PelotonPosts is a monthly interview with a member of PelotonLabs, a co-working space in Portland’s West End with a mission to connect and encourage people stepping out of traditional modes of employment. This month, Peloton’s founder Liz Trice caught up with Ryan Linn, the co-founder of Atlas Guides / Guthook Hikes, which creates smartphone app-based hiking guides mostly for long hiking trails.
You get to travel around the world and make online maps for hikers?
I spend more time sitting at the computer. For instance, after my hiking for three weeks in the UK last month, I am now tediously going through all the data I gathered. But I did get to go hiking. (Smiles)
How did you get into this? Did you already have computer programming experience?
Luck. I hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Trail when I was fresh out of college, and one of the people I finished the Pacific Crest Trail with had been writing a guidebook, and – this was right when smartphones came out – he had the idea that we should make an app.
I had nothing else to do at the time – I was working soul-crushing temp jobs, and I had some background in working for hiking clubs. Of course, I had almost no programming experience. So, I basically spent a lot of late nights on the internet and reading books about how to get into IPhone programming. It’s been a very long learning experience. Guthook was my hiking nickname.
How long did it take you until you could support yourself?
It was never actually the plan to try to support myself with this project, but I was able to do so comfortably enough in 2015. In 2014, I could just barely pay my rent with it. We started working on the business in 2011 and now have around 20,000 users.
What other trails do you offer besides Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest trail?
Continental Divide, John Muir, Long Trail, Colorado Trail, Arizona, the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin, the Florida Trail, a few different long trails in Arkansas, a few hiking trails in New Hampshire and Maine, The Camino de Santiago in Spain, and now a few in the UK.
For someone who likes the idea of a long walk, but doesn’t want to sleep in tent, what would you recommend?
Go to Europe – you’re typically hiking from town to town instead of in a wilderness area. I don’t think we really have that in the U.S. Here in Maine you could try the The Hills to Sea Trail from Unity to Belfast. It’s about 50 miles long, and their website lists some B&Bs.
You’ve been a member at PelotonLabs for a while. What’s that like?
Come to Ryan Linn’s free public talk about his hike in the UK on Tuesday, November 11th, 12 to 1 p.m. RSVP to this and other cool events at https://pelotonlabs.spaces.nexudus.com/en/events
Working alone? Bring a friend to Peloton for our 2 for 1 fall discount, as low as $45/person/month. Two for the price of one for your first three months in our Unlimited, 10 Days/month and Nights & Weekends memberships. Sign up for a tour online. Key deposits still apply for each member.