Courtney Wilson - A Wild Campfire That Changed My Life

Hello! Who are you and where are your hiking roots?

Hey there! My name is Courtney Wilson and I grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. My journey with the outdoors began when I was young and we went camping as a family at Fish Creek Pond Campground in the mountains. This became my favorite place as we continued to go there every single year of my life up into now.

I learned to ski when I was four years old and then did some ski team “racing” when I was younger. My outdoors pursuit slowed down when I started team sports in middle school and then went on to compete on scholarship in NCAA DIV. II Track & Field at Bentley University and then SUNY Plattsburgh.

Shortly after I decided not to compete my senior year of college, is when my adventure really began. I started hiking and skiing, a lot. In this year I hiked over 100 peaks and skied 50 days. I spent a lot of time in the mountains by myself, trekking to complete my ADK 46ers and I learned so much about myself and life. 

The Adirondacks is where nature began a part of me forever and my thirst for adventure began. It challenged me more than competition ever had and grew my purpose in life. Fast forward to now, I am a full-time content creator or as I like to call it… adventurer. I get paid to explore, ski and compete in OCR races. I’d consider myself to be a lone wolf of sorts, because I love to solo-adventure. I used to be afraid to trek into the woods alone, but now it’s become a love of mine.

What’s your Story From The Mountain?

The hike that really changed my life was before my freshman year of college. I went hiking with an ex-boyfriend of mine who was the one who originally got me into hiking. Before this hike, I only hiked one mountain that was 2 miles RT with around 1,000’ of elevation gain. This hike? 15.3 miles and 5,000’ of elevation gain. 

Our plan was to hike 3 miles in to the Adirondack Park the day before to set up camp in a lean-to, something I had never done, and then hike the Dix Range the next day. This range consisted of multiple peaks through some brutally dense terrain. Thankfully, we pushed through, but I had never felt so physically challenged in my life. My legs were cramped half way through and the trail literally seemed to continue forever. It took us nearly 12 hours when we arrived back to camp. 

The moment that changed me wasn’t along that hike, but after in the woods. It had rained that day making all the woods in the forest wet, not great kindling for a fire. We ended up starting a fire the old fashioned way by spinning the logs against each other.

An hour later, we had fire. But two hours later? Over 20 people had traveled over to join us among the flames. Every single person each brought a small contribution whether it was moonshine, tacos or even a guitar to play music. 

This was the moment I believed in humanity, in the pursuit of adventure and self. It was here where my thirst for the mountains began and since this day it never stopped. 

Through hiking/climbing, have you learned anything about yourself or nature you’d like to pass on to others?

Throughout the years and the more mountains I’ve climbed, I’ve realized that I don’t want to be known for how many peaks I’ve conquered, but instead the wisdom that I can teach others.

Throughout the years and the more mountains I’ve climbed, I’ve realized that I don’t want to be known for how many peaks I’ve conquered, but instead the wisdom that I can teach others.

Hiking is much more than climbing a mountain, it’s about conquering the fears who have about yourself. The biggest life realizations for me how been out in the woods. 

I’ve learned that I’m really good at physically pushing myself beyond what I’m capable of. I’ve seen it every single time I do a Spartan Race. My body starts to breakdown far before I’m ready to quit. My training has become my limit and now I’m working harder on that. 

OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) has become the perfect competition for me. It challenges strength, endurance and grit. There are some fit athletes who get defeated because of the terrain or extreme elements. I love that you have to have it all to succeed. 

What’s your favorite item in your pack?

This one is going to be a bit different for me… my tripod (Manfrotto Compact Aluminum) I can’t hike without. It’s pretty small and only holds my phone, but for me documenting my adventures is my job and missing a memorable moment is everything to me. 

OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) has become the perfect competition for me. It challenges strength, endurance and grit.

I love to gift others gear that they need, but don’t have. Whether that’s a better pair of sunglasses, a gore-tex piece for skiing, or even just a good granola bar for the trail. 

Do you have any advice for other hikers who are just starting out?

When first starting out, I would recommend something you KNOW you can do. Less than 3 miles RT and less than 1,200’ of elevation gain. It does not matter how fit you are, taking your fitness ability to the woods is a completely different beast. You can get lost, hurt or even run into something you’re not technically ready for. 

It’ll be a lot easier to start if you do something incredibly easy, because after you’ll want something more. I personally don’t like hiking unless it’s to the summit of a mountain, so find a small one.

Even if it only takes you 15 minutes to get to the top, you’ll still have climbed a mountain that day. This will begin your thirst for hiking and you’ll be way more motivated to do more. 

I would also always tell someone where you’re going or go with someone. Hiking a populated trail is also a good idea if something happens. Don’t pick anything that’s not maintained with trail markers.

Make sure you’re hydrated BEFORE you hike, during and after. I highly recommend having an energy gel, GU are the best before and every 45 minutes along the journey. Don’t eat too much, but bring snacks just in case the hike takes longer than you expect! Stretch after so you don’t become handicapped the next day :)

What have been the most influential hiking books, podcasts, or people?

A lot of my motivation for adventure comes from my faith. I’m a Christian so most of the content I consume around self-improvement is based on that. I love listening to Elevation podcasts, Bob Goff, and tons of other Christian novels. 

Aside from faith, lately Gary Vee who is an amazing motivator has been my fuel. I’m an entrepreneur myself and he has so much wisdom I highly recommend following and listening to him!  

Adventure based books? She Explores and Vanlife are great! I also follow a lot of people on IG who inspire me as well, @rachelpohl being one of them. 

Atticus poetry has been really influential in finding myself and my thirst for adventure. 

Where’s your next adventure?

Well, for me everyday is literally an adventure. Being a full-time outdoors influencer, my job technically requires for me to get outside a lot. My next big pursuit this year though will be competing at a lot more Spartan Race events. Last year I started competing Age Group, where they give out medals, because my friends told me I was way beyond Open.. haha


Sooo, this year I will be going to 10+ events including the OCR World Championships in Stratton, VT. The goal is to place at every race and hopefully snag some wins! I would also love to finish three Trifectas and grab that medal.

If you’re interested in doing a Spartan Race or do now… if you volunteer at the event you can race for free! I always do that, but no one seems to know about it. 

Where can others learn more about you?

You can find me on all of these social channels!

Instagram: @courtwildson

Pinterest: @thewordinthewild

TikTok: @courtwildson

Facebook: @courtwildson

My Website/Blog:

Here I have written a book about how to become an influencer on instagram called, “Influencer Guide” for Instagram! It has everything I know in it and tons of value. I still re-read it myself! It’s 31 pages long and great for businesses too. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you loved my story! I always love hearing how I impact others and how I can help.

Want to share your Story From The Mountain?

Hey, I'm Greg Kamradt, the founder of Terra Mano.

We interview awesome hikers/mountaineers/climbers/photographers and share the stories behind their ambition. By sharing these stories, we want to help others become inspired to reach their goals.

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