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About Free Roaming Hiker and Mike Cavaroc

Mike Cavaroc is a professional nature photographer, avid hiker, and author. He resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, using the endless natural beauty as inspiration for both photography and outdoor hiking adventures, which greatly influence his writing.

How I Got Here

I grew up a video game nerd, at home in big cities free from any creative pursuits. Any free time I had was spent locked away in my room staring at a TV displaying the second dimension’s state-of-the-art graphics. Computers only exacerbated my addiction. 3D graphics came around hooking me into games like Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, and many more. I was good too. Suitable rivals were far and few between. A future in video games in a big eastern city seemed inevitable. And then, the day after graduating college, I traveled west for the first time from my college home in east Texas.

The concept of open land was entirely new to me, and never in my life had I seen so much of it. The whole idea of public land to me was just as alien as Jupiter’s atmosphere to me. Preconceptions I had had about the American west were shattered open. My traveling partner and I explored the western United States over the course of three self-discovering weeks, first making our way across the southwest directly for the Pacific Ocean. Before getting there, however, we realized we missed the Grand Canyon. We swung back around and were forced to go through a national park, another piece of public land that I had never stepped foot in, nor had ever even heard about. Zion National Park was reluctantly on our route so we could once and for all see the Grand Canyon.

My jaw dropped around every turn. I had never seen anything so spectacular. At the age of 26, this was my first national park, and it changed my life. Earlier that year, I had also gotten my first camera. I was rediscovering my creativity and national parks immediately became the wealth of inspiration to push me back toward a more creative life. More only followed on the trip. After Zion, we finally hit Grand Canyon National Park before seeking others out along our way: Natural Bridges, Mesa Verde, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone. Upon returning to east Texas, I knew I couldn’t be anywhere but out west.

Phoenix, Arizona was to be my new home, where I spent my first two days playing video games, as usual, and then began noticing the mountains around the area. I went out to see what was there and found a part of myself hidden away all those years. With my camera in tow, I began exploring all the mountains in Phoenix, literally overnight shaking my video game addiction, replacing it with hiking. I simply wanted to be in the desert’s rugged terrain, exploring, seeing new views, discovering secrets around each turn. I gradually began exploring Arizona from beyond the city, always eager to find each random dirt road’s secret treasures. The outdoors had hooked me in. Video games had taken a backseat in the blink of an eye of my lifetime. I set out to do as much hiking and exploring as I could throughout the state of Arizona, and eventually, beyond.

Four years after moving to Arizona, almost to the day, I packed up once again and found a home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Why the change? Endless mountains all around. Endless road trip potential. Conservation minded people inhabiting the land. And of course, abundant wildlife in all corners of the area.

In the years since, hiking has become my passion, meditation, and stress relief. It’s how I keep balanced in a busy life. Had I known this site would eventually be created, I would have logged, or at least even documented all my hikes long ago. In the meantime, I’m catching up on as many as I can while also discovering new ones.

I happily call Jackson Hole my basecamp, where I get out as much as I can with my daughter.

Mike Cavaroc on the Arizona Trail

Trails: Arizona Trail; Teton Crest; Picacho Peak; Angel’s Landing; North Kaibab; Upper Muley Twist; Spooky Slot; Crack Canyon; Table Mountain; Navajo Knobs

Movies: How to Train Your Dragon; Star Wars; Star Trek II, IV, VI, VIII; John Carter; anything Pixar; anything Edgar Wright; Hector and the Search for Happiness; LEGO Movie; Mitchells vs the Machines; The Big Year

Shows: The Orville; Star Trek (all of ’em); Firefly; Arrested Development; Parks and Rec; Cobra Kai; Spaced; Farscape; South Park; Pushing Daisies; Master of None

Books: The End of Night; Where the Wild Things Were; John Carter series; Walden; Desert Solitaire; Cosmos; A New Earth; The Four Agreements; Cowed; My First Summer in the Sierra

Play: Hiking; Backpacking; Music production; Snowshoeing; Drawing; Painting; Astrophotography; Writing

In a nutshell: A major geek who likes to feel good and play outside

TEDxJacksonHole – Restoring the Night Sky for a Healthier Future

All content © Copyright Mike Cavaroc, Free Roaming Hiker & Free Roaming Photography