November 8, 2012 at 8:21 am EST | by Kevin Majoros
Getting away from the bars
Sports, Steve marker, Steve Palumbo, gay news, Washington Blade

Steve Marker and Joe Palumbo on the Via Ferrata course at Nelson Rocks. (Photo courtesy the couple)

Over the years, I have met many couples at LGBT sporting events and functions.  Usually, one is the athlete and the other is a supporter of his or her partners’ athletic endeavors.

The OUTdoor Adventures Group was founded by Baltimore couple, Steve Marker and Joe Palumbo in the summer of 2010. They share a passion for the outdoors.

“We were at a bar one night with a group of friends and wanted to find an opportunity to get together with other gay men that did not involve drinking,” Palumbo says. “Both Steve and I love hiking, camping and being outdoors so the group began with day trips.”

The day trips have included skydiving, rock climbing, white water rafting, Gay Day at Hershey Park and competing in the Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder. They have also made two weekend trips part of their annual activities.

Big Gay Camping is a weekend event held in the fall every year with the group camping in Harpers Ferry the first year and switching to the gay-friendly locale of The Woods in Lehigh, Pa., for the last two years.

“When we first started out, most of the people in the group were from Baltimore,” Palumbo says. “On the last camping trip, we had close to 40 people from Baltimore, D.C., Philadelphia and New York.”

Coming up for the group is the third annual Gay Ski Weekend where the group has reserved a lakefront chalet in Deep Creek, Md. They have already booked close to 30 people for the weekend which will kick off on Jan. 25.

Marker and Palumbo, who met at Gay Pride in Baltimore in 2008, were married in July at Old Stone House in Georgetown. Their honeymoon was an Alaskan cruise which included 55 of their family and friends. Festivities on the ship included a pool party and rock climbing.

Recently, the couple took their adventuring to the extreme level by completing the Via Ferrata course at Nelson Rocks in West Virginia. Via Ferrata systems are relatively new in the United States but have been popular for decades in Europe, where about 300 routes are open to the public.

Via Ferrata means “road with irons” in Italian. The courses have been described by many as a combination of hiking and climbing. Via Ferratas are strongly associated with World War I when the Italians and Austrians were fighting near the Dolomites mountain ranges in Italy. The troops needed a better way to move through the mountainous area.

The modern Via Ferrata is a steel cable that runs along the route and is periodically fixed to the rock. Climbing aids such as iron rungs, pegs, carved steps, ladders and bridges are often found on the courses.

The Nelson Rocks facility is one of about eight in the United States. Marker and Palumbo finished the 3.5-mile course in just over five hours.

“Adventuring has always been a part of our life together,” Marker says. “Whenever we are feeling stress, we find something to do that will take us outdoors.”

You can find the group on Facebook under OUTdoor Adventures Group.

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