Local News

December 16, 2012

Extreme adventure: Local man to tackle Death Valley

This is the story of Chase Norton, a Dalton native who has undergone a significant transformation discovering his passion and pursuing his dreams.

This endurance athlete is about to embark on his next adventure in Death Valley National Park (www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm). His kickstarter project, “Death Valley: Chase’s Way,” will feature a short film that seeks out the truth of Death Valley through Norton’s solo 10-day backpacking trek from north to south across the entirety of the largest national park in the continental U.S.

Norton left Georgia to pursue his studies at the University of Hawaii. Surrounded by a lush tropical landscape, he discovered his love of hiking. After five years honing his experience, skills and expertise, he traversed the entire Ko’olau Mountain Range in eight consecutive days, backpacking through the jungle, across steep ridges and climbing narrow rocky saddles. Unbeknown to him at the time, this achievement would change the direction of his life.

His story starts with an average Dalton kid who excelled in computer skills and most often found himself in front of the television drinking soda and eating fast food. A healthy active lifestyle was far from Norton’s roots. After graduating from Dalton High School and attending Emory University, Norton continued to pursue his academic interest in meteorology. In 2008 he was accepted into a Ph.D. program at the University of Hawaii on Oahu.

A backpacking trip to Kauai’s world-renowned Na Pali Coast was Norton’s first taste of hiking and he was immediately hooked. He began hiking short, easy day hikes, eventually progressing to more difficult, longer and at times dangerous treks. All this hiking led Norton to backpacking involving multiple-night treks while camping.

As his body grew stronger, not only did he lose weight, he started to embrace a healthier, more active life. Realizing that food is a fuel for your body, he changed his diet. Eventually Norton planted a garden filled with herbs and hearty vegetables, along with frequenting farmers markets and health food stores. His active lifestyle led him to step foot in the gym for the first time, where he now trains regularly. While in Hawaii, he also started to run, bike and surf.

With his master’s of science in meteorology behind him, Norton is embracing a new direction in his life, pursuing a career as an endurance athlete. Recently starting his own company, Chase LIFE, Norton is devoting his time to inspiring others towards a more healthy and active lifestyle through motivational speeches, along with pursuing his own challenges.

Norton’s next step is an impressive ultra adventure, where he is planning to run the entire length of Death Valley. The Death Valley project is truly one of a kind, being a fully self-contained and solo backpacking trek across the entire park from north to south over 228 miles of some of the most rugged terrain imaginable. Many of the days are marathon plus mileage, with the last day totaling nearly 50 miles. The roads will rarely be used; instead Norton will run across canyons, dunes, summit ridges and valley floors. This adventure embodies an idea he loves: carrying everything he needs to survive in a pack and just running.

This trek is encapsulated within the short film “Death Valley: Chase’s Way.” The film will be used as a message of inspiration in Norton’s motivational speeches to schools and businesses. For the filming, he has teamed up with an experienced and well-published adventure photographer/videographer, Olivier Renck. Through Renck’s lens, the  journey will be retold and shared and the landscape captured.

You can learn more about Norton’s next adventure and how you can become a part of the journey through supporting his project “Death Valley: Chase’s Way” on kickstarter at www.kickstarter.com/projects/chaseway/death-valley-chases-way.


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