Samuel Martin embarked last year on the world famous John Muir Trail, hiking solo the 211 mile path in the California Sierra mountains over a period of 24 days, averaging 10 miles a day.

Samuel  grew up exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and his photography grew out of his love for backpacking and capturing the stories and people around him. Samuel’s motto is truly “I’d rather be camping”, and he means its… The John Muir Trail stretches from Happy Isle in Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney. It is a classic in the backpacker community and it boasts some of the best views in the United States, in a land of 13,000-foot and 14,000-foot peaks, of lakes in the thousands, and of canyons and granite cliffs. The JMT is widely known as the most beautiful trail in the US.

  • Samuel, why did you choose your path and how did you get started? 

After graduating from college this past spring I was looking to take an extended trip over the summer before jumping into my career.  Originally I was looking at hiking a section of the PCT, either the Oregon or Washington sections, but in my research I kept seeing the John Muir Trail mentioned. I ended up focusing my research on the JMT and after reading about the permit process and this years unprecedented influx of permit requests I decided to throw my hat in the ring and see if anything stuck. Through some miracle I was approved for a permit on my first try and the rest is history as they say.

  • How did you prepare for the John Muir Trail?

The biggest preparation I had to make for the JMT was my food. The trail is very remote and planning out where to send food resupplies can be complicated, fortunately, I was able to figure everything out and send everything to the correct locations at the correct time for me to pick up along my hike. I found a plethora of information on JMT forums and past trip reports, google is truly a travelers best friend.

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  • How did you hear about the XShot?

I first took notice of XShot through Instagram, @Trevlee who lives in Yosemite posted some incredible photos of himself standing on crazy exposed rock faces or from the top of trees he had climbed, needless to say I was hooked.

  • Samuel Martin JMT gearWhat do you always carry in your camera/travel bag? 

I like to jump between film and digital photography so my bag usually consists of a fine mix of both mediums. I try to keep a tripod handy for low light or long exposure situations and I always keep a Pocket Xshot extender in case I want a unique angle or perspective of a shot. Having a dead battery is terrible to experience on a trip so I always keep a few spares ready to go. At the moment I have been using the Pocket XShot extender, the XShot selfie stick, paired with my iPhone 6 and/or Fuji X100.

  • Where is your favorite location to take pictures? 

I find myself most inspired when I spend time in the mountains. There is a definite trend that my favorite photos have been taken while on a backpacking trip or while spending and afternoon alone beside a waterfall. That said, I am trying to stretch myself creatively to find beauty in urban landscapes but I always find myself returning to the wilderness.

Samuel Martin hiking on the JMT

  • Can you share an anecdote or funny story you encountered while using your XShot?

On a short camping trip to Grayson Highlands in Virginia this past spring and I was taking a short break in a field watching the resident wild ponies graze. A few of the young foals, no more then a month old, were jumping around and generally having a great time experiencing life. They eventually took interest in me and came over to see what I was about and to smell my backpack. Long story short as I was trying to take photos of them with the Pocket Extender they kept trying to grab it out of my hands and bite it, they seemed more interested in tasting the XShot then having their photo taken with it.

  • We noticed that you had been very creative with the XShot, how do you think you will use it the most?

Samuel Martin XShot selfie on JMT

Samuel Martin XShot selfie on JMT

I’ve found that the XShot is so much more then a selfie stick. It enables me to get a unique perspective on portraits, landscapes, and lifestyle photos. I’m finding new ways of using it every trip and if you’re stuck on it being a selfie tool you’re not utilizing it to its full potential.

  • Tell us about your new exciting trips and projects to come

I’m always looking to the future and planning my next trip so I have a lot of ideas and locations I’d love to visit. This fall I hope to spend extended time in the North Carolina mountains and soak in the fall atmosphere as well as possibly traveling back out west for a week.

Follow Samuels Martins’ adventures on his blog , journal or on instagram.

More info about the John Muir Trail : discover-the-trail/john-muir-trail/


More JMT photos by Samuel Martin here: https:


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