Recently I had the opportunity to meet Jessica Martin, the founder of The Savvy Hiker. After learning about her business, I asked her if we could do a profile about her and The Savvy Hiker. Here’s what she shared with me.
Can you tell us a little about you and your organization?
Raised in East Texas, hiking and camping was an everyday part of our life. From the time I was young, we would leave the house in the morning and return at night. Hiking through creeks, dense woods, and eating whatever nature spared for us.
At a young age, the love for the wilderness was intensely strong. After moving to Colorado nearly 20years ago, I discovered the love for the mountains and backpacking. From then, it was trial and error, learning, improving, and strengthening my knowledge.
For years I planned hiking, camping and backpacking trips for friends and it hit me that I should do this full-time! Do what you love, and it’s not work. I adopted Savvy, my now two-year old shepherd-rottie and thought about the idea and continued to plan and adventure.
After two years of contemplation, I took the plunge and The Savvy Hiker was officially born!
What sparked the idea to start your organization?
When I adopted Savvy, she grounded and brought me clarity and reignited a passion for the outdoors and took it to new levels. After a couple years of working with people and helping them, I found that I had a gift with helping people find their perfect adventure, and an unconditional love of being outside. The Savvy Hiker came to life!
What are some of the best clients you’ve worked with in the past?
That’s tricky, because they’ve been so different! One of my favorite clients has been Jackie. She was new to hiking, felt overwhelmed about the idea of going out alone, and didn’t want to be vulnerable around someone that may tease her about not knowing the basics.
I’ve been working with her for a couple months now, and she’s built up the confidence to venture out on her own hiking adventures alone, with little guidance from me. To-date, I’ve consulted with her on gear, where to start, why and what she needs, and how to research trails to her skill level.
She’s had so much fun, that her parents booked a guided journey with me when they were visiting from out-of-state, and she is ready to begin graduating into camping. It’s fulfilling to see the joy and confidence she’s developed.
How long have you been hiking?
I’ve been hiking my entire life – do you really want my age? Haha Seriously though, I’ve been hiking and camping my entire life, and backpacking for the past 20 years.
What’s your favorite place to hike or camp?
Another tricky question, because I’ve seen such sights and they are all unique and hold a special place in my mind for their own reasons. Backpacking is my absolute favorite; it’s work, long days, and an empowering process.
My favorite backpacking destinations are Granite Lakes and Lake Abyss. My favorite camping is around Kenosha Pass, and hiking – everywhere!
What some other places have you traveled to to get into the backcountry?
As you know, with the insurgence of people to Colorado, the backcountry is harder to find these days; but it still exists! Due to time restrictions and ensuring I’m available to clients, my favorite regions have become the Sangre de Cristo range and Basalt/Carbondale areas.
I love my clients and friends, but it is a magical experience to start out on a trail and not run into another person for days. It’s a liberating and peaceful experience. Now, assimilating back to the day-to-day, that’s another adventure all on its own. Haha
Tell me one of your favorite trail stories…
Oh, dear. A friend of mine really took to hiking, and graduated to the idea of backpacking. To ensure he was capable, he would wear his backpack on day hikes I had planned, and many with a steep vertical, and with lengthy day hikes for a relatively new hiker and very ripe backpacker.
After about 4 months of preparation and conditioning, I offered to take him on a three-day, two night beginner backpack that consisted of a range of options: 6-8 miles, minimal elevation gain, fairly remote. Excitement filled the air – then he began dating a woman – now fiance! He invited her along, and I provided strong requirements before acquiescing.
With a feeling of apprehension, I provided an easy out for them so all would be comfortable. Admamantly, they still wanted to journey, and knowing the backcountry toilet situation, rain forecast, and mileage we would be covering she consented.
Long story short; 1 mile into the hike she looked at me and said, “I’m tired; I don’t ever walk this much.” The adventure began at that moment…
If you could tell a beginner hiker or camper one thing before going out for their first trip what would it be?
Carry a map and compass with you and understand how to use them. Once you understand a map, you understand elevation and climate change; once you can navigate, you mitigate the fear and panic of getting or being lost. Knowing and understanding your destination goals is a quarter of the adventure!
How can we keep up with you, The Savvy Hiker and your latest and greatest adventures?
The best way to keep up with Official Savvy Hikers is on the website Gallery, Instagram, and Facebook photo albums. These are updated weekly with new adventures and clients!