Walk a mile in Zac Rizzo’s shoes, interview with a White Mountain outdoorsman

In the second of our series of interviews with interesting outdoor bloggers from around the world, we interview Zac Rizzo.

Zac has a terrific blog, White Mountain Wanderer where he shares some great information about hiking in the White Mountains NH, gear reviews, tips and trick, kayaking and fishing.

Zac at Carter Hut

Zac at Carter Hut

How about a bit of background on yourself. Live where? Work where?

I live in Manchester New Hampshire, in the Northeast US, about an hour and a half south of the White Mountains. By profession I’m a healthcare recruiter (Headhunter) it’s not my ideal job, but it pays the bills and allows me to fund my more expensive hobbies. (Like exploring)

How did you first get into bushwalking / backpacking? Any particular mentor or group?

My Parents brought me out when I was a kid a bit. But the bug really bit me when I started doing multi-day trips with some coworkers while I was in college. Camping in the backcountry for me is an incredibly rewarding experience.

Solo or with someone? Who is your preferred hiking partner?

There really are benefits of both for me. I like the solitude and self-reliance of a doing a solo trip, but having a couple of good friends for conversation is nice too. My girlfriend hands down is my preferred hiking partner.

If you had a couple of months off just to hike, what would be the three multi day hikes in the US you would complete?

1. The Vermont Long Trail; Vermont
2. The Hundred Mile Wilderness: Maine
3. Cascade, Paintbrush Canyon Loop: Grand Teton National Park. Wyoming

Backpacking - Death Canyon Grand Teton National Park

Backpacking - Death Canyon Grand Teton National Park

Alright, unlimited finances, money and time what would be the three multi-day international treks you would complete?

Here are three general locations. I don’t know exact trails yet, but all three are on my list of destinations.

1. Torres Del Paine – Chile
2. Tiger Leaping Gorge – China
3. Mt Kilimanjaro

My three favorite bits of gear are? Why?

1. My Big Agnes sleeping bag. I’ve got the Lost Ranger (15). Big Agnes has a great ‘sleep system’ where all their bags have a pad sleeve in it. It’s really a brilliant idea. You also save some weight by the bottoms of the bag not having any fill in them. “No Fill?” yes – Think about it. when you lie in your bag you compress all the fill anyway, taking away from it’s effectiveness, right? Sleeping mats aren’t just for comfort they are for insulation from the cold ground. Slip an insulated pad in the sleeve and and you’re covered. I have tested this down to 20 degrees F and I’ve been comfortable.

2. Tents; I love them. They are like little homes you carry on your back — what’s not to love? I guess there is something personal in it for me. When I’m out in the middle of nowhere (where I frequently try to be) it’s the little piece of familiarity that I cling too. I really measure how good a year it’s been by how many nights I’ve spent in the tent. (This year was about 15)

3. I’ve got a third hand Necky Looksha, that has been paddled like it was a rental and is as seaworthy as any boat I’ve been in. There are places out there that just are better appreciated (and slightly more accessible) from a river, or lake. My Yak is an outstanding way to explore these places. I know it’s not really a piece of ‘Hiking Gear’ but at my core I’m not just a hiker, I’m an outdoorsman – and my boat is just another way to explore the wilderness for me.

Zac - Death Canyon Grand Teton National Park

Zac - Death Canyon Grand Teton National Park

I really hate it when I am bushwalking / backpacking and …..?

Someone in my group starts to complain. I try to limit my exposure to this by hiking with other experienced people, but even the most experienced outdoorsman lets a trip get the better of them sometimes. It’s even worse if it’s a trip that I’ve planned for some reason I take it personally if people don’t enjoy a trip I’ve put together.

I knew we were in trouble on that trip when …….

The wheels came of… literally. The wheels came off of my Kayak Cart. We were on a 5 day paddling trip in the North Maine Woods, There was a section we had to do a one mile portage, (which was approximately 80 miles from the nearest town) and two of our three carts broke. We had to carry the boats and about 60 lbs of gear for the mile, our trip plan was that this would take just over an hour; it ended up taking 3 1/2.

What trips have you planned in the next 12 months?

Week long paddling trip in the North ME woods.
Hike on the Cabot trail in Nova Scotia.
Annual Fall Saco River paddle

Zac Rizzo - Relaxing in his kayak

Zac Rizzo - Relaxing in his kayak

What is your favorite outdoor website?

Have to stay true to the local site I frequent.  hikingnewengland.com – It’s a great community of hikers from New England.

What is your favorite outdoor hiking gear store?

I have no loyalties when it comes to my hiking gear, whether it’s REI, or Eastern Mountain Sports. I buy from whoever has the best deal.

Many thanks to Zac for taking the time to answer these questions. We hope you have enjoyed reading about someone with a huge passion for the outdoors, no matter in which country you are based. Just a reminder to check out Zac’s site White Mountain Wanderer

If you are interested in being interviewed or can suggest  an interesting outdoors person, drop us an email here and we will be in contact.

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