An interview with Stephen Dishong “Ranger Steve”

What outdoor activity is your passion?
My passion is found on any trail in any wilderness. It’s more about the journey than the destination, so I like to shake things up and vary my sport between hiking, trail running, and mountain biking.

How did you get involved in that activity, and how old were you when you started?
I have always loved the freedom of being outside from playing in the backyard pond and exploring the ins and outs of the wilderness around my neighborhood in Florida. However, I discovered that my happy place of being in the wilderness and on the trail was when I was 25 years old. I was fortunate enough to become friends with Hernan Garcia, who is an amazing adventurer and avid ultramarathon runner. Hernan convinced me to run a 50 mile ultramarathon in the mountains of Georgia and ever since then I’ve been seeking new challenges to discover this incredible world.

What was the most epic trip you’ve ever taken?
I feel that every trip into the wilderness has its own epic status for different reasons, but if I had to choose the one that has impacted my life the most, I would say going on a 100 mile through hike along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to North Carolina would take the top spot. This particular trip started with the day that would change my life forever. On top of Springer Mountain at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, I asked my wife, Martha Jillian “MJ”, to marry me. Thankfully she said yes and as if there was a message from Mother Nature herself it began to rain within hours of the start our journey. Even though it continued to rain the entire hike, we embraced the situation and thrived to the end. Establishing the foundation of our relationship in a soaking wet wilderness has been the beginning of my greatest adventure.

What is the most important piece of gear in your pack? (other than AKU footwear, of course!)
Such a tough question but the piece that always finds its way into my pack regardless of the situation has to be my Sawyer Squeeze water purifying kit.

Where do you hope your AKUs will take you in the future?
I hope that my AKUs take me to the mountains, the valleys, and streams of new unexplored places, specifically, I have my eyes set on a trip to New Zealand, to assist with a Racing the Planet 250km stage race.

What AKU boots are you currently wearing?
I am currently beating down the trails with the AKU Tengu Low GTX. First impression, these are built tough with craftsmanship. It’s apparent that AKU takes care in developing footwear that is designed to be effective in a dynamic environment. I also have been wearing the AKU Navy Seal Spider Boot as an operational mountain rescue work boot. They are light and breathable, which helps keep my feet comfortable in the rugged desert mountain terrain. Three thumbs up.