaway, wolverine, abraham lincon, seth levy.

Take a bow good sir. That is some elite company.

Seth Levy (Seth)
640 reviewer rep
1,184 forum posts
November 21, 2013 at 9:24 a.m. (EST)

Thanks Jake! My beard has been shorter these days. I got tired of it getting caught in zippers, dipped in ice-cream, etc.. But I have noticed my neck gets colder now!

The young lady and I had a conversation about WHY the deer choose her. She contended that it was because she smelled better. I contended that her face was saltier!

6,518 reviewer rep
175 forum posts
November 21, 2013 at 3:47 p.m. (EST)

It's funny how the story of the tarp and deer licking caught everyone's attention, including mine, perhaps because we all have similar experiences. While in a bivy, I've woken up to mice bouncing over the top of me and also to a toad staring me in the face...I think that was my one true chance of finding my prince but alas, I passed it up. I tarp-camped for several nights in the Smokies once and couldn't shake the idea of bears having a taste of my face...luckily none did. As thin as that nylon is, it's amazing the sense of security that a tent provides. It's also almost a must in Everglades country, because of the hordes of mosquitoes. Now we have the added threat of 15' pythons trying to snuggle...all the more incentive to go with a hammock.

Thanks for all your work with the review corps Seth, and for sharing all the rest that you do! Intriguing!

Bill S
4,534 reviewer rep
6,031 forum posts
November 21, 2013 at 7:35 p.m. (EST)

Seth said:

The young lady and I had a conversation about WHY the deer choose her. She contended that it was because she smelled better. I contended that her face was saltier!

 Ummm, Seth, you are old enough to know better than that! The lady (young or old) is ALWAYS sweeter than any male, even well along on a thru-hike. And, if you make permanent arrangements, she is ALWAYS and forever 21 years old (even after 45 anniversaries of pledging your troth).

1,753 reviewer rep
3,956 forum posts
November 23, 2013 at 11:58 a.m. (EST)

You sound like one busy guy Seth!

I also appreciate your outlook on outdoor pursuits.

This post has been locked and is not accepting new comments