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FatManLittleTrail: Meet Greg Sakowicz

Greg Sakowicz's journey into the outdoors might not have been an easy one, but it is inspiring and has helped many others begin their own journeys. Despite discomfort and the hesitancy to join a community where he wasn't sure he would fit in, Greg began his hiking endeavors. Utilizing the discomfort as motivation to keep on keeping on, Greg took the trails by storm, and continued to pursue this new hobby, and turn it into a lifestyle. Along the way, Greg founded FatManLittleTrail, a space where he shares his adventures, inspires people and offers tips and advice for those who want to get started on a similar journey, and to allow folks to follow along with his continued hiking adventures as an advocate for inclusivity in the outdoors.

We were lucky enough to chat with Greg about his journey so far, and what he plans to conquer next!

 

Hi Greg, Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background?

Hello, my name is Greg and founded the website Fatmanlittletrail.com(Se abre en una ventana nueva).  I have lived in Colorado for the last nine years but grew up in the Midwest and moved here for work.  For the first seven years I was a non-stop work person.  I think I went to the mountains maybe 4 or 5 times in those first 7 years.  Then I had a work injury that ultimately led to me losing the job I had done for nearly 20 years.  I was out of work and a pandemic hit and I was pretty lost.  Everything was closed except for the outdoors.

I have always had issues with my weight as an adult and was always a bit scared of the outdoors but I knew I couldn’t just sit around watching TV and decided I needed to hit the trails.  Fast forward two years later and I have taken something that was so far outside of my comfort zone, hiking and the outdoors, and have made it into my motivation.  I spend as much time as I can in the outdoors with the hope of trying to inspire others to make lifestyle changes that can help them as much as the outdoors have helped me.

What motivated you to get outside and get hiking? The outdoors were something that I did as a kid.  We would go camping and I always enjoyed it but it was something that went on the back burner as I grew older.  My career took me to major cities and my forests were more of the concrete and steel version. When the career slipped away I found myself sitting on the couch with a bag of chips and a remote control.  I needed to make a change.  I decided to try the outdoors again.  I live in Colorado and it is absolutely beautiful, a fact I mostly ignored in my time here so it was time to go.  I emptied out my old work backpack and dusted off the old gym shoes and gave it a shot. How did that go when you started? Not well (laughs) but I really did enjoy my time.  I have always had an issue with my weight as an adult and it was never more evident then the first time I tried to hike up an incline on the trail. It felt like the Grim Reaper was walking next to me just waiting for me to fall down.  Those early hikes were pretty brutal, but I just kept going.  It was one of those one step after another and hope for the best moments.  I would have to take a ton of breaks.  Like every ten steps I would stop and try to see if there was any oxygen left in the world.  It sure didn’t feel like it. As I kept going it became a little easier and I enjoyed it a little bit more.  One of the earliest blogs that I wrote became a bit of a mantra for me.  It was called “Screw it, I’m Trying”(Se abre en una ventana nueva). Basically I took the stages of grief and compared them to hiking.  For instance here is the “Bargaining” stage: “Dear Jesus, Mohammed, Ganesha, Gaia, Little Elf Dude that lives in the trees and makes cookies, or whoever is in charge of this, please no more ups. I can deal with flats. I can deal with flat and rocky or flat and sandy. I can deal with down. I like down. Gravity finally is on my side when we go down and I move with the grace of a greased pig coming down an escalator towards a Vegas buffet line. Please, just no more ups. I promise to not complain (externally) for the rest of the hike and promise to come back, plant a tree or buy fudge stripe cookies if you just give me 1 mile with no ups.” Screw it, I’m Trying became my mantra because it told me that not every step of the hike is going to be enjoyable.  But the views along the way, and that amazing feeling of accomplishment when you complete a hike is worth the struggle.  To this day, almost 200 hikes later and still have times when I struggle and as I’m standing on the trail huffing and puffing I think to myself, Screw it, I’m trying and that gets me up the next hill or to the finish line.

Where did you come up with the “Fat Man Little Trail” That was a fun story...in a bit of a sad way.  So as I said I wasn’t the best when I started my journey.  I struggled a lot and had to take a lot of breaks.  Well, one of the very early hikes I was on I was on a very slight inline.  Maybe a 6% grade but I was hurting.  I’m standing on the side of the trail catching my breath and these two kids come running by.  I’m huffing and puffing and thinking this is the end of Greg, and these kids, wearing Crocs and drinking Capri Suns come running up the hill like they were floating.  I shook my head and laughed to myself a little and mused to myself, “Man, you are just a Fat Man on this Little Trail”.  I think it was the lack of oxygen but I thought it might be a good idea.  I came home and told my cousin the name and she laughed and knew I had to start the website. Tell us more about your platform - FatManLittleTrail So the idea of Fatmanlittletrail was born on that hill. I came home and started working on a website.  I didn’t really know what I was doing but I wanted to improve my website skills anyway to help in finding a new job so it felt like a good thing to do.  When I looked around the internet I realized something.  None of the people who did hiking blogs looked like me.  There was a lot of amazing content from athletic folks in the 20’s who talked about how fast they could finish a hike, or the best shoes to trail run in.  I didn’t see people in their 40’s who were overweight and whose bodies made creaking and cracking noises when they got out of bed, let alone while climbing a mountain. So I started the website with some trail reviews and a more humorous look at my experience as someone whose athletic days were decades in the past but still wanted to get outside.  Since then the website has expanded to social media, a YouTube channel(Se abre en una ventana nueva) and a Podcast(Se abre en una ventana nueva) but all with the same idea of trying to make people comfortable in the outdoors and encouraging people to try something new. I have even heard back from so many people who have told me that I have helped inspire them to start their own journey.  Nothing feels better than knowing something I said or did helped someone else.

How important is having good gear to hiking? As I said earlier I started by emptying out an old work backpack and some gym shoes. It was ok at the beginning but as you get more and more into it the more you realize that the right gear can take a mediocre hike into an amazing one.  The companies that make gear do a really good job of thinking of everything that you might need to make the trail better. From waterproof shoes, to wool socks and breathable fabrics, there is something to help in every aspect of the hike. Backpacks are something that make a huge difference on a hike.  That is why my Osprey Manta is so important to me.  I know when I started hiking I brought a small town along with me in my pack.  I knew that I would need a spare of everything and backup of every spare.  I would stuff it all in a pack and then have a sore neck or back by the end.  As you hike more you realize what is important to bring and what isn’t.  The key is that with my Osprey backpack, everything has a place or pocket, the pockets are designed to help distribute the weight. Everything from the straps to the zippers are designed for a purpose to make you as comfortable as possible on the hike.  When you have good gear that is designed like that it makes the hikes so much more enjoyable. It is awesome that you highlight hikes from different regions, and support the local communities surrounding these trails by recommending local restaurants to check out after you are done hiking. Tell us your favorite meal post hike? I started featuring the restaurants as a way of letting people know what restaurants were open during the pandemic. My thoughts are that if we are going to enjoy the recreation of these smaller towns we should try to help support the town as well.  What I learned is that there is so much life and culture that can be found in the small town diners, cafes and restaurants.  I have had such a great time meeting people and just talking about life.  The best meal is pretty much a tie between one hundred restaurants.  Food tastes so amazing after a long hike! But... What really stands out to me are some of the experiences that I have had.  I got to eat at the Bucksnort(Se abre en una ventana nueva) in Pine, Colorado.  This place is over 100 years old and looks like a small cabin in the woods. Inside they still have wood fireplaces that give a classic feel. But they also have dollar bills stapled everywhere with every imaginable location of guests written on them. There was a small restaurant outside of Bryce Canyon, the Sunset Inn(Se abre en una ventana nueva),  with the owner from Prague.  The sign outside said they had hamburgers but they were out that day and this owner methodically convinced everyone who walked in to try the sausage.  And every single one of us did, and it was great!  It was masterful the way he did it and I laughed to myself in the booth every time someone new came in. The Gold Camp Bakery(Se abre en una ventana nueva) in Victor, Colorado served me a sandwich bigger than my head. And the most surprising place was the El Rancho Hote(Se abre en una ventana nueva)l in Gallup, New Mexico.  It was the hotel where all the old Hollywood stars stayed when they were shooting old western movies.  From the outside it looked a little rundown but as soon as I walked through the doors it was like a mini museum to Hollywood's glory days in the middle of the desert. Those experiences are all so unique and all so special to me.  The random conversations and memories continue well after the taste buds have moved on to the next flavor.