Friday, August 10, 2018

Joy in the Journey: Stavros Mitchelides

Where Stavros goes, you can go too! Virtually, at the least. As we followed him on social media throughout the last several months, we saw the overwhelming beauty of places he hiked and definitely added a few of those places to our bucket list. We witnessed the transformation of his Sprinter van, his appreciation for the history of the places he visits, and the joy he takes in seeing old friends and making new ones. It's been a joy for us to follow along on his journey through the U.S. National Parks and we'd love for you to get to know this guy a little and come along for the ride!



Meet Stavros Mitchelides


What you never travel without:
I never, ever travel without my camera.

Go-to outdoor activity:
Hiking! I hike 30-40 miles per week on average. If I don’t hike, I run to make up for it!

Rainy day back-up plan:
I’ve been on the road for a year and have seen a total of 2 days of rain...both days I decided to work at a coffee shop, but my other backup plan would be to visit a museum.

Favorite snack:
Fruit!

Favorite piece of gear:
Besides my camera, I’d have to say my ACR ResQLink+ 406 Buoyant Personal Locator Beacon is my favorite piece of gear. My dad gave it to me because I’m often in very remote places, getting myself into compromising situations!

Worst adventure advice you’ve heard:
I get a lot of “advice” from people telling me to do things that are completely illegal, like backcountry camping where it’s illegal, hiking permit-only trails without permits, or hiking off-trail when it’s not allowed. Every single time I have to explain to people how damaging those things would be if everyone did them.

Something you won’t do or are afraid of:
I’m lucky in that I’m not afraid of anything. I just don’t have whatever genes were required to make me fear things, but there are a few things that I won’t do because they are statistically too risky. One is climbing Mount Everest, another is base jumping.

Always on your road trip playlist:
I listen to a lot of reggae music, house music, and mid-90’s hip-hop, but typically when I’m driving longer distances I listen almost exclusively to podcasts. My favorite is ‘How I Built This’ with Guy Raz.


The Interview

There are many ways to enjoy being outdoors. What are you into?
I am a person with more hobbies and interests than any one person should ever have. Mainly my outside activities involve hiking, off-roading, landscape and wildlife photography, rock climbing, trail running, mountain biking, snorkeling, and SCUBA diving.



What inspires you?
I’m constantly inspired by nature. I thrive on experiencing new things, and nature has a way of showing me something new literally every single day. Regular American life is probably the least inspiring thing I can think of, but being out in nature is so inspiring that it’s nearly overwhelming at times.

When that inspiration hits you, what do you do about it?
I’ve been a photographer ever since I was a little kid. When I was 10 years old, I was given a Pentax K1000 35mm film camera by my grandfather’s cousin, and this amazing gift forever changed my life. My passion for the natural world became something that I could share with everyone; through photos. I’ve been exploring, and shooting, ever since.




We call the birth of enlightenment a ‘dawning’... Tell us about a time when the realization dawned on you that you could live adventurously.
I grew up in a waterfront home on Lake Champlain in Vermont that was also adjacent to a large nature preserve and a river estuary. I had the freedom at a very young age to explore not only the wilderness of the river and the preserve, but to also explore the lake because my parents gave me a boat. I would take expeditions in the boat as far away as I could go, and would pull up on shore and hike off into the forests. Every day was an adventure and those experiences made me into the explorer & adventurer that I am as an adult.

What challenges have you overcome in your adventures?
I’ve had a lot of close calls in my lifetime of exploring...it comes with the territory. I recall when I was really young I was exploring Lake Champlain in the winter and I fell clear through the ice, over my head. I was able to pull myself back up to the surface through the hole, without breaking the ice further, so I was pretty lucky that the ice didn’t collapse as I climbed out. But that challenge definitely wasn’t the biggest; I’d have to say that the biggest challenge that I’ve had to overcome from my time outside would be Lyme Disease. I was bitten by a tick in Vermont while exploring a forest, and didn’t know that I was bitten, or that I had contracted Lyme Disease. Three years later, the effects of the infection were so severe that I was convinced that I had cancer. It took me well over a year to get through the symptoms of Late-Stage Lyme Disease, and I still think about it almost daily.

What are you working on right now?
My current project is exploring, hiking, and photographing over 200 parks in the US National Parks system, including all 60 National Park units. I began this expedition in August 2017 and have so far visited 95 parks as of July 2018.




What would you say to someone ready to be adventurous and try something new?
I’ll try anything. I end up loving everything that I try, so for me, it’s never even a question...I just say yes to everything! No matter what you try, you will always GAIN from it; so there’s never a reason to say no to anything, and there’s never a reason NOT to try something new.

How can people get in touch with you or follow your adventures?
My focus is Instagram as well as my website. I spend a lot of time recording and producing my Instagram Stories every single day, so those are a great way to follow along and learn about new places. In addition to my Stories, I also post my favorite photos from every adventure on Instagram. My Instagram account is @joyryde and my website is welovetoexplore.com. Complete photo albums (rather than just the highlights on Instagram) from every National Park can be found on my Facebook, which is also @joyryde.



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