Women's Adventure Fall 2014

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FALL 2014



Pedal Revolution Cycling’s Future


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wonder Discuss 12 Winter Driving Tips 14 Top 10 Books Trends 16 Autumn Boots Teck Talk 18 Trail Maintenance 20 Active Pregnancy Travel 22 Not a Tourist Solo Travel 24 Travel Hack Footwear 25 Urban Adventure Detroit 26 Journeys Texas 28 Disaster Detour The Camino 30 Disaster Detour Miscarriage 32 Editor’s Choice Experience Island Getaways

aspire Beyond 38 Trail Sisters Advocate 40 Amy D. Foundation 42 Sacred Headwaters I’m Proof That … 44 Hula Hoops Can Change the World

Pedal Revolution

A 4,000-mile ride across the continent teaches photographer Camrin Dengel the significance of a goal and what it means to be a woman on a bike—or, rather, why it matters. 46


A Girl’s Guide To


Chris Kassar wishes another female mountaineer had told her what tackling a peak with an all-male team would cost her emotionally and clued her in on the challenges for women on expedition. 50

Cover: Photographer Camrin Dengel’s partner in a cross-country bike tour takes a break from the saddle in our fall 2014 cover image. Camrin describes their journey in a feature story and photo essay on page 46.

master Skills 60 Train Your Dog For Adventure 62 Fly Fishing 101 64 Gravel Grinders

gear The Future Of Mountain Biking

High school cycling leagues are more than an alternative to football or track. They are the new avenue for lifelong confidence and practical skill building. Jennifer Charrette writes about the Colorado League. 54

Soft goods rule this season, when the weather is not quite warm enough for adventure outside in tanks but not quite cool enough for sweaters and wool hats.

66 Lightweight Jackets and Baselayers 68 Yoga and Gym Essentials 70 Partners Page 71 Market Place 72 Climbing Fears


Charlotte Austin is an adventure writer whose work has been featured in Alpinist, Blue Water Sailing, Digital Americana, and The American Alpine Journal. In 2013, she edited The Better Bombshell, a feminist anthology that asked writers and artists to discuss modern female role models. When she isn’t writing, Charlotte works as an international mountain guide. She has led climbing, trekking, and mountaineering expeditions in North and South America, Europe, Alaska, Patagonia, and Nepal. She is a Wilderness-EMT, a Leave No Trace (LNT) trainer, and holds Level 2 certification with the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE). She recently became an extra class ham radio operator. Charlotte’s current daydreams include learning to make the perfect flourless chocolate torte, finding the perfect sports bra, and sailing around the world with Huckleberry, her dog. She currently lives in Seattle, where she is finishing her first collection of essays. Amy Whitley is a family travel writer and founding editor of tips and adventure site Pit Stops for Kids (pitstopsforkids. com). A lover of the outdoors, Amy writes a monthly column for OutdoorsNW Magazine, and writes about ski and snow vacations at EpicMoms.com. A fan of gadgets and gear, she performs gear reviews—mostly for the chance to get outside. Amy makes her home in southern Oregon with her husband and three sons.

Nancy Averett is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about endurance athletes for a variety of publications. She recently spent a year in Luxembourg and traveled to the Hoogerheide, Netherlands, to attend the 2014 Cyclo Cross World Championships. She enjoys running, cycling, and yoga.

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Editor-IN-CHIEF JENNIFER C. OLSON Designers D.K. Luraas Web Director Susan Hayse Travel Editor Robin Enright Copy Editor Deb Dion Contributing Writers Kristen Lummis, Jennifer Lu’Becke, Amy Whitley, Krista Mann, Robin Enright, Colleen O’Laughlin, Deb Dion, Jennifer Davis-Flynn, Julie Peirano, Ashley Arnold, Nancy Averett, Chris Kassar, Charlotte Austin, Camrin Dengel, Jennifer Charrette, Heather Hansman, Avery Stonich

Contributing Photographers Camrin Dengel, Mark Skovorodko, Brian Mohr/ Ember Photo, Jason Ebberts of TBL Photography, Bridgestone Winter Driving School (Bwds), Kristen Lummis, Lucas Theys, Robin Enright, Detroit Tourism, Colleen O’Laughlin, Jennifer Davis-Flynn, Kaanapali Beach Resort Association, Ashley Arnold, Eric Goodwin, Trout TV, Bill Bowen, Lynn Powell, Carsten Schnatwinkel, Mary Schimmelman, Jason Ebberts of TBL Photography, Courtesy of Lindley Bellian and National Interscholastic Cycling Association, Tal Roberts, Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition, Wasfia Nazreen, Nickie Dymon, Gale Dahlager

SUBMISSIONS For contributor’s guidelines, visit www.womensadventuremagazine.com/contributors-guidelines Editorial queries or submissions should be sent to edit@womensadventuremagazine.com Photo queries should be sent to design@womensadventuremagazine.com Women’s Adventure is always looking for new and innovative products for women. For consideration, please send non-returnable samples to P.O. Box 111, Silver City, NM 88062. Send all other correspondence to PO Box 888, Telluride, CO 81435.

Key Accounts Julie Peirano


Jenny Page jenny.page@womensadventuremagazine.com


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On the Web

Adventure’s just a click away!

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Updated daily, our website keeps you in the loop about issues related to women in the outdoors, offers inspiration for your adventurous lifestyle, and hosts gear giveaways. So stop by and browse our archives or find news on a variety of topics every day!


Our travel section is designed to capture the spirit of the modern journeywoman. Stories and tips are organized by international and domestic destinations, and we’re introducing a new category called “Out There” for women who crave more exotic or remote experiences.

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Good health requires a holistic approach, which is why our health section is divided into both “Mind” and “Body” to cover and organize both topics. Our new health section features tips from life coaches and wellness experts, muscle recovery and nutrition advice, and recipes galore!


Our dedicated online columnists are experts in their field, be it raising outdoorsy kids, living on the road fulltime, or even whipping up a delicious kale smoothie. Drop by and say hello. They’re always willing to answer any questions in the comments section.

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FALL 2013

The Road Not Ridden

Afghanistan’s First Women’s Cycling Team



Trail Running Biking and Jogging Safety Muscle Recovery

Master Backpacking


Rock Climbing Mountain Biking

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Q&A With The Youngest AT Thru-Hiker Ever, Why Spend On Socks, Autumn In The Adirondacks

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From the Editor A

t Women’s Adventure, we receive essay submissions on a daily basis. Everyone has a story they want to share. And most of them are great— interesting, funny, well told. It’s tough not to print them all. But we usually print more informational pieces than essays, because while we do aim to inspire through storytelling, a huge part of our mission is to educate and enable adventures. Why? So you can come home with your own stories! Sometimes I forget the point of adventure outdoors. It’s often not for exercise, not always for pleasure, hopefully not for the sake of your hardcore image, and never for someone else’s entertainment (like an essay is). The point is to have your own experience—to laugh at yourself when a bug gets stuck in your hair, marvel at a moose from afar, shake the water from your rain gear when you get to camp in the evening, lean in close to smell a patch of wildflowers, peel the blisters from your feet, unfold a tattered map on the final stretch of a thru-hike, thank God for your life after a close call, wipe the sweat from your face, tippy toe around a snake, raise your arms as you cross the finish line, sip hot tea with your legs elevated and backpack on the floor of the forest, grit your teeth through the final rapid, and take a deep breath before leaping off that cliff into ice cold water.

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The point isn’t to know everything, to do it all correctly, to bring the techiest gear, to look the outdoorsiest, or even to finish the fastest. The point isn’t always to have a good time, to enjoy every second, or to be comfortable in the moment. The point is to just go—experience something new (or something old on a new day) and simply be. I hope that we can help you with that. It’s important to remind ourselves that the stories that come out of our adventures are ours. We can share them with friends, keep them secret, write them down, forget them, or yes, publish them. That’s the beauty of a lifestyle like ours. We’ll make another memory, go on more vacations, lose ourselves in a new place again, repeat the best trips, and maintain the cycle of living fully and adventuring passionately. So, to enable story-making this season, we’re offering up inspiration and info you can only find in Women’s Adventure. Find some winter driving tips on page 12 and adventurous read suggestions from the Women’s Adventure book club on page 14. This issue’s Tech Talk department teaches the basics of trail maintenance (page 18) and debunks the myths surrounding active pregnancies (page 20), while the travel department (starting on page 22)


takes readers to Texas, Kilimanjaro, faraway islands, and the lesser-known parts of Detroit. Fall’s essays include one about ultramarathon training with a girl friend (page 38) and one from an aspiring climber who confronts her most paralyzing fears (page 72). We also hear from the first Bangladeshi woman to summit the world’s seven highest peaks and get her take on global women’s rights (page 44). Our advocacy-focused department (starting on page 40) sheds a little light on the conflict in Canada’s Sacred Headwaters and shares ways to help the foundation that benefits youth cyclists in memory of cyclocross celebrity Amy Dombrowski, who we lost last year. Women’s Adventure’s fall issue features include the story of two friends on a coast-to-coast bike tour (page 46), a guide to mountaineering written especially for women (page 50), and a peek into the future of mountain biking (page 54). On top of all that inspiration, we lend tips for training your dog for adventure, show you how to get started fly fishing, and reveal how to take on this season’s hottest gravel grinders in this issue’s Master section, which starts on page 58. Please go and test your new skills, try your new gear, visit a new-to-you place, go outside whenever you can, and see if you don’t come back with some incredible tales from your very full life after this adventurous autumn. Happy exploring!

WAM • FALL | 2014  9

Brian Mohr/Ember Photo

onder Three-month-old Maiana Snow enjoys a little break with her mom, Emily Johnson, after climbing for one last run of the day in Vermont’s Green Mountains.

w Discuss

Keep the Rubber Side Down Tips From Winter Driving School By Kristen Lummis


think I’m a pretty good driver. I feel at home driving over high mountain passes, across empty rural expanses, and through stop-and-go suburban sprawl. Confident in most driving situations, I can take on a six-lane interstate and come out ahead. But add snow and ice, and my confidence melts quicker than a road treated with magchloride. In adverse winter conditions, I’ve got two basic strategies: Go slow or stay home. And while neither of these strategies is bad, I wanted to learn more and to become a more effective and safer winter driver. Now, I’m sharing what I learned so you’ll be ready to conquer the road when winter hits.

The Bridgestone Winter Driving School

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Taking It To The Track

After about an hour in the classroom, it was time to load up and head for the Bridgestone track complex. Located on a high mesa west of Steamboat, with long views back to Steamboat Resort and Mount Werner, the ranch has three practice tracks. Driving up to the complex is impressive. The only building is a small yurt for classroom review over the lunch hour, but out front, there is a sizable fleet of brand-new and shiny Lexus RX350 SUVs outfitted with Blizzak snow tires. We were assigned cars and given a few minutes to get oriented with the two-way radio. Out on the track, we each drove our own vehicle, while Croteau demonstrated, supervised, and maintained order from her pickup truck. Pulling out, as we began to drive in a line to the track, I got bit uneasy. It’s one thing to sit in a classroom and talk about concepts. It’s another to get behind the wheel of someone else’s $39,000 car with the intention of putting it into slides, steering it out of trouble, and maneuvering around obstacles on an icy track. “I’m nervous,” I announced over the radio. “Don’t be,” piped up Crystal, the new mom. “This is going to be fun.” She was right.

Serious Fun

More than anything else, the next few hours were exhilarating. The motto of the Bridgestone Driving School is Serious Fun, and while we were learning and practicing serious concepts, it was also super fun. From the minute we started warming up by driving slowly around the track, Croteau was giving us advice and suggestions, demonstrating the skills we’d be practicing. Because the weather was so warm, the track eventually became more slushy than icy, making the conditions a bit more spring-like than wintery, so it’s tough to guess

Bridgestone Winter Driving School offers classes from December through March, weather permitting. Reservations are necessary, especially during the holidays. winterdrive.com


Bridgestone Winter Driving School (BWDS), Kristen Lummis

There are many reasons to go to Steamboat, Colorado, during the winter. The most obvious reason is skiing at one of America’s premier resorts. And there’s also the Bridgestone Winter Driving School. At home in Steamboat for more than thirty years, the Bridgestone Winter Driving School offers a variety of classes, from a half-day introduction to advanced skills clinics for returning students. In March, my husband and I ventured to Steamboat to participate in the school’s most popular class for first-timers: Second Gear. A full-day class, Second Gear has two parts: a morning classroom session in an office near the ski resort base, followed by two driving sessions and lunch on a nearby historic ranch. While the class is usually full with twelve students and two instructors, on a Monday in late February only one other student was in our class: Crystal, a new mom from the Denver area. Our instructor, professional driver and racer Lea Croteau, started us off in the classroom with an introduction to basic safety and driving concepts.

Kind, patient, and very articulate, she took on knotty topics like how physical laws impact the operation and movement of a car and made the science make sense. We learned, via visual diagrams and clear explanations, how winter drivers get into trouble. It all has to do with motion and changes in motion. Moving forward in a steady state is easy. It’s when you have to turn or take action to avoid something that physical laws take over, and good drivers know how to respond.



Antarctica found me.

how difficult the driving would have been on an icebound day. Out on the track we practiced oversteering (when the rear tires lose their grip and the car goes into a slide) and understeering (when the front tires lose their grip and the car stops responding), along

with remedies for each of these situations. We practiced accident avoidance, braking, and turning. Although most current cars are “smart,” with antilock brakes (ABS) and traction control, these systems could be disabled in the practice cars

so that we could rehearse skills with them on and without their assistance. With these safety systems off, we had to actively anticipate and respond to situations. We had to really drive—engaging in not just the skill, but the art, of driving.

Winter Driving Basics from Bridgestone Winter Driving School The Grip Rule Grip is the car’s connection to the road. With fully inflated tires, a car has four postcard-sized patches of rubber on the road at any time. Weather, temperature, and changes in speed affect your car’s grip. Obviously, slippery roads will also mean less grip. Still, this rule applies whenever you’re driving: winter, spring, summer, or fall. 1. Look ahead. Scan the road. Be prepared. Utilize your vision to anticipate turns, obstacles, and changing conditions. 2. Slow down. Adjust your speed for the conditions. 3. Don’t brake and steer at the same time. This is called “separating controls.”

Other Top Tips • • • • •

If you feel like you are going too fast for the conditions, you are. Hands and feet follow the eyes. Look where you want to go. If the conditions appear too slick or challenging, they are. An average driver reacts with panic to crisis situations. A great driver anticipates challenging situations and responds, directing the vehicle appropriately with confidence and skill. • Great drivers are not born, but develop over time with instruction and practice, building their skills to safely control their vehicle in all driving conditions. All tips courtesy Bridgestone Winter Driving School.

With trips worldwide, finding yourself in the world’s most inspiring locations is easy.

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WAM • FALL | 2014  13

w Discuss

Top 10 Books for the Female Adventurist Women’s Adventure magazine’s online book club is already three years old—and a huge hit. Here are the group’s favorite titles to date. • Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail during her 2,175-mile journey on the AT. • The Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volume 9: True Stories from Around the World edited by Lavinia Spalding Inspiring adventure tales from women who have traveled to ends of the earth, discovering new places, peoples, and facets of themselves. These compelling stories make the reader laugh and weep. • Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life by Arlene Blum Arlene Blum defied the climbing establishment of the 1970s by leading the first all-female teams on successful ascents of Mount McKinley and Annapurna and by being the first American woman to attempt Mount Everest. • Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole by Felicity Aston Felicity Ashton leads an international team of eight “ordinary” women— inexperienced explorers—to the South Pole. • Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods by Christine Byl In this amusing account of her work for the National Park Service, Christine Byl skillfully uses poetic language and dares the reader to feel the grit, grime, and sore muscles of working ten-hour shifts of digging, chopping, clearing, and creating trails.

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• Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog by Steph Davis Rock climbing superstar Steph Davis sets out with her beloved dog to find herself and along the way discovers skydiving. • A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey by Chrissie Wellington In 2007, Chrissie Wellington won the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii. Read how she changes from a non-athlete to a triathlon champion. • A Long Trek Home: 4,000 Miles by Boot, Raft, and Ski by Erin McKittrick The author and her husband make an expedition from Seattle to the Aleutian Islands, traveling solely by human power, in one of the Women’s Adventure book group’s most-talked-about titles. • Miles from Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure by Barbara Savage Barbara and her husband spend two years traveling by bicycle to 25 countries. • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed At 22 years old, Cheryl Strayed has lost her mother to death and her husband in divorce—she leaves the world behind to solo hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Find and join the Women’s Adventure magazine book club on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/womensadventurers.





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Did you know that Women’s Adventure Magazine has its own book club? We are a blend of 600 women from various locations around the world—sharing the love of reading and adventure! Women’s Adventure Magazine book club is an online book discussion group located on Facebook. Book group member and an author herself, Melissa McLean Jory says, “I love the WAM book club and the active women involved! I have a busy schedule and checking in online at any time of the day or night with our Facebook group makes book-sharing fun and easy.” We tend to read mostly nonfiction and a lot of memoirs about women and their adventures. “I’m pushed out of my comfort zone into the big, wide world of adventure travel and women’s fantastic imaginations,” says member and WAM book reviewer Kristy McCaffrey, also an author. Each month, we read a new title and discuss it. “I stay active because of the exciting books and stimulating (and, more often than not, inspiring) conversations,” states another regular WAM book reviewer, Cat Croteau. Everyone is welcome to post questions for the group and to express their opinions, likes, and dislikes. Book reviews and title recommendations are shared among the members, and titles are chosen based on the group’s suggestions and votes. The club keeps a running list of future reads so that members have time to look for titles at their libraries, purchase titles used, or download them in e-book form before the group reads them. Lyndsey Clar, a book club member since its beginning, says, “I love getting book recommendations of all types but adventure books or travelogues are my favourite genres. I’m in the UK … I like that lots of the titles are U.S.-based ones I haven’t heard of before, but with e-books, I can still get a copy”. Sharry Miller, WAM book reviewer and core book club member, says, “The WAM book club called to me because I love reading about independent, strong women doing amazing things, but even more, I love it when regular women share their stories of doing amazing things. It’s so inspiring to not only read the books but also read about what the other women in the book group are doing. We’re from all over the world and in all walks of life, but we all have a love of outdoor adventure that has nonetheless turned us into a community.” All are welcome to join and discuss books in our online forum. From adrenaline junkies to armchair travelers—we probably have the book for you in our plans!

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w Trends

Banish Cold Feet Don These High-Performing and Beautiful Boots Over Feel-Good Socks By Jennifer C. Olson

KEEN Reisen Boot WP. Euro style, urban look, waterproof suede leather uppers. $140; keenfootwear.com

Merrell Captiva Buckle Down Waterproof. Rugged style for rugged weather and days outside during the shoulder season, this boot makes a statement and keeps you dry. $200; merrell.com

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Justin’s Original Workboots Gypsy Collection style WKL9301. Cowgirl boots with a gypsy twist and serious durability. The embossed 11-inch uppers are topped off with a diamond cut pull strap and embellished with teal and magenta embroidery. Beyond their attractive appearance, these boots are hard as nails. Literally. A composite toe for safety, and specialized comfort system combine in a boot that’s rated to protect against electrical hazards—not to mention stubbed toes. $128, justinworkboots.com

Cushe BoHo Chill. This waterproof boot boasts a lace-up look with the ease of zippers! The shorter version (called the Sneak and priced at $110) is not waterproof but is just as good-looking. $140; cushe.com

El Naturalista Yggdrasil Boots. Incredibly comfy and stylish, the Yggdrasil boots are a quality pair of kicks. $190; elnaturalista.com




Salewa Rosengarten GTX. Born in the Tyrolean Alps in 1935, German mountaineering company Salewa has long outfitted European climbers. This season, the company has big plans to shake up the U.S. market with a series of ultra cool, cutting edge lifestyle shoes. Hitting stores Fall 2014, the Women’s Rosengarten GTX ankle boot combines both style and substance. You’ve never seen a sole like this. Salewa is the first company to use Gore-Tex’s futuristic, breathable mesh sole, which keeps your feet dry and cool. The sole, in tandem with GoreTex Surround Technology, delivers complete waterproof protection for wet, snowy days. Made from gorgeous, butter-soft Italian suede, these kicks are ridiculously comfy and hip, boasting fashionable details like felted wool on the cuff and space dye fat laces. – Jennifer Davis-Flynn $189; salewa.us

It’s what’s inside that counts Balega Breast Cancer Awareness Sock. One dollar from every sale of these running and outdoor rec socks will benefit the Breast Cancer Fund. $12.50; balega.com

Lorpen T3 Women’s Midweight Hiker. Merino with polyester, nylon, and lycra for structure and stretch, these breathable socks have compression so they stay put and reinforcement in blisterprone areas for durability and comfort. $18.99; lorpennorthamerica.com

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w Tech Talk

The Path Best Traveled Know the Ins and Outs of Trail Maintenance and Take Action By Amy Whitley


outhern Oregon’s Mt. McLoughlin looms 9,495 feet above sea level, casting a shadow over the Sky Lakes Wilderness and all peaks in the Cascade Range from Mt. Shasta to Central Oregon’s Sisters. The five-mile trip to the summit—which includes a 5,000-foot elevation gain—is well marked until the final half mile. Here, a steep rock scramble is followed by a ridgeline walk marked only by ancient Forest Service poles. From the peak, a 360-degree view beckons, tempting tired hikers with an alternative, seemingly “direct” route back down. As a result, local search and rescue teams get more Mt. McLoughlin calls annually than they can count on two hands. Between 2005 and 2008, I was among the “ground pounders” donning bright orange sheriff department-issued uniforms, staging at the trailhead before dawn. In the years since my stint searching for hikers on Mt. McLoughlin, some additional signage has been added to the final half-mile of terrain, but the importance of trail maintenance echoes in my brain every time I hike it. A well-marked trail saves lives … and keeps volunteers in their warm beds at night.

Trail maintenance basics

Any seasoned hiker knows a well-maintained trail when she sees one. And in most cases, she can thank a trail volunteer. The National Parks Service utilizes volunteers for four primary tasks on national trails. Here’s what’s in store for citizen volunteers: Clearing trails: Clearing trails involves trimming overhanging branches (especially on trails frequented by backpackers), removing excess debris from trails, and clearing blowdowns. Blowdowns requiring a chain saw are usually the domain of the crew leader or a specialized team, but volunteers equipped with a bow saw can be put to work cutting fallen logs or large branches. It’s important to cut branches flush with the main stem, and watch for “spring poles,” trapped

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branches that may spring toward anyone standing nearby when released. Blazing trails: Blazing is used to mark the course of a trail when it’s not apparent, such as when the area is under snow or if the terrain includes large rock outcroppings or sand where hikers can lose the trail. Blazing comes in several forms: paint, tag (plastic ribbon), small sign, or cairn. The form of blazing is determined by the landowner and terrain; cairns are best used in regions lacking trees or other vegetation. Mt. McLoughlin is a good example of where cairns would be ideal for marking the trail. Blaze patterns matter: One blaze stacked above two below it in a triangle pattern typically marks the start of a trail, and the opposite signals the end. Adding trail features: Sometimes, trail volunteers are put to work creating necessary trail features, such as stepping-stones, rock steps, trail borders, or rudimentary creek crossings. Water bars—those logs or rocks you notice set across the trail horizontally to prevent runoff—are put in place by trail crew but maintained by volunteers. Dirt and debris need to be cleared from the uphill side and placed on the downhill side in those areas. Blocking shortcuts: This is my favorite trail volunteer job because trail shortcuts (typically manifested as alternate routes around switchbacks) irk me to no end, so I get a lot of satisfaction from blocking them. Trail shortcuts cause

confusion over trail direction and cause erosion as multiple hikers tromp off the beaten path. Volunteers blocking shortcuts are typically provided with handsaws, pruning tools, and blazing equipment, as needed.

How to get involved with trail maintenance

Anyone interested in furthering her trail knowledge can take a trail maintenance course through reputable organizations such as Appalachian Mountain Club (outdoors.org), but no prior knowledge is required to volunteer. Get involved for just one day, or use the opportunity to take a weeklong volunteer service trip. Local day trips: The best resources for local day trips are outdoor stores and official state or county trail associations. For instance, the Washington Trails Association (wta.org) offers day trips on both state and federal land for Washington state residents who can work to earn Forest Passes and Discovery Passes (for use on Forest Service


Tech Talk

land and state land, respectively). State park and the parks and recreation department websites may host info about trail maintenance opportunities as well. On a typical trail-clearing day with our local REI store, my husband and I boarded a van with a dozen other volunteers and drove with one supervisor to a trailhead in the Siskiyou Mountains approximately 30 minutes from the store. We were provided with tools (but brought our own gloves and protective wear) and a sub sandwich lunch. All morning, we focused on clearing a two-mile stretch of trail plagued by overgrowth. In the afternoon, we removed large rocks and used them to line the trail where the route became unclear. The work was, well, work, but it somehow remained fun, combining a sense of purpose with a true community atmosphere since we were working alongside fellow outdoor enthusiasts. Volunteer vacations: Most trail maintenance volunteer vacations are one week in length, making them ideal for those with more time to spare. Volunteer vacation groups usually include 5-10 volunteers plus a crew leader, and accommodations are generally rustic—think: campgrounds, walled tents, yurts, or cabins. One popular Washington Trails Association trip houses volunteers in a Pacific Northwest lighthouse. Food is provided, but in most cases, volunteers assist with meal prep and cleanup. Transportation to and from the trip’s basecamp is the volunteer’s responsibility. Trips are low-cost (usually under $300 per week), making a trail maintenance vacation economical if not leisurely.


Gearing up for trail maintenance

Trail maintenance is serious work, and requires serious gear. Full coverage is a must when clearing debris and undergrowth from a trail. I wear lightweight and breathable hiking or trekking pants (zip-off trousers are optional), a longsleeved shirt with a high UPF, a bandana to protect me from dust and allergens, and a sturdy pair of work gloves. Hats and sunglasses are musts as well. It’s just good sense to wear hiking boots with toe guards and ankle support—waterproof is a plus. Check with your volunteer organization to find out what hydration and food is provided, but always at least bring your own water bottle or hydration pack and sunscreen. In addition to wearing proper gear, volunteers should obviously avoid snakes and other animals or insects found in the course of trail maintenance. It’s amazing what’s stirred up when you start pruning trees and shifting rocks! Which brings up a good point: Carry a small first aid kit in your daypack.

Top trail maintenance clubs and opportunities Appalachian Mountain Club: The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, a segment of the Appalachian Mountain Club, works with 31 Trail maintaining clubs to manage the AT. Join the club’s trail maintenance committee, Appalachian Trail Conservatory. Participate in a one-day work party or take a volunteer vacation at any of the following locations along the Appalachian Trail: Acadia National Park or Baxter State Park (Maine), the Berkshires (Massachusetts), the White Mountains or Cardigan Mountain (New Hampshire and Maine), the Delaware Gap (New Jersey and Pennsylvania), or even the U.S. Virgin Islands. outdoors.org Pacific Crest Trail Association: Last year 1,500 volunteers spent 85,500 hours maintaining the PCT. But the need for trail maintenance is ongoing, and opportunities abound on the PCT. pcta.org/volunteer American Hiking Society: According to the AHS’s mission statement, the American Hiking Society promotes and protects foot trails, their surrounding natural areas, and the hiking experience. The national organization offers weeklong trips into the backcountry, allowing hikers to give back to the trails they love. americanhiking.org

WAM • FALL | 2014  19

w Tech Talk

Active and Expecting Exercising with a Baby Bump By Krista Mann


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does advise against doing exercise while lying flat on your back after the first trimester and suggests pregnant women avoid contact sports, scuba diving, and exercise with an increased risk of falling.

Try These Safe Activities

Even with these limitations, there are so many activities you can do to stay moving. For example: • Walking • Swimming • Low-impact and water aerobics • Yoga/Prenatal Yoga • Hiking • Cycling, including stationary or recumbent bikes (As your belly grows, be careful as your balance changes and increases the risks of falling.) Other pre-pregnancy activities include light strength training, running, and racquet sports. But, as noted above, it is important to discuss your pre-pregnancy exercise and normal athletic pursuits with your doctor so you can safely continue to enjoy your favorite activities. With my past experience backpacking and hiking, as well as with my doctor’s approval, I felt very comfortable setting off on a multi-night trip and was capable of hiking distance—even at six-months pregnant. But I also knew this trip needed to be a little different. I knew that my pack needed to be lighter, that we would hike less mileage per day, and that I would eat and drink more. So I wanted to go someplace where I already felt comfortable with the terrain. Experts across the board seem to stress this point. Be active, but adapt to your changing body and set realistic expectations. Certified Lamaze Educator and Certified Prenatal Yoga Teacher, Deena Blumenfeld, who’s the owner and principal educator at Shining Light Prenatal Education, reiterates this idea. “Pregnancy teaches us to be flexible, not physically, but mentally. It teaches us to slow down and appreciate what our bodies say.” She says that women can still enjoy the activities they participated in pre-pregnancy, but that it is important to adapt, pay attention, and respond to your body’s needs during pregnancy.


Lucas Theys

t seemed like the most natural thing in the world to slip on my backpack, but when I didn’t reach to click the hip belt into place, and instead smoothed my shirt over my growing belly, I was reminded once again that this trip was going to be a bit different. At sixmonths pregnant, I was headed out on a four-night backpacking trip, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Even before I found out that I was pregnant, I was fiercely determined that I’d stay active as an expecting mom. It was in my blood. I had been playing sports and hiking since I was three, and to stop moving would be almost like holding my breath for nine months. Luckily, we live in a day and age when being active while pregnant is not just viewed as OK, it’s encouraged. It seems like there’s always a new study supporting the benefits of this choice: A recent article in the New York Times stated, “Mother’s Exercise May Boost Baby’s Brain,” and Science Daily boasts, “Physically active moms-to-be give babies a head start on heart health.” And Dr. Raul Artal, who chairs the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at Saint Louis University’s School of Medicine, explains that, “Pregnancy should not be a state of confinement or indulgence for women. Women who remain inactive during pregnancy face the potential for significant weight gain, which can lead to obesity, gestational diabetes, and many related complications for them and for their babies.” Books and websites and doctors all encourage women to stay active, listing benefits like improved sleep, less fatigue, reduced back pain, healthier babies, easier labor, and faster post-partum recovery, just to name a few. The short story: Pregnant women should stay active because it’s good for baby and good for mom. Music to my ears. But what does staying active while pregnant actually look like for you? First, talk to your doctor and consider your level of activity prepregnancy. Every woman, and pregnancy, is different, and you want to make sure you are safely participating in exercise and outdoor activities. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), “most forms of exercise are safe while pregnant,” but ACOG

Tech Talk


Watch For These Things

In addition to talking with your doctor and listening to your body, it is important to be aware of warning signs. ACOG recommends that you stop the activity and contact your care provider if you experience any of the following symptoms while exercising: • Vaginal bleeding • Dizziness or fainting • Increased shortness of breath • Chest pain • Headache • Muscle weakness • Calf pain or swelling • Uterine contractions • Decreased fetal movement • Fluid leaking from the vagina

Eat and Drink

The key to safely enjoying exercise while pregnant is to stay hydrated and fuel your body. This means drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise as well as maintaining a calorie intake that meets both your pregnancy and exercise needs. While backpacking, regular water breaks and trail snacking helped me maintain my energy and enjoy our prolonged daily hikes. Anytime I started to feel grumpy or tired, I remembered it was a sign that we needed to pull over for a snack!

Dress Your Bump Right

Finding maternity exercise clothes can be a challenge, but this is an important component to an enjoyable active pregnancy. ACOG recommends wearing a supportive bra and picking clothes that are comfortable and cool (to avoid overheating). There are a few maternity-specific outdoor providers like Mountain Mama, and some clothing stores have an active wear maternity section, but selections are often limited and expensive. Picking a few quality, seasonally specific pieces is a good start, and you can supplement your wardrobe by borrowing from friends, stealing from your significant other, or sizing up in everyday active wear. The most important element is to find clothes that are comfortable and breathable. During our backpacking trip, I employed all three options: I borrowed, sized-up, and bought one nice maternity mid-layer. The rain jacket I borrowed from my husband was so big I was swimming in it, but it was comfortable and allowed me to add layers underneath, which were my two priorities. Being flexible and creative will help you find the right mixes for your active maternity wardrobe.

Love it!

Staying active should also be fun. One of the benefits of exercising while pregnant is improved mood, and selecting activities that make you happy can only enhance those feelings. Exercise as a couple. Blumenfeld notes that including your partner can be a great way to work in quality time together before the baby is born and also maintain the lifestyle you enjoy as a family. Get social. Joining pregnancy-specific classes can be a great way to find or build a community while also staying active. Spending time exercising with current friends can also help maintain relationships since it’s a way to share your pregnancy journey. Do what you love, but adapt. Doing activities that you already love helps you stay connected to who you are and lets you share, from the first moment, those things with your baby. Adapting those activities to accommodate your changing body helps you do this in an enjoyable and safe way, tailored specifically to you. My backpacking trip allowed me to take my baby to one of my favorite places, doing one of my favorite things. It was a chance to keep moving and catch hold of a moment. For me, this moment really came together while sitting on a bleached-white piece of driftwood, watching the sun set in bursts of sorbet-like colors over Lake Superior as ice crackled and melted out on the water. I held my husband’s hand, and felt my baby kick, as my muscles relaxed after a long day leaving footprints on a sandy trail, so happy to be both active and pregnant.

WAM • FALL | 2014  21

travel Not a Tourist

Seeing Solo Adventures As a Gift The Unexpected Payoffs Of Traveling Alone By Robin Enright


’ve been to the beach in Tulum, explored the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain in Rome, mountain biked in Vermont, and hiked countless mountains and trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and in Rocky Mountain National Park. And I’ve explored all of these spaces solo.


Robin Enright

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I have been startled by a mama moose and her calves while hiking, explored back alleys illuminated by street lights, slept in an ocean-side cabana, dined solo at lots of restaurants, gotten lost in a foreign country, hiked in deep fog, made the decision to turn back after slipping and falling on ice on a summit, and discovered beautiful vistas via mountain bike. All solo. My first real solo trip was to Petoskey, Michigan, where I attended the Bear River Writer’s Conference. I almost didn’t go on that trip because I believed I would flip out on the small plane I’d need to take from Detroit to Petoskey, but something made me go. Maybe it was the spurring of friends, maybe it was an awareness that I had reached a crossroads where one decides to either walk out onto the limb of trepidation and grow as a human being or succumb to letting life choices be dictated by fear. I’m not certain. I just know that I desperately wanted to go to this conference and the only way there was via a super-small plane, and so I booked my ticket on a leap of faith. Faith in me. I haven’t looked back. Solo travel taught me that I am far more capable than I would have known had I opted to play it safe and wait for a companion to share my journeys. Every trip has included a moment or two of wishing I had someone to turn to and say, “Did you see that?” But the beautiful thing about being all by your lonesome is that you learn to hold your own hand when you most need company. You become your own best friend. I’ve gotten lost and discovered how to find my way again, enjoyed the quiet of my own thoughts when everyone else was speaking another language, navigated customs, fought fear on mountaintops in bad weather, and best of all, I’ve survived. I learned that I can rent a car, can be all alone on a hiking trail and trust my instincts, can communicate without the benefit of a common language, and can treasure eating alone, whether as a necessity or as an opportunity to make new friends. It’s all about perspective. My first dinner in Rome involved a dapper older man approaching my table and introducing himself, asking to join me. While I didn’t speak Italian and his English was broken, I had no trouble understanding that he was telling me; he wanted to sleep with me that evening. He was very gentlemanly and sincere. Insulted? No. I was flattered, and the conversation reminded me how much I honor honesty in male/female relations. When we let ourselves explore solo, we often enjoy more native encounters because we are hypersensitive to what is around us and tend to be looking out rather than finding ourselves occupied in conversation with a traveling companion. We make our own rules about when to rise and when to sleep, as I discovered during two weeks in a cabin in Moraine Park (Rocky Mountain National Park) when I rose with the sun and fell into

Not a Tourist


Tips to successful solo travel If you find yourself with the yearning for adventure but without a companion, take a leap of faith and venture out alone. You are far more capable than you know. • Know your goal: Want to simply chill? Have a new adventure? Explore a foreign place? • Start with a long weekend if you’ve never traveled solo before and are unsure. • It’s okay to bring your phone, but do your best to disconnect, to be present where you are, and to rely only on you. • Try something new while away. bed the instant the sun set. I learned to rely purely on me and while that has brought thoughts like Holy shit! What do I do now? the payoff of such experiences has driven my confidence to heights I would not have experienced had I not touched uncertainty’s fear. The experience of each trip is the foundation for my next. I’m no longer single and today mostly travel with my boyfriend, but I suspect my ability to maintain joy in the midst of the unknown and my capacity for handling the inevitable adventure snafu today can be attributed to my years of solo travel. Adventuring alone has made me a better travel companion.

• Bring a journal and your camera; it’s fun to look back on trips you took a few years ago. • Remember that it’s okay to feel frightened or lonely at times, but trust me when I say that learning to manage these emotions is what will grow your confidence as a traveler and be the foundation for all your adventures, solo and with companions.

SOME OF MY FAVORITE SOLO SPOTS Burke, Vermont If you can get away in the fall, go to Burke! There is little that compares to a New England fall. I stayed at the Willoughvale Inn on Lake Willoughby, which was a short ride from East Burke Sports where I got the low-down on the Kingdom Trail network and rented a mountain bike. Take advantage of the canoes and kayaks available at Willoughvale Inn. Hike nearby Mt. Pisgah or Haystack Loop trail and inhale the sweet scent of fallen leaves. Burke has adventure and solitude. Be alone or make friends. It’s up to you.

Tulum, Mexico Tulum is my hands-down highest recommendation as a spot for rest and relaxation. Sometimes the best adventures involve slowing down and looking inward. I recommend one of the simple but heavenly cabanas on the beach at Maya Tulum. Lounge or walk on the beach, take a meditative walk in the labyrinth, or raise your pulse with kitesurfing lessons. End your day with yoga. Keep your phone and computer in the safe and practice being in the moment.

Estes Park, Colorado I was blessed to be awarded an Artist in Residency at Rocky Mountain National during the summer of 2012, where I had two weeks to not only write but also to hike. Hiking is my go-to for inspiration and problem solving. The park has hiking for all levels and the scenery is extraordinary. If you hike early, you won’t run into too many people, but if you prefer a bit of company on the trails, start out later in the morning. Camp or rent a cabin at YMCA of the Rockies. You’ll come home fit and chill.

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travel Travel Hack

Footwear Fancy Girly and comfortable shoes worth carrying on By Robin Enright

Footwear has been known to take up the majority of my space in my travel bags, especially when headed to somewhere that includes outdoor adventure and nightlife. Let’s be real: There is no such thing as a shoe that does it all, but there are some shoes that deserve to take up space in your suitcase. Here they are: Mizuno Wave Kazan.

Patagonia Vela.

She’s light, but not too light, has a stylish leather upper that’s not too stylish for outdoor adventure, and her breathable mesh liner is functional and comfortable in heat. Wear her with cropped pants on a walk about town or even on a light hike. The sole has good traction, so while I would not recommend them for a trail run, the partially recycled rubber sole performs wonderfully during brisk walks on packed trails. $110; patagonia.com

This trail runner not only rocks the trails in my Colorado neighborhood but serves as a handy light hiker as well. Designed with the help of Olympian and professional trail runner, Michael Aish, the Wave Kazan offers great support, good looks, and a sweetly comfortable toe box—so much so that I wanted to leave it on after my workouts. The fit provided excellent balance on and off the road and is super light to boot. No need for separate pairs of hiking and running shoes for you runners—just grab the Wave and let the sole do the gripping in both situations. You won’t be disappointed. $119.99; mizunousa.com

Sole Sport Flip-Flops.

My pair of Sole custom foot beds saved my life, so I was stoked to try out the Sole Sport Flip-Flop. I’m a flip lover, but many styles have no arch support and outsoles that aren’t built for walking on imperfect surfaces. But these flip-flops have been in my suitcase for every trip I’ve taken, and with their comfy cork foot bed are my shoes of choice in the warm weather, especially when I need to be on my feet for any length of time. They work great riding my cruiser around town, exploring side streets in urban environments, and on walks in the woods. Super light, they pack up nicely on multi-day backpacking trips and around the campsite. $69; yoursole.com

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Urban Adventure


Dive into Detroit

Outdoor Adventure in the Motor City By Robin Enright

Walk: Explore Detroit’s revitalized riverfront on foot or ditch the solo adventure and participate in Tai Chi, yoga, or a group run next to the river. Over 5.8 miles of river extend from Ambassador Bridge to Belle Isle and are available for your exploration. Find parks, pavilions, and open space right in the heart of the city. (detroitriverfront.org)

The Motor City—Detroit, Michigan—might not readily come to mind as a city that abounds with outdoor adventure opportunities, but if you have that mindset, it’s time to lose it. No matter your reasons for being in Detroit, get outside in one of the ways we suggest below and discover a place that is rich in history and working hard to revitalize its culture and invite visitors. Explore: If you find yourself in Detroit over the weekend, don’t miss the Eastern Market (easternmarket.com) at 2934 Russell Street on Saturday. With 250 independent vendors, it covers six blocks and offers a cultural and vibrant display of Detroit history. This is a spectacular spot to treat yourself to the harvests of Michigan (and Ohio and Ontario), take a stroll outside, and immerse yourself in the local community.

Detroit Tourism

Paddle: Nearby Wyandotte provides water lovers ample ways to get their fix with rentals, classes, and even tours. Riverside Kayak (riversidekayak.com) in Wyandotte is 20 minutes from Detroit proper but worth the journey. Paddle the Detroit River, a six-hour tour that will take you from Bell Isle to Wyandotte, or take your first kayak class, the choice is up to you. Bottom line: Get on the water! Ride: Prefer your adventure be on two wheels, but you’ve left your bike at home? Get yourself over to Wheelhouse Detroit (wheelhousedetroit. com) and rent a cruiser, hybrid, tandem, or a road bike (you can even rent bikes for the kiddos) and take advantage of one of their tours to get the skinny on Detroit’s architecture and history. Traveling with a group? Wheelhouse Detroit can tailor a tour that meets your group’s needs. No excuse not to see Detroit by two wheels.

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travel Journeys

Adventurous Escape

Find more than your inner cowgirl in Brenham, Texas By Robin Enright


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Like the best of trips, I wished I could stay longer than my allotted four days. I saw cowboy boots, boots with spurs, and even live cowboys, and all of that was grand, but the best part? I was deep in the country in a space that inspired my artistic adventuring soul. Dear Texas: I’ll be back! Robin Enright

exas tends to conjure up images of cowboy hats, boots with spurs, and even real cowboys, but there is another side to Texas. This one surprised me with its genteel beauty and the old school charm of the business owners I encountered in Washington County, Texas, the kind that are working the American dream and are humbly proud of their restaurant, bed and breakfast, or working ranch. The quiet rolling hills in the country uncluttered my working mind, introduced me to something new, and tickled my creative side. Washington County in Texas has it all. Long winding roads lead you to wildflowers painting the countryside and to quaint old towns and to ample adventure: horseback riding, balloon rides, and cycling from the setting of a bed and breakfast. There’s the chance to work on a cattle ranch or wander off on your own. You can get your pulse racing with adventure or let the setting fill you with creative inspiration. I spent time there this past spring, just shy of Brenham’s claim to fame: wildflower season. But even though the wildflowers were just beginning to nod their buds toward the sky over Washington County’s open fields, I was still treated to a visual bounty. There is something about historic buildings, expansive meadows, and endless country roads that somehow encourage the adventurer in me. My camera went wild cataloguing the picturesque vistas. Artists, bring your journals, cameras, and paintbrushes and let a few days of the simple life in the country stir your soul. My home for four days was Texas Ranch Life in Chappell Hill, a working cattle ranch that was settled in the 1820s. The road leading to the ranch is a long, bumpy, dirt road that transports you deep into the country, and if you are as lucky as I was, you’ll be treated to some extraordinary sunrises and sunsets, too. Chances are you will stay in one of the eight restored and luxuriously appointed homes that are sprinkled around the property. I got up on a horse for the first time at Texas Ranch Life. I did so with a fair amount of nerves (horses are huge!), but with the solid instruction provided, found that I wanted more. Shug was an older horse that had a propensity for transporting me close to low lying branches, and that knew who was really in control (not me), but I eventually began trusting this enormous animal with my well-being. Trotting through the ranch’s tree-lined paths alongside Cowboy Robert was equal parts terrifying and exhilarating—as the best adventures tend to be. At the end of each day, I watched the sunset with a glass or two of wine on the patio, had the option of cooking dinner in the fully appointed kitchen or dining at one of the yummy restaurants in the area, and then fell deep into sleep on top of a romantic bed so high that I had to carefully lower myself to the floor each morning.



Variety for all: Texas Ranch Life has opportunities for fishing, horseback riding, and mountain biking (bring your own bike and prepare to pay a small fee—$40—if you are not an overnight guest of the ranch), and for those who want to enjoy the outdoors visually, the vistas to paint are endless. texasranchlife.com


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Want to get up high? Try hot air balloon rides at Lillian Farms Country Estate in Chappell Hill (lillianfarms.com). Go to town. Enjoy catch-and-release fishing as well as a stroll or bike ride around the 14-acre lake just outside of Brenham, Texas. Going in the fall? Check out Brazos Valley Maize in Brenham with kids the and explore the mini hay-bale maze, go on a hay ride, ride the cow train, play in the pumpkin patch, and check out the corn cannon. You can even reserve a campfire for a weenie roast or s’more feast! Open from late September through late November. brazosvalleymaize.com Itching to explore on two wheels? Try cycling in Washington County on Farm to Market Road 390, otherwise known as La Bahía Road, which was originally an east-west Native American trail in southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas but eventually extended by the Spanish to Washington-on-theBrazos and Goliad. Ride defensively—these roads are rolling and beautiful, but they have no shoulder and many of the drivers in the area are not familiar with cyclists. Get there. Washington County is easily accessible via a 1.5-hour car ride from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport or from George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

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travel Disaster Detour

Changing Course On The Camino How a robbery altered the direction but not the spirit of a couple walking the Way of St. James By Colleen O’Laughlin


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Two women approached our table, clipboards in hand, showing us the clipboards and rambling fast in a foreign language that didn’t quite sound like Spanish. The clipboards held a petition to sign on behalf of handicapped people. We tried to shoo them away—we were tired and sun-dazed— but they kept at it. Finally, one began backing away, in the process knocking my sunglass case from our table. It was then that I realized she had taken my wallet. The clipboard had been used as camouflage while she reached under and grabbed it. I jumped from my chair. “Hey!” I yelled, “you stole my wallet!” I pointed at her and yelled again, “Give me my wallet!” She hesitated but eventually complied, said “sorry” in a soft voice as she handed it over, and walked away. I slumped in my chair, glad to have retrieved my wallet, which foolishly held every credit card, my driver’s license, and a significant chunk of cash, having just been refreshed at the ATM. I’m a seasoned traveler. What was I thinking? My relief, without warning, turned to anger and I jumped up, shouting, “Sorry? I’ll give you sorry!” And instinctively I took off after her; I had no control over my actions. She began running, and I ran faster, through the square, visitors looking on, but not helping. I started screaming “Police!” in my

best Spanish accent, over and over. She turned back to look at me, abject fear in her eyes as she continued to run. I could have grabbed her bobbing black ponytail at that moment. I could have pulled her to the cobblestones. But then what? She was obviously frightened to her marrow. She was barely more than a girl. I had my wallet securely in my hand. I let her go. The adrenaline drained as I walked back to our table where Fred was sitting stunned at his wife’s bravery—or insanity, depending on your perspective. I slumped in my chair, still clutching my wallet. We laughed about how crazy it was for me to jump up and take chase. Fred said he couldn’t believe my energy as I tore after the girl. We discussed how stupid I was to have brought that much money to the square when our hotel room had a safe. Then I noticed that my wallet felt thinner, lighter. She didn’t get my credit cards, but she had absconded with my 500 Euros. The tears started falling. My shoulders collapsed and curled inward. My chest hurt. I had been robbed. I felt violated. The journey had fallen apart, and we decided that night to change course. It wasn’t just the robbery, though. It was also the thought of ascending one of the highest points of the Camino in the middle of pouring rain and thunder on a

slippery trail with little cover. But being violated like we had during the robbery was big. We had set out on the Camino for the psychological solitude and comfort of walking in nature with little else to crowd our heads. The robbery stole that serenity from us. We pulled out Fred’s iPad and discovered that hidden gems of coziness and repose lay covertly in Spain’s paradores—paradors are beautiful small hotels housed in former monasteries, convents, castles, fortresses, and other historic buildings, which Spanish government maintains to ensure that these historic beauties remain. We booked one the next night and hopped the train to its village, dining in its restaurant with tuxedoed waiters and carrying nothing more than our hiking clothes, our bags having been sent on to Santiago de Compostela when we left Leon. For three more nights we did this, watching the World Cup, playing cribbage, discovering the squares and the people and the wines of each small village, and lingering in each parador’s much needed relaxation, before finally landing in Santiago by train instead of on foot. We will walk the Camino again. But this journey reminded me that sometimes it is more important to let intuition, rather than the itinerary, be my guide.


Colleen O’Laughlin

ur first mistake was starting our two-week walk on the Camino de Santiago in Leon, Spain, without checking the extended weather forecast. The Camino, or the Way of St. James, was created in the Middle Ages as a pilgrimage of Christians to the tomb of St. James in Santiago de Compostela, but people walk for a multitude of reasons now. Three days into our walk, serious thunderstorms—replete with winds and lightning and the potential for slick, mountainous trails—loomed large on our horizon. We had just checked into a small hotel on the square in Astorga, Spain, elated to strip our packs from our sweat-soaked spines and peel off the one of two shirts we had each packed for this two-week sojourn. We had walked 19 kilometers that day, in blistering sunshine with zero shade. Our packs each contained pants, socks, flip-flops, hats, collapsible water bottles, a camera, a small bag of toiletries, our passports and wallets, a single iPad, a cribbage board and playing cards, and rain gear to prepare us for the all too real storms that now lay ahead. The weather made my husband, Fred, waffle. But I remained resolute to walk, given our months of planning and anticipation. After washing up, we grabbed the cribbage board and my wallet (my second mistake) and headed to the square for a game and much deserved glasses of Spanish red.

FALL the perfect time to explore

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Robin finding placement while crack climbing in Indian Creek, UT.

07-14-14_WmnAdventure_Ad_Tempest.indd 1

8/11/14 2:06 PM

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travel Disaster Detour

Loss and Love On Kilimanjaro Gaining Perspective After An Intensely Personal Crisis At The Summit By Deb Dion


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raised money to help the nonprofit Human Outreach Project build the Kilimanjaro Kids Community orphanage in Tanzania. The guiding company she works for owns the Human Outreach Project, and the emphasis on humanitarian work was the main reason she chose to guide for World Wide Trekking. Having guided in Macchu Picchu and Moab for the most part, Gale was sent to Kilimanjaro for training in case World Wide Trekking needed her to fill in as a guide in Tanzania. “But the main purpose of my trip,” she says, “was to work on the orphanage.” This would be her first trip to Africa, and climbing the peak was the reward for her work with the Kilimanjaro Kids Community. Mountaineering is often considered a selfish pursuit, but at this

Listen to your body. And she wanted so much to visit the orphanage, to meet the children that were living there, to meet the faces she’d only seen in photos. To look at the four acres that they’d developed, see the water collection and the small farm that fed them, and to hear about what the kids were learning from their teacher at the Human Outreach Project. She had to go. Gale swallowed her fear and took solace in the tiny presence in her belly. We will both be climbing. What an adventure this baby will have, before it’s even born. The trip started out wonderfully. Her training duties were minimal—she was only shadowing the real guides on this trip, the lead American and African guides, and two assistant guides. It was a great group, and a relaxed atmosphere for the first couple of days on the Lemosho route. It wasn’t until they reached the high camp above 15,000 feet and were preparing to summit that things started to go wrong. Just hours before they set out, rousing at midnight for a 1 a.m. start on summit day, Gale started spotting—barely. “Then the bleeding got a little heavier in the morning. I knew I was going to miscarry.” She suffered in silence. She endured the cramping, the loss of appetite, and worst of all, the horrible weight of the personal tragedy she was experiencing, in secret. womensadventuremagazine.com

Courtesy of Gale Dahlager

wo weeks before her first trip to the summit of Kilimanjaro, Gale Dahlager got some very surprising news from the doctor: She was pregnant. Even though she’d always wanted a child, at 44 years old, Gale had never been pregnant. She had a medical condition that made it more difficult to become pregnant—which only heightened the normal feelings of nervousness, excitement, and fear that come along with any pregnancy. That, and she was supposed to help guide a trip to a new summit, a different trip than her regular guiding in Macchu Picchu and Moab, Utah. And she was leaving in two weeks. “Unexpected, I think, is the best word for it,” says Gale. “I was unexpectedly pregnant.” Most of the time, the objective of a climbing trip is to reach a summit. But not this time. Gale had

point in her life, Gale was looking for ways to give back, for ways to make the world a better place. She had been on countless adventures of her own, as a professional skier, a veteran climber, and a mountain biker. Her life focus now was to help others—whether it was guiding clients on Macchu Picchu treks and Moab adventure safaris, coaching mountain biking clinics and certifying mountain bike instructors, working as an EMT and in the ER while in school to become a physician’s assistant, or helping raise money for the Kilimanjaro Kids Community. What she didn’t know before setting out on the Kilimanjaro climb was that she would be the one needing help. That she would be the one to end up in the ER, relying on other guides and medical professionals for the same type of care she gives others. Gale was filled with uncertainty when she learned she was pregnant—eight weeks pregnant and about to climb to 19,000 feet. At her age, this was likely the only chance she would ever get to have a baby. The doctors assured her she’d be fine—she lived at altitude in Salt Lake City and regularly spent time skiing, climbing, and trekking at much higher altitudes. Plus, Kilimanjaro is considered a “walk-up,” not a technical climb, but it would be more exerting than her normal activities. Just take it easy, they said.

Disaster Detour

“I didn’t want to ruin the experience for the guests by introducing my problems. They had worked so hard to get there. I told them—and the guides—that I was just having bad stomach cramps.” As the summit drew nearer, the pain got worse. If you’ve ever experienced a miscarriage, then you know: It is excruciating and debilitating. It is comparable, albeit different, to the pain of childbirth; so painful that almost all women who find out that their pregnancy is not viable undergo the surgical D&C procedure. The loss of the baby is suffering enough. Gale had to endure both the loss and the miscarriage at the same time, while climbing and descending the highest peak in Africa with a group of strangers who did not know what she was going through. “I’m not sure what was worse, the emotional sorrow of what I knew was about to happen or the physical pain. But climbing 4,000 feet in the dark, under a full moon with no headlamps, was still so beautiful and magical and peaceful. By the time we reached Stella Point, I was emotionally drained and physically having difficulty. At that point, for me, it became all about getting to the summit. I knew no matter what I did at this point, it was inevitable. I thought, I need to get myself to the summit right now, or I’m not going to make it.” Gale climbed feverishly up the last 1,000 feet, summiting 45 minutes before the rest of the group, and then waited for them to join her and tried to celebrate with them. The bleeding was getting worse. She knew it was about to happen. She asked one of the guides to take her photo at the top. Tears spill now, as she recounts it. “I asked him to take a picture without telling him why it was so important. I knew it would be the last picture I would take, with this baby. I wanted a beautiful memory of it.” After descending a thousand feet, the real pain kicked in, along with heavy bleeding. She pulled aside the American guide and told him what was happening, asked

him to take the clients ahead and to leave one of the African guides with her. Epa, the lead African guide, stayed, and together they made it another thousand feet down before the cramping got so bad that she couldn’t stand. She was vomiting and curled up on the ground, then would rally for another 10-30 yards, sometimes crawling on her hands and knees, then double over again in pain. Other trekkers passed by, cheerily trying to encourage her. They told her she just needed some more water or some food, that she’d be fine. They didn’t understand what was really happening to her, that it wasn’t the altitude or the climb—that it was something much worse. At the point where she couldn’t continue, Epa had to call for the other African guides to help carry her. They traded off, piggybacking her down to the next camp. “I was so happy to be carried. It just felt so consoling to hug someone and know that I was being taken care of, being rescued. They wrapped me like a Maasai baby with a blanket, and carried me and my gear to the ranger station.” From there she was evacuated in a sled with a single wheel, and she ended up in the ER, this time not as a caregiver, but as a patient whose blood pressure was dangerously low and who needed an IV. She was scared and all alone, her wallet and backpack gone, without clothes or a phone to call anyone, and she wasn’t released until someone came to pick her up late the next day. “That was equally as traumatic as the mountain,” she says. What she didn’t know at the time, because miscarriage is so taboo in our culture, is that miscarriage is also extremely common— women between the ages of 35-45 have a 20- to 35-percent chance of losing the baby in the first twenty weeks. And the odds go up to 50 percent after the age of 45. There is no studied link between altitude and pregnancy loss, and the most common cause of miscarriage is chromosomal abnormalities. But she was filled with remorse and

guilty feelings, believing that she had brought this upon herself and her child by climbing the peak. A part of her wanted to pack up and go home, exhausted and emotionally spent. But her adventure wasn’t over yet. She still wanted to see the orphanage. “Seeing those kids for the first time instantly dulled my sadness. Whatever I had lost on the mountain was shallow in comparison to what these kids were gaining by being at the Kilimanjaro Kids Community.” During her visit they were able to purchase two cows for the Kilimanjaro Kids Community, a part of the project’s self-sustaining mission, a way to ensure that the children would have milk. She was able to nourish these children in a way that she would never have the opportunity to for her own unborn child. Here she was, a woman from the U.S. with the means and the searing desire to mother a child, but who had just lost hers. And here were the children in the orphanage, these beautiful children who had no money and no parents to take care of them. It was beyond poignant—it was the ultimate comfort after the most unimaginable trial. “Once they knew I was open to having them close, they could not get enough physical contact. At every opportunity they crawled on my lap, played with my hair,


slithered into my arms and wiggled closer to have some part of their body in contact with mine. There really was no better place than with those kids to heal from my loss. Being around those thirteen little faces that love so freely and with such an unbridled zest for life brought me into the bigger picture. That no matter what my challenges may be, I can always make an impact on improving the lives of others. And there is no greater joy.” Learn more about the Human Outreach Project and the Kilimanjaro Kids Community at humanoutreachproject.org.

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travel Editor’s Choice Experience

Island Getaways Our Picks for an Adventurous Oceanside Vacation

These settings boast sand, sun, and—most importantly—activities unique to each locale so you can plan a trip that lacks nothing in the way of adventure and fulfills your cravings for tropical weather when the backyard starts looking more like a winter wonderland than a summery retreat.

Maui, Hawaii


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waiian language, which includes lots of K’s and L’s, and a few 10-syllable words that have been absorbed into the island lexicon. Take “aloha” for example. “Aloha” is not simply a greeting. It’s a way of life. Literally translated, it means the “presence of breath” or the “breath of life.” Aloha represents love, compassion, communion with nature, and the joyful sharing of life in the present, similarly to the Sanskrit word “Namaste.” To practice “aloha” means different things to different people. As a visitor, I couldn’t help but feel this mystical Hawaiian spirit, as I took in the magnificent beauty of this volcano-turned-island overrun with Technicolor flowers as big as my head. Maui is Hawaii’s second largest island at 727 square miles (48 miles long and 26 miles across at the widest point), and the island contains ten out of the thirteen ecosystems found on planet Earth. You can actually travel from desert to rainforest in two miles! My husband Kevin and I headed to Kaanapali, just north of the cute town of Lahaina, for a five-day stay at the Kaanapali Alii condos (kaanapalialii.com). Our oceanfront deluxe home featured Western-facing ocean views delivering spectacular sunsets direct to our lanai every evening. Maybe this is why the most famous beaches

and resorts are on this drier coast of Maui. The Kaanapali Beach Resort Association is committed to preserving Hawaiian traditions by hosting various events throughout the year. We were lucky to be there during the annual sailing canoe celebration known as Wa’a Kiakahi (“wa’a” means “canoe,” and “kiakahi” means “with one purpose”). Outrigger canoes have always played a significant role in Hawaiian culture: They were used to fight battles, to fish, and to travel between islands. Nowadays, locals can participate in annual canoe races sponsored by the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association (HSCA), which formed in 1987 to “learn, revive, educate, and practice those ancient Hawaiian skills as they relate to sailing canoes and the Hawaiian culture” (hsca.info). The single-hull, rudderless sailing canoes used in races look like a mix between a six-person crew boat and a Hobie Cat. The rower at the rear

steers with an oar, and the crew uses a system of non-instrument navigation, which takes into account the position of the sun, bird flight patterns, the direction of waves, and the stars in the sky. The Wa’a Kiakahi event is held on the Kaanapali beach, where the crews offer rides aboard the sailing canoes to the general public. Excited kids lined up with their parents to catch a ride, and Kevin and I climbed aboard the Maui Jim-sponsored vessel, pushing off the beach into the clear blue water. There was only light wind that day, but as we paddled along, the force of it began to pick up and we glided effortlessly across the water. A few days later, we were on the water once again, aboard a catamaran for a snorkel cruise with Teralani Sailing Adventures (teralani.net). At the spur of the moment, we decided to make the leap to Snuba—Scuba Light, where the oxygen tank floats on


Jennifer Davis-Flynn, Kaanapali Beach Resort Association

arrived in Maui with my husband in June as a Hawaii virgin … just ready to be thrown into a volcano. Armed with a dog-eared copy of Andrew Doughty’s popular guidebook, Maui Revealed, and a jam-packed itinerary—zip lining, canoe sailing, snorkeling, and tennis—I was ready to do Maui right. Most importantly, this virgin wanted to get “lei’ed.” You know, like in the movies, when passengers deplane onto the tarmac and a Hawaiian beauty slips a necklace of sweet-smelling plumeria blooms over their heads. Yes, my ideas of Hawaii were stuck in the ‘60s and rather cheesy. So I was expecting—even hoping for—a Don Draper Maui with endless Mai Tais and flowy caftans. What I got instead was the adventure of a lifetime and an incurable case of Aloha State fever. In retrospect, the only thing in Maui that reminds me of 1965 is the well-loved, kooky airport, which doesn’t actually have exterior walls. It’s like landing in another country (the seven-hour flight also helps with this illusion), complete with a flock of chickens strutting around the baggage claim. And there are leis. For sale. Although Hawaii is the fiftieth state in the union, the culture is wildly different from the contiguous United States and it’s wonderful. First off, there’s the intoxicating Ha-

Editor’s Choice Experience


the surface of the water and four individual regulators are attached to 20-foot hoses. Snuba explorers do need to equalize as they descend in the water but don’t need to understand the particulars of diving. Plus, Snuba instruction only takes about five minutes. I love yoga and I adore riding my bike, but I’ve never felt so at peace as quickly as I did when I was submerged and floating in crystal clear water as colorful fish, eels, and Maui’s beloved sea turtles swam around us. I experienced instant mindfulness and relaxation, a connection to the earth—the spirit of aloha. That day, we also did some traditional snorkeling near a shallow coral reef, and I crossed paths with a massive green sea turtle. Called “honu” in Hawaiian, sea turtles are a protected species and feature heavily in many Hawaiian legends, where they symbolize longevity, peace, and good luck. These giant creatures, reaching up to 400 pounds, have been swimming in our oceans for 180 million years and are one of the few existing species to have lived with dinosaurs. As I swam beside my new friend, who looked at me with his ancient, knowing eyes, I felt childlike joy well up deep inside. Maui is not just a tropical vacation destination. There are plenty of beautiful beaches in the world. When you come here, the hard edges of your old, protective shell soften. And your heart stays open long after you leave. —Jennifer Davis-Flynn Read more about Jennifer’s trip to Maui, including driving through the lush tropics of Hana, hiking down the crater at Haleakala National Park, and getting pampered at the Waldorf Astoria in Waliea at womensadventuremagazine. com.

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travel Editor’s Choice Experience

Caribbean Cruise


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Mary Schimmelman

hink cruises are for blue-hairs? Well, you’re right. But they are still fun no matter what your age. When I got an invite from Holland America Line (HAL) to sail the eastern Caribbean on my first ever cruise, I thought, “no way.” Cruises are for seniors and buffet fanatics. But then, knowing that the American Cruise Industry is a $35 billion business that attracts about 10 million Americans a year, I figured it was high time that I experienced life on a floating city. So I called up my good friend Rebecca in San Francisco and told her to pack her Dramamine because we were hitting the open seas … although it turns out that they hand out “sea calm” like M&Ms on board. A cruise has its own unique appeal; you just have to know what you’re in for. The ship is an easy, no-fuss, self-contained retreat from the grind of daily life. This vacation requires no planning; just show up. In fact, we discovered that many cruisers don’t even visit ports of call, preferring instead to lounge by the pool, reading. There is a buffet three times a day on the Lido deck, a daily schedule of activities onboard, and a well-appointed gym, though running on a treadmill on the rolling sea kind of makes you nauseous. We sailed on HAL’s newest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam. Like the rest of the company’s fleet, the Nieuw Amsterdam is a mid-sized ship, which means it carries 2,100 passengers as opposed to the four to five thousand you’ll find on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Those mega ships feature over-the-top amenities like ice skating rinks and mini-golf courses. HAL instead draws on its European history of elegant transcontinental crossings, as evidenced by the “formal nights” held during the week. The classy atmosphere is more Titanic than Love Boat. Without the sinking, of course. I highly recommend getting a room with a deck, known as a “Verandah Room” in HAL language. You’ll need a private oasis; it will keep you sane and polite. Plus, sitting out on your private deck watching the endless ocean is indisputably relaxing. Our seven-day cruise included stops at a private island in the Bahamas (which we weren’t able to visit due to rough seas), Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Key West. There are more adventurous activities at the ports for an extra fee. Rebecca and I swam with a dolphin named Copernicus in Grand Cayman and went zip lining over the treetops in Cozumel. A cruise is a great option for multi-generational families, girls-only trips, or a family reunion—any type of getaway where you don’t want to worry about planning activities, preparing food, or arranging childcare for the little ones. The passengers do skew older than your typical Disney or Royal Caribbean cruise, but I found the senior crowd to be fun and friendly and happy to have some “young people” on board. Fall is off-season, so rates are especially low right now, around $800/ person for a 7-day cruise in a Verandah Room. —Jennifer Davis-Flynn


Editor’s Choice Experience




s the warm island breeze greets me, I am welcomed to Aruba with the local expression, “Bon bini,” along with nearly perfect weather. Upon arrival to the 70-square-mile paradise, I’m immediately infatuated with the pristinely white sand beaches that run down the coast, which are visible during the drive from the airport to my hotel. Protected from the hurricane belt, Arubans enjoy sunshine and an average of 82°F weather year-round. The official languages spoken by Arubans are Dutch and Papiamento, and most locals are fluent in English and Spanish as well, as the island sits a mere 16 miles from the South America coastline. I arrive at The Radisson Resort, Casino and Spa, which sits along the resort-dotted, two-mile stretch of coast known as Palm Beach. With a pool scene that would put a smile on any sunbather’s face, my hotel room is a few short steps to the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean. Aside from beach combing and sunbathing, the excursions listed below were my favorite of the activities I got to try during my stay at this blissful haven. Rock your world. My itinerary included a Jeep tour of Arikok National Park. This nature preserve along the west coast of Aruba covers almost onefifth of Aruba’s surface and boasts incredible pools, natural hot tubs, and 21 miles of hiking trails. Obvious mainly in its remarkable limestone cliffs, the park displays geological history and enough rugged beauty to wow any adventurous traveler. If you’re looking for a wild ride, check out ABC Aruba Jeep Tours (abc-aruba.com). Besides offering friendly service, this operator takes enthusiasts on a no-holds-barred tour of the park, showing travelers unique rock formations and offering historic facts about the native people of the island. Make sure to secure your seat belt: This tour had me bouncing around and laughing hysterically with my fellow thrill-seekers. Fly over waves. With daily trade winds, the island is world famous among kitesurfers and an ideal destination for newbies. While searching for lessons, be sure to stop by Kitesurfing Aruba (kitesurfingaruba.com), a locally owned outfit. This was my first time kitesurfing, and boy, was it tough! My guide, Ignacio, began the lesson on land before heading into the water.

If you’re the kind of gal who seeks out adventures that are native to the culture and environment, kitesurfing is a must-do while in Aruba. The strong trade winds will kick your butt, but the friendly service and local charm of Kitesurfing Aruba instructors will soften the blow. Learn the lingo. As I learned from the locals, “suave,” a term often used in Aruba, is a state of mind rather than just a word. It evokes a feeling of pure relaxation, a mentality that everything is how it should be. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in Aruba, don’t be afraid to drop the word “suave” with the locals, as they will appreciate you trying to get to know the culture of their beloved island. —Julie Peirano

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Jason Ebberts of TBL Photography

Endurance Queen Rebecca Rusch charges through the pack at a water crossing during the Dirty Kanza 200 in Emporia, Kansas. Founded in 2006, the event began with 34 participants, and organizers are anticipating as many as 1,500 riders in 2015. Gravel grinding is now the fastest growing genre in the cycling industry. On page 64, Rebecca Rusch and Dirty Kanza 200 founders offer tips to help you conquer a gravel grinder.


a Beyond

Trail Sisters

Road trips and best friends help put things in perspective By Ashley Arnold


he open road that stretches out before us is flat and surrounded by desert as we wheel our way toward Arizona. I sit in the passenger seat as my best friend and

Canyon. While we’ve traveled all over for trail races, we’ve never been on a road trip together … until now. ❖

I first met Gina while I was an editor at Trail Runner magazine and she was my PR and marketing contact at Inov-8, a shoe company hailing from the North East. We were little more than professional contacts who e-mailed each other now and then, occasionally mentioning our own running experiences as a point of “small talk” in work-related conversations. We lived on opposite ends of the country at the time: She lived in Boston and I lived in Carbondale, Colorado. When we met in person, it was at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships in North Conway, New Hampshire, in 2010. We were both there racing and neither of us had a good day. A nagging injury forced her to drop while I just struggled through the race never quite able to get my legs to turn over or my mind to settle. We bonded over misery I guess, our dissatisfaction with our respective performances. And then I think we ate chocolate—the stuff by which all strong friendships are bound. Gina moved to Carbondale the following year to take an advertising job with Trail Runner. We became roommates and almost instantly became the kind of friends that felt more like long-lost sisters. ❖ When we arrive in Flagstaff, Arizona, it is late enough that we can’t make out much in terms of the scenery around us. The peaks exist simply as soft, almost disappearing silhouettes against a cloudy, smokefilled night sky. Despite the fact that forest fires rage just outside of town, Flagstaff is a beautiful Ponderosa Pine island with snow-capped peaks in the middle of desert. It’s a laid-back,


By Ashley Arnold

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training partner—my trail sister— Gina Lucrezi drives her XTERRA. We have been exploring the American Southwest en-route to the big hurrah of our trip—the Grand


honest-feeling mountain town with easy trail access. What’s more, it’s about an hour’s drive from the Grand Canyon. So being here means our destination is, at least figuratively, “in sight.” The morning of our Grand Canyon run we make our way along the rim to the South Kaibab Trailhead, where we start our descent. I have to be honest here: I’m not all that impressed. It’s early in the day, and still, throngs of people are walking the upper sections, taking photos on the rim. There are far too many cars in the parking lot. Perhaps it’s the spectacle of the thing, the fact that the Grand Canyon is so often described as so unbelievably stinking amazing, that I deflate even more than I expected when I see it. I can’t help but think about all the less crowded and far more spectacular places I’ve visited in the American West. Places so remote I don’t have to say “excuse me” to pass anyone, because there isn’t anyone. As we descend the seemingly endless switchbacks that take us farther and farther down, I feel annoyed. Gina, on the other hand, is marveling out loud at the folds of gradient-hued red rock landscape that jut all around us, at the almost 7,000-foot drop from rim to river and the complete amazement she feels about how this thing got here in the first place. I keep my distance, feeling like I need to contain my disappointment within my personal bubble, and I back off the pace a little to let Gina bound ahead. We are maybe halfway down when she stops and insists I go ahead. I sort of sigh and feel myself jolt as I lose momentum and try to stop. I’m not sure I want

to lead. A couple seconds later, though, I consent and pull ahead. Suddenly my mood shifts. Just like that. The hiking crowd has thinned marginally and the lazy, winding river is within sight. “OK, this is pretty cool,” I say to Gina. “Right?!” She responds almost before I can get out my words. Almost like she heard them before I even had a chance to say them, almost as though she had offered me the lead knowing it would help me see what she was seeing, help me change my mood. Perhaps this is a good time to mention the “woo-woo” bit: We’re both convinced we’re psychically connected, that we’re trail sisters because we have a karmic sister history. A psychic actually confirmed this theory once. She explained at length our former-life sisterhood and our irrefutable link in this lifetime. Despite how different we are at times, we can’t help but remain friends. It’s true, I think. And this Grand Canyon example is just one of many instances when one of us does the other one’s thinking seconds before. You could argue, yes, that this is also just the case of truly good friends. But you get the picture. We pause to snap photos and take our time at the bridge on the other side of the river. We switch

off the lead again and Gina pulls in front, taking us on a short, midrun out-and-back to an area called Phantom Ranch where we fill up our water. “Sometimes I think about how incredibly lucky we are that we can do this,” I say as I pull my pack back on. “We can see so many beautiful places by just running through them. And I think if we’re not careful, it’s easy to take it all for granted.” “I know,” Gina says. “It is easy to get caught up in the goal of a run and forget to really see where you are.” She’s referring to training for races and the blinders that sometimes overtake us when we’re following a rigid training plan. These thoughts are good reminders. They linger as we move ahead. The day wears on and the heat increases, and Gina, who is coming off of a week with the highest training volume (including a 50-mile race) she’d perhaps ever had, starts to feel bad. She is exhausted—on top of her not-so-favorite running conditions (heat). I, on the other hand, start feeling better and better. I want to run faster and notice myself getting restless to push the pace. I had relaxed most of the previous week and therefore had logged fewer than half the miles she had before even touching the canyon. On top of all of that, hot and


bone-dry climates are my favorite places to run. We cross the river twice and then head up toward Bright Angel Trail, a route that will ultimately slope upward and take us back to the parking lot after a solid 21 miles of Grand Canyon running. I decide to lead us up the climb then, telling her to follow my steps, thinking she will just fall in line with the pace. But almost immediately, I start getting ahead. I run a few minutes and stop, looking back. She is still moving but struggling to keep pace. I’m not sure what to do. I hear a nagging little voice telling me I should push hard up the climb and meet her at the top. At the same time, something else is telling me to wait. “You OK?” “I don’t know what’s wrong. I just can’t move.” “It’s OK. You put in a huge week before this. Let’s just walk and jog every other switchback.” And so we do. It’s a long way out of the canyon. And by the end we’re both sun-soaked and dehydrated. “Thanks, Ash,” Gina says, sounding deflated. I smile. “Of course! We came down here to do this together, good day or not.” Time and geology might be able to split the very earth apart into a mile-deep chasm, but friends stick together. Because for all the amazing beauty of a broken landscape like the Grand Canyon, there is also something beautiful about connection, about a shared experience. You know, the truth is, while trail running is often a solo sport, it isn’t always. Sometimes it’s just like a road trip: a fast way to see a whole lot of country with a really good friend.

WAM • FALL | 2014  39

a Advocate

Foundation Benefits Young Female Cyclists Cyclocross Celebrity Amy Dombroski’s Loved Ones Cope With Her Passing By Helping Other Budding Racers By Nancy Averett


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the Amy D. Foundation and made its mission to encourage and support young women through developmental cycling programs. Today, just about one year after Amy’s death, they have raised more than $50,000 for the foundation, held their first cycling and mentoring program for young girls in Boulder, and chosen their first young cyclocross racer for sponsorship. The couple hopes the foundation can eventually sponsor a team of young female racers in both mountain biking and cyclocross, and support and encourage the cyclocross team to spend the season in Belgium. “Cyclocross in Belgium is like football in the United States. It’s their national sport, “ says Dan. “The vast majority of the best riders live and race and train in that area, which is why Amy felt she had to go there.” Amy discovered that racing against the best wouldn’t be easy. During her first season in Belgium, she found the courses challenging: sandy, cobblestoned, muddy, or icy. She fell often. The competition was also far more aggressive than anything she’d encountered in the United States. Female European racers squeezed, banged, and rammed their way through the opposition, never stopping to apologize or even look back. “You have to have big balls to race here,” says Christine Vardaros, another American who competes in the Belgian cyclocross scene. “In America it’s just a road race on dirt. Here you actually have to do things with your bike. It’s a full-body sport.” Amy also struggled with the logistics of living and competing abroad. Everything from grocery shopping to finding an apartment to figuring out where to go to the bathroom before a race was a challenge. “I felt like a fifth-class citizen, finishing in fifth place, tromping back to our minuscule van in the muddy field where my option for urination was to squat between car doors,” she wrote on her blog.

Her situation improved tremendously during her second season abroad when she became connected to Victor Bruyndonx, a congenial man in his seventies who peppers his speech with the occasional expletive and lives with his aging mother in a house in Heist-Goor, south of Antwerp. Bruyndonx agreed to take in Amy, who he nicknamed “the little mouse” because she was so petite, giving her free meals and lodging as well as training and fatherly advice. Such arrangements are common in Belgium to help young cyclists defray daily living costs and stressors so they can focus on their sport. Bruyndonx convinced Hans Van Kosteren, manager of the Belgian team Telenet Fidea, to make Amy one of his riders. The deal meant she would have the team camper to rest and change in before races and a group of volunteer caretakers, known as soigneurs, to wash and fix her bikes. Amy was thrilled. “It was something I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs because it meant I would be able to live and race in Belgium for another winter,” she wrote on her blog. “It meant my experiment of getting my feet wet in Belgium all last winter had worked. I had highs and lows through that winter, but I was noticed.” ❖ The highlight of Amy’s 2012-2013 season with Telenet-Fidea was a second-place finish at a race in Leuven, Belgium. It was her first time stepping onto a European podium. All in all, she’d competed in 24 European races and her finishes had ranged from second to thirty-third place, but most were in the fifth, seventh, and eleventh range. She was pleased with her progress. “Getting closer to my goals,” she titled her last blog entry of that year. Amy returned to Boulder as she always did for the off-season. She did some mountain bike races, and spent time hanging with Dan, Nicole,


Eric Goodwin

he government shutdown was in full swing, so Dan Dombroski and his wife, Nicole, both engineers for the federal government in Denver, decided to go mountain biking. They dropped off their young daughter, Ali, at daycare and headed to some nearby singletrack. The couple was enjoying the fast rolling trails and wide-open views when Dan’s cell phone rang. He ignored it. It rang again. Then the voicemail notification chimed. Still pedaling, Dan pulled the phone out of his pocket and checked the number. When he saw +44, the country code for Belgium, he felt a little knot of worry in his stomach. His kid sister, Amy, was in Belgium, but this wasn’t her number. He hesitated, then braked, and lifted the phone to his ear to listen to the voicemail. “Hi Dan,” a voice with a British accent said. “This is Dan Ellmore. I need you to call me back immediately.” Ellmore was a friend of Amy’s, a fellow cyclist she’d met overseas as she pursued her dream of becoming a world-class cyclocross racer. Amy had been a star in the United States. She’d won five national championships—three in cyclocross, one in road cycling, and one in mountain biking—then in the fall of 2011 decided to move from Boulder to Belgium, the epicenter of cyclocross, to supersize her skills and compete against the world’s best. From Ellmore’s grave tone, Dan knew something was wrong. It was the second time in his life he’d received a phone call like that. The first was when his and Amy’s mother had been struck by lightning and killed ten years earlier. He forced himself to dial Ellmore’s number. That day was among the saddest in Dan Dombroski’s life. Amy had been hit by a truck and killed while out on a training ride. Within days of the phone call, friends of Amy’s started a memorial fund in her name, and soon Dan and Nicole took over. They named it


Amy races hard at the 2013 Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville, KY.

and Ali. She also fell in love with a local guy, Ryan Rozinsky, who she’d met on a mountain bike ride with friends. “We met in June and we pretty much just clicked,” says Rozinsky. “The whole summer, we were pretty much inseparable. I knew I was done looking, you know? I’d met the right person. I think she felt the same way.” Despite the tugging at her heart, Amy decided to go back to Europe for one more season. Both Bruyndonx and a friend, Emile Van den Broeck, who had once trained world-renowned male cyclocross racer Sven Nys, felt Amy had mastered the technical skills and only needed more speed to become a regular on the podium. The best way to obtain speedy legs is to “motor pace,” a regimen in which the cyclist follows just inches behind the back wheel of a motor scooter, forcing themselves to ride for miles at high speed. “A lot of times when you do it, it’s so painful you can’t even look up,” says Vardaros. “You’re seeing stars. Sometimes when I do it, I can barely keep my eyes open and I feel like I’m going to pass out.” On Oct. 3 of last year, two days after she’d arrived in Belgium, Amy asked Van den Broeck, an experienced pacer, to take her out. They left his house in Heist-Goor at 4 p.m. About 30 minutes later, they encountered a narrowing in the road where only one vehicle could pass through at a time. Such narrowings are a common feature in Europe to slow drivers down. A truck entered the tapered space and Van den Broeck signaled to Amy that he was going to veer to the right onto the road shoulder. He expected her to follow. But

she did not. Somehow she ended up directly in front of the truck. Amy struck the passenger side, hitting the bumper and hood, and then was thrown into the air, landing 100 meters behind the truck, according to Belgian news reports. She died on impact. “I blame myself,” Bruyndonx says in his heavy accent. “Why? I push her to go. The last thing she was missing was a little bit of speed. You have to do that behind the car or scooter to get that, so I push her to go behind the motorbike and she died.” Hundreds of riders—some of the biggest names in the sport, including Nys—came to her funeral. Numb with shock, Dan and Nicole flew across the ocean. After the funeral, they stayed to watch that weekend’s races. Nikki Harris, a British racer who was one of Amy’s teammates for Telenet Fidea, won on Saturday. As she crossed the finish line she made an “A” with her fingers. When the couple returned home to Colorado, they were surprised to learn friends had raised $10,000 in the first week since Amy’s death through sales of “Amy D.” merchandise— socks, T-shirts, and stickers printed with a logo of a heart with a lightning bolt cutting through the middle of it, a nod to the tattoos Amy had on her wrist so she could look down at them while riding and think of her mother. This was the money Dan and Nicole used to start the Amy D. Foundation, which they decided would be used to help young female cyclists develop. They knew Amy would approve of the cause, since she often became discouraged by the lack of parity among male and female riders. In Belgium, the most famous male crossers made thousands of euros per race; the women made hundreds. “It was definitely a frustration for Amy,” Dan says. “It was an issue she cared deeply about.” Working on the foundation, he says, has helped him cope better with Amy’s death, explaining that it’s exactly the kind of thing she would have done, had the situation been reversed. He was interviewed just six weeks after her death, and his voice cracked with emotion as


he spoke about the foundation. “We just felt like Amy, if faced with this scenario, while obviously grieving, would have found a way to create something worthwhile and beautiful out of it. So we felt like we sort of owe it to her to do the same.”

How to Help Donate to the Amy D. Foundation or buy some Amy D. merchandise to support the organization’s mission to encourage and support young women through cycling, inspire the celebration of healthy challenge, and empower the confident pursuit of lofty dreams. amydfoundation.org Support young girls in cycling. This past summer, the Amy D. Foundation partnered with Little Bellas to run the “Amy D. Sunday Sessions,” a summer mountain bike riding program for girls ages 7 to 13 in Boulder, where Amy lived in the summertime. Little Bellas— created by Olympic Mountain Biker Lea Davison and her sister, Sabra, who also races professionally—offers similar programs in Vermont and California. littlebellas.com Host a Screening of Women’s Professional Cycling Documentary Half The Road. In 2014, the documentary Half the Road: The Passion, Pitfalls & Power Of Women’s Professional Cycling was released. Directed by professional cyclist Katherine Bertine, it discusses both the joys of being a female athlete as well as the frustrations of competing in the male-dominated world of sports. halftheroad.com

WAM • FALL | 2014  41

a Advocate

Defending the Sacred Headwaters

Driven By the Link Between the Environment’s Health and Human Health, Shannon McPhail Protects Her Homeland By Chris Kassar


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ment. But when I called about working on Shell’s new project in the Headwaters and then [heard they’d start] digging into coal bed methane (CBM), countless red flags went up,” says Shannon. She learned that CBM extraction would require a huge amount of infrastructure (3000 km of roads, more than 4,000 wells, plus pipelines, compressor stations, and power generators) that would fragment important wildlife habitat and alter hydrological cycles. “Then I talked to government officials and learned they’d be using a ‘new innovative technology called fracking’ that would pump harmful chemicals into the headwaters of our river. They told me they’d tried fracking in other places—like Fernie, BC, and that all the fish had died. I couldn’t believe they’d try that here in the Sacred Headwaters. Our fish and our water are our livelihood, they are how we—and the First Nations whose land we live on—support and sustain ourselves.” Inaction was no longer an option. With the help of a diverse group of people living and working in the area, Shannon formed the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC). “Shell and government inspired us. We’re a bunch of local yokels who were tired of being left out of major deci-

sions. We decided to stand up and make the voices of our community members heard.”


Revered by First Nations and residents as inherently valuable for its wilderness character and the natural resources it provides, the breathtaking landscape of the Sacred Headwaters also has great economic value—as long as it remains whole. In the Skeena Watershed alone, wild salmon contribute $110 million to the local economy every year; for a region with only 60,000 people living in it, that’s a good chunk of change. “This number shows that just by keeping our watershed healthy and intact we earn one billion dollars every seven years for our local economy,” says Shannon, and that doesn’t include the economic yields of guide outfitting ($28 million per year) or tourism ($1 billion per year). “Why would we want to replace that kind of economy—which supports local people and is incredibly sustainable and culturally appropriate—with development that comes from companies in different countries and benefits their shareholders and investors whose bank accounts aren’t even in Canada? This is about justice and fairness and maintaining our economy.”

Sounds logical and simple enough, but despite a strong economic argument and resistance from residents and First Nation leaders, the region continues to receive a relentless barrage of proposals for gold and copper mines, power lines, pipelines, liquefied natural gas, and fracking funded by big guns like Shell, Spectra, Fortune Minerals, and Enbridge. “As an organization, we (SWCC) take stock of all proposed developments, but there are so many that we can only deal with the projects that are so bad that you can’t even believe they are real … and even keeping up with those is overwhelming.” But Shannon and SWCC are not categorically anti-development. “We are a resource development region. It’s what we do and we’re good at it, but we want good development in appropriate places—not the Sacred Headwaters and not by companies who disrespect us and dismiss the importance of our way of life,” says Shannon, citing Fortune Minerals’ repeated disrespect of Tahltan elders. The company has gone as far as arresting them and dragging them through the dirt when they blockaded the only road into the Headwaters. “We follow the approach that we grew up with: We can develop, but it can’t come womensadventuremagazine.com

Courtesy of Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

estled within a series of spectacular, rugged, untouched mountains in Northwest British Columbia lies a remarkable and verdant valley. Here, three of Canada’s most important rivers, the Stikine, Skeena, and Nass begin their journey through a largely wild, road-free swath of land three times the size of Switzerland. Scientists have identified the area as the single greatest candidate for a climate change sanctuary on the planet due to its size, intact predator-prey relationships, and pristine character. Wild salmon fill the rivers and irreplaceable cultural resources abound on land. Deemed the Sacred Headwaters by First Nations including the Tahltan, Gitxsan, Haida, and Tlingit—all of which have lived here for centuries—this land is cherished and respected by those lucky enough to call it home. Shannon McPhail, a sixth-generation guide outfitter and mother of two is one such person. More than ten years ago, Shannon made a phone call to mega-company Shell inquiring about a welding job for her husband. Never would she have guessed that this simple act would alter her life’s trajectory and help her find a larger purpose. “I didn’t know anything about anything regarding policy or the environmental impacts of develop-


at the cost of our wild salmon, our clean water, or our culture.”


Her ability to hold steadfast to these values, maintain composure in difficult situations, and bring people together makes Shannon a strong and obvious leader in this effort. Fueled by a passion to protect her home and way of life, she’s worked tirelessly for the last decade, mostly as a full-time unpaid volunteer to build a community that would rise to action when needed. “We are very collaborative, very inclusive,” she says simply. For instance, under Shannon’s leadership the SWCC launched what she calls the “1,000 Cups of Coffee Campaign,” an informal method of engagement where Shannon would sit at people’s kitchen tables, drink coffee, eat cookies, and listen to their concerns. “People ask us to give workshops about our model of success, but there is no model. We’re just being who we are, who the north is,” she says. “And the greatest lesson we learned is that our strength comes from everyone else—it doesn’t come from us. Our strength comes from our community. We have no power without all the people behind us.” She says that the First Nation elders have played a particularly influential role, and that many of them are women, including the Chief of the Tahltan Nation who is currently heading up negotiations with the government and industry. Even though the SWCC has been wildly successful in raising awareness, building community, and securing protection (like getting Shell to withdraw its plans to develop CBM in the Headwaters), Shannon never expected she’d be running an organization like SWCC. “I’ve never done anything like this in my life. I’m a welder by trade and a big game outfitter. That’s what I’m good at, so this wasn’t my natural path,” she says. “Plus, I used to think that people doing this work were ‘Chicken

Littles’ exaggerating about the sky falling, because I thought there was no way that government or a corporation would propose these kind of things or be able to get away with what these Chicken Littles were protesting against.” Shannon’s perspective changed greatly once she began seeing proposal after proposal that would threaten the way of life on the Sacred Headwaters. Even Shannon’s family members—who she describes as very conservative, right wing, pro-development—changed their tune. “We’re the outfitters, loggers, rodeo stock contractors, miners. We work in all these industries. When people like that oppose a development or series of developments, you know they’re a bad idea. Our greatest resource is our natural landscape, so we have to develop it right.”


Every First Nation has a word in their native language to describe this critical relationship: ‘the health of the land is directly related to the health of the people and the health of the people is directly connected of the health of the land.’ Shannon, raised as a minority on Gitxsan territory, where 85 per-

cent of the population is Gitxsan, says that even as a “white girl” she was absorbed into the culture and instilled with a great connection to the land. “Living here is a huge privilege, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. Not only do you have the right to stand up for your home, you have the responsibility to do so. That’s something you learn from the Gitxsan way of life,” she says. “Gwalx Ye’insxwtis,” one of the greatest foundational Gitxsan principles, means “you receive a full basket and it is your responsibility to pass a full basket on.” This relates to cultural, ecological, economic, and spiritual resources, and “it is also understood to mean securing the integrity of culturally and ecologically important places including management of land, water, resources such as ecosystems, and fish and wildlife habitats and populations,” says Shannon. Because they are deeply rooted to the area and consider it home, First Nations and residents take this responsibility seriously. In urban culture, if you don’t like something—the weather, schools, amenities—you leave and find a place that’s more conducive to your needs. “That’s not how it works here. This is home. If you don’t like


something here, you either tough it out or you are the one who has to do something to make it better,” says Shannon. “That engenders an entire culture steeped in the belief that you have to take care of what you have or else you won’t have it. If more people had to depend on where they live, if they couldn’t leave, they would take a lot better care of it.” It is this ethic that inspires Shannon to continue fighting for her home and that has united First Nation leaders behind protecting the Sacred Headwaters. At the moment, Tahltan elders are leading the long, arduous negotiations with government and industry while SWCC plays a support role. First Nations hope to secure a long-term plan that keeps the Headwaters wild and free from mass industrialization while preserving traditional values and activities like hunting, fishing, guiding, hiking, and rafting. “This is the crux. We are on the edge of a major victory, but it is very fragile and not in the bag by any means,” says Shannon. “By the end of this year will be either celebrating a major victory or hitting the streets with our shit kickers on, ready to fight.”

HELP TIP THE SCALES The next six months of negotiations are critical to protecting the Sacred Headwaters. You can make the biggest difference by donating to directly support SWCC’s work with the Tahltan to ensure the permanent protection of the Sacred Headwaters. “At this point, we need to do scientific and technical studies, support legal strategies, continue our education and outreach initiatives as well as the media and communications,” Shannon McPhail says. “The only thing we need to do this stuff is money. We just need the cold hard cash to hit things the hardest.” For folks who don’t have cash, SWCC could use donations, such as artwork, music, volunteer hours, building tools, generators, and lumber. And here are non-financial ways to help: 1. Sign the petition that nicely says: “I support the Tahltan First Nation in permanently protecting the Sacred Headwaters from Industrial Development.” 2. Encourage all your friends to sign the petition via Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail. 3. Call Fortune Minerals and tell them you support the protection of the Sacred Headwaters (877) 552-7726. 4. Order bumper stickers expressing your support and sport them! More at skeenawatershed.com. WAM • FALL | 2014  43

a I’m Proof I’m Proof That …

Hula Hoops Can Change The World By Charlotte Austin


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one of anti-establishment. Wealth was scorned; education was coveted. Wasfia left Bangladesh at age 17, when she traveled to the United States on an academic scholarship to Agnes Scott College (ASC) in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned a double major in psychology and studio art, and in her last year at school, she conducted six months of research on how women in India were using art as therapy.


Wasfia Nazreen

asfia Nazreen was chastised for hula hooping when she was eight years old. In Bangladesh, girls do not shake their hips in public. She grew up in the tiny village of Feni, which is located in one of the most conservative parts of the tumultuous country. Her parents and grandparents lived through wars, colonialism, and revolutions. By the time the country gained independence in 1971, the national feeling was

After visiting more than a dozen research sites, she found herself in Dharamsala, where she spent time with political prisoners who had escaped from Tibet. “When they were in prison, these women had been raped, sterilized for life, had hunks of their breasts cut off. But they were praying for their torturers and using meditation to forgive their guards. Seeing the laughter on their faces and the light in their eyes changed my life.” When her research project ended, Wasfia came back to the United States for her graduation. Then she sold everything she owned and moved to Dharamsala, where she served as a social worker and coordinated with nonprofits in Tibet, Nepal, and India. “I traveled a lot for my work,” she says, “and that’s when I fell in love with the Himalayas. And once you’re in love with big mountains, you never really recover.” Despite the beauty of her surroundings, though, the eight years she spent in Dharamsala wore her down. “To be a good activist, you need to take care of your soul. My home country was calling, so I moved back to Bangladesh.” In 2011, Bangladesh celebrated 40 years of independence. The nation—which had long been ravaged by political violence, civil unrest, and natural disasters—was going through a gruesome and complicated time, and Wasfia felt that the country’s young people were heartsick and uninspired. “The women are working especially hard,” she says. “There are so many good things happening in Bangladesh, and so many of them are being done by women and girls. But it’s a patriarchal, Muslim, male-dominated society, and nobody was acknowledging the country’s kickass female population! My generation needed something positive to focus on, so I decided to do something to celebrate the amazing women and men in my amazing country: hula hoop on

I’m Proof


Age: 31 After an expedition, I always… “Take a shower and walk around naked.” Never travel without … “Spicy chili peppers. And headphones to put me to sleep.” Lucky charm: “Amulets from His Holiness the Dalai Llama.” Training regimen: “I carry tires. That’s the best training for a mountain like Denali, where you have to carry big loads. I also eat a lot and drink a lot, which keeps me strong, and I do yoga and meditate every day, which keeps me sane.” On every mountain, I take … “My hula hoop. It’s customized: 3.5 pounds with red and green colors for Bangladeshi flag.” Favorite beauty product: “Coconut oil. We massage it into dry hair before bed, sleep with it, and wash it out in the morning. You can add lemon juice to cure dandruff, or you can whisk in an egg yolk for conditioning. Bangladeshi women take very good care of their hair—it’s always thick and shiny.” What I miss about Bangladesh: “Rice, fish, and the monsoon rains.” What I look for in a partner: “Honesty, intellect, and compassion toward the planet and her inhabitants.”

the summit of the highest mountain on every continent.” To fund her quest for the so-called “Seven Summits,” Wasfia sold her mother’s gold jewelry, took out bank loans, and organized fundraisers. Since 2011, she has climbed Kilimanjaro (19,341’), Mount Everest (29,029’), Aconcagua (22,841’), Mount Vinson (16,050’), Mount Elbrus (18,510’), and most recently Mount McKinley (20,322’). To finish her quest, she’ll need to climb Carstensz Pyramid (16,024’), the highest mountain in the Australian/Indonesian continent. It hasn’t been easy. The expeditions are long and expensive. She has battled political controversy, loneliness, death threats, raging storms, and frostbite that required hospital stays and surgery. She has never been alone on her journey, though. “I’ve been lucky to have wonderful mentors, including Patrick Morrow,” she says. She met Morrow—the first person to have completed the Seven Summits—while they were both working in Dharamsala, and he has since designed a training program that includes dragging tires up hills and carrying heavy loads at altitude. “Everything we do together is training,” she says, “but it’s more than training to climb mountains. I also learn about life. He and his wife are down-toearth, humble people, and they’ve taught me so much about what it means to be a human being.” In her training, Wasfia has also climbed with other legends of the alpine community like Will Gadd and the Benegas brothers. “I’m training with all these big-time mountaineers. It’s thrilling—and intimidating!” she admits. “They’re so humble and cool, but I feel totally out of shape.” Still, she says, it’s worth it. “The global climbing community has rallied around me. I’m just a random person from Bangladesh, but I have friends

all around the world who embrace me and make me feel loved.” When she’s not in the mountains, Wasfia works with the Bangladeshi on Seven Summits Foundation. She created the foundation to develop educational programs, employment opportunities, and outdoor training for at-risk adolescent girls in Bangladesh and Nepal, who she hopes will feel empowered to choose lifestyles beyond those dictated by traditional gender roles. She has also mentored a team of Nepalese women attempting the Seven Summits, blogs for an environmental website called Fragile Oasis, and acts as an ambassador for BRAC (formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), the world’s largest nonprofit. Wasfia isn’t sure what she’ll do when she finishes the Seven Summits, but one thing is certain: She will continue to give back. She plans to work with her foundation, raise awareness for the

wonderful women and children in Bangladesh, and write about her adventures. When she speaks about her experiences climbing mountains, she has one request: don’t call them conquests. “Summiting is the proper word,” she says. “But when you’re pushing yourself to the extreme, the experience is more like surrender.”

WAM • FALL | 2014  45

Katie checks out the Gorge Powerhouse at the foothills of the North Cascades in Newhalem, Washington. Let the mountain passes begin.

Pedal Words and images by Camrin Dengel

Katie and I enjoy a short water break at Leech Lake, Minnesota. Lots of bike paths and all smiles.

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Revolution What 4,000 miles across North America taught best friends on a pair of bikes

“You’re looking for what?” She looked us up and down, her eyes lingering on our bicycles loaded with hefty panniers. We were looking for the dock, where we hoped to catch the afternoon ferry off the Olympic Peninsula and onto to the mainland of Washington. “Well, first, you’ve got to get out of this park,” she said, annoyed. I looked around at the strip of grass, stretching no more than a block. Trying not to smirk, I looked back at her and asked which direction it was. She pointed off to our right and warned us: “It is a really long way from here!” We smiled, thanked the woman, hopped on our bikes and rode what turned out to be four miles to the dock. And we laughed. It was the first five minutes of our seventy-three-day journey pedaling across the United States. We didn’t have the heart to tell the woman in the “park” that in the grand scheme of things, four miles to the ferry was the least of our worries. In fact, we didn’t have the guts to tell anyone how far we were going until we made it across the entire state of Washington. When we mentioned riding to the next town, people were surprised. “It’s like fifty miles from here!” they’d say with concerned looks. We couldn’t bear to let them in on our 4,000-mile adventure plans, especially with less than 500 miles under our belts. Our confidence wasn’t exactly through the roof. People genuinely thought we were crazy. They asked us what drugs we were on, if we were carrying guns, if our parents said it was all right, and where our husbands were. We’re definitely not crazy. We just love to explore! We are healthy ladies fueled by good food, not drugs. The thought of packing a gun across the country scared us much more than it made us feel safe. We were twenty-three, old enough to not be asking our parents for permission anymore. And not that either of us have one, but what do husbands have to do with anything? I don’t know why America was so surprised by our journey. I don’t know if it was because we were two young women or if it was that we didn’t look capable. Maybe it was because the U.S. is so dependent on travel by vehicle, and people were incapable of comprehending what we were doing—let alone why. Katie and I met our freshman year of college at Humboldt State University. Instant friends, we made a pact that at some point we would ride across the country. Keeping our promise, we decided that 2013 would be the perfect summer to take the trip. Living in different states at the time, we planned our tour over Skype and e-mail, bought tickets, and showed up in Washington in June, starting our journey with our back tires dipped in the Pacific Ocean. We are adventure buddies on the river and in wanderings, but we had never done a substantial bike tour together. We decided to ride a modified version of Adventure Cycling Association’s Northern Tier Route with a 1,000-mile addition consisting of strung-together Google maps. The addition took us up into Canada, along the north shore of Lake Superior, and back down into New York State. The trip didn’t seem extreme to me. Like anyone in the outdoor community, I have friends who run ultramarathons, bag peaks in record time, kayak rivers with forty-foot falls, and jump out of airplanes into wild fires. My standards for activities warranting the label “extreme” are pretty high. I have a bit of cycling experience but have never really thought of myself as a “cyclist.” I started bike touring with my mother when I was twelve. We took trips all over the state of Alaska, usually in chunks of three hundred miles or so. Sometimes I’d get wrangled into tours on unpaved roads, like the Denali Highway or the Haul Road starting in Prudhoe Bay. If you knew my mother, you’d guess it didn’t end there. When I was fourteen, the two of us rode from my hometown of Valdez, Alaska, to Kalispell, Montana. The trip took us forty-five days and we covered around 2,300 miles. So, going into this tour, I knew what I was in for, physically. But I’d never been connected to a trip in the way I was to this one.

WAM • FALL | 2014  47

Unlike most outdoor adventures, bicycle touring isn’t removed from society. You’re splitting your time between the backcountry and front country. You are camping and thinking in terms of distances, food and water needs, and weather. Yet, you are often pedaling down highways and roads alongside thousands of people in large vehicles. You are confronted in each town where you stop with opinions and questions, and sometimes just strange looks or wide eyes. I remember being embarrassed as a teenager that we were doing something so different and strange to people. I didn’t want to be doing something that people thought was crazy, and at that point I was still impressionable enough to start believing that if they thought it was weird and radical, maybe it was. I wouldn’t tell my friends where I was going for the week or the summer. Now I think it’s pretty cool to have had such an unconventional mother and that some of her qualities seem to have rubbed off on me. Within the first week, we had climbed five out of the eight mountain passes on our route. I was battling a knee-hip-leg issue. Kind of what you‘d expect when you go from zero to eight hours on a bike every day. I also had developed a severe digestive problem and would learn a month later that it was due to contracting Giardia prior to the tour. Katie was plugging along just fine with only a few minor crashes beginning to tally up. We were handling the ups and downs with good humor. But the reactions we received from people began to get old. The entire way across the United States, people gave me and Katie confused looks. They’d yell, “Get off the fucking road!” and lay on the horn. Some people just thought we were homeless and tried not to make eye contact. Even when the comments were positive, I found myself again slightly embarrassed. The difference this time was that the embarrassment I felt was for them. It’s one thing to tell someone what they’re doing is awesome. It’s another to treat them like they are bionic. One lady asked us if we were alerting the

local media as we rode through towns. We asked her why we would do that. She was convinced we were the first women to ever ride across the country. Are you kidding me? We just rolled our eyes. I had never once questioned anything I wanted to do because I wasn’t capable, smart enough, or fit enough, and I definitely haven’t questioned my goals because of the fact that I am a woman. We were prepared. But we are not the kind of people who get decked out with the newest, techiest gear; we have always made due with what we had already. Of course this caused a few minor hiccups along the way. For weeks, we pulled things out of our panniers and mailed them home or gifted them to little towns we passed through. My bike weighed in at around eighty-five pounds due to one back pannier being loaded down with heavy camera gear. Katie’s was closer to sixty pounds, but she is a good eight inches shorter than I, her bike even requiring specially sized tires. We definitely could have gone lighter and faster, brought a few more handy items, and left multiple things behind. Instead, we made sure all our basic needs were being met and kept it at that. I have always believed you do not have to own the nicest gear, be in the best shape, or develop the most complicated game plan. You just have to be adaptable. You have to be able to laugh when the sprinklers turn on under your tent at two in the morning. You have to be able to deal with taking fiveminute turns pulling in front of each other on the bike and with riding into strong headwinds day after day. You have to know when to live by the seat of your pants and when you need to reevaluate the risks. We found ourselves in situations that scared us—not often, but more than I expected. It was a different type of fear than I had ever felt; it was one that didn’t stem from nature’s severe extremes but rather the opposite. We endured catcalls in isolated areas, unwelcome advances from aggressive men, long nights camped hidden along the road where we were clearly not

Somewhere in Maine we found this gem of a truck. Can you say biker babe?

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“People genuinely thought we were crazy. They asked us what drugs we were on, if we were carrying guns, if our parents said it was all right, and where our husbands were.” welcome, and narrow escapes from semi trucks running us off the road. These things were wake up calls to us, starting to see ourselves as cyclists and women in the world. I realized that in the same way that being on a bike required me to make different decisions than I would have to make in a car, being a woman put me in situations that men wouldn’t ever be in. This freaked me out at first, and then I came to understand this was just something I needed to be aware of, not something I needed to be afraid of, and definitely not something that should hold me back. Knowing this only made me stronger—not as a woman, but as a person. After we made it through the mountains and plains, the heat rash and the bugs of the West, we hit the Midwest and climbed up into Canada following the north shore of Lake Superior. We had a week of beautiful weather, cute towns along the shore, and gorgeous views—a notable high point of our trip. We then had ten consecutive days of rain and thunderstorms, heavy fog, and terrible visibility on the road. It felt like buckets were being dumped out of the sky, which pulsed with lightning flashes and trembled with deafening thunder overhead. The wetness soaked deeper into our gear and our motivation began to drop. It seemed like obstacles just kept piling up in front of us. A few miles ahead, two cyclists were hit and killed; I was having major vertigo caused by a Giardia medication I picked up in a Canadian hospital; semis sped by us, inches from our handlebars, the road’s shoulder nonexistent. Our lives began to feel seriously threatened. When we spotted each other still riding up ahead or slightly behind, a flood of relief would wash over us individually. She’s still alive! We decided to reevaluate. We had the opportunity to catch a ride on a train and cut out 200 miles of riding on treacherous roads. But getting on a train felt like cheating. What is cheating when it comes to bike touring? This debate consumed us for days. At this point, it was clear that we were not having fun. It seemed like a pointless risk. However, we could not help but feel like we were being unfaithful to our journey and question what people would think. We look back on this now and say, “Who the hell cares?” This adventure was our own, and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. We got on the train, enjoyed a few hours to warm up and dry out, then got off in Sudbury, Ontario, to clear skies and dry roads. Riding into the New England states felt so satisfying. The trip became fun again. Our raincoats stuffed into the depths of our bags, we were back to endless bottles of sunblock. We feasted on fresh food from farmers’ markets and local goodies. The two of us, now filled with confidence, flew through little towns with smiles stretched across our faces. The mountain passes we climbed lasted no more than a couple hours. Two hours of climbing sure beat the five-hour stretches in our lowest gear that we endured in the Cascades. Our guerrilla camping experiences were massively upgraded to organic farms with friendly encounters and cucumber parting gifts. There seemed to be more cyclists on the road. People didn’t look at us in the same way they did in the west, although at this point we barely cared. We’d already ridden thousands of miles across the country and had only a few left to pedal. Nothing tasted better than that fresh lobster the night we made it to the coast of Maine, and were no longer concerned about the train ride. Throughout the trip, we had somehow managed to laugh nearly everyday until it hurt. We hadn’t ever fought, though we did often have different opinions. We had adapted to our constantly changing environment and to each other. And we had made it! I wonder what that lady in the park would think of us now.

I do my happy dance crossing into North Dakota. Three states down!

We loved the bridges in New England. Sometimes they served as shelters in the storm. We decided this was a great resting spot before we crossed over into Vermont.

Katie and I woke up early to leave Belfast, Maine for our very last day of riding. A beautiful sunrise greeted us as we rode across the Passagassawakeag River footbridge. WAM • FALL | 2014  49

A Girl’s Guide To Mountaineering The Soft Skills That Will Get You To The [Figurative] Summit

another sation with r ve n tting co a d a I’ve h t this is ge bu ce in ,” s ys en gu be e we th how long it’s on being “just one of ys ago while da ’s t le a p h u T co . a ys 18 da myself ng down ’t seen lways prided a few headi But I haven find y. ll a ic t s chick. I‘ve a e are they all? I saw ia s u o her ay too enth g to feel like trying t ridiculous. W and I greeted them w in t n, I’m r a ea t m s I ere. up . It’s h s g p p n u m di ca t ea is h r e ex ou y wer any of t? even reall since or in … what nex 2, 2014. der if they on es k w jo o any women t t r g a in f e at dumb I’m beginn enali, Jun and laughing feet on D Bigfoot and p 0 u 0 g ,0 n 4 di 1 n a t m gs entry fro already peein al journal —Actu

By Chris Kassar

Don’t get me wrong. I love hanging with guys. I’ve always been a tomboy and some of my best friends are guys. But when I climbed Denali this spring with my partner, Nick, I didn’t realize that I’d be such a minority. Turns out that women constitute only about ten percent of all climbers on Denali. I was shocked when I came home and discovered this statistic, but it explained why all the friends we made were guys. I have no idea why there are so few ladies up on that peak, but I do know that women have been pushing the limits on some of the toughest mountains in the world for over a century, so we definitely have what it takes. Scaling peaks stirs my spirit, touches my soul, and makes me a stronger person in everyday life. There is so much to be gained from mountaineering that I developed this “girl’s guide” with the hopes of getting more ladies out there. There’s nothing in here about technical skills (take a course) or physical training (hire a trainer); these are the soft skills, the intangibles that most folks don’t talk about, the things I wish someone had told me. Most of these tenets apply to both girls and guys, but I tried to focus on areas I thought would speak to the feminine spirit in particular. Whether you’re totally new to mountaineering or an old pro, I hope some of these tips—pulled directly from my experience—help motivate you and make the climb more enjoyable.

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BE JUST ONE OF THE GUYS (TO A POINT). This may sound ridiculous,

but the ability to pee standing up makes climbing big mountains a lot easier and more efficient. Unclipping from the rope then removing your harness, backpack, and three bottom layers consumes energy and time. Plus, if you have to drop trou in frigid temps, you can literally freeze your ass off, and no trees anywhere means you’ll likely have an audience. Various funnels and apparatus are out there to help you pee like a guy (see gear below). Find one you like and learn to use it well before you head out.

TRAIN FOR THE SCARY. My time on Denali was exhilarating and beautiful, but if I’m honest, I was also a bit anxious for the majority of the time. I found myself holding my breath often as I climbed, knowing that a misstep or fall would mean severe injury, if not worse. I wasn’t expecting to be afraid so often, but this healthy dose of fear kept me focused even when I was tired. Fear warns you to danger, gives you energy, and keeps you within your ability; but if left unchecked, fear itself can become paralyzing and dangerous. Mitigate excessive fear by mimicking the scariest parts of your climb in training. Research the route, find out about the most technical or scary spots and then practice. Employ safety techniques (like anchors or running belays) to lessen the consequences, but walk along snow-covered knife-edge ridges, practice falling and arresting, traverse extremely steep, icy slopes. On the mountain, you’ll still be nervous at the most sketchy spots, but you’ll know you have the experience and skills to handle them. Meditation, yoga, mantras, and mindfulness training can also help in these high-anxiety situations.

FIND YOUR VOICE. Mountaineering is a male-dominated passion, but this doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot to contribute. Find your voice and honor it by sharing your knowledge, experience, thoughts, and feelings throughout an expedition. This begins during training; if you aren’t comfortable with something, if you see a better route, if you need a break, then you have to speak up. If you aren’t received well or respected or if the others in your group (regardless of gender) aren’t open to team decision-making, it may be time to find new climbing partners.

P r Expe editio n

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR INNER GEEK. In the months before leaving, I became a total mountain dork. I watched videos about crevasse rescue, read books about the route, sat in front of the TV practicing knots, and set up a fixed line in our living room so I could practice moving around anchors with big gloves. I was obsessed. Traveling over technical terrain with countless dangerous hazards requires a large repertoire of skills. But it isn’t enough just to be able to perform certain tasks: You have to be able to perform them efficiently, in terrible weather, with frozen fingers and an oxygen-deprived mind. So it’s important to practice and focus on your weaknesses—the things you don’t feel comfortable with—not the things you could do in your sleep.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE. The day before we were supposed to fly onto the glacier and begin our climb, one member of our three-member team bailed. Our bags got lost on the way to Anchorage, and although they arrived a couple days later (in time for the trip), a few important people in his life, including his girlfriend and his mom, saw this as an omen and started to have bad feelings about the trip. Apparently, there had been tension about him joining us for a while—a fact we were not privy to, despite spending six months training and planning together. Missing bags exacerbated an already tenuous situation and put our lifelong dream in jeopardy. We were shocked and though this could have been a trip-ender for Nick and I, we decided to push on, despite the huge logistic, mental, emotional, and physical challenge it presented. Going on expedition is a huge commitment. The months and years of planning and preparation require an enormous amount of time, money, energy, and focus. Without support from loved ones, who will have to make sacrifices while you prepare and you are gone, an already difficult endeavor becomes infinitely more challenging. From early on, enlist the support of your partner, your kids, your parents, and your friends. Worrying people is one thing, but if those close to you are vehemently opposed to your adventure, you may have to reconsider. Be honest with yourself, your family, and your climbing partners about this throughout the entire process. CHOOSE PARTNERS WISELY AND TRAIN WITH THEM. Nick and I spent 23 days on Denali. Half of those were spent in the tent waiting out weather while the other half were spent pushing our physical, mental, and emotional limits. It was an amazing experience, but it was stressful, dangerous, and frustrating at times, too. Keep this in mind when choosing partners for a long, big mountain climb. Choose enthusiastic, positive folks who have good judgment, perform well under pressure, share similar goals, and will make the best of every situation. Technical skills and physical fitness can be gained over time, but these are things that cannot be taught.

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n i a unt

o M he

T On

IGNORE THE HYPE. Whether it comes from your own head or others,

doubt can undermine all your hard work and preparation. When I arrived at basecamp and realized I was in the extreme minority, I started to think there must be a reason that so few women try to climb big mountains. That led to questions like Am I strong enough? Will I freeze? Did I train hard enough? These were all things I’d already processed and discarded, but being there with so many guys—many of whom were twice my size—caused my doubts to resurface. They faded with the wind once we started climbing, and now I know there’s proof that my doubt was unfounded. Studies show that gender does not play a role in success in mountaineering. Women and men perform equally in hypoxia and cold, and on Everest, they have similar chances of summiting—and dying. (Not the most comforting thought, I know. But, hey, at least we’re equals!)

KNOW WHY YOU CLIMB. Is it the adventure, being above the mayhem of the world, the views, the physical and mental challenge, the camaraderie, the beauty, the freedom, the ability to be part of the mountains for a brief amount of time, the feeling of aliveness it brings? We all have our reasons for risking life and limb to reach the top of a peak. It doesn’t matter what they are or if other people understand them, but at least make sure you know why you are there. When the going gets tough (which it will early and often), it’s important to know what drives you and what climbing adds to your everyday life so you can regain focus and keep going. Without a motivating force, it’s too easy to quit. RECOMMIT OVER AND OVER. You will want to quit and get scared. Some days will absolutely suck and you will wonder: Why the hell am I even here? I certainly had a few of these moments when I felt like I would have paid a billion dollars for someone to pluck me off the mountain and put me in a warm, cozy bed. But then I’d flash back to all the time I spent working to-

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ward this goal and I’d remember that I was there to fulfill a lifelong dream. I’d breathe, pause, and recommit over and over to my goal, to my climbing partner, to the mountain. It didn’t change the situation, but it sure changed my perception.

ENJOY EVERY MOMENT. One day, between 11,000 and 14,000 feet, I had a short, but extremely impactful exchange with a total stranger. He was heading down, I was heading up. When asked how his trip had been, he said, “Wonderful. No summit, but the entire experience has been amazing. Try to enjoy every moment you can. It goes really fast. And remember this is supposed to be fun.” These few words stuck with me and I adopted them as a mantra. When else will you have so much time to just be present in the now? DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPASSION AND EMPATHY. I’ve never heard anyone mention these words in relation to

mountain climbing, yet during my time on Denali, I came to realize that deep compassion, awareness, and empathy for others may be one of the most important skills a mountaineer can cultivate. You and your partners are tethered together for 8 to 18 to 24 hours a day. Thus, every action you take—a step forward, a step back, a pause—affects someone else. You have to stay tuned to your partners, because your life is in their hands and theirs is in yours. You cannot ever just tune out and walk your own pace, because if you do—say you speed up as you reach flat ground, failing to realize they are now traversing the steep, sketchy downhill you just held your breath through—you could pull on them and cause a fall. Mountaineering requires a constant awareness of and attunement to your partner’s state of mind, body, and heart. It also requires a realization that your actions—just like in life—have an impact on others.


REACH FOR MORE THAN THE SUMMIT. Heartbreaking. That’s how it felt when we had to turn around without reaching the top of North America. But, continuing to move upward into the sea of white lenticular clouds overtaking the summit would have been just plain stupid. It was and still is a hard loss to get over—especially after so much training and time spent on the mountain. However, since most mountains have summit rates of 50 percent or lower, it’s a reality most of us have to deal with at some point. Of course, reaching the summit should be a goal of your climb, but it should not be the one thing that defines success or failure. Set other goals for

yourself and your team so you can track your progress incrementally along the journey and so that the “success” of your expedition can be measured in other ways. And remember that although climbing mountains is lifechanging, the change doesn’t happen during the three minutes you spend getting your head kicked in on the summit. It happens as you push your limits in training, as you search your soul in a whiteout, as you toil and turn around without summiting, and as you choose to alter your picture of success.

Mountaineering is extremely gear-intensive. Here are a few of my favorite pieces, which made a huge difference on Denali.

My Favorite Denali Gear

MSR W’S LIGHTNING ASCENT An aggressive snowshoe with a narrow profile made specifically for women. On Denali’s steep slopes, the un-rivaled traction kept me safe and the heel risers saved my calves from total burnout. Plus, the attachment system was extremely solid and because of the large buckles I didn’t have to take off my gloves and risk frostbite to get in and out of them. $269.95; cascadedesigns.com/msr

MILLET EVEREST SUMMIT GTX These amazing boots kept my feet warm despite encountering temps below -20 degree F (even without the wind!). I didn’t think it was possible, but these are somehow bomb-proof and durable, yet comfortable and lightweight. The best high-altitude boot on the market. $999.95; millet.fr/en

JULBO EXPLORERS When it comes to glacier glasses, Julbo sets and then beats the standard. With wrap-around protection, awesome lens options, and anti-fog ventilation that actually works, the Explorers kept my eyes safe from the intense highaltitude UV rays and reflection from snow and ice. Plus, the adjustable stem ends bend in every direction so I stayed comfortable, even though these were on my head 24 hours a day. $120-190; julbousa.com

PATAGONIA W’S KNIFEBLADE PANTS I lived in these comfy, breathable soft shell pants for the entire 23 days on the mountain. Though they are lightweight and allowed for optimum mobility, they also kept me dry in snowstorms and light rain. I especially loved the suspenders—which meant no gaps and more warmth—and the drop seat, which worked even with a harness. $299.00; patagonia.com

PETZL ASCENSION After trying a few different ones, I found this ascender to be the most comfortable, efficient, and easy to use with huge gloves on. Its mega-gripping teeth worked really well, even when the rope was frozen or wet, and this device, unlike some others, never froze up despite frigid temps and terrible conditions. $79.95; petzl.com

BLACK DIAMOND COULOIR This low-profile harness was comfortable enough to wear all day, even under a giant pack. The quick release leg loops made it easy to slide on and off over crampons, plus it packs down small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. $55; blackdiamondequipment.com

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Some say that mountain bike racing is the new football for high school kids. But Kate Rau, Founder and Director of the Colorado High School Cycling League, believes it’s much more than a sport. “Being on a team and racing is an

Teen girls are the future of mountain biking—and the future is looking bright

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opportunity for youth to develop passion, become self-sufficient, set goals, and create a strong sense of affiliation and belonging while maintaining and expanding their

Courtesy of Lindley Bellian and National Interscholastic Cycling Association

unique individuality.”

Either way, mountain biking is climbing in popularity at high schools around the country. NICA (National Interscholastic Cycling Association) says the sport has been growing up to 30 percent a year since 2009. There are now more than 3,000 student-athletes across 11 Leagues and approximately 1,500 licensed coaches, according to NICA Executive Director Austin McInerny. Inspired by the inaugural NorCal High School Cycling League, which started 13 years ago, NICA has programs in mountain-bike friendly states like Utah and Colorado, but is also expanding in non-mountain states like Georgia and Alabama. And Austin says that young cyclists are staying with the sport after high school. “Ninety-seven percent of our non-graduating student-athletes report that they are going to continue their participation next year.” Unlike football, mountain bike racing is becoming popular with girls—and they are not on the sidelines. Participation from girls is steadily increasing. In 2013, the Colorado League hit a solid 20 percent with 120 girls racing. Kate says, “Obviously I want to see this increase, and more teams are actively recruiting girls.” The teams are doing more than just recruiting girls, Kate says. “Many teams hold girls-only fun rides and/or skill sessions where the girls may be less self-conscious.” NICA also makes an effort to recruit female coaches to create a space for young girls to experiment on the bike and not fear being judged by others, including their male team members. But girls and boys also ride together. Typically after a few weeks of practice, the girls and boys are mixed and every team is different based on the individual make-up, says Kate. “Most teams divide the practice according to skill and endurance versus gender.”

National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s scoring formula actually requires that both genders are represented. Last fall, 120 girls raced in the Colorado League alone.

The Minnesota League is taking it one step further by launching Crank Sisters. While 25 percent of their racers were female in 2013, they want to double that number. Crank Sisters encourages high school girls to become racers and women to become coaches. They offer networking, knowledge sharing, scholarships, league and fee discounts, and coaching rebates. So far in 2014 they have held a spring race day training retreat and ongoing summer camp sessions—all aimed at females. NICA is so committed to recruiting girls that they base their scoring system on it. The scoring formula actually requires that both genders are represented; if not, they forfeit points. For example, if you are a Division 2 team with 15 or fewer riders and no girls, your team only earns points for three of the possible four riders who can score. According to the League of American Bicyclists, only 58 percent of women are “very confident” on their bike. With NICA and leaders like Kate involved, those numbers should shift upward in the next few years. Many student athletes and parents say that being involved in the league helped them with a variety of issues like losing weight, being more focused, becoming more self-confident, finding a welcoming community of friends, and overcoming depression. WAM • FALL | 2014  55

A community of friends is what got Lindley Bellian, a rider on the Boulder High School team, interested in mountain bike racing. “I got started with the team because I was friends with a lot of people on the team.” Her start as a mountain bike racer was unique and challenging because of an early crash that left her with a moderate brain injury, a burst and compression fracture of her T5 vertebrae, a separated shoulder, punctured lung, and facial trauma—enough injuries to scare an adult away. But Lindley felt a strong sense of community and desire to be with her friends and get back on the bike. “I was terrified to get back on my mountain bike, but I wanted to feel some closure that I knew would only come through riding again. Riding with a group of strong and supportive girls gave me the courage I needed to push past my fears and ride again.” Now healed, Lindley enjoys practices because she is able to work on a skill that is challenging without pressure from others. And racing gives her a sense of community. “It’s nice to cheer each other on as we pass one another during the race. Mountain biking has given me a great group of friends who are always there for me whether they are cheering me on in a race, encouraging me at practice, or hanging out with me on the weekends.” 56  WAM • FALL | 2014

Another reason mountain bike racing is becoming popular for both boys and girls is that no one sits on the bench. Joining the NICA league is different from being on a high school football or basketball team. Everyone earns individual points, even if they come in last. The only time racers do not earn points is if they do not finish. The more competitive riders typically race in the varsity category, similar to the model for high school cross-country running. The race crew and coaches make every effort to instill a sense of courteous competition. The more experienced riders know how to pass and the less experienced riders typically allow them to without much friction. If you attend a race, you’ll observe a delicate and supportive interaction between adults and teenagers, and the older, more experienced athletes and the younger, novice riders. “When a rider has a bad day and their entire team surrounds them and meets them at the finish regardless of their placement, it is so heartwarming,” Kate says. “They are acknowledged and validated for their extreme effort, not the points they earned. At every race there is a story of a rider or team digging deep, overcoming a challenge, or learning from lack of preparation, and getting back on the bike.” womensadventuremagazine.com

“They are acknowledged and validated for their extreme effort, not the points they earned.” The focus on courteous completion has allowed many girls to blossom into athletes. After the first season, a female rider’s mom wrote Rau and expressed how her daughter never viewed herself as an athlete until joining the mountain bike team. She lost twenty pounds over the season and ended up going out for the Nordic ski team. Another female rider was struggling with adjusting to high school, and her participation on the mountain bike team became a lifeline and she blossomed. As for Kate, her job as the Director of the Colorado League is an example of crafting your life around your passion. In 2008, Kate met Gary Fisher and had a brief discussion with him about starting a league in Colorado. He told her, “Oh, that’s easy,” and sent her a documentary about the Northern California League. From there, Rau took initiative and made high school racing in Colorado a reality—just one year later. And Kate isn’t the only female leader in NICA. Women hold four of the nine management spots, and four leagues (Colorado, Utah, Tennessee, and Wisconsin) have female leadership. For a sport and industry still dominated by males, this is an impressive percentage. With the Colorado League, Kate’s primarily motivated to provide positive opportunities for young people to shine. Her background is varied, as she’s worked in professions from environmental consulting to youth intervention programs to outdoor education as a ski/snowboard and mountain bike coach. She has a master’s degree in education and believes that high school can be a very challenging time. “We encounter so much physical, intellectual, and emotional change from age 14 to 18. It seems like four decades of development crammed into four short years that are instrumental in establishing our behaviors and lifestyle choices. Adolescence is a fascinating time period where you change so much, and many kids get lost or derailed,” she says. “Also, my experience in the mental health arena guiding teens, young adults, and families in various stages of transition provided me with a lot of insight. I believe that being in nature while engaged in positive, healthy activities surrounded by great role models (coaches and peers) where your parents may choose to get involved is a fantastic method to build a strong foundation during a tumultuous time period.”

While other sports tend to separate the parent/teen relationship, it seems mountain bike racing does the opposite. One father approached Kate recently and said, “The Colorado League series guarantees that I will spend four weekends in the fall camping and riding with my teenage daughter.” It’s not that bike racing is trying to replace football. It’s just one more thing that students can participate in, another chance for them to grow, according to Kate. “The more opportunities we have for youth to develop passion, become self-sufficient, set goals, create a strong sense of affiliation and belonging while maintaining and expanding their unique individuality, the better.”

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58  WAM • WINTER | 2011

Mark Skovorodko

Pacific Northwest adventuress Selina Doran and Binski, the golden retriever, enjoy sunset in the foothills above Santa Barbara, California.

There’s nothing better than a day spent outdoors— except a day spent outdoors with your dog! Our experts Mary R. Burch, PhD Director, Canine Good Citizen & AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Author of How Dogs Learn about the science behind dog training, Mary R. Burch, PhD, is also a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist. She serves as the Director of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Program and takes her dog hiking, snowshoeing, and sledding. “A number of years (and pounds) ago, I used to go in the summer and climb Colorado’s 14ers,” Dr. Birch says. “I had a Siberian husky named Hauser, and I loved snowshoeing adventures with him.” Her current dog, a Welsh springer spaniel named Wyn, has an advanced title in “agility,” an active canine sport. “He loves to swim and enjoys swimming races in the pool in the summer,” says Mary, who has also taken him hiking. “I usually lose the swimming races.” Nickie Dymon Owner/Operator Pawsitive Changes Dog Training and Adventure Camp “I left the corporate world and became a certified dog trainer,” Nickie says. “People said I was doing it for free and asked why I didn’t do it to make a living. I never thought about it like that.” She started her Vermont-based dog training and adventure camp business four years ago and hasn’t looked back. “Both of my dogs are rescue dogs. I have a mutt—an American mixed breed—named Yoshi. And I have a Chihuahua who hikes,” Nickie says. “His name is Señor, and he does what everybody else does. He just happens to be a Chihuahua!”

Getting started: Prepping Dogs for Outdoor Adventure Activities

By Jennifer C. Olson

1. Match your dog’s breed or breed type with the right sport. If you have an interest in a particular activity, check with other people who participate in the sport with their dogs and with sport organizers (e.g. dogsled races) regarding any breed or breed type recommendations.

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2. Get the go-ahead from a vet. The veterinarian can tell you if your dog is fit, healthy, and ready to begin a new form of physical activity. 3. Use tried and true training principles. Whatever the adventure activity, train using scientific principles of behavior such as positive reinforcement, shaping, fading, and chaining. 4. Start with shorter distances, gradually adding speed and time (endurance). For puppies especially, because their joints are not yet well developed, start physical activity with small distances.

Pack Right

Basic equipment: leash, collar with an ID tag (and microchip), water bowl, water, treats, cleanup bags, and a first aid kit. “I always carry a first aid kit,” Nickie says, “so I can take care of a sliced paw or bind something up. Carry powders to stop bleeding, too.” For extended day trips: dog food and a long line so you can attach your dog to a tree. For overnight trips or in snow: bedding so that your dog can lie down and rest. In snow, you’ll want to put plastic under the bedding to keep it dry. Short-coated dogs may need a sweater or coat in cold weather. If you will be hiking on rocks or ice, use booties to protect the pads of your dog’s feet. Always: clean water. “Letting your dog drink from natural sources such as ponds (especially still water) can put the dog at risk for getting infected with Giardia,” Mary says. womensadventuremagazine.com

Courtesy of Nickie Dymon

Train Your Adventure Dog

m Train Your Adventure Dog

Train Your Adventure Dog


Prerequisites Think relationship training, not obedience training. “When you do anything with your dog, you’ve got to have proper canine-human communication, which is essentially a bond with your dog,” Nickie says. “Body posture, eye contact, and so much more goes into that kind of training for people who don’t have it naturally.” Show your dog who is boss. If you have good pack-leader skills, you can take your dog anywhere. Teach the dog that he/she is on your team. “I can take out a brand new dog client and

that dog will listen to me, not run away into the woods because the pack of other dogs are all giving it the right kind of communication that says, ‘You need to stay with the pack.’” It starts at the car. Make sure they move from a very excited state of mind to a relaxed state of mind before hitting the trail. “I’m not interested in letting twelve over-excited dogs into the woods, because they’re too excited to pay attention,” says Nickie, who often hikes with eight to twelve dogs at a time. Her advice for calming them down: Put the dog(s) in a sit and make them stay there until you release them.

Train in the midst of distractions. Put your dog in a down-stay near a family of busy squirrels. That’s the kind of training you want to do with your dog before you do any other kinds of awesome adventures.

Best practices for… Winter outings Give your dog enough to drink. In the summer, when it’s hot, it is obvious when you and your dog are hot and thirsty. But wintertime can be misleading—dogs, like humans, can get very dehydrated in cold weather. Hiking and trail running Use the behavioral principle of shaping. “Shaping means successive approximations,” Mary says, “so start with a shorter distance and gradually add time and distance. You wouldn’t go from being a couch potato to instantly running a marathon, and your dog shouldn’t be expected to do this either.” Choose dog-friendly trails. Follow the rules and clean up after your dog. Trail signs point to danger and disobedience may have dire consequences. “No dogs allowed on this trail” could mean that there are endangered wildlife or bears in the area. Choose a paw-friendly surface. Watch to ensure the terrain isn’t hurting your dog. Keep your pal cool. Know the signs of overheating and watch for them. Remember to take water breaks. Mountain biking Practice on leash. Mountain biking can be done with your dog off leash or attached to your bicycle. At first, try out a device that attaches a dog’s leash to the bike and holds the leash away from the bike, preventing the leash from getting tangled and the dog from getting under a wheel. Practice off leash. If you take your dog mountain biking off leash, the dog should already be trained to follow basic commands such as “come” and “leave it.” The dog should stay with you, and you should respect leash laws and trail rules. For a resource as you begin training on basic commands, visit akc.org/dogowner/training. Keep your dog’s well-being in mind. You can go very fast on a bike, and dogs have a lot of heart so they really try to please their owners by going fast, too. Watch for signs that your dog is struggling. Consider using a bike trailer. For dogs that can’t keep up with the bike, a trailer provides a way for less physical dogs to enjoy the mountain-biking experience. Use on flatter, less rugged terrain to keep you and Fido safe. Human-powered water sports Be realistic about your dog’s abilities. Generally short-legged, long-bodied dogs like dachshunds and Scottish terriers are not the strongest swimmers, and dogs that don’t swim well may be happier at home if swimming is a major part of the outing. Get vested. If your dog is not a strong swimmer, use a canine PFD. Beware myths like “all dogs can swim,” and introduce swimming systematically if your dog is a good swimming candidate.

3 Training Tips These pointers from Mary R. Burch, PhD, will help you teach your dog the adventure activities you’re hoping to do together. 1. M atch the dog with the activity. If you are highly competitive and want to excel at a sport with a dog, even though all dogs are welcome in a particular sport, you might want to choose an individual dog, breed, or breed type that is well suited for the activity. 2. Use the sound, scientific principles of behavior throughout your training no matter what the sport. Shaping is using baby steps to prevent your dog from getting injured or traumatized. For adventure activities involving multiple skills, the behavioral principle of chaining is used to effectively teach one component at a time and then put them all together into a behavioral chain. And don’t forget positive reinforcement! We all learn better with encouragement. 3. Train on a regular schedule, and keep training sessions short while your dog is learning new skills.

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By Heather Hansman

Fly-Fishing 101

m Fly-Fishing 101

What is fly-fishing? Fly-fishing is much, much more than dipping your line in a stream. It’s a simple meditative sport with a lot of details and variables. You can spend years perfecting your cast, predicting where fish are hiding under the riffles, and guessing which flies look tasty to them. That’s what keeps it interesting, and Zen. And it starts with paying attention to your surroundings. “The first step is to simply spend time in nature,” says Hilary Hutcheson, fly-fishing guide and host of Trout TV. “Sit down and watch the river to see how it flows. Wade in and walk up and down the bank to feel more balanced on the rocks and mud.” You can learn more about flies, or fish, or rivers every time you fish—for the rest of your life.


Fly-fishing, and the associated vest filled with danglys and thingamabobbers can seem gear-intensive, especially at first, and there are an untold number of things you can add to your kit as you go on, so knowing your gear is step one. “Another early step is to become comfortable with your gear. Practice rigging up your rod and reel. Know what flies you have and what ones you need,” Hutcheson says. These are the basics that you’ll need to get started: the fishing gear equation. As a beginner the one you choose doesn’t matter too much, unless you’re fishing for really big fish. Look for a modern reel that provides a bit of drag on the line, so it doesn’t spool out all at once. Make sure your reel is set up to retrieve right-handed if you are right-handed and vice versa for lefties.

Line: You’ll try to match the weight of your line to your rod and the fishing condiReel: A reel, which holds your tions. A general rule of thumb for beginners is to correlate line, is the simplest part of

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with your rod; so if you have a five-weight rod, you’ll want five-weight line. On the end of your line, you’ll tie on a leader and tippet—essentially smaller line—and attach the fly to that. Flies: Here’s where things get really technical. With a fly, you’re trying to mimic something that a fish would normally eat, and present it in a way that it would naturally act in the river. This can vary hugely depending on what’s hatching, what time of year it is, and what is in the river. Flies can

range from tiny nymphs that live on the bottom of the river, to huge dragonfly or beetle patterns, to brightly colored streamers, which mimic other fish. Your best bet, especially if you’re fishing somewhere new, is to visit the local fly shop and talk to people there about what the fish have been taking. Other things to have: Snips to cut your line after tying flies on; polarized sunglasses, to see through the water; tippet, because you’re going to go through it quickly.


Trout TV

Rod: Rods can seem complicated because there are a lot of options. They’re categorized by their length and weight, and they’re made of materials that range from bamboo to graphite to fiberglass. If you’re a beginner looking to fish for trout in rivers and streams, a 9-foot, five- or six-weight rod should serve most of your needs and allow you to deliver a range of fly sizes in different types of water.

Fly-Fishing 101


Reading Water

Another important part of fly-fishing is knowing where in the water the fish will be. Even when your casting is perfect and you have a delicious-looking fly on your line, if you’re not putting it in front of a fish, you won’t catch anything. There are three basic areas where fish hang out: “riffles,” water with a medium amount of current, where bugs and flies flush down the river; “runs,” the deep channels in the river where nymphs hatch; and “pools,” where the current slows down and fish can hang out with expending much energy. Fish often also like dark shaded areas, so look behind rocks and under logs.



Knots are a crucial part of flyfishing, and being able to tie secure ones ensures that you’ll keep your fish on the line once it’s hooked. “I used to carry around little lengths of string and a pocket-sized instruction book to practice knots on road trips, waiting in line, at night in bed … whenever,” Hutcheson says. These are the main ones you’ll need to know:

Casting is the way that you get your fly into the position you want it to land. You load tension onto your rod, and then use that tension to let out line. You might have an image in your head of a fisherman sending their line back and forth above their head, but there are several different ways to cast, and you’ll probably use them all, depending on what kind of water you’re fishing.

Clinch Knot: This is what you’ll use to tie your fly to the end of your line. Loop the line through the eye of the fly, twist it six to eight times, run the tip back through the loop that attaches it to the fly, then double back through the loop you just made. Blood Knot: Used for joining lines of the same size. Overlap the lines, wrap them around each other six times, then bring the tip back under the line that’s facing in the opposite direction.

Overhead Cast: This is your classic ten and two motion. Simply bring your rod back and stop it, then bring it forward and stop it, spooling your line out in front of you. Roll Cast: Sometimes you don’t have enough space for a proper back cast, that’s when the roll cast comes in handy. Instead of a back cast, you’ll use the tension of the water to load the rod. This works nicely in a current. False Casting: This is probably what you think of when you think of fly-fishing, the multiple back and forth motion. Taking several casts back and forth allows you to let out more line from your reel, but it’s not necessary for casting and can actually lose energy. It’s a good thing to work on once you start to fish bigger water.

OMG, I actually caught a fish!

Once you’ve reeled in your fish, try to limit the stress you put on it. If you’re catch-and-release fishing, pull it in close, then get it in a net so you can keep it underwater. Wet your hands, gently pull the hook out, snap your photo, then get it back in the river. Give the fish a couple of rubs down its body, to get things moving over its gills, then let it go.

Nail Knot: Used to attach line of two different diameters, you’ll need a nail or a pen to wrap your line around. Overlap the two lines next to the nail, wrap the thinner line around the thicker one and the nail approximately six times, then run the tip back through the wraps, parallel to the nail. Pull the nail out and tighten the knot.

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The organizers of one of the country’s original gravel grinders— the Dirty Kanza 200—describe gravel grinders as “a hybrid between randonneuring, touring, and road racing” except on gravel, of course. They’re typically marathon-length routes with “lite” options that feature open roads, remarkable views, checkpoints with snacks, and an authentically rugged experience. Luckily, many of the most exciting events take place in fall, so there’s plenty of time to prepare and sign up for an adventure on gravel this season. Here, we cover the nuances of gravel grinders and offer tips to help you conquer one.

Ready Consider the geography. Since gravel grinders typically cover a lot of distance, the ride could take you through sand pits, down steep and loose jeep roads, over hardpacked dirt, and across large rocks. Research the area and decide whether the terrain looks like something you’d enjoy before registering. Then train in similar settings. Work out the logistics ahead of time. Book your hotel, campsite, or RV hookup in advance, take off work so you can explore for a day on either side of the race, dial your packing list, and tune up your gear. Pack mental toughness, physical fitness, and a good attitude. Show up on race day ready for a fun day on your bike, sound of body, mind, and heart. Know how to navigate. Unlike most century rides and charity runs, the route may not be marked in foolproof fashion. Bring maps, a GPS, and cue sheets from the race promoters so you can find your way. Remember to check in. Sure checkpoints are bustling with all your new friends and bursting with tasty foods and salty drink, but remember that they’re there for a reason. Before grabbing snacks or striking up a conversation with the gal who’s been riding just ahead of you for the past half hour, check yourself in

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so you aren’t disqualified for missing a cutoff and so you’re accounted for as the race progresses. Have a bike maintenance base. Keep in mind that many rides are unsupported, so you should be comfortable fixing a flat tire and handling minor mechanicals. Be self-sufficient. Gravel grinders are in remote areas and there will likely not be a place to stop and stay the night if you drop out of the race or to hail a cab if something goes awry. You may not pass a bike shop where you can stock up on spare tubes, energy gels, and a waterproof jacket. Bring the food, water, tools, and clothing you’d need in a worst-case scenario. Phone a friend. This contradicts what’s written above, but if disaster strikes, it might not hurt to have a support crew in tow in case you do encounter an emergency and need a lift or more serious medical attention than you can self-administer with a first aid kit. Relax. This is not a race. Well, at least not for everyone. Most gravel grinder participants are looking for a unique and new-tothem cycling experience, not for a medal. So take breaks, take pictures, take naps, and don’t be afraid to down a cold one if your morale dips a little low.


Jason Ebberts of TBL Photography, Tal Roberts, Courtesy of Rebecca’s Private Idaho

By Jennifer C. Olson and Jennifer Davis-Flynn

Gravel Grinders

m Gravel Grinders

Gravel Grinders


Pick the Steed You Need Gravel-specific bikes are trendy right now, and it seems the whole industry is building machines for off-road rides that aren’t necessarily on trail. Be on the lookout for frames that accommodate disc brakes and higher tire volumes while also lending themselves more toward comfort on long rides than speed in race scenarios. Gravel bikes typically feature: • the same drop handlebars you’d find on a road bike; • a heavier steel or titanium frame; • a wider fork to accommodate fatter, knobbier tires; • disc brakes for quick stopping; • a crankset with higher clearance to ride over rough roads and obstacles. How to Choose the Right Bike for Gravel (and Your Goals): Before you run out to buy a new bike, determine if you even need one. If you simply want to cruise fire roads and country dirt roads for fun, you’ll probably be perfectly happy (and much more comfortable) on a hardtail mountain bike, which provides a cushy, upright ride. However, if you plan on racing or covering distances over 50 miles, you’ll need a cyclocross bike or the aforementioned gravel bike.

Top Gravel Grinders

Gravel grinders and group rides are popping up all over the country. Here are some of the standouts for beginners and pros alike. For a comprehensive list, check out gravelgrindernews.com.

While mountain bikes offer a softer ride, cyclocross bikes make a great choice for a variety of reasons. They share many of the same attributes of gravel-specific bikes, with the added benefits of being ultra light and faster. Therefore, you can quickly switch out your tires or wheel set to take it from dirt to pavement. Cross bikes have more possible hand positions than a mountain bike does, too. If you plan on never racing your cyclocross bike, here are some modifications we’d suggest: minimize the saddle to handlebar drop, add a cage mount if there’s room on the frame, and outfit it with a heavier fork and even a steel steerer tube for durability. Finally, any time you plan on riding long distance, it makes sense to invest in a custom bike fit with your shoes and pedals. Small adjustments make a huge difference in your comfort. —Jennifer Davis-Flynn

1. Dirty Kanza 200 The biggest, baddest of them all, the Dirty Kanza in Emporia, Kansas, has grown dramatically since its humble beginnings in 2006. This 200-mile race is not for beginners. It is the ultimate endurance ride for hardcore grinders who want to ride for fourteen hours straight with no support. May 30, 2015; dirtykanza200.com 2. Rebecca’s Private Idaho Launched last year by two-time female winner of the Dirty Kanza and all-around endurance mountain biking phenom Rebecca Rusch, this ride in Sun Valley, Idaho, features some serious climbs and beautiful views. “It’s also about using the bike to do more than just raise heart rates and take in sights,” Rebecca says. “This ride benefits three great organizations that are very close to my heart and, I hope, will become close to yours: The Wood River Bike Coalition, PeopleForBikes.org, and World Bicycle Relief.” Newbies can take on the “Small Fry” (50 miles) while experienced cyclists attempt “Big Potato” (100 miles). There is limited rider support. Aug. 31, 2014; rebeccasprivateidaho.com 3. Cabot Ride the Ridges A great starter ride through Cabot and Peacham, Vermont, Cabot Ride the Ridges offers a wide variety of courses from a family 10K to a 100 miler. These are all fully supported rides through the rolling hills and plains of central Vermont. After the ride, cyclists are treated to local goodies from the area’s farms. Sept. 14, 2014; ridetheridges.cabotconnects.org 4. Camino 205 Choose between three beautiful rides through the Piney Woods of Northeast Texas: 205 miles, 105 miles, and 25 miles. Enjoy the changing leaves and cooler Texas temps. All are unsupported. Oct. 4, 2014; camino205.com 5. Berkshire Cycling Association Fall Foliage Gravel Grinder This 66-mile ride through Central and Southern Berkshire County in Massachusetts features the best of an East Coast autumn. Plus, it’s supported; the Pittsfield High School Girls Cross Country Team staffs aid stations. Oct. 5, 2014; berkshirecycling.org —Jennifer Davis-Flynn WAM • FALL | 2014  65


Lightweight Puffy Jackets Mountain Hardwear Barnsie. Synthetic insulation (even in the hood) plus a waterproof breathable shell, storm flap, and zippered security pocket make this fun and fresh coat a fully featured winter piece. We’d suggest putting it on your wish list now so Santa has time to plan! $275; mountainhardwear.com Patagonia Nano Air Hoody. Stretch is the name of the game in this brand new style. From the stretch polyester and 60-gram insulation to the four-way mechanical stretch of the ripstop, water-resistant, nylon shell, the Nano Air wears like a favorite fleece rather than a puffy. Thanks to its high air permeability (40 cubic feet per minute), the Nano Air was made for stop-start aerobic activity—think climbing or backcountry skiing. The high breathability factor means you never have to take it off whether you’re working up a sweat or resting in the shade. But if you do get hot and bothered, at 12 ounces, it’s a breeze to stash in a pack. Also available without a hood. $299; patagonia.com —Jennifer Davis-Flynn Craghoppers W’s Lunsdale Quilted Jacket. A waterproof, quilted jacket fit for urban forays and outdoor adventure alike features nine pockets, a ribbed inner collar, and even elbow patches. It’s part of the all-new Heritage Outdoor Performance line, which blends iconic English heritage fabrics and today’s performance technologies into modern silhouettes. “We always say all of our clothing is contemporary without compromise,” says Lindsey Hayes, CEO Craghoppers North America. “We’ve found new and innovative ways to combine iconic English tweeds and twills with superior water and wind protection in contemporary silhouettes that make these designs as much about fashion as they are about ultimate function.” $170; craghoppers.com Nau Allee Down Pullover. For urban wear, this pullover layers fashionably with sweaters or soft tees and your comfiest pair of leggings. $300; nau.com Ibex Shak Spire. Built with top-quality Merino wool, this zippered jacket offers active warmth. High performance materials combined with a low-key and functional design—including a helmet-compatible hood, thumbholes, and flat-lock seams—make for an outer layer that can take you from mountain to urban trails to foreign streets with no washings, thanks to its natural durability and anti-microbial properties. $175; ibex.com For an actual puffy from this upstanding New Zealand brand, try the Merino wool-insulated Ibex Aire Hoody. Its feminine fit was designed for comfort and mobility, but it boasts all the technical bells and whistles, like an interior pocket that doubles as a stuff sack. $350; ibex.com

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Your Days of Being Mistaken For the Michelin Man Are Over Moving Comfort JustRight Full Zip. Not too warm and not too lightweight, this is a stylish hooded running jacket with faux leather accents and reflective elements for safety on the road in the early morning or night hours. $125; movingcomfort.com Canada Goose Huron Bomber. Sophisticated and technical styles shine bright in this brand’s broad fall and winter line. The fashionforward throwback piece pictured here offers maximum protection when you’re exploring outdoors this winter. Canada Goose has long manufactured premium outerwear and continues that tradition in this season’s heirloom-worthy outerwear collection, proudly made in Canada. “Whether it’s new colors that add vibrancy to their outerwear wardrobe, longer styles that provide women with added warmth, or a more tailored fit for those with smaller body frames, we wanted to offer consumers every option available to stay warm so they can embrace the cold and experience more from life,” says Spencer Orr of Canada Goose. $595; canadagoose.com REI Poof Jacket. Lofty and warm, the women’s REI Poof Jacket was made for fall and winter days in the city. $95; rei.com Big Agnes Shovelhead Hooded Jacket. I’ve always been a fan of Big Agnes down sleeping bags. They’re incredibly warm and durable, yet lightweight. So, when Big Agnes entered the apparel market last year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a down puffy. The Shovelhead features 700-fill water-resistant down stuffed into proprietary Insotech Flow vertical baffles (much like the brand’s coveted sleeping bags), allowing for uniform heat distribution. Donning this cozy jacket is akin to wearing a toasty bag around town, but the Shovelhead is built for adventure and could easily transition from climbing and camping to skiing on powder days, thanks to the water-repelling, ripstop nylon shell. The contouring is feminine and flattering, and the sleeves even have thumbholes, protecting your mitts on the days you forget gloves. It comes in two new colors for fall: teal and fuchsia, in addition to basic black. Plus, at $250 for a natural down jacket, the price is hard to beat. bigagnes.com —Jennifer Davis-Flynn Mountain Khakis Pika Jacket. Insulation comes in many forms and this classic is a fuzzier option, still offering the cozy warmth you’re looking for in a jacket this fall. It comes in vest-form, too, so you can layer the Pika with your favorite flannel or over a waffle woven Henley. $179.95 (jacket), 149.95 (vest); mountainkhakis.com

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Layer Up

Krimon Klover Who’s That Girl. A hooded sweater made of Merino and playfully patterned, this piece is one you’ll want to keep around for seasons to come. $207.90; krimsonklover.com

Krimson Klover Winter Wonderland Tight. Highlight your muscular beauties with snowflake-striped tights that perform as well on the snowy trails as at the bars, après playtime. Mostly Merino wool, they’re reinforced with nylon and given some stretch with a touch of Lycra. $53.90; krimsonklover.com Watson’s Merino Wool baselayers. This company has made quality base layers for half a century. The 100 percent Merino Wool line is lightweight and constructed of super-fine wool, which means they feel extra soft next to skin. On top of itch-less comfort, they’re breathable and manage moisture naturally. $55; mywatsons.ca Icebreaker Merinohorn SS Tech T. As part of Icebreaker’s “The Art of Nature” product series—an annual collaboration with artists who respect and work in nature—the brand partnered with British artist Simon Beck who creates intricate, beautiful artwork using a vast snowfield as his canvas. The merino garments in the collection were inspired by Beck’s snowshoeing trips in the Alps. Karmic bonus: A dollar from each sale of a Simon Beck collection product will be donated to Protect Our Winters. icebreaker.com Merrell Ergoluxe Balaclava. This top’s hood hugs your head and covers your face to protect against the biting chill on after-work runs or weekend backcountry pursuits. $85; merrell.com

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Urban Performer Yoga and Gym Wear Takes On City Style By Jennifer C. Olson

Marika Foiled Layered Tank. Loose and functional, this tank is an indoor and outdoor exercise essential. Its classic aesthetic and modern fit ensure it will be a staple in your gym bag for years to come. $55; marika.com

Moving Comfort Twist Open Back and Metro Pant. Here’s a sheer top ($65) to throw over a spaghetti-strapped yoga tank when there’s a chill in the air. It’s a great piece to wear with a sports bra during a gym workout sesh, too. These baggy pants ($78) with feminine lines and a flattering waistband work for everything from hip-hop dance classes to light hikes on cool days. movingcomfort.com womensadventuremagazine.com


Being outdoors is your passion. But getting stronger, staying calm, and maintaining your fitness sometimes means taking things indoors—especially when the weather cools off. Try mixing and matching a couple of these gym favorites to improve your attitude and comfort level at the gym or in the studio this fall. Marika’s Balance Collection Mixed Media Cold Shoulder LS Tee. When you leave the studio, don this cozy piece over your tank and brave the chillier air outdoors with ease. $48; marika.com

Zobha Skirt Capri. In this one product, two of my favorite things come together: leggings to keep me warm and a skirt to satisfy my craving for all things feminine! It isn’t something I’d wear for running or hiking but it’s great for most gym, dance, or strength training sessions. $78; zobha.com

Move by Alternative Knock Out Bustier and Wrap it Up. Layer these two pieces so you’re ready for a workout—anytime, anywhere—while still looking modest and pulled together in public. This formflattering top ($68) performs well when you’re sweaty, and the bra ($62) embraces your most jiggle-y parts comfortably in any pose and in the weight room. All Move by Alternative pieces are priced under $100 and designed with mobility and sustainability in mind. alternativeapparel.com

Ibex -Synergy X Tank and Synergy Fit Pant. Merino wool and organic cotton pair perfectly in this simply elegant yoga top ($85) with a built-in shelf bra and the pants you won’t want to take off after your daily practice ($125). ibex.com

Cozy Orange Pele Fitted Pants. Made of fabric that’s substantial but not constricting, these tights are a Cross Fit junkie’s best friend and street-worthy enough to wear on morning hikes or during post-workout errands. I like to pair them with the Phoebe Pullover ($74) for visual balance and absolute comfort. $60; cozyorange.com

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Partners JOIN T H E C LU B A T $5 OFF! Together, we share a passion for climbing. When you join the AAC, you’re part of a tribe that’s making a big difference. We support each other with rescue insurance, critical lodging facilities, conservation projects, advocacy, grants, discounts and more. Join the American Alpine Club today. Enter Code: WAM5

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Prevention Starts Here. The Breast Cancer Fund is working to protect you and the environment you play in from toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer. Together we can stop this disease before it starts. www.breastcancerfund.org /breastcancerfund |


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Join Ed Viesturs in giving back. Funds raised help to instill critical life skills in under-resourced youth through wilderness mentoring expeditions by Big City Mountaineers. How it works: Choose one of 19 epic peaks, raise money to support Big City Mountaineers youth and climb the peak of your dreams on a professionally guided trip. Funds raised cover all trip expenses except travel to the peak location. Participants receive a mountain of free gear too! Put together a team of friends or join a climb on your own and meet new ones. Top climbs include: - Mt. Rainier

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WAM • FALL | 2014  71

It’s Personal

Fear and Learning on Notchtop A beginner faces demons on a harrowing 14-hour climb By Avery Stonich


was perched on a ledge above a steep cliff, facing a sheer rock face, and I was stuck. Poking around with my crampon, I couldn’t find anywhere to lodge my foot. Trusty handholds evaded my grasp. I slipped and got a bit rattled. I slipped a second time and adrenaline kicked in. Poisonous thoughts flooded my head, despite my efforts to tamp them: “I’m not cut out for this,” and “If I get out of this alive, I’ll never put myself in this type of situation again.” I’ve always been good at conquering the demons of fear. Challenges entice me. So imagine my surprise to be nearly paralyzed with fear now, seven hours into a technical climb. I felt trapped, claustrophobic, and terrified—unsure if I could keep going, but there was no option. I had to make it to the top of this damn rock, then navigate a harrowing descent. My husband and I were climbing the Spiral Route on Notchtop in Rocky Mountain National Park with a guide. Typically this is a summer route for sticky rock shoes. We did it in early May, ascending snow and rock wearing crampons—not easy for a beginner like me. We had picked Notchtop to get some experience under

our belts since we’d signed up to tackle the Grand Teton later in the year. Before dawn, giddy anticipation dominated my thoughts as we skied to the base of the climb. Then Notchtop came into view, an intimidating 1,500-foot crag. I gasped inside but quickly pushed back my trepidation. Switching to crampons, we climbed a steep snowfield and some challenging rock pitches. I felt my muscles warm and welcomed the thrill of pushing to the edge of my comfort zone. That was when things went off track. After six falls on that ledge, I started questioning if I could do it at all. Each time the rope caught me, but it couldn’t catch the slip of my brain. Panic gripped me. My breath became short. My muscles shook. After what seemed like an hour, I figured out the route and finished the pitch—barely. “That was a little over my head,” I told my guide. “I didn’t think I could do it. Are we almost there?” He gave no answer. Uh-oh. It became apparent that not only was the summit far away, but that there would be no easy way down. We continued climbing, a cheerful

The author on top of Notchtop in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Carsten Schnatwinkel

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bright blue sky mocking my dark inner demons. My thoughts were more in tune with the gale force winds that kicked up and threatened to blow us away. Finally, we reached the namesake notch and scrambled up to the twin tops. One of the peaks was so tiny that I felt queasy looking down. I choked down some sandwich but had no appetite. My stomach was already full—of fear. Climbers say the summit is only halfway, which rang true this day. Notchtop’s descent is the scariest part, with technical downclimbing and exposed traverses. Websites describe it as “dangerous and confusing” and “even more of an undertaking than the climb.” My wheels came off. I’d been focused and afraid for so many hours; I wasn’t sure I could take it anymore. At one point during the descent, I had to wait for the guide on a tiny ledge alongside a steep gully that disappeared over a cliff. I struggled to control my mind. I let myself turn inward, silently staring at the rock wall to my right, focusing on a drip of ice that clung inside a little crack. Terror bubbled up in my throat. I fought back tears. This was unfamiliar territory. I was accustomed to nerves, but I’d never experienced borderline panic. I wanted to be somewhere safe and comfortable. I wanted out. Badly. It wasn’t my proudest moment. I felt weak. My confidence crumbled. I was letting myself down. After what seemed like an eternity, we made it back to the car. I collapsed with relief, my mind and body spent. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do anything like that again. But I will. It took some time for my trauma to transform into triumph. Climbing Notchtop was the kind of fun that’s more enjoyable in retrospect. Now, I think back on this climb with pride. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I met the challenge and came out with a smile on my face—well, kind of. A few weeks later, I asked a friend how Notchtop compares to the Grand Teton. “You’ll be fine,” he said. “Now that you’ve done Notchtop, the Grand will be no problem.” “Do you ever get over the fear?” “You don’t get over it,” he said. “You just get used to it, or even thrive on it.”


FALL 2013

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