Meet the Explorer: Michael Warden

Consultant by day, Creator by night.

I have known Michael for about three years now. We met when our friend Drew invited us both to go for a weekend to tour a potential employer. Shortly after, we found ourselves on a trip out West. We spent 14 days traveling, hiking, laughing, and everything in between…it was an awesome and free spirited trip. FYI, that was our second time ever hanging out! I am happy we became such good friends and I look forward to many more great memories traveling and exploring. Take it away, Michael!

What do you do for a living, how did you end up in that field? 

I am an information technology consultant that builds applications for clients based on their specific needs. My degree was Management Information Systems and I graduated from West Virginia University. I have always been interested in technology and knew it was a good career path to get into, so that is what drove me to major in MIS. Ever since I graduated I always knew I wanted to do business analysis, and after a few attempts at finding work that I enjoy, I finally ended up at a job in Raleigh, NC. I chose to move to Raleigh because of the booming area and also the opportunity in the research triangle for work. My passion has always been creating, which is why on the side I do YouTube, and social media for a basketball trainer.

Funny story, I have one video that ended going viral, it has over 40 million views. It was a silly YouTube video that I made when I was younger. More recently I have found that my firework videos have been accumulating millions of views. I am not sure why, but hey, I am going to roll with it!

When did you first start enjoying the outdoors?

Well, I would say that I grew up in the summertime on a body of water or out on the lake. My dad is a big lake person so he got us involved in water sports at a young age. As long as I remember, really.

What is your favorite place to explore? 

It would have to be Kauai, Hawaii because it is unlike anything I have seen in the Continental United States. My favorite thing about that area is the vegetation, the flowers there were so vibrant.

How many of the 50 United States have you visited? Favorite?

I have been to 34/50 of the United States. I think I would probably say California would be my favorite, if I lived there it may be different, but as far as exploring goes it is at the top. I love the diversity of the state, it has basically every climate and I think I may be biased towards California too because my dad hitchhiked out there to live for a year after high school. He told me on his birthday one year he skied and wind surfed on the same day…which is July 3rd! At a young age obviously we look up to our fathers, so him talking about the state has drawn me to love it.

I have also visited 18 national parks in the USA!

How many countries, where? 

I have visited Canada, United States, Sweden, Norway, France, Denmark, so it would be six.

Best hike you have ever had? 

Hmmm, that’s a good question. The best hike I have ever been on was the Awaawapuhi Trail in Kauai, HI. It took me to the most extraordinary view I have ever seen overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The way the Baja Blast Blue water contrasted the orange and green mountainside is an experience I will never forget. It also made it special that I was there with my family. The trail on the way out was wet and muddy, my sisters had a difficult time navigating that which made it interesting.

Essential items for summer hikes/winter hikes in your opinion.

All you need is a good pair of boots all around.

Most comical hike/adventure story? 

My most memorable/comical hike was hiking up to Half Dome with my dad. There were all of these water stations near the beginning of the path. We assumed there would be these fill up stations all the way up, we were pouring it on our heads and chugging the water. We then realized that they did not go all the way up the mountains. I got dehydrated and we found a river on the way up, I stuck my head under and started drinking the water. I passed out on the side of the trail, and woke up to a convoy of horses traversing the path as a horse neighed. This is the clearest I have ever seen. I lost all track of time, everything was so clear, the rest, water and fresh air gave me new life. This was a recipe for clarity.

Scariest hike/adventure story?

Okay, this will be a doozy. It was our first night on the trail at Shenandoah National Park with my friend Drew. We had planned for a four day hike, which would be a total of about 60 miles. We had gushers and fruit roll ups stashed in our packs, thinking two fit young men would have no problem completing this trek in the allotted time. That first day it was in the upper 90s and that night there was a derecho storm, it knocked out power and flooded towns all around the region. We did not know anything about it, and being in a tent that night was as crazy as you could imagine. The next day there were trees down all over the paths. The trail throughout the park meanders across skyline drive that goes throughout the park. We stopped at the road to clear out some of the extra weight, throwing away gummies. A snowplow truck came burrowing down the road pushing leaves and branches down the road. I have never seen a truck like that used for that application, blew my mind. That day passed, and the following day I ran out of water. I tried my best to make it to the next water station (half a mile away). I got cold, then goosebumps and fell over on the side of the trail. Luckily Drew was in better condition and went ahead and got water and brought it back for us. We ended up pulling over a park ranger at another road pass and asked him to give us a drive to the other end of the park. We spent the final two nights of our trip camping at Copper Rock State Forest because we didn’t want to tell our parents that they had driven us all the way to VA to fail our mission.

Upcoming trips planned?

Devonport, Tasmania, Australia. This was over a couple beers with my friend, we clicked ‘I’m feeling lucky’ on Google Earth and this is where it chose to send us. So by the end of this year we plan to visit this area.

Favorite outdoors gear/lifestyle companies? Any local? 

Vissla. Their slogan is ‘Creators and Innovators’. I also like Katin.

What does conservation mean to you? 

To me, it means sustainability. It means minimalism. This is a way I like to live, but I would rather spend my money on trips than tangible items. Only using the resources that you need to survive is a key element in conservation.

What can we do to make sure our parks and wild lands stay clean and pure forever? 

As much as I hate to say it, limiting the amount of people that are permitted into a park at a given time. Making sure that people clean up after themselves and respect their surroundings.

Michael, thank you for being a great friend and adventure buddy! We have gone to some awesome places and I am sure we will hit many more in the near future. Keep up the exploration lifestyle and get out there!

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