Last week, our Colorado book tour took us to Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, CO. Boulder is pretty much Outdoor Hollywood. Driving down the streets there is a good chance you will pass the Backpacker or Climbing Magazine company cars. And when you hit the trail, you soon find that you are hiking or running with trail legends such as Scott Jurek or Adam Chase.

Ultra Running Legend and Boulder Resident Scott Jurek

Even my hiking rival lives in Boulder. Hiking rival? Yes, you heard me right.

Andrew Skurka is a well-known long-distance hiker and adventurer. What makes him my rival?


-       Well, he makes his living writing, speaking, and guiding. And, I make my living writing, speaking, and guiding.

-       I was a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and he was a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

-       He is really good at hiking trails that no one has ever hiked, surviving crazy cold temps and lots of solitude, and traveling ultra light. Whereas, I have hiked all over the world, set the record on the A.T., and I even backpacked 600 miles during my second trimester of pregnancy (I think I’ve got him there.)


-       But mainly what makes him my rival is that he went to Duke, and we are a BIG TIME Tar Heel family.

But the great thing about rivals, is that they only make you better.

Andrew has done an incredible job running his own business and getting other people on the trail. And admittedly, I have a lot to learn from him as far as marketing, organization, and self-confidence.

Andrew, and his super sweet wife Amanda (Charley loves her), took the time to meet us for lunch while we were in Boulder. And we spent the better part of two hours comparing notes, talking trail, and dissecting one another’s business model. When it was over, I had new ideas for Blue Ridge Hiking Company and new plans for some long-distance hiking adventures.

In all reality, Andrew and I have totally different target audiences. He offers hardcore adventure backpacking trips. (The training tips for his Alaska Expedition encourages clients to sit in a bath of ice water!) Whereas, I target beginners, families, and folks who want to explore the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Heck, our most popular offering is a half-day hike!

And even though we may be rivals during basketball season, during the rest of the year it feels like we are on the same team. We both want to get more people outdoors, and we are both trying very hard to make a living doing what we love.

So if you want to experience a challenging and scenic backpacking adventure with a true expert, then I highly recommend signing up for one of Andrew’s trips.

Personally, I am so glad that there is someone else in this field that makes me strive to do my best.

That being said, Go Heels!