@story TONYA MCCOY
@images COURTESY DAN NASH AND SATORI ADVENTURES AND EXPEDITIONS
The moon is full over Tanzania, Africa, and Dan Nash, a professional mountain guide, puts on his head lamp, although he knows he won’t need it. There isn’t a cloud in the midnight sky. He is ready to lead his team on the last leg of a trek up Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the moon is so bright it looks like day. Within hours the team arrives at the summit: the Roof of Africa, just in time to see the sun rising over the plains, beams of light glinting off nearby glaciers.
Dan, a Missouri man, is far from home, but it’s okay. He feels at home anywhere there’s a trail beneath his feet and a backpack is on his shoulders. “I always loved the outdoors and I grew up hunting and fishing and camping and hiking with my dad and brothers,” Dan says. “When my parents moved to Missouri from California we bought a farm, and we had 300 acres so I got to roam around all over the place. That’s kind of where my love affair started.”
Since then he’s traveled to six continents and climbed an estimated thirty mountains.
After high school, Dan earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Missouri State University and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from University of Central Missouri. Dan became a Missouri State Trooper nineteen years ago, and currently serves as an investigator, looking into murders and other violent crimes.
He’s a cop who moonlights as a mountain guide.
“My day job can be stressful and I get to see a lot of things that aren’t so good about society and people. But then I get to go into the mountains and I get to teach people about things and I get to see a different side of mankind. It helps me to stay centered and it helps me to not get jaded. .. It’s a catharsis for me.”
In a couple of years Dan will retire from the state police and run his outdoor businesses fulltime.
He is CEO of Satori Adventures and Expeditions which includes hiking and climbing for places like Mt. Everest, and other summits and treks in Peru, Iceland, Patagonia, and Africa, just to name a few. Dan’s experienced things most of us have only seen on the Discovery Channel. He’s seen the migration of wildebeests in Kenya. He’s witnessed a 3,000-year-old monastery ritual performed by monks in Nepal. And he’s escaped an ice bridge collapse which dropped him ten feet into a hundred foot crevasse in Patagonia.
Dan credits his training for seeing him through.
“Going to Iceland is like being on another planet. It’s so amazing there, and it’s so wild and rugged. It’s like being in a Jurassic Park movie and you’re expecting to see a dinosaur come around the corner or something.
“For the really big mountains, the Himalayas are a once in a lifetime experience. They’re over twice as big as anything in Colorado. It’s hard to grasp that, and even when you’re there you just can’t believe how big these mountains are. They’re so towering big.”
His experiences make him a confident guide. And with over forty different expeditions, there’s something for everyone. Dan says the Santa Cruz, Peru trip is a less expensive fit for novice trekkers.
“You get to basically hike through the Andes Mountains which are way bigger than anything we have in the United States. And you only have to carry ten pounds in your pack. Really all you’re carrying is your snacks for the day, your water, maybe a jacket. Everything else is carried by donkeys and porters for you and you basically just hike through the mountains and get to enjoy the scenery. You’ll go across little villages of mountain people in Peru and you get to see their culture. And then at the end of the day, the donkeys and porters are already at the next camp. They’ve already got your tent set up for you, and they make dinner for you, and you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff.”
If you’d like to take a trip right here in our area, Dan can make it happen. He’s also CEO of Hiking the Ozarks, which he began in 2007 to offer professional guide services, outdoor education and training, gear and trail reviews, and expedition adventures in our area. Along with this company, he started the Ozark Mountain Trailblazers, a FREE group that does a range of hikes including waterfalls and canyons in places like Hemmed In Hollow and Richland Creek Wilderness Area.
“We’re so lucky to have the Ozarks right here. And basically we have the best hiking and backpacking in the Midwest by far - and rock climbing and kayaking and mountain biking. We have it all, but a lot of people don’t take advantage of it. I think they just don’t know or they’re a little worried or insecure about what they can and cannot do. So sometimes they just need someone to teach them a little.”
On October 12-14, 2012, Dan will lead his annual Outdoor Rendezvous at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas. And for a single fee of thirty dollars you can take as many classes as you like, for all three days. There will be rock climbing, hiking, and other outdoors instruction in some of the most beautiful on and off the map spots in Arkansas.
For more information on The Outdoor Rendezvous, Ozark Mountain Trailblazers or Hiking the Ozarks, visit hikingtheozarks.com. For more information on adventures on Mt. Everest, Peru, Africa, or in over a dozen other countries, visti satoriexpeditions.com.
Coming soon: An Austrian filmmaker joined Dan and eighteen novice mountaineers this summer as they tackled the Cordillera Blanca Range in Peru. Once the documentary is out, Dan will show it in different areas around the United States, including Northwest Arkansas. See the trailer and get updates about the film at satoriexpeditions.com.