Seth T Orme
It all started for me in the spring of 1990 in the John Deer capital Moline, Illinois. I’m the youngest of three boys. To say we were a handful would be an understatement. My brothers and I spent large amounts of time outside either exploring the woods or testing our strength against each other. Skirmishes often turned into fist fights between me and my brother, Spencer. Of course, this was all instigated by my oldest brother, Steven. So whether I was wrestling my brothers or tracking garter snakes, most of my time was spent outside. My parents encouraged us to get outside and for the most part they facilitated the process. My family was lucky enough to have a boat and a couple old snowmobiles. Just about every weekend in the summer was spent on the boat while a number of weekends during the winter were a top a snowmobile.
This itch to explore started early for me, but the desire to invest into the mountains didn’t manifest until my mid-teens. Spending so much time on the water as a child earned me and Spencer the title “River Rats”. When I was ten, we moved south to the lowlands of Georgia. My passion for skateboarding was in full swing so I didn't spend as much time in the woods. I was busy exploring urban jungles.
I met one of my best friends soon after moving to Georgia. Josh and I spent most of our time skateboarding, and occasionally made a hike down to a nearby train bridge to explore. It didn’t take long for our trips to the train bridge to become more frequent. Nature has a way of drawing people in. We still skateboarded but most of our time was spent at the train bridge. We did everything a rural American young man does: shoot guns, climb trees, choke on cigars, and dream of bigger better things. It was during this time that Josh’s brother moved to the base of Mount Cheaha in Alabama. Josh and I decided we would go visit Matt and hike in real mountains.
That first trip to the mountains was tough. We had thin sleeping bags, no sleeping pads, and no idea what we were doing. Thankfully, Matt had most of the basic knowledge covered. That trip lit the spark and showed me the world of backpacking. At fifteen, I wanted to spend more time in Appalachia. During the next five years, I skateboarded in small spurts and instead focused more on the outdoors. Trips down to the train bridge were an everyday occurrence. We saved money to buy a pair of kayaks and then paddled to the coastal islands of Georgia. I think it’s worth noting that during that first trip to Little Tybee Island our buddy Daniel couldn’t afford to buy a kayak so he just swam the mile and a half to the island. Daniel went on to join the Navy and became a diver.
I graduated from Statesboro High School in the spring of 2008. I didn’t want to go to college and learn about something I didn’t care about. Instead I worked, kayaked, and rode my motorcycle. I saved money and went on adventures. I worked as a cabinet installer and handyman. Fortunately, I had the best boss. He was an advocate of work hard, play hard, stay debt free. I took this lifestyle to heart. By keeping the overhead low and utilizing craigslist, funding trips remained relatively easy.
During the spring of 2009 I was driving to a friend’s house to install a dishwasher when a full size truck ran a red light and t-boned me and my little Nissan. The car was totaled and I had a lacerated liver and three broken ribs. I had time to think while I recovered. I couldn’t put into words what I was thinking at the time. A quote a couple years later put words to what I was thinking during this recovery period.
I wanted to do a big trip…a long trip. The Appalachian Trail was the first thing I thought about. I really wanted to hike the AT. I was reading a blog about a gentleman to after hiking the Appalachian Trail went on to paddle the Mississippi River. Besides Huck Finn and Jim, I didn’t think people paddled the Mississippi River. The timing worked out better for paddling the Mississippi River. I called Joe Dehnert; He was on board in an instant. His spring semester of college ended May 13th. Josh couldn’t afford to make the trip so he opted to be the vale service. We drove to Itasca State Park from Statesboro, GA. While Josh took the expedited trip in my van back south to Statesboro, Joe and I began our long winding journey south along the Mississippi River. My mom and family we super excited about the trip. Unbeknownst to me, a website was in the works. My mom got tired of answering questions from all of my extended family. So, she quickly threw together a website so folks could track the journey, https://2010mightymississippiriverrun.shutterfly.com/. Forty-Five days later Joe and I made it to the Gulf of Mexico. Kayaking down the Mississippi River changed my life. It changed the way I thought. I wanted to spend more days outside.
I came back to Statesboro with a desire to learn more and get a job in the outdoors. I found out that I could get a degree in Outdoor Recreation. Having graduated high school in good standing, I was eligible for the HOPE scholarship. HOPE would pay for eighty percent of my tuition if I kept a high grade point average. I decided to make school my full time job and to take it seriously.
The next three years were great. I got a job at the university with the only recreation outfitter around. To study recreation and work for an outfitter was the ideal situation for me to grow as an outdoorsman. School trips to the Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park only fueled my passion for water and the mountains. Another passion arose during my time in school, running. I started to run as much as I could. I signed up for my first Ultra-marathon fall of 2012. It was the Pine Mountain 40 mile. In 2013, I ran number of other ultras of varying distances. I ran multiple 50k races, a 50 mile race and ended my season with a 100 mile attempt. I only made it 68 miles during the 100 mile race. Many things contributed to not completing the race, most of which was burn out/over training. I learned so much from racing in the mountains. My desire to spend more time on the trails continued to grow.
I finished my college career in the spring of 2014 by completing an internship in Minneapolis, MN with a non-profit guiding service, Wilderness Inquiry. I worked this past summer in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore as a sea kayak guide. This fall I traveled with a mobile canoed rig called Canoemobile. We helped introduce the benefits of nature to urban youth by taking them on their local waterways. We worked as far north as Philadelphia, PA and as far south as Savannah, GA. It was a fantastic experience.
Working as a guide has been a great experience. I love showing others the benefits of nature. I want to continue to guide, but the idea of hiking a long trail keeps coming to the forefront in my thoughts. I’ve been looking for a reason to make a long hike a reality. In my “Escaping to Appalachia” post I explain how I found my reason to hike the Appalachian Trail. A quote came to mind when deciding to take this adventure.
This is the story of my journey in the outdoors. Nature has had a huge influence on who I am today. I saw if fitting to discuss my growth as a person through my journey with nature. I hope this gives a little insight on my motivation to hike and/or a better idea of who I am. If you have questions or would like to see things added to this section, just let me know. Thanks.