46.8787° N, 113.9966° W
Kyle is the co-founder of GeoFli, manages a team of digital marketing strategists. Spending most of his working hours tracking conversion campaigns and helping clients implement software, when Kyle says he’s heading off the grid, he means it. When the opportune time arrives, you’ll find him … or at least locate him … at the center of some of Montana’s largest wilderness areas.
Regarding your favorite outdoor passion, how did you get into what you do?
I enjoy moving efficiently via human power through big wilderness areas via skis, snowshoes, packraft and La Sportivas. Does that sound strange? How did I get into that? I remember the first time I hiked seven miles one way into one of the large wilderness areas here in Montana. It felt like I’d hiked forever and seen a lot of wild country. Back at my Missoula apartment I pulled out the map of the area and was amazed at how tiny the section of trail I’d just hiked appeared. That was 2011. That feeling of the unknown: “what’s up that drainage?” “What do those contour lines look like when you’re standing below … or on top of them?” These are the questions I’m always trying to answer. Fortunately, Montana has more than a lifetime of answers to check out.
Tell us about the first time you had a successful adventure. i.e. your first amazing trip, successful hunt, or fishing trip.
Though it’s not the first adventure I’ve ever had, it’s certainly an adventure. I recently completed the Bob Marshall Wilderness Open:
“An unsupported traverse of a big wild place in the tradition of Bob Marshall and the Alaska Mountain and Wilderness Classic.” - Dave Chenault, Bedrockandparadox.com
What makes the Bob Open an adventure worth writing about is the time of year it takes place: late May. In Montana, that means swollen rivers, creeks that are barely running in late summer prove to be problematic fords. Summer trailcrews haven’t begun thinking about showing up. With a big snow year, route finding is challenging over mountain passes and higher elevation travel.
I knew that in order to toe-the-line, I’d need to be seriously prepared. The route I chose from point A to point B was 118 total miles in three days with lots of walking, three mountain passes and roughly 35 miles of packrafting during peak runoff. If you want to check out the trip report, you can find that here.
What’s the first thing you say to people when they ask why you do what you do?
This is a great question because it’s one you get a lot when you tell people you enjoy hiking 30 mile days carrying as little weight as possible. Hiking long distances in big wilderness forces you to really think about what’s in your pack. It makes big loops that would otherwise mean a week off of work possible in a weekend. There’s also a certain sense of solitude and precise decision making that comes along with being 30 miles from the nearest trailhead.
How do you mix/balance your professional life with adventure?
In 2015 I left my job at the University of Montana to continue growing my digital marketing business. I enjoy the ups and downs of running a business. Certainly being able to get creative with my schedule is a bonus. Gone are the days of requesting time off a month in advance. If I’m feeling a need to unplug and remove distractions, it’s easy (and amazingly accessible in Montana) to put quick plans in order to make it happen.
What are the 3 pieces of gear you would never go without?
Alpaka Packraft: weighing in at five pounds, I actually don’t think there’s been a day since my first packrafting trip that I haven’t thought about packrafting.
Patagonia Houdini: ultralightweight wind protection and Missoula camouflage. If I’m not sleeping, I’m probably wearing the Houdini.
La Sportiva hiking sneakers: lightweight (picking up on the theme here) and bomb-proof: a pretty great combination.
What do you do to stay in field shape?
Bike to work. Strict diet of chicken wings no more than once a week.
Do you have any advice for the guy or girl reading this who is considering a leap into your world?
If you’re looking to hike longer distances and cover more ground, just start with a personal record day-hike. Also, check out backpackinglight.com for great gear deals if you’re looking to lighten your quiver.
What’s one thing we could do as a society to protect the environment vital to your passion?
Our public land is owned by, well, the public. All of us. That’s a lot of us. The tragedy of the commons is a real thing. Understanding that your small action (or inaction) can actually have big consequences is important. Does that sound preachy? Here’s what Wikipedia says about it “The tragedy of the commons is an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting or spoiling that resource through their collective action.”
Tell us something that's true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Forego a big salary after college and work for a startup. You’ll learn more in six months working with a young company than you will working six years for Chase Bank.
I’ve seen The Big Lebowski a few times now, and I don’t really think it’s a great movie.
Wedding party entrances to music have jumped the shark. There needs to be a disruption in the wedding-party introduction space.
What is your favorite quote?
“People overestimate the downside of risk.” - Jason Calacanis
Don’t know if it’s my favorite quote ever, but it recently stood out to me.