Finding Direction When Lost in the Woods

For Hunter Herman ‘18, exploring isn’t a hobby; it’s a lifestyle.

Hunter+Herman%27s+truck%2C+Barb%2C+poses+on+Hoontar+Rock%2C+Colorado.+
Hunter Herman's truck, Barb, poses on Hoontar Rock, Colorado.

Hunter Herman's truck, Barb, poses on Hoontar Rock, Colorado.

Hunter Herman's truck, Barb, poses on Hoontar Rock, Colorado.

Andrew Burgess

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The tires spin with more force this time, kicking up dense, February snowmelt mud. The silver 2010 Toyota FJ’s rugged, raised wheels skid over the slick surface, gain traction, and haul the two ton vehicle to higher ground. Hunter Herman ‘18 got the truck from his brother two years ago. Every day after school since then, Herman has explored local trails and parks in the truck. Among his favorites are Lake Macbride and the Coralville nature reserve. In his free time, Herman plans his adventures on Google Maps. “I love finding a trail and just seeing where it leads.”

Growing up, Herman lived in Oxnard, Southern California. He became interested in skateboarding, and credited the California skate scene for influencing his adventurous personality. Later, he moved to Woodland Park, Colorado. There, he developed a passion for exploration, as hiking trails were accessible from his backyard. In 2015, Herman began driving the FJ. Moving to Iowa seemed like a bleak, harsh new reality compared to the endless trails and mountains in Colorado. However, he soon discovered the sights and adventure of Lake Macbride and other state parks nearby. Iowa’s trail conditions in the winter and spring are no joke, either. Once, Herman had to winch his truck out of a muddy ditch. “[Herman] seems happiest when we get into tough or challenging situations, where we could get stuck,” says Nick Burgess ‘18, a close friend of Herman’s.

In Herman’s eighth grade photography class, he worked with developing film. “That really got me into photography,” he said. He picked up a vintage camera from an antiques shop, and started taking photos. Afterwards, his mother gave him a Canon Rebel t5i, a DSLR camera. “This was really what led to the Instagram account.

In March of this year, Hunter started an Instagram dedicated to the travels of the Truck, which he named Barb. Now, only six months later, the account has over 200 followers and two sponsorships, by Cooper Tires and Arcis. “Basically, I have to post a few times every week and tag [my sponsors].” The internet-famous Barb can be seen in the West High parking lot, silver glinting in the sun, a sticker reading ‘Yours may go fast, but mine can go anywhere’ peeking out from behind specks of mud from the previous day’s adventures.

Several years ago, when playing soccer, Herman nearly shattered his knee. “I saw a new value in exploration after that. . . it honestly gave me a sense of direction in life.” Although off-roading may not seem to have an obvious connection to life values, Herman calls the most fun and social aspect of his life. “He loves finding new things and getting lost,” says Nick Burgess. “He’s not afraid to show his emotions, and is just the happiest person I’ve met.”

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