Mark Layton, our resident reptile expert! He has a passion for reptiles, amphibians and all sorts of wildlife. Reptiles are his area of expertise and he’ll be sure to tell you all about the snakes and turtles as you go across our “Black Pearl” pond. Mark is one of those guys everybody wants to be around; he’ll gladly share with you stories of his reptiles or outdoor adventures. If you ask him, you’ll be sure to learn a lot about climbing, trees, animals and basically anything that has to do with outdoors. You’ll often see him walking around in his bare feet and cutoff jeans drumming on anything he can find. He’s also very talented musically, playing guitar for the worship band at his church, as well as playing drums in his spare time.
All that being said, Mark really has a soft heart and he loves to make the canopy tour as personal as he can; his heart really shines through in everything he does. While riding the zip lines with Mark, he’s sure to make you feel comfortable, at ease and even to feel like you’re one of his friends!
He’s one of our lead instructors here at Refreshing Mountain, and for a rightful reason, he knows his stuff and he’s great relating with all of you! If you get Mark as a tour guide, be sure to ask him about his pet reptiles and climbing adventures, he’ll love to share his expertise as he keeps you safe on the zip lines!
(Famous “cutoff’s and bare-feet” – Even in California!)
Here’s a few questions with Mark.
What got you into zip lining?
“I started out as cleaning staff at Refreshing Mountain 4 years ago, as a summer job – then I don’t’ even remember how, but I got asked if I want to do the zip-line training, so I came in to do the training, and I immediately stopped cleaning and I’ve been doing it ever since. Through that it then unlocked other passions like rock climbing and other outdoor stuff! “
Tell us about your first experience zip-lining?
“Well I remember it was on our old zip-line – and I remember thinking it was so cool because it was the closest I’ve ever been to flying”
So you were never afraid?
“I’ve always loved climbing things, so I’ve always been comfortable being up high. But the first time I did the high ropes course I was definitely a little nervous.”
What about people who aren’t as adventurous as you, what would you say to them for their first time zip-lining?
“Well, what I always tell people is –‘if your hearts racing, that just means you’re about to do something exciting!’ Think about it, whether it’s an important conversation, a zip-line or anything else in life, when your heart begins to race, it just means something exciting is about to happen. So know it’ll be another exciting thing in your life.”
Do you think anybody could get through all the zip-lines, no matter how much their heart is racing?
No matter how afraid they are?
Do you see more of a future in this job, or pursuing something with one of your other talents?
“This will always be something I can come back to in the future, but I’m sure there will be a time period that will involve my other passions.”
So out of all your many talents and hobbies, what’s your favorite out of all of them? What will you end up pursuing?
“Something with reptiles for sure! Something on the field, particularly working with venomous snakes! “
What got you into reptiles? And what do you like about venomous snakes? Isn’t that scary?
“Well, Steve Irwin definitely had a lot to do with me getting into reptiles. I’ve always had a love for animals, but around the age of 7 something happened that made me start loving reptiles, all of a sudden they were my favorite animals; around that time I started watching the Crocodile Hunter, from that point on I wanted to be just like him. Because Steve was my hero, the most dangerous reptiles were my favorite.
Lastly what’s your favorite time of day and season to zip-line?
“7-9pm, probably in late summer, right around August. I just love how the sun hits the tree’s as its going down, it’s just so beautiful!”
Here’s one last picture of Mark holding a Rattler snake that he found out in the woods!
Thanks for Reading!
Social Media Coordinator, Canopy Tour Instructor