Meet an AO: Merritt

In November and December, we’re featuring our assistant organizers on Instagram and the blog.

Our AOs are the people thinking of trips, writing and posting the trip descriptions on Meetup, planning the route and carpool logistics, and then carrying out the journey, making sure that everyone is prepared and safe. When the hike is over, they’ve probably scoped out a place to grab some grub with friends, new and old.

In this season of gratefulness, we acknowledge our dedicated team of assistant organizers. We’ve asked them a couple of questions, so you can get to know them a little better.

Assistant Organizers, we see what you’re doing out there, and everything that goes on behind the scenes. We appreciate you!

Meet Assistant Organizer Merritt, DC UL backpacker since 2013. He’s attended or led over 20 trips, including the Virginia Triple Crown, Ramsey’s Draft, Trout Run, Massanutten, and more.

Favorite trail food: Peanut-butter filled pretzels

Favorite trail socks: Darn Tough Ultra-Light ¼ Height

Something to know about me: The vast distances covered and the low weight packs are not what keep me in the group especially after looking at my feet at the end of a trip. It is the wonderful people. I still learn new things on every trip. And the stories :). How did I get a 30 mile day?  A wrong turn after an extra early wake-up call :).

I’m an oddity in the group. I don’t live in or around DC. I found it because we hike in the same areas. I just have a little further to drive from Virginia’s coast to my true home in the mountains. That is when I am not taking longer trips to my other favorite places, the Grand Canyon and Southern Utah. 

Climbing above the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Photo credit: Mike H.

I started backpacking as a scout and then took a break from it during college and my 20s. I rediscovered my passion for the outdoors on a trip which included a short backpacking trip in New Zealand where I used a 30-liter pack going lightweight (but without shelter or pad) not knowing there was even a movement out there. Once I came home after some research I found the ultralight community.  I bought my trusty ULA Circuit Pack, a quilt, and I was off and running. After a trip with another Meetup I learned about this group. The rest is history. 

Calf Creek Falls in Utah. Photo credit: a passerby.

I look forward to continuing to lead and participating in trips. I especially enjoy introducing new people to backpacking and the needed skills.

Finally, I hope the excursions make everyone want to protect the environment. There are a lot of threats out there to the protected places we hike in. Hope to see you all on the trail, maybe even with a piece of gear I made. 

Thanks for chatting, Merritt. See you on the trail!

Are you interested in becoming an assistant organizer? Read more on our site.

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