Meet the team: Shelby Pinkerton, Tasmanian Operations

When she's not scouting for new routes, refining our itineraries and making sure everything is smooth sailing for our trips to operate, Shelby Pinkerton likes to hit the trails herself – the longer and more challenging the better! Read on as she shares the places that shaped her, what she can never leave behind on a camping trip and why preparation is key when on a trek.

Like many of us, Shelby had a case of itchy feet and went on a mission to work in a different US state for every season, ultimately travelling across 28 states in the USA. (At one point she had seven jobs in one year!) Her travels eventually landed her in the Australian state of Tasmania where she guided for three seasons, before taking the reins of Operations and Logistics Manager for our Tasmanian programs.

Expanding my hiking resume is what gets me giddy... Some of my highlights would be walking the Camino de Santiago, the Kumano Kodo, the Appalachian Trail, the Larapinta Trail and the Jordan Trail.

Shelby on the Larapinta Trail

While Shelby holds a strong passion for long-distance trails, you'll often find her climbing up crags when she gets the chance. A hiker at her core, Shelby's love for the outdoors is fuelled by a sense of responsibility to protect it.

What inspired you to pursue a career in adventure travel?

I got my foot in the door back in 2014. I studied Entertainment Business Management at uni and was working as a travelling popcorn maker for Cirque Du Soleil. The travelling awoke the adventurous side of me and I became an enthusiastic rock climber.

I fell deeply in love with climbing that I wanted to do it 24/7 and so the logical step was to turn it into a job. I started out guiding at Via Ferrata in West Virginia, USA and somewhere along the line, my passions turned to hiking and so I reflected that in my pursuit of my ideal career.

Walking out to stunning coastal views |  <i>Shelby Pinkerton</i>

How do you assess and manage the risks involved in an adventure trek?

I personally get a lot out of a trek if, at some point along the way, I feel like I may not be able to complete it.

When the option is to give up in the wilderness or to keep going the mantra by Kurt Hahn echoes: ‘There is more in you than you know’.

I find that taking on a challenge brings out a new level of resilience and strength that I thrive on.

Plenty of laughs and smiles guiding a group in Tasmania's east coast

In terms of assessing the risk involved, preparation is key.

Knowing you can ride a storm, as well as having strong navigation and back up communication allows you to push your limits a little bit more each trip, which will expand your capabilities continuously.

I am not one to recommend going from zero to a hundred, however, I think you should always assess your risk based on the ability of your least experienced group member; allowing for them to feel challenged but not overwhelmed, and having the means to de-escalate a situation.

What are your favourite gear items?

Most of the personal travel I do these days is based around distance hiking, so I like to keep it light. A couple of simple items I would never leave behind are my camping pillow (I know! Total sucker for comfort!) and my insulated mug.

What's a destination or adventure that has shaped you and why?

In 2016 I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail solo. Those six months on the trail changed me irrevocably and I find it is a difficult experience to summarise.

It taught me so much about community, how a shared experience can bind you closely to a stranger and how willing people can be to offer kindness and help for no gain.

It also taught me, as a young woman, to embrace myself and celebrate my body for its physical capabilities and achievements instead of picking it apart for superficial flaws.

Taking on a long distance trail not only builds experiences in the natural world, but opens up a chance to learn about yourself

I gained a lot of satisfaction and self-confidence from the experience as well as a connection to nature and simplistic living that I have strived to maintain through my subsequent adventures and lifestyle.

What are your favourite Tasmanian trips?

I just love the Overland Track, it was my first experience of Tasmania and I think everybody should get out to see it for themselves.

My first trip on the Overland (though, I've done it a dozen times by now) was with my closest friend who loves being in nature but is not a strong walker. She would take the day ambling to the next hut taking rests and photos and I would go climb the mountains on the side trails and meet her at camp, both of us exhausted at the end of the day.

I think that the Overland Track is an amazing trail for all levels of experience and physicality, it would also be impossible to spend a week in those mountains and not feel a sense of responsibility to protect it.

How would you best describe Tasmania?

For me, it is a place to discover your limits and significance.

What are some preparation tips you can offer to someone interested in taking on a more challenging trek?

Being physically fit is always going to be important, but being mentally prepared for a challenging trek is just as paramount.

Be prepared to be uncomfortable and pre-plan your solutions to common problems.

For instance, it is likely you will get blisters and sore knees, so pack some first aid and use hiking poles. Having easy solutions to common problems once you are in the field will give you a sense of control over a situation rather than feeling helpless. This will help you keep your head in the game and your morale high for the challenges ahead.

Be supported by a team that will make your adventure special. Browse our range of active Tasmanian holidays.

Tasmania, Guides, Staff, On the couch, Advice, Tips

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