Trail Adventure Insights with Steven Gnam

Forest along the Whitefish Trail. PC Steven Gnam

For more than a year we've featured a different Trail Chat column each month. These chats with Montana runners are often centered on providing adventure insight for the trail running community. So to better reflect this focus, we've decided to change the name to Trail Adventure Insights. This month's column is another great example of insight from someone who regularly finds adventure on his own two feet.

Mountain Runner, outdoor photographer, and film artist Steven Gnam has been described as sharing the same characteristics of his favorite animal, the wolverine-tenacious, determined, enigmatic and an adventure seeker. Steven has spent 5 years searching for these elusive creatures. To find them he traverses some 90 miles and 30,000 vertical feet per week on skis or running shoes. Steven has sighted an incredible 20 wolverines in his backcountry adventures, despite having once spent an entire summer searching for these fleeting creatures without ever encountering one.

His passion for nature and protecting wild places has created an efficacious career. His stunning photography has appeared popular magazines such as National Geographic, Outside, Climbing and Runners World. We thank Steven for taking the time to answer a few questions about his passion for trail running in wild places.

Mt. Jumbo at sunrise during a flight to document the Great Western Checkerboard project for The Nature Conservancy PC:  Steven Gnam


What have you done that you’re most proud to have achieved?


It’s the photo projects I’ve worked on across the West that highlight the importance of interconnected wildlands and leave a legacy of open space. In Montana, these projects include:

-The Great Western Checkerboard/Montana Legacy Project for the Nature Conservancy, which transferred over 100,000 acres of Plum Creek lands to public land in the Swan and Blackfoot valleys.

-The Whitefish Trail with the Whitefish Legacy Partners and The Trust for Public Land to protect lands around Whitefish and help build a trail system that surrounds the community.

-Crown of the Continent, The Wildest Rockies a book with the Mountaineers Books/Braided River, which focuses on the ecosystem that stretches from Missoula to Banff.

Describe the greatest adventure of your life.

Adventure: 1. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome. 2. an exciting or very unusual experience.

Easily the Crown Traverse, running from Missoula to Banff, with Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote. The term adventure gets tossed around so much now that I don’t like to use it but I think this trip qualifies. Shin splints forced me to take time off during the run, but the time I was running with the Mike’s was amazing and challenging.

Friends ridge running in western Montana. PC:  Steven Gnam

What are your top five personal values?

Gratitude

Reciprocity ­

Creativity

Adaptability

Restraint

What gets you excited about life?

Running on alpine ridges. Watching wild animals. Swimming and free diving. Spending time with my wife Aly. Working on stories about landscapes and how we interact with nature. Photographing all those things.


Storm over Antelope Island, UT. PC: Steven Gnam

If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?


Love your neighbors (and the systems that sustain them), whether they are human, animal, or plants.

View from a run in the North Cascades, Washington. PC:  Steven Gnam

If you could ask for one wish, what would it be?


Besides world peace, which I think we’d all agree upon no matter if we get our news from fake news, real news, or other alternative news sources…my wish would be that modern society could find ways to live sustainably and not diminish other forms of life on earth.

Thank you for dedicating your avocation to a great cause. The wild lands are something we as runners treasure and sometimes take for granted. My hope is that through this interview trail runners will be inspired by your valuable message to protect and celebrate wild lands as you are portraying through your artistic photographs and film. ~Nicole

Nicole Murray features Montana trail runners and other inspiring individuals in her monthly blog posts called Trail Adventure Insights. She loves running in the mountains, traveling, adventure, exploring wild places and the simple things in life such as campfire stargazing. Nicole has been coaching runners and helping them turn their dreams into reality since 2001. www.journeysoulrunning.com

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