What can we say about Marlon Smith? Well, everyone at Hike the World is a big fan! His passion and exuberance for teaching outdoor skills to people at every level is unmatched. We were thrilled when his group, Urban and Outdoor Survival, offered to host a private skills class in Harriman State Park for us. It was a really fun day and his crew had us laughing and learning while we built shelters and made fire.
Marlon is truly a kindred spirit and we are happy to give him the attention he deserves. Learn more about this guy by reading his story below. Trust us, you'll be glad you did.
I’m Marlon and I grew up on the small island of Trinidad in the Caribbean. Most people probably couldn’t find this island paradise on the map but it’s where my hiking story begins. Running the trails through tropical forests and setting campsites up on the beach as a kid is where I discovered my love of hiking. Soon I would trade tropical trails for winter hiking and camping in the northern United States. Definitely an unlikely change!
One of my favorite spots on the island of Trinidad is the Paria Waterfalls; the trail begins in the town of Blanchisseuse on the northern side of the island. It takes approximately three hours to cover the five mile hike to get to the falls. The trail meanders in and out along the coast. You hike while feeling the gentle kiss from a cool Caribbean breeze on your skin- a very welcome feeling if you’ve been hiking in a tropical forest. The best time to plan your hike and camp out is between March and July. You might be lucky enough to catch the nesting of the leather back turtles on the beach as night comes in- a truly a priceless experience.
After my move to the United States, new types of trails and wildlife were discovered and were completely breathtaking. Here, I found The Catskill Mountains. Her multiple trails, ranging in levels of difficulty, are pure beauty. Giant Ledge at Panther Mountain, in any season, is an amazing place to hike with friends and is one of my favorites. Wake up early, walk to the ledge and enjoy the sunrise of a lifetime!
Moving to NYC from a Caribbean paradise I needed something close to escape the concrete jungle that was now home. A place to just hike, be in the outdoors a sweet lil' spot named Harriman State Park was where I found my respite. There are hundreds of miles of trails everywhere and it is just north of NYC, an easy forty minute drive. A camp ground at Island Pond became my go to for hikes and camp outs. It's just off a section of the Appalachian trail and it's my easy get away.
I fell in love with these new locations. My introduction to them increased my drive, my passion and fueled my new purpose- to teach others.
My group Urban and Outdoor Survival was formed on the Meetup App in the summer of 2019, born with the purpose of teaching. I’m blessed to have an amazing crew of friends that have made their way towards family and have joined this journey with me. We teaching campers, hikers and all outdoor enthusiasts, the "dos and don’ts" of nature as well as the needed survival skills in the event of ever being tested by Mother Nature, all while having fun along the way. On the Urban side, we teach homesteading and disaster preparedness for storms, natural disasters and even in the event of the odd pandemic.
As we rolled into 2020 many Americans found nature when most of their day to day hobbies were placed on hold due to lock downs. With theme parks and movie theaters closed many found the joy of hiking. I have had the pleasure of taking groups out onto the trails and so many of them have discovered solace and peace in the great outdoors. Replacing emails and text messages for clean air and what I call “mother nature’s artwork”, you won’t need filters here for her pictures, and you don’t’ need Wi-Fi either, but you’ll never be more connected. It’s the place where you lose yourself and find all of the best parts of yourself.
There’s much peace, solace and fun to be had with friends out in nature. Certainly, I encourage you to make some new ones when heading onto the winding paths and trails. Hiking lead me to Ryan and Laura, people with hearts of gold (we swear we didn't pay him to say this!), who share their passion, teaching people about the hidden gems that they had all along- they just needed to find it in the woods. So head out, clear your mind, push some boundaries, leave your stresses in the office and hike, hike, HIKE THE WORLD!!!!!!
You can find Marlon and his group Urban and Outdoor Survival on Meetup or follow them here on Instagram to get information about their latest events. If you'd like to check out one of their customized survival kits, you can visit them on their Urban and Outdoor Survival website!