Alive & Unedited: Joe Lowe

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Columbus has no mountains, but that didn't stop Joe Lowe from finding some. The bona fide mountain man has worked under big sky across the hemisphere and plans to lead a group of locals into the Bolivian cloud forest later this summer.


Three things I can't live without are mountains, a good book and a good coffee.

Living in Ohio, that might seem kind of weird. I think, in a way, the mountain bug was almost stronger here. You see it on TV, you read about it, you see pictures. And you're here, so you start to dream about it. It comes stronger.

I've worked on trail crews for the last eight years. I've worked all over the place - in the Rockies, in the Cascades - mostly for the National Forest Service and one season for the National Park Service. Next week, I'm going to work at Denali National Park. We're building a new trail that's 15 miles inside the park.

I like being outside in the mountains. I especially like trail crew because you're outside, and you're working hard. It just feels good. I tried it out in high school working for the Student Conservation Association and just fell in love with the work. I couldn't give it up.

From 2003 to 2005, I worked in Bolivia. I was a natural resources management volunteer with the Peace Corps. It was in the central part, in Cochabamba.

Growing up in Columbus, I had heard that most people in the world live a totally different lifestyle than us. I was just really curious to see what life was like outside the U.S. and especially life under conditions of poverty. When I got offered Bolivia, I knew I wanted to go there. I knew there were mountains and jungle, and there was a lot of indigenous culture.

I'm organizing a trip there Sept. 13-20. The wildlife reserve is in the tropical Andes, basically the transition zone where the Andes turn into the Amazon Basin. We want to support the local communities who are making an effort to conserve the natural areas they live in, and we also want to raise awareness here about the biodiversity in cloud forests.

A cloud forest is just amazing. It's something that you dream of as a kid. You go there and see it, and it's basically like your dreams come true. Everything is dripping. Everything is wet all the time. The trees are just covered with this huge mat of ferns, lichens, mosses.

I'm kind of getting to the point now where I'm married and trying to settle down a little bit more. I'm going to be starting at Ohio State University in the fall in their masters of environmental and natural resources program.

When I'm at home, my wife and I go for walks. I definitely like to spend as much free time as I can reading when I have a good book. We watch "The Office" every week.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at

Age: 31

Day job: Trail crew, Denali National Park

Neighborhood: Grandview

Alma mater: Ohio State University

Hometown: Columbus


Playing Favorites

Favorite TV show: "The Office"

Favorite movie: "The Godfather: Part II"

Favorite book: "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Favorite band: Wilco

Favorite song: "Graceland" by Paul Simon

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite drink: Pabst Blue Ribbon

Favorite place to travel: Bolivia

Favorite color: Green