Meet Shoestring Warrior and Product Developer Iain

Iain is a California native, currently living in San Francisco and working in product development for a startup. His love for the outdoors began on nature walks in preschool, then as an apprentice for a contractor where he developed the skills for woodworking. Woodworking allows him to be creative, while honoring the life of a tree.

When I walk into an old-growth redwood forest, I get the feeling others describe being in a holy place – it’s like a natural cathedral which makes me feel vital and whole.

Outside of work, Iain enjoys rock climbing and getting outside, which present unique challenges to a Diabetic. Last year, he amazingly overcame those challenges on a Shoestring Adventure in Havasupai.

I think the key (for anyone, but especially for a diabetic) to feeling confident and safe outdoors is preparation.

Learn more about our friend Iain in the interview below, including his advice on tackling Havasupai for the first time, and follow his adventures on Instagram!

Shoestring Warrior: Iain


Menlo Park, CA

Current Location:

San Francisco, CA


Product Development for a Startup

What are your passions outside of work?

Outside of work, I love hanging out with friends, woodworking, rock climbing and generally getting outside.

How would you describe your level of camping experience?


Shoestring Adventures Trip Completed:

Havasupai 2016

Tell us about yourself!

I’m a California native, currently living in San Francisco after moving to Boulder, CO for college, and then Portland, Oregon for a few years afterwards.  My day job is in product development for a startup in the City.  In my free time, I love woodworking and rock climbing.

When did you first discover your love for the outdoors?

I was actually in the first class of a new preschool group called “Leaping Lizards” run by the wonderful Magdalena Cabrera in Palo Alto, CA where we would go on nature walks to learn about plants and animals.  Most of the mothers of kids in that first class stayed friends and so I always had a crew of adventure buddies to explore with.

What unique challenges do you face on your outdoor adventures as a Diabetic? How have you overcome them to explore remote destinations like Havasupai?

I think the key (for anyone, but especially for a diabetic) to feeling confident and safe outdoors is preparation.  Having the right kinds of snacks to keep glucose, protein, and general energy levels constant is crucial. I always bring along replacement supplies (syringes, insulin-pump supplies, etc.).  And finally, there’s nothing like having an adventure buddy who knows what to do in an emergency.  One time, when I was newly diagnosed, I went mountain biking in Moab, Utah (ironically with a buddy from Leaping Lizards).  My blood sugar went really low, and without him there to help and force-feed me power bars, I don’t know what I would have done.

What was your favorite memory from your Shoestring Adventure in Havasupai?

The day after our hike in, my knee was really stiff, and bothering me.  The whole group though was going to hike down to some waterfalls a little further down the canyon.  I’m so glad I sucked it up and soldiered on through that hike because it was GORGEOUS.  We got to jump off cliffs, swim in the turquoise water, and even avoided most of the crowds, despite getting a late start (when does that ever happen?!).

What advice do you have for others folks who are planning to cross Havasupai off their bucket list this year?

DO IT! But make sure to get in shape.  I hadn’t hiked more than a few miles with a pack on in a long time and I won’t make that mistake again!  The area is beautiful, the water  was warm, and I’d 100% recommend the trip.

When you get hungry on the trail, what are your favorite snacks to stay fueled?

In no particular order: Justin’s Nut Butter, shot blocks, fresh fruit, dried mango, chia squeeze packets, and all kinds of bars.

When did you first become interested in woodworking? What role does nature play in your designs?

I’ve been interested in woodworking as long as I can remember.  I don’t know where I got it from, neither of my parents are very “handy,” but from a young age I worked with a contractor in our neighborhood as a helper, and over the years my love for woodworking has grown.  Now I like to build furniture, I have made a guitar, and love working with reclaimed material.

Nature plays a huge role in every part of my woodworking.  For one, I am inspired by big trees, especially coastal redwoods.  When I walk into an old-growth redwood forest, I get the feeling others describe being in a holy place – it’s like a natural cathedral which makes me feel vital and whole.  In my shop, when I cut a log open, and see the texture, color, and figure it’s been hiding inside, I remember  that it took many years to grow that way.  Then I do my best to design and build pieces that bring new life to wood I work with.

Where to next?

Japan!  My girlfriend @sosweetsogood and I have been talking about Japan for a while and I think this is the year!  I’m excited to see the cities and countryside, experience the culture, eat the food, and explore some classic woodworking by japanese artisans; did you know Japan is the only place in the world besides Northern California / Southern Oregon where Redwood trees grow?

Photo by Julie Hotz

Photos © 2017 Julie Hotz

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