Imagine six days portaging the Boundary Waters Canoe Area within the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota. Imagine crisp, early fall mornings and sweater-worthy evenings — leaves just beginning to put on a show. No cell service. No traffic. No social media. Just canoes, hiking boots, campfires, and friends.
Or sitting on the warm red rocks after climbing from far below, in the Mammoth Lakes wilderness of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Taking in the contrasting hues of the surrounding peaks and recounting the moves it took to get there.
Scenes like this are what Clif Mervil thirsts for.
Born with a Thirst for Adventure
Mervil is a professional adventure photographer who is constantly in search of the next travel adventure to quench his thirst. “One of my favourite things about being outside is disconnecting from society and connecting with nature. Letting the stress and noise drain out, and allowing the countless colours of sunset to soak in.”
Born in Haiti, Mervil now lives in South Carolina. As a kid, he was constantly active — running track, playing soccer, and trying everything. “It’s how I stayed out of trouble.”
Today, Mervil says, not much has changed. He’s ready to try it all, be it backpacking, kayaking, or rock climbing. On a recent mountaineering trip in New York’s Adirondacks, Mervil’s friends asked him if he wanted to try ice climbing. “I had never done it before, but I said, ‘Yeah, let’s go!’”
Mervil loves getting to know the land, water, and the air in different ways. He loves to push his comfort zone and find new opportunities to explore. But he also enjoys basking in the calm of the outdoors — playing chess, plucking his guitar, and just taking in the scene.
Adventure Travel is Best When Shared
Another one of Clif’s passions is helping others travel for adventure. He claims sharing the outdoors is his superpower. “It’s like pulling back the curtain to reveal a whole new magical world. Until you’ve seen the reflection of snow-capped mountains on a glass-calm lake or crept outside the tent in the wee hours to see a sky full of stars, you kind of can’t believe it.”
Mervil takes his nephews camping every summer, and this year wants to introduce them to rock climbing. “Every year I try to do something new with them. Part of being a steward of the land is sharing it with others. I teach them how to care for the environment and leave no trace.”
While Mervil has been on plenty of solo adventures, what he truly loves is engaging with the outdoor community when he travels. “I’ve met some of the coolest people I know through outdoor adventure. And I want to grow that community myself.”
Through adventure travel, Mervil wants to help others appreciate nature. Everything from the thrill of the climb to the way the fog dances around the river at sunrise. It all makes him feel small, but in a good way — like he has his own little part in such immense beauty.
These days Mervil takes on major escapades and captures epic images. But he started out with micro adventures where he felt safe, like taking short hikes with his dogs. Then over time, he began to thirst for more. Short hikes morphed into camping out, then climbing mountains and wondering how far he could go.
Now that he’s an experienced adventure photographer and van lifer, Mervil still likes to remember that exploring doesn’t have to be magazine cover worthy. Adventuring can happen in your own backyard. It can be savoring every moment off the clock and relaxing at the park. “My advice to others is to just get out there. And ask a friend to join you.” You never know who might be interested but too intimidated to go alone.
There are plenty of barriers to outdoor adventure, yet Mervil suggests that adventure is what we all need most. “Without it, we’re a little bit empty. We need it in order to be inspired, unwind, and feed the soul.” With CamelBak as a partner, Clif Mervil is ready to break down barriers and share the adventure travel spirit with as many people as possible.
Above all, he wants to remind us to Get out there and have fun — it’s a beautiful world.”
See Cliford’s work over on Instagram. @cliford.mervil