TCSAR: Where did you grow up?
Anthony: I was born and raised here (in Jackson). We had a ranch in Dubois so I spent my summers over in Dubois and went to school here. I did go to boarding school back east for high school and I went to college in Arizona. I’m definitely a life-long Wyoming boy though. I used to joke with my wife when we were dating in high school that I was Wyoming born and Wyoming bred and when I die I’ll be Wyoming dead. So I don’t see myself going anywhere. I love Jackson.
TCSAR: Can you tell us a little about your family?
Anthony: I have a sister that’s 5 years older than me and she lives in Elkhart, Colorado. I have a niece and nephew that I spend a lot of time with. My nephew’s been up here quite a lot. He sort of to my son what I was to him. I would travel down to Colorado a lot after he was born and spend a lot of time with him. He was the kid that was glued to my leg and now that he’s gotten older he comes up here two to three times a year and Sawyer (Anthony’s son) just loves him. It’s fun to see it come full circle.
TCSAR: What do you do for a living?
Anthony: I’ve been a field instructor for NOLS since 2010. It’s kind of a circuitous route how I got there. I spent most of my life in the outdoors. We ran pack trips when I was a kid and I grew up hunting and fishing. Backpacking has always been a pretty important part of my life. I took a NOLS course in 1996 in Alaska and fell in love with it. I always wanted to be a field instructor or in some sort of job that kept me in the outdoors. And then, it’s kind of interesting, but to make a long story short I gained a lot of weight and was 290 pounds and I developed Type II diabetes. I totally pushed myself into this life altering disease and when I found out about it it was a light switch. All of a sudden I changed my eating habits, I started paying attention to what I was doing in my life. I changed my habits, lost a ton of weight and got to a point where my wife, for her 30th birthday, decided she wanted to take a NOLS course (she was tired of being the only person in our group of friends that hadn’t taken one). A friend of mine is the head of the alumni department over there and after her course talked us into taking this alumni course over in Italy and I was like ‘that’s not a NOLS course’ but we did it and had a great time. He convinced me after that to take an instructor course. After a long application process I got accepted and took it and have worked for NOLS ever since. I work in a couple of different disciplines for them - I’m a winter instructor, backpacking instructor, canyoneering instructor and a light and fast/light and far instructor.
TCSAR: Tell us a little about your family now? You’re expecting twin girls any day now?
Anthony: Yeah, so my wife Erika and I have a little boy, Sawyer. He’s warming up to the idea of sisters. Some days he’s excited about it and others he’s really not psyched about it. It’s big changes for him, right? Two new siblings, he starts kindergarten in 4 days.
(UPDATE... Since we interviewed Anthony for this blog post his wife delivered two beautiful and healthy twin girls - Emily and Annalise.)
TCSAR: What other hobbies do you have?
Anthony: I'm an avid runner. I love to run and bike. Skiing is definitely one of my passions. If I’m not running I really want to be skiing. My wife and I like to travel - we went to New Zealand, Australia, climbed Kilimanjaro, Mexico… I like plants quite a lot. I have a small orchid collection - I really love orchids. I think if I had taken a different route in life I might have tried to go the ethnobotany route because I have an interest in primitive cultures and how plants go along with people's lives and how they either use them for food or religious rites. Ive always had a fascination with that and primitive cultures. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy being a NOLS instructor so much. I get to spend a month at a time living out of a backpack and sort of being at the will of the environment and what comes your way and the challenges that brings. I read a book when I was younger, The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis, and he’s a premier ethnobotanist and have always found it fascinating that he’s a guy that will go to some of the more dangerous places in search of plants and how they influence the primitive cultures there plus the medicines they've found… obviously I have a huge interest in medicine now and plants are how it all starts.
TCSAR: What inspired you to join Search and Rescue?
Anthony: I’ve wanted to be on Search and Rescue as long as I can remember. Like I said we had a ranch in Dubois and it was fairly remote. It wasn’t uncommon to have outfitters in the area and guests would get hurt so we would ride out on horses and help…. I have this early memory of the Marlboro man who came to shoot an ad at the ranch and one of their guys got trampled by some bulls and one of the helicopters came and landed at the ranch. I remember being fascinated by that. And I grew up watching shows like High Mountain Ranger, you know a typical redneck rescue crew, and Airwolf. I’ve always liked being in the backcountry and helping people. I also think it’s really important to be a productive member of your community. If you choose to live in a place you've got to find some way to be involved and this is a great organization.
TCSAR: What have you enjoyed most about being on the team?
Anthony: I would have to say it’s the team. You know I think it was the first time I felt a part of something here that really resonated with me. I’ve served on boards, I was on the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance board for many years, but you never felt like you were part of a family. NOLS feels like a family, but there are so many of us and it can be a little transient with people all over the place - and I've been lucky enough to work world-wide for NOLS and that’s amazing - but nothing has felt like that team unit and family element that SAR brings.
TCSAR: What element of training or rescues do you like the most?
Anthony: I really enjoy any rescue that involves medical. I find it the most interesting. I just got my EMT and I find on rescues it’s really less about the science of medicine and more about the art of medicine and I really like that. It’s figuring out how do we treat, stabilize and evacuate someone that is a long way from help and utilizing the resources that you have available.
TCSAR: Is there anything the rest of the SAR team doesn’t know about you?
Anthony: I’m not very good, but I’m getting better… I play the didgeridoo and have quite a didgeridoo collection. I love the didgeridoo. When we went to Australia I sought out a really nice one and I have a couple of other ones. I've actually mastered circular breathing. But I’m not very good at it - there’s not a lot of instructors here!
TCSAR: What’s always in your pack?
Anthony: I always have my Patagonia Houdini. I never go anywhere without it - winter, summer, best layer ever. I always have a Kind Bar too. And I always have a ball cap on - people always ask me if I’m bald. I’m not - I just always wear a ball cap. I have a ridiculous collection - probably close to 400. It drives my wife crazy. It’s kind of a ridiculous obsession. That and puffy coats.