By Noah Nelson
Raised in a family of artists and frequent trips to Europe, Rachel D’Antona is no stranger to culture and art history. While in Barcelona, she was inspired by Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, and with no hesitation applied to Savannah College of Art and Design, where she received her degree in Interior Design and Construction Technology. After graduating college, she worked as a drafter for a few years designing and illustrating residential spaces. However, the burnout of four years of schooling combined with feeling stuck in a monotonous career inspired her to pack her backpack and buy a one way ticket to San Diego to begin her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,655 mile long trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada. This scenic trail is riddled with national parks and forests, barren desert, river crossings, steep climbs, snow-capped mountains, and millions of flora and wildlife species. In 2015, after Rachel completed her thru hike in 174 days, she wanted a piece of memorabilia that showcased the massive journey she just completed. She looked around and found some maps made by the PCT Association, but they all left out a key part of her journey. While the maps showed the physical trail and the topography of the land, they all left out the people and sights that made the hike so memorable for Rachel.
After completing this life-altering journey, she decided to combine her background in art and design with her love of hiking, and create an artistic interpretation of her adventure with the thought that others would yearn for memorabilia as much as she did. This map art would include popular resupply locations, iconic trail angels, and the most beloved public lands along the trail. From there, HIKERBOOOTY was born. Rachel began to create more maps and illustrations that best portray Oregon’s Public Lands and America’s National Scenic Trails. Since creating her first map in 2017, Rachel has expanded her business clientele to include audiences from other states, and will continue to do so.
To assist Rachel in helping expand HIKERBOOTY’s product line, Brian McGregor, another visual artist, has joined the team. Brian is also an art school graduate who specializes in watercolor and illustrations. Together, they plan to create a new series of popular public land maps within each state and to focus more on the less popular National Scenic Trails. They hope to shine some light on the more neglected areas within the United States. If more people were aware of the beauty that was at their fingertips, then maybe they would be more inclined to help protect it.
Part of their joint mission lies in conservation. Rachel discussed with us the idea that if more people are made aware of the land they live around, then they may be more inclined to go explore it. And if they go exploring on hikes, biking trails, kayaks, skis, or any other method, they will be more inclined to protect that land for everyone. One of the real goals of HIKERBOOTY is to help promote public land so that future generations can enjoy this bounty of mountains, lakes, and rivers the same way we have.
This is also the reason that Rachel is intent on expanding HIKERBOOTY to trails across the United States, not just the Pacific Northwest Region. Up here, many people are already environmentally conscious and fight to preserve nature for everyone to enjoy, but that is not the reality across the entire country. Other states have many more developments that threaten to take away our access to parks and public land. HIKERBOOTY is on a mission to fix that, one piece of art at a time.
You’re probably wondering why the name HIKERBOOTY? Rachel came across several trends within the thru-hiking community while on the trail. Thru hikers may travel an average of 15 to 35 miles per day on the PCT and have to climb countless peaks and summits along the way. There’s a tradition that once you’ve “worked your butt off” to summit a peak, you drop your shorts and take a bare bum photo. Rachel wanted to be reminded of the fun and freedom she had while thru-hiking.
You can meet Rachel at the Northwest Crossing Farmer’s Market in Bend every Saturday from till October.