Meet Jason Huckeba of “Huck Outdoors”
By Steve Barrett
Creative Content Writer, Hilltop Packs LLC
It is only fitting that Jason Huckeba’s popular outdoors Youtube channel is called “Huck Outdoors,” because the outdoors has always been an essential and huge part of his life.
Born and raised in southern California, Jason said he loved living in what he called a “great little community.”
“We lived in San Bernardino by Big Bear Lake, and it truly was an outdoors person’s dream,” he said.
He was introduced to the outdoors at an early age through special trips with his family.
“Growing up, our family did a lot of camping trips to national parks and local forests every year,” he said. “Every year my family would go camping and go on road trips throughout the summer. We had a truck with a camper on the pick-up bed, then went to a trailer and a tent trailer.
“We would also do some tent camping mixed in as well,” he continued. “We made a few trips to Zion, another family trip up to Crater Lake, and another big trip up to Yellowstone.
Jason said the Yellowstone trip was a special one.
“We spent a couple of weeks traveling, and Yellowstone was the spot that I picked after seeing PBS specials and also reading about the fishing in many trout fishing magazines,” he said. “One morning, we stopped by the famous fishing bridge, and while my parents went to go have breakfast, I went and fished. Little did I know that you can’t fish next to the bridge, but you have to walk a mile up the river.
“I walked up the river a mile without a care in the world, while Yellowstone has wolves and grizzly bears in the area,” he continued. “I remember catching fish after fish – up to 20 -while hearing my dad yelling my name searching for me. He thought something had happened to me, but I was just having fun catching fish.”
Jason, who loves fishing just as much as loves hiking and backpacking, said it was during that trip when he was able to fish some of the most famous trout rivers in the nation, and was also able to explore the Snake River and Columbia River as well.
His introduction to the world of hiking and backpacking was more than 12 years ago.
“Sometime around 2010 and 2011, my buddy and I started watching a lot of videos and TV shows about the outdoors, and I thought backpacking could be a lot of fun,” he said.
His first backpacking trip was in 2013, a three-day trek where he hauled 70 pounds of gear.
“I didn’t know what I was really doing, and back then there weren’t a whole lot of videos available that talked about gear,” he said. “Fortunately, gear advancement has dramatically improved since then.”
Though he honestly cannot figure out exactly how many hikes he has traveled (“hundreds and hundreds,” he said) and how many miles he has covered (he estimates at least a couple thousand miles), he fondly remembers his share of unforgettable memories made on the trails.
“I have gone on many trips with friends, and we have shared some very interesting moments,” he said. “During my first hike with the group, we were in Utah and encountered massive flash flooding. We also endured a 27-mile hike along the coast of northern California, the Lost Coast Trail. It was an unforgettable experience.”
The longest hike he ever experienced was a brutal 72-mile trek that took eight days and seven nights to finish. He has also faced extreme weather conditions, and perhaps his most memorable trip was along The High Sierra Trail, his first big hike, where he found himself struggling.
“We were only 40 miles in the hike when I experienced a great deal of difficulty, and later doctors told me that blood clots were found in both of my lungs,” he said. “The clots could’ve and should have killed me, my lungs were strong … doctors said outdoor activity probably saved my life.”
As for his love of fishing, Jason said the activity is an essential part of his hike planning.
“Any backpacking trips I put together, I try to make sure that fishing is involved,” he said. “I partake in a lot of trips just to fish. There’s something awesome about getting 10 miles into a trip, finding more fish to catch, getting away from noise and feeling blessed with nature.”
Other memories include the trip where he thought he saw a mountain lion but it turned to be a lost Golden Retriever; another hike where an angry deer started charging at him full-on with its antlers down; yet another adventure where he came face-to-face with a rattlesnake; and when he reached his highest point on a trek, 14,503 feet atop Mount Whitney in California.
Another trip that he will not soon forget was where he was actually in the vicinity of where there was a manhunt a week later for a wanted fugitive, Christopher Dorner.
According to Wikipedia, Dorner was a former officer of the Los Angeles Police Department who, beginning on February 3, 2013, committed a series of shootings in various counties throughout California. The victims were law enforcement officers and the daughter of a retired police captain.
Dorner killed four people and wounded three others, and on February 12, 2013, Dorner died during a standoff with San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputies after a shootout at a cabin near Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains, Wikipedia states.
A manifesto posted by Dorner on Facebook declared "unconventional and asymmetric warfare" upon the Los Angeles Police Department, their families and their associates, unless the LAPD admitted publicly he was fired in retaliation for reporting excessive force, according to Wikipedia.
“(Dorner) was probably hanging out in the area where we had started that hike around that time,” he said. “There’s never a dull moment when you become a hiker/backpacker.”
Jason said that when planning some of the group’s bigger trips, they do try to make it happen around where there is “some good fishing,” such as the Rae Lakes loop, anywhere in the eastern Sierra and the Wind River Range.
Like many other adventure seekers, Jason has a “normal” job, working for the past 13 years in project management and sales for a computer technology company. His closest family member is his faithful companion, a five-year-old, smaller Husky mix named Sierra.
“I don’t take her with me on hikes because she’s a tad too rambunctious to walk trails,” he said. “However, I do get to hike with other friends who share the same passion as me.”
A self-proclaimed computer guy, Jason said his background and experience in technology assisted him in his quest to start up his own YouTube Channel, which was created in 2011. Jason said the idea started when he began making videos to show family and friends some footage of his hikes. Over the years the channel’s popularity grew, as there are currently more than 9,500 subscribers and over 300 videos found on the channel.
“I try to capture the essence of nature as best as I can in my videos,” he said. “Bird chirping, water falling, whatever sounds that help viewers become immersed in the outdoors. I like to think that people who view my videos may learn that everyone and anyone can get outside and enjoy nature."
Jason, whose nickname is “Huck,” also encourages novices to research the area they are hiking, as well as their gear and the weather. He also said that people interested in his channel and videos may also find him on Facebook and Instagram.
When asked why the outdoors mean so much to him, he said two words: Mental reset.
“It’s all about resetting your well-being, about not hearing noise and cars, about waking up and hearing and enjoying nature all around you,” he said. “Everyone needs to reset their mental clocks … whether it’s a hike far away or a quick local trek, everyone should try to get out there. It’s pretty amazing.”