Private Snowcoach Tour of West Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park is an iconic destination, one I have had the privilege of visiting in the summer months when the wildlife is plentiful and the tourists abound. But, I had never visited it during the winter when a thick coat of snow coats the landscape, making for an ethereal experience with the thick plumes of steam dotting the horizon.

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In January, Nick and I had the chance to take a private snow coach tour of the park courtesy of Visit Montana* and it was an incredible treat! We walked through geyser basins, watched the bison play, caught Old Faithful going off two times, and enjoyed the comfort and warmth of the coach as we transitioned from place to place.

Things to consider:

  1. Your guide will check in with you upon entering the park to see what type of adventure you’re interested in having. It’s a good idea to do a little research before you hit the trail so you can prioritize your destinations, whether that’s strolling through steamy plumes, visiting Old Faithful, or getting a little further on foot for views of Grand Prismatic Hot Springs in the snow.

  2. Feel free to load up on layers and snacks. You’ll have ample storage inside the snowcat for backpacks and snacks so bring layers you can take on and off as you hop in and out, and snacks for the day. You can also purchase snacks and keepsakes at the Old Faithful lodge if you make it that way!

  3. To the point above, bring your wallet! Your guide isn’t responsible for purchasing additional items for you!

  4. If you’re lucky, you’ll see plentiful wildlife while you’re out and about. Listen to your guide and maintain a safe distance between you and any animals you come upon while visiting. This is for your safety and the safety of the animals. A long lens is recommended for snapping photos from the safety of the snowcat.

That’s the long and the short of it! Get out there for your own adventure and let me know how it goes!

*The Montana State Tourism Board sponsored the trip, but has not asked me to create this content. I had such an amazing time and the experience was phenomenal so I want to share about it a little more.


Winter Fly Fishing in Paradise Valley

I have long been enchanted by fly fishing. There’s something about the graceful arc of a line cutting through the air that speaks of peace and contentment. Despite my interest, I have never had the opportunity to give it a try until this year.

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On a recent trip with Visit Montana*, my friend Nick Lake and I found ourselves at the Montana Anglers office early one morning, steaming cups of coffee from Treeline in hand. That’s where we met Bill, our delightful teacher and guide for the day. He set the tone for the day by introducing himself as short in stature but tall in experience, an we immediately knew we were in for a blast!

After sorting out gear and licenses, we loaded up the truck with waders, boots, poles, tackle, and lunch and began our drive. Eventually we pulled into the gate to De Puy Spring Creek, a privately owned piece of heaven in the Paradise Valley. After checking in, Bill picked our first spot based on some sort of magical fish knowledge and we jumped in! Bill taught us the basics of casting, mending, presenting, and setting our lines so they floated naturally downstream in the hope of enticing a fish. We quickly fell into the rhythm, finding it peaceful and quite cozy in the bright sunshine.

Shortly thereafter, I CAUGHT MY FIRST FISH AND HOLY HECK I WAS SO EXCITED! I landed a beautiful rainbow trout, which Bill netted so we could gently disentangle it from the line. We snapped a few pics, making sure to keep the beautiful fish partially submerged, then set it free back into the crystalline waters of the creek. After a few hours of fishing, we nestled into one of the many warming huts on the property for a delicious lunch and chats with a local named Steve who regaled us with stories about his ducks and life growing up in Montana. When we were full and toasty, we picked a new location and got back to it. The rest of the day passed in a golden haze and when the sun finally began to sink below the mountains, we packed up and called it a day. Nick ultimately caught the most fish, with 5 to his name, while I caught the most salad. I left feeling pretty proud of my catches and I am happy to report that I’m currently planning 2 different fly fishing trips because I caught the fever, pun intended.

A few things to consider if you’re thinking of giving it a try:

  1. You’ll need to purchase a fishing permit. You can do it in person at Montana Anglers or online. We found it much easier to do in person truth be told!

  2. Bring layers! In the winter, it can get pretty chilly so you’ll want a solid base layer to wear under your waders to stay warm. I wore full body wool base layers, wool socks, down pants, and a down puffy underneath my waders with a baseball cap and thin beanie and I was set!

  3. Bring your camera! The fish are as beautiful as the surroundings and you may want to take a few photos before you release the fish back into the creek!

  4. Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! Make sure you get the backs of your hands and the underside of your sun to protect against bounceback from the water!

  5. Don’t forget your sunglasses, polarized if possible. You’ll want to protect your eyes and this will help you see the fish under the water!

That’s the long and the short of it! I hope you all have the chance to get out there and get after it. And, if you have other must-see fly fishing destinations, I am all ears!

*The Montana State Tourism Board sponsored the trip, but has not asked me to create this content. I had such an amazing time and the experience was phenomenal so I want to share about it and I can’t recommend Bill from Montana Anglers strongly enough.


Winter Ice Climbing in Hyalite Canyon

In 2013 I tried my hand at ice climbing a few times and absolutely loved it.  I found the experience exhilarating and wanted to give it another shot, but life got in the way. So, imagine my stoke upon seeing it as an option on a recent trip to Visit Montana with my friend and badass photographer Nick Lake. Spoiler alert: it was HIGH and yes, that’s a climbing pun.

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Nick and I filled our packs with snacks and layers galore, then headed to the Spire Climbing Center in Bozeman to meet up with Sam, owner and guide extraordinaire from Montana Alpine Guides. After borrowing some necessary gear and chatting about our objectives and skill levels, we hit the road for the beautiful drive into Hyalite Canyon. Hyalite Canyon is home to the largest concentration of naturally occurring ice in the lower 48 and it’s incredibly beautiful to boot.

From the parking lot, we hiked up the hill for about 30 minutes or so to Mummy 2/Scepter area. Sam went over some fundamentals with us, and shortly thereafter the fun began. Nothing makes you feel quite as badass as swinging tools into a frozen waterfall and hearing that refreshing “THUNK” when it sinks in. Pair that feeling of power with the ruggedly beautiful landscape and the occasional blast of spindrift to the face and you have my idea of a perfect day!

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A few things to consider:

  1. Montana Alpine Guides can provide you with all the technical gear you need, so don’t worry about flying with mountaineering boots or crampons. Save the luggage space for layers and room to bring back some souvenirs!

  2. While some familiarity with basic climbing principles (tying in, belaying, etc.) is useful, you don’t need a ton of experience to get out and have an amazing day. Simply communicate your skill level and experience to your guide and they will make sure to pick terrain that will be fun and comfortable for you!

  3. You will be responsible for bringing certain items of clothing! Your guides will send you a list, but I want to emphasize the importance of layers so you can bulk up when you’re done climbing to stay warm and dry! I also highly recommend bringing a thermos of some hot tea, soup, or broth. Trust me, you’ll be thankful for it!

  4. Winter Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics apply. That means packing out all food and human waste. If you’re not sure how to do the latter, check out my blog about how to do your business outside!

I hope you have the chance to get after some ice if you visit Montana this winter! If you do, I highly recommend a post-climb dinner at Bridger Brewing where the beers are gluten removed, the food is delicious, and the staff will take incredible care of you!

Let me know how it goes if you make it, I would love to hear more!

Note: The Montana State Tourism Board sponsored the trip, but has not asked me to create this content. I just had such an amazing time that I decided to spray about it via blog post because the experience was phenomenal and I can’t recommend Sam from Montana Alpine Guides strongly enough.


Lessons Learned From 2018

No matter where I look in my social circles these days, one message seems to resonate everywhere: 2018 was one for the books, and not always in the best of ways. It was similarly full of highs and lows for me, and I want to recap a few of the biggest things I learned as the year went by.

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Shine Theory is real, and you need it in your life.

This year I intentionally sought out strong, interesting, powerful women to bring into my life. I have done this on various levels before but never in such a deliberate way. It’s not always an easy process. It demands that we put inspiration before jealousy or insecurity and reach out to folks who are living and manifesting our dreams. It requires vulnerability and in turn, builds bonds. It’s been an honor to watch all of their stories unfold over the course of the year, and to hold space for them however I can as they continue in their journeys. They bring a level of depth, beauty, thought, and candor to my life that has fundamentally altered the way I show up in the world for the better. My advice to you, whoever and wherever you are, is to do the same thing. Seek out powerful women. Make space for them in your lives. Nurture these relationships, and watch as you all bloom brighter than ever before.

Self Care is critical.

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As I mentioned in a recent She Explores podcast, I tend to manifest trauma physically. The things I have failed to adequately address on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level add up, taking a toll on my physical health. For a while, I attempted to sweep them under the rug as if I could pretend everything away. It’s a little laughable in hindsight because it’s such a paradoxical response to something I know on a bone-deep level that I must address. But in March of 2018 my body let me know in no uncertain terms that it was done being forgotten and I had to unlearn some damaging habits and welcome some new ones. I had to create a new ritual for myself based in self care and self love rather than guilt or shame. I’m still working on this. I suspect I will always have to. But in a world that tells you it’s wrong to focus on yourself and take the time you need for the care you deserve, allow me to remind you of this: you deserve care. In fact, you require it. It’s the deep well from which all other forms of care and love spring.

Forgiveness and Grace are integral parts of every journey.

I would be lying if I told you I haven’t fucked up over the course of the last year. I make mistakes all the time and sometimes I’m lucky enough to be aware of them, whether that’s because someone raised an issue to me or I was able to discern them myself. I’ll level with you: I hate making mistakes. Part of that is rooted in a desire to both be and be seen as good--a remnant from my childhood and the society we live in. Part of it is rooted in sadness at hurting the people I love or the communities I aim to serve.

When I was younger, I met every mistake with anger and defiance. As I grow, I have learned that my anger only serves my ego and even then, only in a shortsighted way. These days, I try to practice forgiveness and grace for myself so I can get to the root of the mistake and learn a better way forward. Ultimately, mistakes are opportunities to learn. I’m also trying to extend that same forgiveness and grace to others as they follow their own paths. It isn’t easy. There are times when I want to rage against myself and others for doing things that seem so obviously wrong but I have found that when I take a few seconds to breathe and respond with humility and kindness, the conversation always turns out better than it otherwise would have. I hope to carry this lesson and practice into all of my coming years.

Boundaries are healthy.

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Over the course of my life I have struggled to draw appropriate, healthy boundaries with people. Sometimes I have been too lax, letting energy vampires into my life who take deeply and endlessly without ever giving back. At other times, especially when I feel threatened or insecure, I have been too intense, building a labyrinth of walls around myself to prevent anyone from getting in. Striking a balance between these two approaches has been an intentional focus of mine over the past year. It’s important to remember that we don’t owe our energy or the most intimate details of ourselves to everyone. We don’t need to be universally liked because frankly, all of us have facets that will rub someone, somewhere, the wrong way. What we do need is to show up with authenticity and integrity, then practice discernment to find the people who resonate with us on a healthy, reciprocal level. For me, that means finding people who embrace candor, laughter, adventure, hard conversations, and a healthy dose of terrible puns and bringing them deep into my circle. It means saying “no thank you” to folks who don’t. Not in a mean way, but firmly all the same. You deserve a community that will support you, keep you accountable, and shower you in love. As the saying goes, build it and they will come.

There you have it, friends. The four biggest takeaways from a year full of incredible moments and deep sorrows. I hope they resonate with some of you and that if you have lessons to share, you’ll drop me a line.

Take care of yourselves and stay safe as you ring in the new year. Sending (very healthy amounts of) love out into the world.


Memories Over Stuff: A Washington Experience-Giving Guide

We’re in the thick of the holidays and it’s a stressful time of year. Here in the PNW, the weather usually takes a turn for the bleak as folks scurry around, trying to catch up with family and friends while navigating the finances and norms of gift-giving.

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Whether you’re feeling strapped for cash or searching for the perfect present for the person who has everything, consider giving the gift of experience and memories over stuff this holiday season. I have rounded up a few of my favorite adventures below and encourage you to grab the ones you love for some quality time together outside this holiday season.

Snowshoeing, Sledding and Touring at Paradise

Paradise is aptly named. No matter the season, it’s a dreamy spot with a lot of options for the beginner adventurist and seasoned explorer alike. You can grab some sleds and hit the mini slopes to watch children and adults alike shrieking with laughter as they slide down the snow in the shadow of Tahoma, take a guided snowshoe tour with a ranger, or have a walkabout at your leisure, taking in the sights from Panorama Point to the Tatoosh and beyond.

Things to consider:

  1. A piping hot thermos of soup, hot cocoa, or tea will add some flair and magic to your day! Throw it in your backpack, then unpack when hunger strikes for a festive picnic in the snow!

  2. Be careful with timing. The gates to Paradise close each night for maintenance and safety issues. You’ll need to be down the mountain before then, or risk a hefty fine. The best resource is the MRNP Twitter account, which you can view here:

  3. Check the avalanche forecast! This applies to every winter adventure in the Cascades. Certain routes in the area pass through or under avalanche terrain. Make sure you check the avalanche forecast on NWAC before heading out, and stay safe!

Experience the Ape Cave Lava Tube at Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens is home to the longest continuous lava tube cave in the continental United States. At just shy of 2 miles, it’s a relatively easy tromp through a fascinating natural feature, though you do have to traverse the occasional rock pile and a few slippery water-logged features. Keep your eyes peeled for the natural windows, which provide the perfect opportunity for some dramatic photos and bring water and snacks with you! Pro-tip: I much prefer hiking to the far end of the caves, then returning under the ground!

Things to consider:

  1. You will definitely want headlamps and maybe even flashlights as it’s very dark inside! Consider backup batteries in the event that you want to linger!

  2. Wear a raincoat and layer up! It can be a bit chilly and drippy inside of the caves, so have a few layers handy and definitely bring a raincoat to stay dry.

  3. Grab some hand sanitizer and pack a picnic to be enjoyed after the caves! You’ll definitely get your hands a little dirty inside, so save the big snacks for a post-adventure meal if you can!

Head East and visit the Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls is a remnant from Ice Age and one of the most striking falls in Washington state! Water plunges 200 feet to a pool below, and the spines of a nearby ridge lend an ethereal quality to the spot! It’s a bit of a drive, but more than worth it to take in the views and hike around the area.

Things to consider:

  1. Early winter sunsets make catching the glow at the falls a reasonable winter adventure, giving you plenty of time to drive home and sleep in your own bed if you’re just going for a day trip! Grab a thermos of something hot and tuck in for the show.

  2. Be careful as you explore the area surrounding the falls. Waterlogged slopes can be more unstable so stick to the marked trails and take in the views safely!

  3. Check the pass before you hit the road if you’re heading over I-90, and go prepared! Safety first, friends!

Visit the Olympic Peninsula

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The Peninsula offers something for everyone. Looking for a spot to play in the snow? You can’t go wrong with Hurricane Ridge, Lower and Upper Lena Lakes, Mount Storm King, or one of the many other popular winter hiking destinations. Fancying some time in the hot springs? The Olympic Peninsula has those too! Itching for a little winter beach time? Check, check, and check! Grab your loved ones and hit the road for a memorable adventure!

Things to consider:

  1. Many of the coastal destinations on the Peninsula require that you purchase a recreation pass from the Makah tribe. Please respect all tribal rules and regulations as you recreate on tribal land, and honor the work they are doing to preserve these places.

  2. If possible, plan your route to include a ferry ride. Washington ferries are a fun, beautiful way to make your way around. Always double check the WSF ferry site before you go for schedules and seasonal closures. Bonus points: they serve local beers and wines on board so grab a designated driver and a glass of something delicious.

  3. Coastal weather is mercurial. Make sure you have layers and waterproof gear so you’re ready for anything the peninsula throws at you!

Catch Sunset at Artist Point

At 4 miles roundtrip, the trek up to Artist Point in the winter is moderate and incredibly rewarding! Skirt around the active resort area and climb toward Table Mountain until you’re greeted with incredible views of the Canadian border peaks, Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker (originally and most accurately known as Koma Kulshan) and other stellar views of the North Cascades. It’s a great spot to layer up and hunker down for sunset and if you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to gorgeous pink light washing over Shuksan as the sun goes down. Before you get too cold, strap on a headlamp and make your way back to the car, then head down the hill for pizza and burgers at Chair 9.

Things to consider:

  1. As with the rest of the Cascade locations, be cognizant of avalanche risk and the terrain you’re traversing on your explorations. Stay safe out there.

  2. The trail skirts around active ski areas. Respect the trail boundaries or you’ll run amuck of the Mount Baker Ski resort staff!

  3. Consider grabbing a spot at the Baker Lodge if you’re not interested in making the trek in a day!

What are your favorite adventures to share with loved ones in the winter? I would love to hear all about them!

Escape Adventures: E-biking through Utah

I recently had the opportunity to take an e-bike and hiking tour through Utah with Escape Adventures. It’s hard to sum the trip up in just one word, so here are three: fun, dreamy, and insanelybeautiful (I know, I know, I cheated)!

Jaylyn, Jen and Stacy leading the charge in Snow Creek Canyon, Utah. Ancestral lands of the Paiute People.

Jaylyn, Jen and Stacy leading the charge in Snow Creek Canyon, Utah. Ancestral lands of the Paiute People.

The trip began with a tour of the LEED certified Las Vegas Cyclery where we learned a bit about the company and their passion for biking and protecting the environment. After loading up on the essentials, we piled into the Escape Adventures van with Jen, Troy, and Merrick and hit the road! The van soon entered beautiful sandstone canyons and dreamy landscapes and the Escape Adventures crew made sure to fill us in on local lore and highlights. We stopped at our first departure point for a bike fitting and demo, and then the trip really kicked off!

Have you ever seen so many beautiful e-bikes?

Have you ever seen so many beautiful e-bikes?

Over the course of the next couple of days, we rode through wide open spaces and staggering canyons with sheer, red walls. The electric boost of the bikes kept us going strong on the longer climbs and Jen, Troy, and Merrick kept us fueled up on delicious food, coffee, and a whole lot of stoke. We ditched the bikes for some beautiful hikes through Bryce Canyon and Zion, marveling at the beauty along the way. I was especially blessed to bike with Jaylyn Gough, founder of Native Women's Wilderness, who shared the history and significance of the land as we passed through reservations and tribal boundaries. If you follow in our footsteps, I hope you’ll take a moment to honor the land and acknowledge the history of these places.

Jaylyn, taking in the views.

Jaylyn, taking in the views.

The culminating night of our trip found us eating grilled salmon and roasted potatoes at the Hatch Hut, a unique spot that Escape Adventures has been working on for years. The hut is constructed from upcycled cargo containers and beautiful in its simplicity and thoughtful design. It has a kitchen, bunk beds, cozy living space, and a lovely shower to wash off the dust after a long day on the trail. The first of its kind, it will eventually be connected to 3 other huts and over a hundred miles of bike-accessible trails. It’s the realization of a lot of hard work, evinced by the space itself and the passion with which Merrick, Troy and Jen shared it with us. Spending our last evening there was a treat and in some ways, it felt more like a new beginning than an end. I can’t wait to go back for more!

If you’re thinking of hitting the trail with Escape Adventures, here’s a little list of essentials to take with you to make it that much more comfortable and fun:

  1. Bike shorts

    I made the mistake of going without bike shorts and let me just tell you, you are going to want a pair! The ease of an e-bike doesn’t take away from having a sore tush!

  2. Polarized glasses

    Weather is variable and if you’re lucky, the sun will be shining! Snag a pair of polarized glasses to keep your eyes protected from wind, sun, and bugs as you hit the trail!

  3. Buff or Balaclava

    A crucial piece for chilly mornings that doubles as a sweatband if you turn off the e-boost like I did! Keeps your face warm while you bike and makes you look extra fly!

  4. Layers layers layers

    You will start chilly, warm up, cool down as you scarf on the scrumptious snacks the crew makes you, then warm back up again! You’ll want a nice light layer, insulating mid layer (I’m a huge fan of a vest), and windproof/waterproof layer just in case it starts pouring!

  5. Hydration pack

    A hydration pack is the easiest way to stay hydrated on the go. No need to stop and grab your water bottle if you have constant access to water! Bonus points: you won’t be using single use plastics or contributing to the garbage and recycling problem as you refill along the way!

  6. Sunscreen

    You’ll want sunscreen for your face and body at altitude, even on semi-cloudy days. Slather some on, then snag a selfie before you hit the road!

  7. Camera

    The Escape Adventures crew will take you to some jaw-droppingly beautiful places. Grab your camera, you’ll want to document the experience to remember for years to come!

Want to learn more about the different tours that Escape Adventures offers? Check out their website and drop them a line!



Autocamp at Russian River: A Luxurious Retreat

Saying my summer was busy is putting it mildly. It was a whirlwind of travel, moving, climbing, and sorting through life. When the opportunity to spend a few days at Autocamp at Russian River with my dear friend Paulina arose, I immediately said "YES!" 

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Nestled in the stillness of the redwoods, the Autocamp grounds are thoughtfully designed for maximum relaxation and fun. You can squeeze a fresh glass of orange juice each morning, play games on the lawn or sip a local wine from the Autocamp store without leaving the property. Each Airstream suite features luxe details, like Malin + Goetz toiletries, plush bedding and towels, and incredible lighting details that will have you contemplating moving in forever.

When you’re ready to hit the nearby town of Guerneville, there are plenty of options to keep you occupied! From oyster happy hour to paddling or floating the river to wandering the nearby Goat Rock Beach, there’s something for everyone! Paulina and I started each morning with a little feast, then wandered through the local shops and boutiques. We caught sunset at the beach, and made it back in time for s’more around the fire with new friends. It was the perfect way to spend a couple of days and I’m looking forward to the opening of their Yosemite location in February of 2019! Fingers crossed I can snag a spot for Matt and I to go visit

Gear Review: The Self Care Edition

I spend a lot of showerless days and uncomfortable nights in the mountains, playing hard and getting dirty. In honor of the hard work my body puts in, I like to treat myself in the mountains and when I get back home. These are a few of my favorite products and services to do just that*!

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1. Ursa Major Essential Face Wipes

I take these lightweight wipes into the backcountry to keep my face clean and happy while I get after it! Bonus points: they smell AMAZING!

2. Chuao Chocolates

Don't be fooled by the label, these are actually little squares of joy! Tuck a few in the snack pouch of your pack for a pick-me-up on the trail, or save them for dessert. I always keep a few squares around for a sweet break!

3. Alpen Organics Mind & Body

Whether I’m looking for a cream to rub on bruises and sore spots or something to calm my mind and help me fall asleep when thoughts of bears dance through my brain, these are my go-to products! Use code “MISSMEGHANYOUNG” for a little discount when you check out!

4. Backpacker’s Pantry Crème Brulee

This has become a mountain tradition for long days in the alpine. Nothing says “GOOD WORK!” like tucking in to some delicious creme brûlée after a successful (or unsuccessful) summit with the crew! You’ll go to bed with a full tummy and smile on your face!

5. Feathered Friends Down Booties/Pants

When the weather gets cold, I don’t leave home without my down pants and booties. Lightweight and compactible, they easily fit in my pack and keep me toasty warm when we are snow camping or hanging around in super cold environments.

6. West Seattle Chiropractics

Heavy packs and strenuous days wreak havoc on my body. I’m especially prone to lower back issues ever since a snowboarding accident left me with some herniated discs and a fractured tailbone. The combination of chiropractic work + professional massage therapy keeps me feeling good and going strong during mountain season. I can’t recommend the amazing folks at West Seattle Chiro enough!

7. Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

I’m a sunscreen fanatic and after a few days in the backcountry, you can’t miss the layer of sweat, sunscreen, bug spray and dirt all over my face. This gentle scrub takes it all off and leaves my skin soft and glowing. Let’s be real: no one wants pimples in the backcountry or after an epic trip and this scrub helps keep me breakout free for all those IG stories ;)

8. Marketspice Cinnamon Orange Tea

Whether I’m in the backcountry or at home, this fragrant tea warms me up with it’s bold spices and cinnamon flavor. Pro tip: it’s equally delicious by it’s own or with a little bourbon thrown in for a nighttime toddy!

Do you have self-care favorites for the backcountry or home? I would love to hear about them!

*I have not been paid for these endorsements in any way.

Thoughts on Outdoor Elitism & The Social Media Excuse

A quick scan of my social feeds reveals a new trend in the outdoor industry: articles that blame an uptick in outdoor accidents and environmental degradation on social media and beginner adventurers.

Paulina Dao ascends the trail to Black Tusk in British Columbia. It's a lovely place, though heavily impacted by traffic. If you go, consider packing out some trash on your descent.

Paulina Dao ascends the trail to Black Tusk in British Columbia. It's a lovely place, though heavily impacted by traffic. If you go, consider packing out some trash on your descent.

Though occasionally citing concerns over objective safety risks, these articles are riddled with problematic assumptions and written in the language of elitism, ableism, and exclusion. Rather than offering solutions to the impacts posed by the inevitable rise of humans in the outdoors, they gloat over their own superiority while shaming others for their lack of knowledge and experience. This is damaging to the point about safety and sound outdoor ethics and to the community at large. We should talk about risk and responsible recreation but the way we do it matters. It’s important to unpack what’s going on here while offering concrete solutions and actionable items grounded in the understanding that everyone deserves to get outside.

In order to fully understand this issue, one must consider the context it operates within. Public lands are inherently political spaces with a history of exclusion. The places that we hold so dear are the original homes and sacred places of Indigenous groups across the United States. The parks and wilderness areas that now dot these landscapes only exist because of the forcible, violent removal of Indigenous People from their land. In their infancy, procured through long political and legal battles, the parks were frequented by white males—a tradition that’s alive and well today. Although there’s a strong movement for equitable representation in outdoor spaces, they still remain largely white, male, and affluent. Thus, when we insinuate that new folks shouldn’t get outside, we implicate these issues and accidentally or otherwise, perpetuate the racist history of public lands.

I love this campsite. I have spent many nights there, watching alpenglow set these peaks on fire. In recognition of that, I won't be applying for permits to visit it for several years so that others can go in my stead. I hope they enjoy it just as much as I have.

I love this campsite. I have spent many nights there, watching alpenglow set these peaks on fire. In recognition of that, I won't be applying for permits to visit it for several years so that others can go in my stead. I hope they enjoy it just as much as I have.

The good news is, there’s another way. We can have a conversation about the inherent risk(s) of outdoor activity and sound outdoor ethics without excluding folks who deserve to get outside just as much as anyone else. More than that, we can offer resources, education, and our own stories as guidance and we can do so with empathy. Without further ado, here’s a list of 6 actionable items we can all engage in to make the outdoors safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

  1. Mentor. A rich part of the outdoor tradition, this is an incredible way to help others get outside in a safe, ethical fashion. I’m willing to bet that if you’re already engaging in the outdoors, you had a mentor somewhere along the way who showed you the ropes and offered feedback and corrections when you made mistakes. Mentorship can be as simple as taking friends outside or sharing a link to the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles and patiently explaining them, or as committed as working with an outdoor non-profit. A few of my favorite local organizations are Vertical Generation, SheJumps, and Outdoors For All.

  2. Volunteer: The trails and spaces we love don’t maintain themselves. Thankfully, there are innumerable organizations that volunteer their time to pick up trash and maintain trail systems so we can get outside. In Washington state, you can join the WTA, The Access Fund, The Washington Climbers Coalition (WCC), and a variety of local orgs for work parties and other events. The need for volunteers never ends. This is a great way to give back to the places you love.

  3. Talk about 1 & 2 to your friends and share across your social media platforms. Let people know what you’re up to, how they can join you, and why you’re giving up your time for these causes. Encourage them to get out and join you. The best work parties I have been on are the ones that include friends and the more folks who are visibly doing this work, the better!

  4. Consider opting out. If you have been to a wild place, especially one that’s permit-controlled, don’t go back for a while. Reduce your impact on the trail while creating space for someone else to see and experience it in your stead. Find a new place to explore; there are so many of them out there!

  5. Vote. Comment on matters that are put to the public. Engage. This is a really easy action item that can have a huge impact on wilderness areas and the way we use them.

  6. Look inward. We are all human and bound to get frustrated when we see problematic behavior on the trail. When it happens, take a deep breath and consider how to approach the situation. While shouting occasionally feels good and scratches a certain itch, it rarely results in productive discourse or teaching moments. Try to remember how you felt as a beginner adventurist. Things that may seem obvious now probably weren’t on your radar back then. Remember that, then proceed with civility and kindness.

Another favorite place. To reduce my impact on it, I have started going in the off-season and make sure we leave the hut and the trail better than we found it every time. 

Another favorite place. To reduce my impact on it, I have started going in the off-season and make sure we leave the hut and the trail better than we found it every time. 

Do you have other resources or ideas about how folks can get outside, safely? I would love to hear them! In the meantime, be kind to each other. We are all trying to chase our joy.

    

 

Gear Review: Arc'teryx Norvan VT GTX

I'm the kind of person who resists wearing boots whenever possible. I prefer the weight and feel of trailrunners as I cruise up and down the trail. They offer stability, sticky rubber, and the breathability I want when I'm outside. Nevertheless, finding something comfortable for my wide foot has been tricky. Enter the Norvan VT GTX.

Taking in the views from the summit of Black Peak.

Taking in the views from the summit of Black Peak.

Lightweight yet supportive, they have become my go-to for everything from day hikes to summit scrambles! I wore them on the summit of Shuksan, all the way up and down Glacier Peak via the Gerdine Ridge, and even out and about in town!

Pros: 

  • lightweight
  • adjustable lace system for extra support on the downhill
  • super rad colors
  • supportive and comfortable, even for my wide feet

Cons:

  • not available in metallic colors
  • better suited for lighter pack loads
  • mesh side vents are susceptible to tearing in heavy scree

All things considered, this is a great shoe that I will wear until they give out, and then get another pair!