About Spencer Yeomans
I’m an introvert at heart, feeling more energized when I’m alone in nature than when I’m with other people. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always gravitated toward the quiet solitude of the local forests and lakes here in Minnesota, especially when I can find a relatively undiscovered gem. Stepping into an untouched part of the world is what I live for, and that hasn’t changed since I was a child.
In fact, when I was growing up, my mom would take me to the arboretum almost every day of the week. She needed that time outside just as much as I did, and was always looking for new and exciting things to do in nature. Eventually, my parents took it up a notch and brought me to Hawaii at the age of 9, and I’ve gone back to the islands almost every year since then.
But as fun as it was to spend a few weeks in a tropical paradise, I couldn’t help but feel mildly underwhelmed. The coast, the green mountains, and the abundance of trails will always hold a special place in my heart, but they never struck me as being…me. I was hungry for a biome that would satisfy more of my adventurous side, and it wasn’t until I was 13 years old that I finally encountered it.
At the beginning of my teenage years, my family and I went on a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Grand Tetons towered high into the sky, striking a majestic form that was visible from several dozen miles away. It was the first time I had ever seen something so large, so grand, and so full of opportunity. I could feel an excitement stirring within me that I had never felt before, and I knew that I had finally found the place that my soul longed to be.
Shortly after visiting the Tetons, I became immersed in a hobby that I’m still obsessed with to this day: rock climbing. I was fortunate enough to live close to a few climbing gyms, and I’m not ashamed to say that I spent roughly five days a week climbing every route I could find during the next few years. In time, I was able to flash (complete the route without falling or having the belayer take my weight) most lines with minimal difficulty. And that’s when a few of my climbing buddies convinced me to expand my horizons by tackling some outdoor routes in Colorado.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting some of the world’s most famous mountain ranges, including the Himalayas, the Dolomites, the Rockies, the Appalachians, and the Alaska Range. In particular, taking a 10 day trip to explore the wonders of Nepal will probably go down as the most amazing thing I’ve ever done in my life. My dad and I went with a couple of other friends, hiking between 15-19 miles every day, often with 7,000 foot elevation changes hitting us within the span of a handful of hours.
Needless to say, it was as grueling as it was rewarding. Spending a night in a tent at 15,000 feet just hits a lot different than going for a weekend trip at the local campground. I made quite a few connections while I was there, and got especially close to an elderly woman who insisted on becoming my Nepali mother. She made me promise to come and visit her again, so I guess I have to find a chance to go back!
Naturally, this outdoor obsession has a way of seeping into every other aspect of life as well. In 2022, when my wife and I were planning our wedding, we couldn’t bring ourselves to hold the ceremony in a church or event center here in Minnesota. Norway was our top pick, but the residual effects of Covid would have made the process more complicated than we wanted. So, we settled for the next best location.
The town itself is fairly quaint, but we weren’t planning on getting married inside of a building. Instead, we started exploring every hiking trail that wasn’t covered in snow in early May, looking for the perfect venue to fit our vision. After some trial and error, and a few conversations with the locals, we stumbled upon a scene that surpassed our (already lofty) dreams.
The Herring Cove trail is an incredibly scenic hike that brings you up to an alpine lake. With mountains in the distance, we stood on a little dock that jutted into the lake and immediately decided that this was the spot. Two days later, we made the hike with our parents and a couple of close friends (yes, Sarah made the hike wearing her wedding dress!) and tied the knot.
I’ve been to a lot of interesting places all over the world, but there are a few that stand out as my favorites. If you’re looking for a fun adventure to add some spice to your life, here are the places I recommend going:
Camping at Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
What I consider to be one of the most underrated national parks in America, the Great Sand Dunes are awe-inspiring to look at. Located in the middle of nowhere (literally), it’s incredibly easy to find solitude somewhere within the 107,000 acres that make up the park.
My best friend and I got a camping pass in 2021, loaded up our gear, and set off on one of the most amazing journeys we’ve ever made. That first dune is a little tough to scale with a couple dozen pounds on your back, but once you crest it and see the endless expanse of sand stretching out into the distance, you quickly forget about your fatigue.
The sand feels amazing to sleep on, but the strong winds are a force to be reckoned with. If you don’t want your tent to fly away, you’ll need to invest in some proper tent stakes that are designed to hold firm in the sand.
Backpacking Along The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
I’ve already touched on it a little bit, but backpacking through the Himalayas was such a profound experience that it deserves another mention. If you check out the photo of me below, I’m actually standing at a point just over 15,000 feet, which is already higher than the tallest mountain in the continental US. What makes it crazier is that there’s a mountain behind me with a peak elevation of 20,000 feet.
Backpacking through a land of giants has a way of putting things into perspective. The kindness and generosity of the locals, paired with the incredible amount of natural beauty made it hard to come back to America where everyone is in too much of a rush to pay any attention to the people around them.
If you like to backpack, and you have some flexibility with your time and finances, I can’t recommend the Annapurna circuit enough. It’s the type of trip that will change your life, and make you look at the world differently, especially once you return to wherever you call home.
Hiking Out To the Portage Pass Glacier, Alaska
I’ve been to most of the states in the US, but Alaska will always be my absolute favorite. Raw, untamed, and breathtakingly beautiful, the opportunities for adventure are nearly limitless, whether you enjoy camping, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, or skiing.
While I’ve had the pleasure of exploring dozens of amazing locations in Alaska, the Portage Pass glacier hike is one of my favorites, due to the scenery and the interesting features of the hike itself. To get to the trailhead, you first have to pass through the Anton Anderson Memorial tunnel, which is the longest highway tunnel in North America. This will bring you to the little port town of Whittier, which is nestled right on the edge of Prince William Sound. As you soon as you crest the mountain that leads to the Portage Pass glacier, you’ll be able to look at the Sound behind you or the glacier in front of you. It’s a 360 degree view that will knock your socks off, and it’s one of my personal favorites in the state.