If you think you’re a spontaneous adventurer, we might have found your rival. Meet Shoestring Warrior and engineer, Scott Thawley. He’s been known to jump in a car and head out on a 10 day trip up north. While not every spontaneous adventure is that long, he usually spends his weekends outside with little to no plans of where he’s headed.
I usually leave for a trip headed in a general area and see where it goes.
His adventures usually lead to pretty views and fun times but there is that one trip that included a group of friends, a grizzly bear, and an impromptu summer camp sing-along. Keep reading to learn more about Scott and to find out how the sing-along ended!
Maple Shade, NJ
Santa Ana, CA
What are your passions outside of work?
Hiking, camping, and backpacking.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m an engineer and am very focused on work during the week and hanging out in the wilderness on the weekends. I usually leave for a trip headed in a general area and see where it goes.
How would you describe your level of camping experience?
I usually only go out for 2-3 days, but camp everywhere and anywhere. It’s an equal share of campsites, car camping in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, and wilderness camping.
When did you first discover your love for the outdoors?
I’ve been camping and hiking my whole life. Most family vacations were tent or trailer camping all over the east coast.
Funniest outdoor experience/mishap?
In Denali park, a grizzly bear surprised us out in the open. We were at the edge of a large, dried up riverbed. Near the edge, we took off our jackets and put them, preparing for the steep climb ahead. While my head was still in my bag I heard my friend curse in surprise. When I looked up there was a big grizzly bear about 200 yards away (recommendation is to stay at least 500yards away). It was scenting the air and looking at us. So we got together and started talking loudly about our plans about how to leave. It went back to digging up shrubs so we started to walk back the way we came while I sung summer camp songs. When it stopped, we stopped. It would look around and smell the air a bit and then go back to digging. It took us four or five iterations of walking and stopping to get far enough away where it wasn’t interested anymore. It was super scary in the moment, but looking back on it,
I serenaded a grizzly bear with summer camp songs for about 15 minutes.
Hopefully no locals saw me. None of the rangers or locals were impressed, making us feel kind of lame for not going back the next day.
What’s the most spontaneous trip you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?
One summer, wildfires cancelled a week long camping and backpacking trip in Yosemite.
The group as a whole couldn’t decide what to do, so my friend and I jumped in the car and drove to Lost Coast without any plans.
We figured out permits and trails on the 12 hour trip there and ended up backpacking for three days on the south end. After that we drove back south calling Yosemite to see when it would open. That night we crashed at an old co-worker of mine’s house and in the morning found out Yosemite was open. So we got a site at Housekeeping camp and hiked Half Dome the first day it reopened. It was great! There were only 15-30 people on the cables/top and it was a excellent weather. You could see all the way out to the John Muir trail. After that we met up with some friends who had a condo at Huntington Lake and finished out our 10 day adventure with no plans.
What Shoestring Adventures have you been on and what’s your favorite memory?
I’ve been on a couple of adventures and have been up to Kings Canyon with Alyx, Shoestring Adventures Founder. My favorite memory is an unofficial trip. When Alyx just started doing trips, she asked me to lead one I had been talking about at her weekly hikes. The way up was interesting…We found a spot the first night once I went around the “campsite full” sign. The next day we went up to a dirt road to a wilderness site that I had been to before. It’s on the Little Sur river on the north end of Big Sur. It was Ari’s first time with his backpacking gear and Shevaugh was still new to camping.
A lot of us in the group were going to weekday hikes, but after that trip we were all really close.
What food do you always bring on a backpacking trip and why?
Mini bell peppers and Persian cucumbers. It’s super satisfying to have fresh veggies camping and backpacking. Also, they are good rehydration after hiking/backpacking in the desert or at altitude.
If you were to choose one highlight from your adventures in 2017, what would it be?
In March I went to Zion for a long weekend. We camped on the east rim trail for two nights. That side of the canyon has a bunch of pine trees and is away from the tourists. On the way to the camping area we saw a canyon off the beaten path and spent sometime off trail walking back towards the east side road. We made it to the top of the rim you can see from the east gate road over a lot of the canyon popular with the rock climbers and canyoneering groups. Saturday we walked to Observation point and Sunday we drove home.
Where’s your next adventure?
My next adventure is backpacking to Panamint from Ballarat. Its an overnight backpack near Death Valley up to an old mining town. There are some cabins kept up by backpackers and some mine shafts to explore.
The perfect s’more? (if you don’t like s’mores, what’s your favorite campfire dessert?)
The perfect s’more is judging a one mile walk off the road, required for wilderness camping, by cracking a beer at the car and walking until it’s gone.
Photos © 2018 Scott Thawley