Women's Adventure Summer 2014

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Water Women Mountain Men Pull Off Epic Canoe Trips, Tackle Fly Fishing, Excel In The Outdoor Industry, Stream Music In The Wild, Conquer An Adventure Race



The Running Drug

Reigning Leadville 100 champion Ashley Arnold offers a compelling peek into the psychology of ultrarunning and how it impacts women in particular.



10 Discuss The League and Backyard Campout 12 Discuss Glue that Binds 13 Trends Outdoor Speakers and Headphones 14 Trends Bike Accessories 16 Tech Talk Backcountry Water Purification 18 Tech Talk Menstruation in the Wild 20 Not A Tourist Fly-Fish with Your Other Half 22 Travel Hack Totes for Women on the Move 23 Urban Adventure San Antonio 24 Journeys Skiing in South America 26 Disaster Detour Flood at Home 27 Editor’s Choice Experience Escape


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Women of the Water



Why is it so hard to deny the biological appeal of men who work outside, whose hands are rough and scarred, whose faces are chapped by the sun. Kate Siber explores the allure of the elusive mountain man.


Beyond Adventure Racing in Ireland Advocate OIWC Helps Women Advance Dream Job Kate’s Real Food Dream Job Fly Fishing Guide



A Rare Breed



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Skill Solo Overnight Outings

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It’s Personal Hiking the Holy Lands

Skill Canoe Trips Mix It Up Urban Races Sport Minimalist Running

Try This Downhill Mountain Biking I’m Proof Whitewater SUP Gal I’m Proof Bountiful Life after Cancer


Cover: Outdoor adventuress Cari Siemens stands on the edge of a lake in the Titcomb Basin. This remote lake located in the heart of the Wind River Range in Wyoming is about 14 miles from the trailhead.



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Ashley Arnold is a freelance writer and competitive ultrarunner who lives and trains in Boulder, Colorado. After college she worked as a dancer and choreographer and as the creative assistant to the publisher for ART Mag in Charleston, South Carolina. While she ran competitively for the first two years of college, it wasn’t until Arnold moved to Colorado in 2009 for an editorial internship with Trail Runner magazine that she fell in love with trail running. The position launched her into becoming Trail Runner’s Associate Editor and she fell in love with running journalism and the outdoor industry. She stepped away from her post there in 2013 to more seriously pursue running. Today when she’s not exploring the mountains or racing ultra marathons, Arnold is likely playing with her cat, Fugazi, dancing, writing, learning martial arts, and trying to remember how to fearlessly rollerblade. ...

Melissa McGibbon is an editor for Outdoor Sports Guide Magazine, a Lolë Ambassador, and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. She is usually skiing, climbing, biking, practicing yoga, flying, surfing, or diving, and is always in pursuit of adventure, travel, or some daring combination of the two. Connect with her: @ambitadventure, +MelissaMcGibbon

Kate Siber is a freelance writer and correspondent for Outside magazine. Her stories have led her from Boston to Bhutan and from shooting blow-guns to wading thighdeep through king penguin colonies. Few assignments, however, have been as challenging as her essay, “Allure of the Elusive Mountain Man”, which appears on page 44. “In order to write this with complete honesty, I had to be willing to totally embarrass myself,” she says. “But in the end, I realized that I’m surprisingly okay with that.” Siber’s other work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Budget Travel, Men’s Journal, and the Washington Post. When not writing, she is often poking around mountains on skis, foot, or wheels; embarking on grand (if ill-advised) culinary adventures; and learning new things like the art and science of cloud watching. She lives in Durango, Colorado, with her husband, wolf dog, and small tabby yard tiger. Find more of her writing and her blog at katesiber.com.

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF JENNIFER C. OLSON Designers D. Kari Luraas, Kristal Rhodes Web Director Susan Hayse Travel Editor Robin Enright Copy Editors Mira Perrizo, Deb Dion Contributing Writers Chris Kassar, Courtney Johnson, Robin Enright, Nancy Reed, Allison Pattillo, Brigid Mander, Heather Hansman, Jayme Moye, Melissa McGibbon, Morgan Tilton, Kate Siber, Ashley Arnold, Becky Kivlovitz Contributing Photographers Jordan Siemens (Cover), Kennan Harvey, © Hagephoto, Peter Mather, Aleksandra Boguslawska, Robin Enright, Courtesy Of Beaver Creek Lodge, Allison Pattillo, Courtesy Of OIWC, Courtesy Of Kate Schade, Courtesy Of Camille Edgorf, Melissa Mcgibbon, Courtesy Of Brittany Parker, Courtesy Of HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation, Janet Martindale, Reid Mclachlan, Reid Mclachlan, Courtesy Of Stacey Lei Krauss, Courtesy Of Ultimate Direction, Becky Kivlovitz, Dining Barge River, Stuart-Dee Tags Dining River, Ken Hoeve, Nancy Reed, Darren Umbsaar, Allison Ragsdale Photography, Brian Schoff, Jayme Moye, Kate Siber, offyonder.com, Ryan Huggins, Stephen Matera, Kristy Myers, Erin Milstead

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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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!


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On the Web


Our travel section has been reimagined 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.

r Ever, AT Thru-Hike The Youngest In The Adirondacks Q&A With s, Autumn d On Sock

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Subscribe to our print edition for just $20/year.


WAM • SUMMER | 2014

Good health requires a holistic approach, so that’s why we’ve divided our new health section into both “Mind” and “Body.” 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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From the Editor I

ran into a bike riding buddy at the coffee shop the other day and we shared a table, since we were both there to work and the place was semi crowded. After a couple hours, he looked up from his laptop on which he was fine-tuning a cycling safety invention and asked what I was working on. I showed him our magazine. “It’s nice to know that some women like adventure,” he said, “because so many women… don’t.” While that might not be the best way of phrasing it, there might be something to my friend’s statement. And there might not. It’s not that women don’t like adventure. I think it’s that we approach it differently than most men do, in general of course. I wonder if we women are more prone to consider the safety factor of our activities and use more caution than men do. I wonder if we women like a slower pace, a gentler grade, a shorter trip, an easier climb. I wonder if we women think about the consequences of adventure gone awry more seriously, whether we evaluate the risks through a different lens. I wonder if we women— due to societal pressure, biological makeup, or self-imposed expectations—portray ourselves as daintier and softer than men, less rugged and weaker, ill-suited for hardcore pursuits. But then I remember I’m an athlete and as strong or stronger than many of my guy friends, that I’m a traveler with more stamps on my passport than my significant other, that I’m an explorer with thousands of miles of trail under my soles/skis/wheels. I ask: What’s with this generalization? I’m a researcher, a planner, a skirt wearer, a frequent camper, a nail biter, a nail painter, an occa-


WAM • SUMMER | 2014

sional crier, a runner, an angler, a skilled mountain driver, and a pack mule who carries enough water for three times the amount of a planned activity. But I’m not an “adventure hater.” I do like to take ownership of my adventures, and I do like to be informed and prepared. And I love the discovery, the pushing of my limits, the elation of accomplishment after trying something new. Sure, it’s important for me to understand what I’m undertaking and to feel like I am ready. And that is why I try to run a new trail before mountain biking it, why I check out a technical section (of trail, river, or rock) before heading through it, and why I carry plenty of food and water even on short excursions. It’s important that I get through the adventure whole— though some women seem at peace with the possibility of not making it through their risky passion alive and though I’ve definitely had my share of near-death experiences, hard falls, and frozen toes. And, finally, it’s important that I have fun, even if it’s the sort of fun that only really looks fun in hindsight. Wanting to stay fit, informed, prepared, and happy doesn’t diminish my love for adventure though. My approach to it, my reasons for loving the outdoors, and my motivations to explore are certainly different from many men’s. But they’re likely different from many women’s, too. So there’s no need to ramble. The point is simple. We women like adventure. Let’s keep at it!


Photography: Gabe Rogel

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w Discuss

Resource for Women’s Outdoor Clubs Why Female-Focused Groups Nationwide Partner with The League of Adventurous Women By Jennifer C. Olson


arb Carey, President of a Midwest fishing club for women, founded WI Women Fish (wiwomenfish.com) eight years ago but had trouble growing membership until she joined forces with The League of Adventurous Women. “We now have more than 130 members who share a passion for fishing, and we grow every month,” Barb says. “Even though my group is called WI Women Fish, we have members from five states and have a broad reach across the Midwest.” Like other active women’s groups do, WI Women Fish has positively impacted many lives by facilitating outings and encouraging friendships. “I cannot emphasize enough how much our group has enriched women’s lives,” Barb says, explaining that finding women who would benefit from her group was a challenge, “and I can say that The League of Adventurous Women has helped us spread the word.” 10

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The League is an online community and resource for outdoorsy and travel-focused women’s groups that want to get activity ideas, share knowledge, or publicize their events (LeagueofAdventurousWomen.org). “Getting information out about adventure opportunities is a very important mission, and I am happy to be a part of it,” Barb says. Michelle Halbsgut, who has run a Pennsylvania-based bucket-list group called Awesome Adventurous Women (aawonline.com) for nearly ten years, says, “The League of Adventurous Women is an additional opportunity to promote Awesome Adventurous Women events and to spread the word that ‘life is too short, go out, and try something new.’” That’s exactly the point. Dedicated to helping all women pursue their dreams through new and interesting challenges, The League of Adventurous Women is

a non-profit network of adventure groups and active individuals. The League is dedicated to creating new friendships and helping all women add zest to their lives by trying something new, interesting or challenging. The League encourages women to leave their comfort zones and pursue their dreams. In the past year, The League has grown from an idea to unite women’s adventure groups into a budding network stretching from coast to coast,” Founder Michaelle Scanlon says. “There are hundreds of women’s adventure organizations around the country but many don’t have the visibility they need and many women don’t know about the amazing opportunities in their own communities. The League of Adventurous Women is bringing all of these organizations together under one umbrella to help them connect with new members and with each other.” Originally, The League was an extension of Michaelle’s own small adventure group that helps women in the Washington, D.C., area meet new people and take on exciting challenges. “Our experiences had such profound impacts on our lives that I felt all women should have the same opportunities,” she says. Connecting increases a group’s exposure and allows collaboration with similar organizations nationwide. Group leaders can learn from the experiences of more established organizations and can serve as a model for newly formed groups. By connecting with The League, groups can also access a national network

of adventure organizations. The more organizations in the network, the stronger the network becomes. There are no obligations, contracts, or dues, though. The League only expects everyone to be open to new members and to fit The League’s definition of “Adventure.”




Lights Out


Sleep Under the Stars for the Great American Backyard Campout, June 28


magine every child in America—and parents, too—sleeping outside on the same night of the year. That could happen at this year’s Great American Backyard Campout, an annual event that encourages people of all ages to camp in their backyards, neighborhoods, parks, and campgrounds as a way to reconnect with nature. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) organizes this event with the aim to get kids outside and enjoying nature with their families. “Kids need to experience camping, especially in their youth when the wonders of the outdoors

can influence their future love for nature and wildlife,” said NWF’s Maureen Smith. “In addition to developing a deeper appreciation for the outdoors and the wildlife around them through camping in their backyard or at a local park, being in nature helps to burn off energy, stay fit, and be mentally focused for school, homework and all activities in their busy day.” The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) is America’s largest conservation organization, inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. The organization hopes the Great American Backyard Campout in its tenth year is a step toward a future in which all children spend time outside each day, creating a generation of happier and healthier children with more awareness and connection to the natural world. In conjunction with Great Outdoors Month and as part of National Wildlife Federation’s 10 Million Kids Outdoors Campaign, the annual event takes place Saturday, June 28, 2014. Find packing lists, recipes, wildlife guides, activity suggestions, and more at backyardcampout.org.

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The Glue That Binds Video Series Archives What Keeps Couples Together By Chris Kassar


limbing dangerous mountains, scaling cliffs, running 100 miles at a pop, riding tough, rocky, steep trails; we take on massive challenges like these at the drop of a hat. But, ask anyone who’s been in love—true, real, lasting love—and you’ll learn that many these immense exploits pale in comparison to the greatest adventure of everyday life: being in—and staying in—a supportive, healthy, compassionate relationship. So, how do we train and prepare? What skills, tools, and gear do we need to succeed? As divorce rates soar and online dating sites proliferate, many of us don’t know where to look for answers. Enter siblings DJ and Gillian Pierce, cofounders of the Global Glue Project (GGP), who are working to capture and share the secrets of healthy long-term relationships through interviews with real couples of all kinds.


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“There’s so much emphasis on finding a mate, but little on how to keep a mate,” says Gillian, who believes GGP provides a fantastic resource for this situation. “There is great value in learning from couples who are in a successful relationship.” Since GGP’s inception in 2010, they’ve filmed more than fifty couples from across the planet, confirming that there isn’t a magic bullet but rather simple, universal tenets that successful relationships hinge on, including communication, compromise, kindness, and commitment. Take Tommy and Kia, for instance. They’ve been together for 13 years and admit that their relationship requires work and “continuously consciously choosing” to see the light, to focus on the love that you share and to be compassionate. Tommy and Kia also attribute their success to the fact that they “pray at the same altar”

(share the same core beliefs), they choose to “hold the pose” (instead of running away when things get tough) and they both share a deeply rooted love of nature. “The presence of nature in our life is critical and probably the central most important thing to both of us. From the very beginning of our relationship that’s always been true,” says Tommy, who refers to Yosemite as “church,” “spiritual,” and “very powerful” because it’s a place where he and Kia have shared countless climbing and hiking adventures, But the couple doesn’t have to venture out on an epic trip or scale El Capitan to gain strength from the outdoors; they rely on it daily to handle pressure or stress. “We’ll often say to each other, ‘Let’s just go walk it out …’” says Kia, referring to times of struggle. “We work through it and shift the nervous system to a different level. We recognize the power that nature has to harmonize us and get us back to that neutral playing field.” These are the kinds of tidbits highlighting the glue that holds couples together that DJ and Gillian want to archive for perpetuity. This brilliant duo hopes their archive of inspirational videos provides a road map for those of us seeking answers. “One piece of the project is preserving the wisdom from the sixty-year marriages that are going extinct,” says Gillian, mentioning her great grandparents’ life together as an example of a lasting relationship. “But, we also want to be a source of inspiration. So often we don’t know what’s possible or healthy, and we just go into autopilot doing what we’ve been programmed to do or what we’ve seen our parents do. My hope is that these films bring people together, spark conversation, and provide a resource for those seeking their own path or a different way to move through the adventure.”

• Watch Tommy and Kia’s video at globalglueproject.com/couple/tommy-and-kia. Stay and explore the website to learn more, donate, or suggest a couple for filming. globalglueproject.com




Listen Up

Hardcore Outdoor Speakers and Headphones By Jennifer C. Olson

Your options are far from Divoom Voomboxlimited when it comes to Travel. durable, weather-resistant, and Just barely bigger than Scosche’s boomEarth-friendly wireless speakers. CAN BT, this USB rechargeable audio

player offers a six-hour battery life and Bluetooth streaming from up to 32 feet. Measuring three inches around, this socalled “splash resistant” speaker delivers remarkable bass tones and has a built-in microphone for making/receiving calls wirelessly. Hang the Voombox-Travel from its included carabiner and take it wherever you go outdoors. $49.90; divoom.com

Outdoor Tech Turtle Shell 2.0.


This outdoor speaker boasts a number of superpowers: waterresistance, shock absorbency, compact design, and big sound. Review by Jennifer Davis-Flynn The BRV-1 fits in your palm, is lightweight, and allows you to The Outdoor Tech Turtle Shell make hands-free calls when paired with your smartphone. Uswireless Bluetooth speaker is my new ing its impressive battery best friend and constant companpower bank (1400mAh), ion. This waterproof, shockproof, you can play 12 hours of lightweight (0.65 pounds) speaker is music, charge your phone, a welcome addition anywhere, anyor save the electricity for a time: camping, city cycling, lounglast-minute beach party at ing in a park, hanging by the pool, the end of your river trip. and in the kitchen. Since I found the $179.99; braven.com Turtle Shell, I’ve taken it on a hut trip, hauled it along for a weekend road trip, and even attached it to my bike using the companion Turtle Scosche boomCAN BT. Clamp, which makes two-wheeled This seriously tiny Bluetooth speaker streams audio from up to 30 trips to the grocery store so much feet away and, thanks to its circular shape, throws the sound in every more fun! direction loudly and clearly. Two inches tall, the boomCAN BT The multidirectional speaker design delivers remarkable surround comes with a travel pouch and charging cable, making it as portable as a speaker could get. Powered by a lithium-ion battery with sound due to its unique shape; you the ability to play for two full hours, this mini gadget is compatcan actually feel the bass thumping. ible with any Bluetooth The USB-rechargeable Turtle Shell enabled device but also pairs with a smartphone, laptop, or includes an input jack tablet simply and easily–no apps or software to download. And after you for connectivity for pair it once, it is automatically saved music players without Bluetooth capabilities. in your settings. A battery charge Snag one of these festive provides 16 hours of music. Throw this heavy-duty speaker— accessories in red, blue, white, or black and look it comes in eight fun colors—in for its soon-to-be-deyour backpack and liven up your buted handlebar mount. next campfire. $29.99; scosche.com $129.95; outdoortechnology.com

Pyle PWPBT30 Rocket Torch.

What weighs less than one pound, features Bluetooth technology, plays FM radio, includes an input jack and mini-SD card slot, doubles a flashlight, and is water-resistant? The outdoor-ready Rocket Torch speaker. It not only streams audio from any Bluetooth device but also plays music from other sources and allows users to place or answer calls. Operate it with your damp fingers, charge it with a USB cable, and let it light the way to your tent. $44.99; pyleaudio.com

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w Trends

Bike Accessories Cargo solutions and fashion frills for all By Jennifer C. Olson

Whether you ride a beach cruiser, a hybrid, an e-bike, or a sleek vintage steel frame bicycle around the neighborhood or city streets, you probably get the urge to update your ride when the weather warms up. So, here are some products to help make your townie more practical, beautiful, or kid-friendly.

Clockwork Gears Mermaid Bike Dress Okay, apparel doesn’t necessarily count as a bikecommuting or aroundtown cruising necessity but looking stylish sure on your two-wheeled toy sure is fun! This mini dress combined with leggings and some flats gives off a casual and artsy vibe while feeling extra comfy on long summer days outside. When the sun sinks or afternoon rains cool off the air, whip out the soft Waves Pullover to cut the chill and keep the party rolling. clockworkgears.com

KEEN Commuter III.

This update on the brand’s popular cycling sandal is SPDcompatible and works well on light mountain bike or offroad rides, too. Its playful style, grippy and non-marking outsole, and versatility make this webbed and mesh shoe ideal for travel and do-anything sorts of weekend adventures. $110; keenfootwear.com


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Brompton Game Bag.

A new collaboration between Brompton Bicycle and Chapman Bags produced these hearty, handmade bags with euro-inspired vintage appeal. The newly launched bags embrace classic simplicity but boast modern features, such as a padded laptop pocket and a convenient clip-on clip-off attachment system. Made to last, they’re built in North West England from high-grade, premium cotton canvas, full grain leather, and solid brass hardware. £230; brompton.com

Basil Elegance Carry All Bag.

the most beautiful pannier bag we’ve come across this year doubles as a shoulder bag once it’s off the bike. Basil’s new line is accurately named and exceptionally versatile, because its floral patterned bags are understated enough for the office but playful enough to be go-to weekend accessories. However, the elegance collection isn’t the only line Basil is debuting this season. We sprung for one of the bike accessory brand’s new cheery bells, too! $89.99; basil.nl

Electra Q/R Steel Mesh Basket.

Front bins are handy for whatever you need to transport by bike, and we love that it’s possible to load it up with several items without feeling off balance or like you’re hauling an unwieldy collection of junk. And it’s even better when you can get a basket in whichever bright hue you’d like. Choose a matching—or mis-matched—liner ($19.99) to prevent losing any cargo and start pedaling, bringing your purse, your pet, and your picnic with you. $39.99; electrabike.com womensadventuremagazine.com





Weehoo iGo PRO.

Review by Erica Lineberry To be honest, while I thought the idea of the Weehoo—an innovative new bike trailer design from a small company out of Golden, CO—was super cool, I was a little unsure of how my fouryear-old son would react to the Weehoo. After all, he’s pretty darn proud of the fact that he’s moved up to a “big boy bike” in recent months, and I was afraid he would think the idea of going back into a bike trailer was babyish. But the Weehoo is no ordinary bike trailer. Rather than reclining (or maybe even napping) in the backseat as a passenger being chauffeured to his or her destination, a Weehoo rider is fully engaged with the ride and has his/her own set of pedals—pedals that actually work! My son was thrilled with the idea that he could help propel us forward and “go as fast as Mommy.” I found the Weehoo to offer a much safer and more versatile alternative to the typical “trail-a-bike” system, because it combines the freedom of movement and child-participation features of a trail-abike with the safety and flexibility of a trailer. A child can pedal whenever he or she wants plus relax and enjoy a snack or drink when the kid needs a break. (The Weehoo even comes with cup/snack holders!) While there’s not a ton of storage space, there’s plenty of room to pack basic essentials in the side panniers and seatback pocket. The Weehoo advertises that it can go anywhere that mom and dad’s bike goes, and we’ve found that to be mostly true. The single-wheel design and beefy tire means that it fares just as well as a regular bike on rough terrain. I can confidently hop off a curb in the Weehoo, whereas a standard bike trailer will tip unless the wheels are lined up perfectly. The only limiting factor for terrain appears to be the turning radius, which is a good deal wider because of the extra length added onto the adult bike. With the Weehoo, there’s a bit of a learning curve for both adult and rider, but nothing that a reasonably experienced biker and excited child can’t figure out quickly. For the adult, the balance

is different, since the center of gravity is further back. For the child, sitting in a chair balanced on one wheel can feel “tippy,” especially when the adult rider is mounting and dismounting. As my son got used to the feeling and realized he was safe, he didn’t mind the wobbles. Weehoo recommends their product for ages 2-9, which sounds about right; however, if your child is on the older end of that spectrum and has been riding for several years, the Weehoo will probably only come in handy on longer distance rides. For young children who can’t ride a bike yet, it’s an engaging introduction to the mechanics of pedaling, not to mention a more exciting alternative than a standard trailer. It’s also great for children who already know how to ride but may lack the stamina or safety skills for certain endeavors. Bottom line? The Weehoo iGo PRO is topnotch and is a must-have for the avid biking family! $399; rideweehoo.com

Chrome Saddle Bag Rolltop Pannier 20.

As burly as it looks, this high-volume pannier bag holds up in any sort of weather and stays secured on the rack, even during the speediest, bumpiest of bike rides. While it lacks the feminine qualities we loved about other bags we tested, the new Chrome style can keep up with our all-day active lifestyles and will probably be a staple for grocery-getting and family adventures alike for years to come. $160; chromeindustries.com WAM • SUMMER | 2014


w Tech Talk

Clean Drinking Backcountry Water Purification By Chris Kassar


ater, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink. Though this sentiment was first used to describe what it’s like to be stranded on the ocean, it may become the mantra for your next backcountry trip if you’re not savvy about water purification. Avoid dehydration, illness, and worse by learning how to create safe drinking water in a variety of conditions and situations.

Why Purify?

High up in the mountains, you come upon a tiny, seemingly untouched stream. You’re miles and miles from civilization, roads, and towns so you kneel down, dip your bottle into the idyllic waterway and take a gulp. Little do you know that about 50 feet upstream, a dead deer lies rotting in the stream near a heavily used campsite. Not only have you quenched your thirst, but you also may have introduced a host of tiny, harmful, havocwreaking living organisms into your formerly healthy body. Contrary to popular belief, clear, cool, moving water is not necessarily clean and—unless you know exactly what’s upstream or you’re a scientist able to field test for pollutants, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and microorganisms such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and E.Coli—you really have no way of knowing if the water you’re about to drink is safe. So, when in doubt—which is really always— treat your water. Doing so can’t hurt, but failing to do so most definitely can. (Need more motivation to take the extra few minutes to purify? Think frequent runs into the bushes while trying to hike the three days out to your car.)

Which Method?

There are tons of water treatment techniques out there. Finding the one that’s right for you depends on your priorities: Are you most concerned with size, weight, speed, efficiency, longevity, or effectiveness? Also consider where you are going and what organisms you might encounter. Here’s some info to help you muddle through.

BOILING How: Standard technique says keep a rolling boil for five to ten minutes, but water may be safe to drink after as little as one minute of boiling. Increase boiling times for higher altitudes.

Best for: Large groups; water with debris (i.e. glacially-fed or sandy sources); light and fast trips when you want water immediately

Our favorites: Platypus GRAVITYWORKS 4L WATER FILTER. Fill it, hang it, wait 2.5 minutes, and Pros: Simple; doesn’t greatly impact weight since you’ll already be bringing a stove; one of the most voilá—you have four liters of water. It doesn’t get foolproof ways to kill a variety of microorganisms, much easier or faster. $119.95; cascadedesigns.com viruses, and bacteria First Need XLE Elite Water Purifier. A pump system that’s also rated as a purifier and meets Cons: Time-consuming; requires extra fuel EPA standards against cysts, bacteria, and viruses. Best for: Basecamp adventures; cold weather $125; rei.com camping ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT PEN PURIFIERS Our favorite: Jetboil makes a host of great prodHow: Water is exposed to UV light via an elecucts like the SOL ADVANCED and the Sumo Ti tronic device. It takes about 90 seconds to purify that boil water extremely quickly. jetboil.com 32 ounces. UV light purifies water and destroys the majority of bacteria, viruses, and protozoan FILTERS cysts, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. How: Filters run the gamut from pumps, and bottles with filtering straws, to gravity-fed filters Pros: Very fast, safe and effective; does not alter that hang from a tree, but all of them strain the taste, pH, or other properties of the water; water through an internal element. Some rely on works without chemicals; convenient and easy to activated carbon to bond with and remove nasty, use, effective against all pathogens unwanted substances while others rely on ceramic Cons: Lithium batteries don’t last long, are difcartridges. ficult to find, more expensive, and questionable at Pros: Efficient, lightweight, and small; long-lasthigh altitudes; if the device malfunctions, there is ing and durable (many filters can handle between little you can do to repair it in the field 200-1,000 gallons); strain out particulate and Best for: Small groups; light, fast, weight-conusually improve taste of water; provide drinkable water immediately; most are fixable and cleanable scious journeys; international trips in the field Our Favorite: When Steripen came on the market over a decade ago, it changed the face of Cons: Most filters do not remove viruses; timewater purification. We recommend the Advenconsuming for large groups; may get clogged in turer Opti, built to provide a small, tough, relimurky or silt-laden water; more expensive able option for adventurers of all kinds. $89.95; steripen.com


Prevent further water contamination by behaving respectfully around backcountry water sources. take care of tasks such as bathing, cooking, urinating, and defecating at least 200 feet away from any water source.


WAM • SUMMER | 2014


Tech Talk


Perú found me. DIY Filter


PlatyPUs GraVityWOrKs 4l Water Filter GET CLEAN WATER AT HOME tired of weird-tasting water at home? Well, water filtration isn’t only for the backcountry. With a proprietary technology that allows you to filter at the speed of your faucet, the CamelBak relay removes chlorine, odors, and yucky tastes in a snap. $36.99; camelbak.com

CHEMICAL TREATMENTS How to use the various chemical treatment options: • Chlorine dioxide: Dissolve tablets, wait 15 minutes. • Iodine: Dissolve tablets, crystals, or tincture, and wait 15 minutes. (Important note: Not safe for pregnant women or people with a thyroid condition.) • Bleach: Mix 2 drops of household bleach with each liter (or 8 drops [~1/8 tsp] per gallon), wait at least thirty minutes for clear water. Pros: Very lightweight, small, simple; convenient and easy to use; very affordable

the raw material used to clean water in home and backcountry carbon filters is charcoal. in a survival situation, you can use charcoal from a campfire to make your own carbon filter. Charcoal filters remove many contaminants, sediment, and may improve taste. Here is how: 1. Make a filter using a porous layer like a t-shirt, bandana, or a bucket or plastic bag with tiny holes. 2. Use two clean water bottles or whatever containers you have. Fill one with water; place the filter you just made over the other. 3. Crush up cool charcoal into small nuggets. 4. Place charcoal in the filter. 5. Pour water from full container over the charcoal-filled filter. repeat this several times.

Cons: Water tastes terrible but can be easily treated with taste-neutralizing tablets; require wait times before drinking, which can be longer for cold or murky water; does not filter out dirt or debris; iodine is not effective against Cryptosporidium Best for: Large groups; light and fast trips; longdistance journeys; epic day hikes Our favorite: Aquamira Water Treatment Drops/ Tablets. Chlorine dioxide is stronger than iodine and kills a larger variety of bugs. Plus, it doesn’t make water taste terrible, and unlike bleach, this type of chemical purifies without creating harmful by-products. $14.95; aquamira.com

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

AdventureLife.com 800.344.6118

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


w Tech Talk

Girl Problems Handling Menstruation in the Wild By Courtney Johnson



altitude would have on your menstrual cycle would be more related to the stress of acclimatization and the activities performed once there.”

Think Like a Boy Scout The Boy Scout’s motto “Be Prepared” comes in handy during a trip into the wilderness, especially during that special time of the month. Having all the girl supplies you need can make an un-ideal situation less problematic. Even if it isn’t time for that monthly visit, altitude and strenuous activity may cause your flow to come early—though it could even delay it. “Most women who are undertaking significant expeditions are already accustomed to strenuous exercise and have trained their bodies appropriately for the intended activity,” said Gretchen Bruno, a Denver-based OBGYN and multiple Ironman finisher. “The greater the preparation beforehand and the more the body has adapted, the fewer the changes that will be apparent.” With this in mind, if you have a history of your period being affected by altitude, strenuous activity, or any other circumstance, consider bringing what you will need should it sneak up on you. “Anything that causes increased activation of the adrenal system and an increased release of stress hormones can potentially affect your menstrual cycle,” said Bruno. “The acclimatization that is necessary when going to increased altitude certainly causes at least short term release of stress-related hormones. So, yes, altitude can potentially change the timing of menses, but it seems that the effect

Use What You Know Bring along those tried and true products that you know work for you while keeping in mind that space is at a premium in your backpack. “Don’t try anything new on your trip,” said Bruno. “Just like most of us wouldn’t break out a new pair of shoes on race day, we probably shouldn’t try a new product in the middle of the woods.” Some product suggestions to help with that game of Tetris that can become daily routine when backpacking: • Unscented tampons without applicators or with biodegradeable applicators: Tampons take up less space than pads and are easier to throw in your bag and then pack out. Keep track of the time and change out tampons often to reduce the risk of TSS. • Diva up or similar product: “If a woman is comfortable with the Diva Cup and knows it works for her during exercise, this is an ideal option,” said Bruno. “Then you simply need hand wipes or sanitizer wipes to clean the cup and yourself following placement, removal, and replacement.” The contents of the Diva Cup can be emptied into a cat hole 200 feet from a water source and rinsed out with water before reinsertion. • Unscented wipes and hand sanitizer: These just improve overall hygiene. • Dark bag for hiding your feminine products: “This will let you carry what you need for those red tent days without being obvious to your compadres,” said Bruno.

espite what Brick Tamland says in the movie Anchorman, bears can’t smell menstrual blood. So, go ahead and plan that trip into the wild, as you won’t be putting your group in any danger. While a visit from Aunt Flow while enjoying nature isn’t optimal, a little planning can make dealing with it less awful than you think.


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aleKsandra BOGUslaWsKa

How to make packing out period waste more fun—and less smelly. step 1: Line the outside of a heavyduty, quart-sized zippered plastic bag in strips of duck tape. step 2: Fill the bag with a tablespoon or two of baking soda. your “fun bag” is now complete—tuck it (and a spare) into your backpack. step 3: Place used feminine products in bag and zip tightly closed. step 4: Repeat step 3 each time you change out tampons or pads, carrying them to and from your backcountry “restroom” in your concealed and odor-mitigating fun bag. step 5: Dispose of your used fun bag in a trash receptacle when you reach the trailhead or get home.

Tech Talk



your gear. BEFORE


Dirt and soaked in water stops sweat escaping so it stays inside your jacket!

A clean, waterproofed jacket can breathe so you don’t get wet!

Calming Nature’s Cycle hydration and movement when traveling if you’re on the pill.” the recommendation for baseline hydration is half your body weight in ounces of water, but that increases considerably at altitude and with exertion. Make sure you know how you will obtain water during your trip.”

cleans effectively in a washing machine while preserving water repellency

Nikwax TX.Direct

adds safe, high performance water repellency while preserving breathability

NIKWAX GEAR REHAB 3 step program 1. Admit your gear has a problem. 2. Clean it! 3. Waterproof it!



At Nikwax we do all we can to minimize our impact on the environment and people’s health. We are the only established outdoor aftercare company to have a completely WaterBased, non-flammable and fluorocarbon (PFC) free range. We have always avoided using PFCs as we believe they are a risk to consumer health and the environment.

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rbo n ( P FC

Leave No Trace Keeping up with Leave No Trace principals, you should pack it up and pack it out. Burning your used feminine products or digging cat holes to bury them is not recommended, especially when the materials may not be biodegradable. Some products may also attract animals, which is why Ziploc bags come in handy to transport your waste, so that you can dispose of it properly when the time comes. So by having a game plan and preparing a trip into the forest while riding the crimson wave won’t be as bad as you think. “The bottom line is that having a period is a normal, beautiful part of being a woman,” said Bruno. “Even in the wild, it is not something to be feared. The key is in remembering it will be a factor and taking steps beforehand to optimize the situation.”

Nikwax Tech Wash


• Zippered plastic bags: We don’t normally recommend plastic bags in the wild but we do suggest bringing a few Ziplocs to store tampons, wipes, waste, and dirty undergarments. (See the DIY sidebar for ways to reduce odor and lessen the yuck-factor when storing used products.) • Ibuprofen: “Certainly having anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen is an essential part of any adventure trip,” said Bruno, pointing out that it’ll also help relieve cramps. “Having said that, I would not recommend using medication unless you absolutely need it. Hydration becomes extremely important when taking medicine like Ibuprofen, so be sure you do not affect your kidney function.” • Comfortable underwear, including extra pairs: Pack underwear that fits and breathes well to prevent chaffing. Pack a couple extra pairs, since they thankfully don’t take up much room. • Water bottle: Hydration is essential during that time of the month but even more so when at higher altitudes and during strenuous activity. You can also use water for cleaning if needed.


B deficiency, so nutrition is important. also consider the increased chance for blood clots at higher altitudes. “Of course, if you have ever had a clot or have a family history of clotting, the birth control pill may not be the optimal choice,” Bruno adds. “either way, pay attention to


some may choose oral contraceptives to slow the flow, regulate the cycle, or minimize symptoms. an oral contraceptive should be started well in advance to see how the body reacts and if there are any side effects. Bruno warns that prolonged use of the pill may cause a vitamin

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travel Not a Tourist

Kisses and Fishes Learn to Fly-Fish With Your Other Half


rowing up, I did not participate in team sports or cut my teeth on any competitive endeavor. I tried out for cheerleading and gymnastics but didn’t make either team and, after some tears, hung up my hat and did not become active in team sports or the outdoors until the last decade or so. Now I bike, hike, ski, and practice yoga on a regular basis. I’m no pro but try it all and can hang in most groups. In contrast, the man I’m dating excels at everything he tries. He’s a competitive road cyclist, fearless mountain biker, and damn if he isn’t even better at yoga than I am. I know, I know: We don’t compete in yoga, but he has completed a 200hour teacher training and can get to that Zen state of mind faster than I can. And, if you count party games like corn hole and horseshoes, I’m beat there as well. So, when we and another couple decided to spend a weekend learning how to fly-fish together, it was my hope that my female counterpart and I would fly-fish circles around our men. I don’t think my friend in the other couple


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shared my competitive zest, but she humored me. Fly-fishing has been on my to-do list since I saw A River Runs Through It and fell in love with the grace of casting and the romance of solitude on the water. But this couples’ trip would be the first time I tried it. When employed as a consultant, I worked side-by-side for years with David Leinweber, the owner of Angler’s Covey in Colorado Springs, eventually meeting his wife, Becky, and other Angler’s Covey guides, who did their best to dispel my perceived roadblocks to learning the sport. Though it took over a year before I actually put on waders, their excitement about sharing an activity they love birthed the idea behind this story. If you live in Colorado, Angler’s Covey is the place to go if you need a guide or first-timer’s lessons. If you live elsewhere, you might consider visiting Colorado Springs so you can learn from David and Becky Leinweber, too. You won’t meet a more knowledgeable, pas-

sionate, and patient pair of fisherpeople or fish in a more gorgeous setting. Nestled at the foot of Pikes Peak in the Rocky Mountains, Angler’s Covey is close to countless fishing sites with many hot spots less than an hour away. The ‘Springs’—as natives say—has numerous lodging and dining options for upscale and laid back travelers alike. Less than an easy two-hour drive from Denver, the location couldn’t be more convenient. We rented a private home outside of Colorado Springs so we could take two full days to immerse ourselves in the activity and fully cherish the weekend away. I recommend scheduling a multiday trip if at all possible anyway,

because it did take a full weekend to absorb David and Becky’s generous overview of what the sport involves. Though, I won’t say we necessarily walked away expert fishermen and women. After spending two hours Saturday morning practicing rod and reel basics, learning about rigging, getting schooled in the life cycle of bugs, we drove to our fishing spot in Eleven Mile Canyon near Lake George. Finally, I would grace the water with my lovely cast, and my companions would be in awe by my prowess, and the women would show the men, who tend to be all arm muscle and less grace, how it’s really done. This was my hope anyway. womensadventuremagazine.com

rOBin enriGHt

By Robin Enright

Not A Tourist


Fishing Trip Packing List Clothing layers. even in summer, bring warm layers that you can shed as the day warms and the sun reaches into the valleys where you’ll most likely be fishing. Fishing license. a day pass or annual license can be purchased at a local fly-fishing or outdoor shop. Fly rod, reel, line, tippet, flies, waders. Most shops and outfitters, like angler’s Covey (anglerscovey. com), rent out the gear you need to get started.

But, not 45 minutes into our casting practice, David suddenly announced, “I hate to tell you this, but Rob is totally killing it!” Yes, once again, my athletic god of a boyfriend was running circles around me. Not long after we began fishing for real, Rob snagged the first fish of the day. This was not to be his last; in fact he ended up catching the most fish of all of us. I was excited for him but disappointed in my own comparative progress. My silent competition with my boyfriend wasn’t about to cause me to throw in the towel, too, though. Casting is an art, a beautiful performance of the fishing line, first, dancing in the sunlit air and then, moments later, snaking across the water. My biceps began to scream toward the end of the first day but I still wanted to continue. It was addictive to me, the slower pace required to watch, wait, and discover, attending to details I would normally not see and relaxing into the quiet—with only the sound of water lapping on the shore and dancing downstream to accompany the song of my cast. Day one ended with us sunburned, feeling like we had actually fished and more than ready for a home cooked dinner and some wine. On day two, we headed deeper into Eleven Mile Canyon to stake out a different spot on the South Platte River We bounced along the scenic dirt road, which used to be the Colorado Midland Railroad bed, until David motioned for us to park. On the previous day, we’d walked along the banks of the gently flowing stream, but here we had to hike down a steep and thickly wooded path into the canyon, the water’s road echoed all

the way up to the road. We were in the shade this time and the water ran far faster. Fish tend to point upstream so they don’t have to chase food, allowing it instead to flow to them. Because fish like to conserve energy, we look for a seam between the faster- and slower-moving water, where they like to rest before moving into the current. Becky taught me how to safely walk in fast water and was my personal guide for the day. The instant I stepped into the water, with Becky holding my arm, the cold seeped through the waders making me grateful for all the layers I was wearing. Once again, we spread out at various spots on the river, not within conversation distance of our sweethearts. This is important to note because, if you decide to take up fly-fishing together, you won’t be fishing that closely to each other unless you try sharing gear. (Read our suggestions in the sidebar.) We ladies cast into a calm pool next to running water—a favorite spot for fish to feed—and, though we had a few tugs on the line, we lost our tippet countless times. After losing the tippet one time too many, I decided to quit and spend my time filming everyone else. I walked downstream to where Rob was fishing and discovered he had caught too many fish to count. My heart had a bit of a competitive tantrum. After watching him secure nibble after nibble, I turned to Becky and said, “Maybe we should try one more time.” Finding a good spot slightly upstream, we began fishing again, and I got excited when I felt a snag on my line, even though it was only a rock. I cast again and again and eventually felt another tug. But this one was strong—very strong.

Becky yelled orders to me but everything she said sounded like a foreign language. She asked me to give the fish more line, which seemed counterintuitive, and I worried I would lose it when the line created a perfect arc. Rob and his guide were watching me now as my biceps screamed with the struggle, and the tension on my rod was matched by the sudden adrenaline rush and the excitement of knowing that I had finally snagged a fish. A big one. Finally, as my arms fatigued and I worried I would lose him, Becky helped me reel in the hefty rainbow trout. Once he was in the net, I appreciated why I had been so challenged. I really could not have reeled him in without Becky’s assistance; this boy was huge, measuring almost two feet long! She removed the hook and asked me if I wanted to hold him for a photo. For the first photo, she helped me, but I de-

cided that, for the second, I wanted to try to hold him by myself. I leaned over the basket and, as I went to wrap my hands around his belly to lift him out, the fish leapt up and kissed me. I stumbled and fell backward into the cold river, laughing all the way down. It turns out that Rob may have caught the first fish and by far the most fish, but I had caught the largest. And the most affectionate!

Want to fly-fish with your significant other? Consider sharing a rod and supplies with your partner and take turns casting. that way you can spend some quality time together, cheer one another on, and also help one another if you happen to snag a big one.

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


travel Travel Hack

Totes for Women on the Move Bagging the right travel carry-all for you By Robin Enright If you travel frequently, you know the value of the right bag for your type of travel. For your convenience and to save you stress, I tested out three entirely different totes, one of which just might be the bag you’ve been looking to buy.

Marc by Marc Jacobs Domo Arigato Large Crossbuddy. For years, I have searched for a pocketbook versatile enough to take to trade shows, on press trips, for personal travel, and excursions that are all of the above. The nylon Domo Arigato Crossbuddy with cow leather trim fits the bill. I can fit my cell phone, camera, paperback novel, and small notebook alongside my other travel essentials in the 10-inch by 12-inch bag that stuffs 4 inches wide and look good while carrying it. This bag will be by my side for the foreseeable future! $198; marcjacobs.com Pros: The expandable zipper is not only functional, providing additional room when you bulk up, but is also elegant and fashionable. Wear it over your shoulder or across your body; the wide strap will keep you comfortable no matter how long you are out.

Eagle Creek Strictly Business Carry All. The largest bag I tested, Eagle Creek’s Strictly Business Carry All, has multiple compartments, features a wide adjustable shoulder strap, and comes in many color choices. I used the bag during a long weekend trip in California and as my primary suitcase on an overnight ski trip. It performed like a rock star both times. This is a luxuriously sized carry-on bag with easy accessibility. The bag has cross-body shoulder and tote handle options, a back slit panel for easy stacking on carry-on luggage, reflective accents for nighttime visibility, and anti-theft details, like toggled closures on bag compartments and a hidden passport pocket inside a zippered pocket. $160; eaglecreek.com Pros: Whatever you need will not only fit, it will have a home of its own. There are designated pockets for your water bottle, power cords, and personal products, in addition to a padded compartment for your laptop. Despite the size of the bag, it never felt unwieldy, even when I had it stuffed to the brim, thanks to the carrying-style options. Cons: The bag is large and, if you need a bag just to use when out in the evening, this one might feel like overkill.

United by Blue Lakeland Messenger Bag. United by Blue is a company I am particularly fond of because of their focus on cleaning up the nation’s waterways, their emphasis on sustainability, and their low-impact business practice. The company, as far as I can tell, practices what it preaches and will appeal to those who like to put their money into environmentally sound businesses. My testing partner and boyfriend took the unisex-design Lakeland Messenger Bag to an intense week-long tradeshow and carted it around for the entire week. He had previously carted around a traditional laptop bag and was super stoked with this new bag, both from the sustainability standpoint and for its style and functionality. Made of 100% organic, waxed, durable canvas with a reinforced leather bottom, the bag is a workhorse, too. $98; unitedbyblue.com Pros: The bag’s pinstripe interior lining makes it easy to find whatever you toss in there, while its one exterior and two interior pockets are just enough to keep you organized. Big enough to fit a 15-inch laptop but not oversized, the messengerstyle bag is a good ‘out at night’ option. Cons: The fastened bag closure interferes with the handles and makes the handles difficult to use when the bag is securely closed.

Cons: You can fit your tablet inside easily but not your laptop. 22

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Urban Adventure


Not Just The Alamo

Find Nature In the City and Explore San Antonio’s Great Outdoors By Robin Enright


an Antonio, Texas, is rich in history, easy to get to, and so rich with activities that you and your family can explore from morning until night. Whether you are there alone on business or vacatsioning with the kiddos, the San Antonio area has options enough to keep everyone happy in the outdoors. visitsanantonio.com/Explore-San-Antonio

The River Walk

For me, the best way to explore a new city is to walk, walk, and then walk some more, which is why San Antonio’s River Walk seems like an excellent opportunity for discovery. Catch the breeze off the water and stroll the roughly four miles along the Mission River, which weaves through downtown. If you get tired, jump on a water taxi. Enjoy the shade of towering trees, the quaint cobblestone paths, and one of the many restaurants along the way. If you prefer to travel a bit on water, canoe or kayak the 1.6-mile stretch from Mission Park to Padre Road. There are also B-cycle stations along the river walk so you can explore San Antonio on two wheels.

San Antonio Botanical Garden

I’ve always had a thing for gardens deep in cities and confess to being a voyeur of sorts when staying in high-rise hotels where it’s easy to spy rooftop gardens and patches of thriving flowers with the city as a backdrop. But you don’t need to experience a garden from a high rise in San Antonio. All you have to do is walk the Texas Native Trail and immerse yourself in the sweet scent and extravagant beauty of the public garden right in the heart of downtown. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for children. Stop in for snacks at the Bistro (closed Monday’s) to slow down and absorb the scenery.

San Pedro Springs Park

Want to go for a swim? Head to San Pedro Springs Park, the second oldest park in the United States—after the Boston Common—and swim in a spring-fed swimming pool.

Missions National Historical Park

Get your history fix and wander the nine-mile stretch of the San Antonio Mission Trail—exploring San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which includes four Spanish colonial missions, one being the Mission San Antonio de Valero also known as the Alamo, from the River Walk’s new Mission Reach. Let the past come alive as you wander paths that will virtually take you through time. There is no admission fee, though the park does accept donations.

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travel Journeys

Pushing Boundaries at Chile’s Valle Nevado and Ski Arpa Find your inner ski bunny in South America—in August By Robin Enright


hile had long been on my places-to-visit list, but the idea of skiing there in August was not. I love to ski and enjoy winter, but the warmth of Colorado in summer has a strong pull. So, when the time came to pack for a ski trip in Chile last August, it was hard to unearth my ski boots, winter coat, and warm mittens while wearing flip flops and shorts. I’m glad I did though! My trip would include two distinctly different skiing adventures—one to get the legs in gear at the resort of Valle Nevado and the other to cat ski at Ski Arpa outside Los Andes. But I’d also work in wine tastings in the Casablanca and San Antonio wine valleys and even a tour of Pablo Neruda’s home in Santiago, to feed my writer’s soul. Valle Nevado (vallenevado.com) is perched on the top of the world and surrounded by the extraordinary Andes. Its sunsets had me running for my camera or sitting and sighing on the window seat in my room nightly. I was treated to fresh snow on our trip and had an opportunity to ski off-piste, in a natural half-pipe, and also head to the top of the mountain via surface

lifts that had previously terrified me, carve first tracks, and order an après-ski beer—in Spanish. I’m typically a blue groomer skier so skiing with a guide ensured that I pushed my personal boundaries a bit and didn’t miss any of the mountain’s treasures. Even if you have never skied before but have a hankering to try it, this is a nice place to learn to get the full feel of the romance of skiing as a sport. Valle Nevado has a European feel, attracts skiers from all over the world, and could present the opportunity to be in the company of the Russian and Italian Olympic ski teams, if you are as lucky as I was. Options for dining are extensive at the resort, so you can just relax and focus on your mountain adventure. In addition to meals at La Fourchette, Mirador del Plomo, Sur Restaurant, and Don Giovanni, I enjoyed happy hour fare at après ski parties, making new friends from all over the world thanks to wine being the common language. There is even a disco on site for those who want more of a late-night party atmosphere—and this place knows how to party! From Valle Nevado, I put myself in the hands of Santiago Adventures (santiagoadventures.com) and drove the 50 miles from Santiago to Los Andes, where I spent one night at Casa St. Regis. This place provides an authentic Chilean atmosphere with its hacienda style and lovingly decorated guest rooms grouped around a garden courtyard that features smaller, private spaces that are uniquely designed and comfortable. My only regret is that I had just one night there. I drank Chilean wine and Pisco Sours around the fireplace in the common dining area and noshed on gourmet food that rivaled a high-end restaurant. Breakfast was another casually elaborate affair, though I just opted for coffee and took my meal to go. Deep into the winding drive to Ski Arpa, I was glad for my choice. Ski Arpa is about 22 miles from Los Andes, and the dirt road leading there is one of the bumpiest, craziest, and fun drives I’ve ever experienced, and was even cooler because I spotted the occasional goat meandering along the road, too. Narrow and dusty, the four-wheel-drive road transports you from the high desert to snow-covered peaks. If you tend to get car sick, hold off on breakfast until you arrive. Getting There lan airlines (lan.com) flies direct to santiago and makes an effort to assuage the discomfort of a long flight by serving almost-gourmet meals, complete with wine and an offering of a whiskey apertif. every seat has its own movie screen with an incredible selection of titles to make the time fly by (pun intended), though the views below aren’t bad either.


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Chile’s Vineyards

you can’t spend time in Chile without visiting one or two vineyards. Chilean wine is extraordinary, and the vineyards offer a visually romantic feast. Two of my favorites: Casa Marin, lo abarca (casamarin.cl) loma larga, Casablanca (lomalarga.com)

The Activity-Rich City of Santiago stay at the historical and beautifully appointed aubrey (theaubrey.com), a mansion built in 1927 and formerly owned by one of the leading political figures of his day, domingo duran. Make time for dinner at europeo, a visit to Mercado Central, shopping at artesania de Chile (artesaniasdechile.cl), and a tour of nobel Prize winner Pablo neruda’s santiago house, which is conveniently around the corner from the aubrey.

South America’s only cat skiing resort, Ski Arpa (skiarpa.com) has more than 4,000 acres of skiable terrain. I had never skied via a grooming cat and have to confess I was nervous, wondering if my skills were up to par for the landscape. With the encouragement of Ski Arpa’s staff members, who were incredibly sensitive and dead-set on providing a positive and safe experience, I gave it a go. And—with hosts Anton “Toni” Sponar, his ski racer son Anton, and the rest of the Ski Arpa crew, many with nicknames with stories behind them—your adventure will be rich beyond skiing. The group of skiers I was with stretched out along the trail, and I took up the rear since I figured I would slow everyone down otherwise. We got clear instructions about where to begin our descent after traversing to the trail and, when we began the downhill ride, my skis took off quickly. I battled their desire for speed, my fear giving me trouble while turning and my nerves causing countless falls, but my guide calmly supported me the entire way down to meet the rest of the crew, already gathered in the snow cat at the bottom. My descent might not have been pretty, but I did it. There is something about pushing one’s personal boundaries, something about those moments when fear pushes every cell in your body to life that grows confidence in the aftermath. When I traveled to Italy the year before, I got lost in Naples and did not speak enough Italian to explain what I needed. I was terrified. But after persevering with lots of pointing and exaggerated facial expressions, I saw an Italian cabdriver with no English in his vocabulary finally smile in recognition. That moment might have been exactly what I had been afraid of before I booked my trip but it’s also the moment that taught me I am a capable traveler. And I suspect the memory of that experience was one of the things that pushed me to try cat skiing. Experiences like these stay with us and provide the mileage we need to cover before advancing to the moments that leave us yearning for more. Just one more trip, one more night in a foreign place, one more new friend, one more run down the power-filled slopes. And isn’t that sort of journey what travel is all about?

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


travel Disaster Detour

Multiple Choice in the Pacific Northwest Neither rain, nor flood, nor maritime mishap could keep this Coloradan from getting home By Nancy Reed


hat do you do if you had traveled more than 1,800 miles to the northwestern tip of Washington State, savoring the trip-of-alifetime only to hear that a so-called “100-year flood” had just hit your hometown, which may not be intact when you return? Do you: a. Go home b. Call your neighbors to see if your house is still standing c. See if you can possibly travel even farther before deciding to return home d. All of the above My partner and I, thanks to the non-hypothetical situation I’m about to describe, now know the correct answer. Over the first few days of our trip—as we heard about the heavy rain and, later, the widespread-flooding, in Colorado—our frequent calls home produced the same response: “The house is fine. You don’t need to come back.” The uncertainty made us anxious, but we had already booked two non-refundable nights on the San Juan Islands and kept talking ourselves into staying buoyed up by the response from our friends back home. So, though a little queasy, we left our Airstream trailer with some friends in Port Townsend and headed to the Islands. Prior to boarding our second ferry—the only access to and from the San Juan Islands—we made one more call home. “All dry. Go and enjoy.” But after that second ferry pulled away from the dock, the phone rang. Nine inches of rain 26

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had fallen the previous night, and our basement was flooded. I turned to my partner and asked, “Now what do we do?” She said, “I have no idea but I do know the first thing we should do when this ferry docks.” We disembarked and proceeded directly to the nearest drinking establishment to ponder our situation over a burger and glass of wine. We spent the first ten minutes kicking ourselves for going even farther away from home before the rain stopped and not going home when the rain continued falling. Next, we ordered another glass of wine to help guide our decision; then, we assessed our situation, calling neighbors and friends for ideas while discussing and researching every possible solution. Option 1: Call off the trip. Even if we cancelled our trip and drove home, the water and mold would have taken over our house by the time we arrived. Getting there would take a while, because we were relatively stranded and would need to pick up our travel trailer once we got back to the mainland. Option two—our only other choice, as best we could determine—involved one ferry, four hours of driving, an overnight stay in Seattle, a flight home, and at least an hour’s ride from the airport to our house, assuming the roads were passable. The latter option would allow a return to Seattle and the eventual continuation of our trip, so it was deemed the winner. Still on San Juan Island, by about 1 p.m., the wine had taken the edge off, our friends had agreed to babysit the trailer, and the hotel concierge had graciously refunded our deposit and wished us luck back at home. We arrived at the dock just in time to watch the ferry pull away. Really? we thought, disappointed, but knowing the next one was due in a few hours. What mattered the most was that we had a plan and were ready to put it in action. Not so fast. Things were about to get even more interesting. As we sat in line, congratulating ourselves for what had to be the best plan ever, we were informed that “regrettably” the 3 p.m. ferry

would not be coming to pick us up. It seems the 1:00 p.m. ferry—the one we just freakin’ missed—had run over a sailboat. The lone sailor—and I use that term loosely—had been below deck at impact. When his boat finally popped up out of the water after being under the ferry, he reportedly emerged dazed but not seriously injured. His vessel, which was not as fortunate, sank. The officials we talked to were careful not to assign blame, but I was less gracious. “Aren’t ferry pilots, like hikers, bikers and drivers, supposed to watch where they are going? And, since when is it okay to sail into waters traversed by ferries numerous times daily and then go below deck?” Our revised pick-up time was “possibly 7 p.m.” but since the sailboat-eating ferry had to be inspected for damage before returning to duty, no one was particularly hopeful. We sat in the car, played cards, enjoyed a dinner of cheese, grapes, and wine and got to know our neighbors in the ferry line from hell. At 5:30, we were again told that another ferry would arrive at 7 p.m. but that it would only be able to take thirty vehicles. The next transport would not arrive until 9 p.m. At this point, my partner jumped out of the car and urgently counted cars. I tried to be optimistic when I was told we were the thirtysecond car in line. Maybe they can squeeze us on, I thought. But I also wasn’t surprised when we ended up one car short. The honor of being the second car on the 9:00 ferry was somewhat lost on me, but the crew was sympathetic and we were finally on our way home. After about eight hours in the ferry line, four hours of sleep and an uneventful flight, we arrived to find our home intact with minor water damage. So back to the question at hand, the answer is: Despite all the doubts, confusion, obstacles, and forces conspiring against you, you take a deep breath—and maybe a sip or two of wine— and you go directly to the place you belong. You go home.


Editor’s Choice Experience


An Unexpected Hideaway A magical escape to Beaver Creek Lodge brings back a better version of myself By Jennifer C. Olson


riday could not have come soon enough. And, when it did arrive, it couldn’t end soon enough. But it did end. And I’m walking into Beaver Creek Lodge, just in time for happy hour. The welcome I receive as I somewhat wearily check into my room reverses my mood instantly. At many resorts, I sense the staff has an obligation to greet me as if I were Kate Middleton. At this lodge, though, it feels like the staff has been awaiting my arrival as if I were an old friend and as eagerly as I’ve been anticipating the weekend here. I need this retreat, want to indulge, and hope I do actually deserve the kind of relaxation I’m craving. Some women have kids, demanding vocations, professional athletic careers—compared to that, I have minimal responsibilities. Still, the weight of my job, travel, apartment, and long-distance relationship can feel suffocating. I put pressure on myself to exercise more, travel farther, dress better, cook fancier meals, and still have leftover energy, but sometimes it seems like more than I can manage, even though I should have more free time and fewer reasons to feel drained than most. I used to be a freely smiling, optimistic woman. Now, I’m worried that my anxious and high-strung behaviors are becoming so ingrained that they’ll be permanent elements in my adult personality, that I won’t be able to go back to the way I was. I can remember being that person, not even that long ago. But I can’t right now bring her to the surface again. Hopefully— although it’s a long shot—an outdoorsy yet decadent couple of days will call her back. A group of us gathers for tapas and wine on the lodge’s lantern-lit back patio, chatting about our upcoming raft trip and scouting out hiking routes in the mountains just steps away from where we are currently sipping and snacking. There are stairs toward the cobblestone path lead-

Beaver Creek lodge (beavercreeklodge.net) sits in this high-altitude and family-friendly village (shown above) in colorado’s high rockies. with extraordinarily comfortable guest rooms, stylish dining options, and an attentive staff, this handily located lodge also satisfies travelers with its artistic flair and a rich mountain vibe. ing over the mountain-fed creek and into the village, a covered bridge or two in the distance, and a statue right here among us that is only one of hundreds of stimulating pieces of original art on display at the lodge. Some kind of skewered meat is making the rounds and finding its way into my ever-happier mouth, and I learn it was locally raised and expertly prepared with herbs grown here at the lodge—in fact, in a garden just below the patio. Briefly, I consider whether this retreat is already blurring the lines between over-indulgent and deserving. Then, I decide it doesn’t matter. A

champagne toast before we turn in celebrates the start of what I hope will be a magical weekend. A river guide hands me a PFD and points me toward a rack of helmets. I fit the life jacket around my chest and carry my helmet outside to where a pair of vans is waiting (lakotaguides.com). Another guide is busy with a roll of mustache-printed duct tape, jerry-rigging a GoPro onto someone’s helmet. One gal in our group clicks the strap of her helmet together and looks up at me for approval. She has it on backward. This is going to be fun.

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travel Editor’s Choice Experience

At the put-in, we hop out of the vans and separate into two groups, one for each raft. I find myself among a crew that includes the gal with the backward helmet, an intellectual dude fresh from L.A., a pale-skinned military daughter, and an East Coast publicist. Our boat’s guide, a woman who left her job as a firefighter in Chicago for seasonal employment in the Rockies, has her work cut out for her. “One, two, three!” she—our leader, the one who’s supposed to escort us safely through the river’s obstacles—calls out, emphasizing the moments we are supposed to take simultaneous strokes, dig our paddles in and pull through the water together. The raft wiggles. We go nowhere. Three or four practice rounds later (a couple more than the other boats), we have it down. We are finally working as a team and will—it looks like—probably make it downriver whole. Our trip on the Shoshone section of the Colorado River toward the town of Glenwood Springs is fun. But, more than that, it’s gorgeous. The walls of Glenwood Canyon rise above the water, colorful and seemingly endless. We stop partway and dip in some undeveloped hot springs before our final float into town. Last week’s woes seemed centuries in the past. Salvaged beetle-kill-pine picnic tables are scattered about outside Crazy Mountain Brewery’s taproom (crazymountainbrewery.com), where we sit and spin tales about this morning’s raft trip. String lights are hung overhead, photographs and wall sculptures by local creative types hang on every vertical surface, and smells from a food truck in the parking lot tease our appetites. Flights of Adventurous Blonde and Old Soul Strong Belgian Golden Ale get passed around and we sip, tasting and sharing, noting what suits our individual palates. Here in the town of Edwards, CO, not far from the interstate, we’ve discovered a quaint local favorite—a hangout with the sort of charm you’d expect to find at a lesser-known ski area or in a wild and remote art town but not here, with the hum of I-70 just over our shoulders.

Leaving straight from the lodge, we walk up the local creek, past the village’s historic and stunning chapel, and into the canyon above Beaver Creek. We stop to identify flowers, berries, and mushrooms, examine trees, and admire the landscape, our guide pointing out common edible plants and warning us against poisonous ones. He encourages us to pick and eat salmonberries and shows the less-experienced hikers when to yield to mountain bikers and how to side step down steep parts of the trail. Crossing over bridges, under chairlifts, and across ski slopes, we traverse the mountain and loop back to the base of Beaver Creek after a while. Our stomachs are rumbling but we aren’t quite ready to stop exploring yet. So, at one of the mid-mountain hangouts, we order burgers and enjoy them in the sunshine, afterward heading out toward what’s called “The Wedding Deck” where we stand and gaze at the jagged and mysterious Gore Range stretched along the distant horizon. In the afternoon, sun-drained and worn from the altitude, a few of us soak in Beaver Creek Lodge’s secluded outdoor pool and try to forget that the weekend is coming to a close. It’s not over yet, though. First, drinks and mixology lessons on the mountainside patio, where the magic began less than 48 hours ago. As I pour a shot glass of jalepeño simple syrup into the tequila and lime juice mixture at the bottom of my ice-filled cocktail shaker, I look toward the week ahead. I think about the long drive back home, the days I’ll spend in the office, and the

“I can remember being a freely smiling, optimistic woman, not even that long ago. But I can’t right now bring her to the surface again. Hopefully—although it’s a long shot—an outdoorsy yet decadent couple of days will call her back.” household chores that must be done between work and workouts. Sure, next Friday seems decades away. But everything that stands between then and now feels less dreadful, more manageable—sunnier. When I check out in the afternoon and wave good-bye to my friends at the front desk, I notice a woman in the lobby who’s probably about my age but seems older, more closed-off and tired. She’s just arriving and seems irritated and impatient for the rest of her group to walk through the front door. For a moment, her emotions affect me and I’m bothered by her negativity, too, irked that she’s able to scowl unapologetically in this beautiful building in this friendly village. But, that was me on Friday night. I was that haggard guest in need of some rest and relaxation. As I slide into my car and pull away from Beaver Creek Lodge (beavercreeklodge.net), I can’t help but hope that a new perspective and an optimistic attitude weren’t impossible to achieve in one short weekend after all. It feels like I just needed a little time in the mountains: a dose of dirt and a sprinkling of high-altitude sun.

It’s Saturday and our crew is getting set for a guided hike. I’ve found that hiking with a local who’s trained to guide in the area is a really enriching way to explore, even if I’m not that far from home. Often passionate naturalists, hiking guides usually share their knowledge of native plant life and showcase the destination’s best trails and prettiest views. Beaver Creek Lodge hooked us up with an outdoor guide today who is no exception.


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what’s in your pack?


ospreypacks.com PHOTO / ANDREW MAGUIRE

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Camped along the banks of the Kluvesna River, Saya Furusawa fills her hydration systems in preparation for another day big day during a weeklong trek in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

a Beyond

The Emerald Isle’s Killarney Adventure Race A First-Time Adventure Racer’s Takeaways By Allison Pattillo The top of Mangerton Mountain was the highest point on the race course and also marked the halfway point of the second running leg.


t had been gray and drizzly since I arrived in Ireland, so feeling the warming sun as it crested the horizon was refreshing. The storybook landscape it illuminated was even more telling— lush, green hillsides dotted with sheep, farms surrounded by tidy stone walls, and my entire race wave almost out of sight in front of me. It was going to be a long day. I was in Ireland to run my first adventure race, and it had been a comedy of errors from the beginning. What began as the opportunity for an international group of journalist friends to run a stage race together eventually dwindled to just


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two of us making the trip to the Emerald Isle. I was doing the 69K division of the Helly Hansen Killarney Adventure Race and my friend signed on to run the 27K version. As a recreational runner and triathlete, and someone who always wondered “Could I?” while watching television coverage of the now-defunct Primal Quest and Eco-Challenge races, a one-day event with no orienteering seemed like an ideal way to test out the scene. And it was. The adventure racing culture is booming in Ireland, and, judging by the nationality of other racers, the United Kingdom

as well. Race organizers put on a dialed event and the course was stunning. Trail running portions climbed to the top of two peaks via delightfully soft and loamy paths. The resulting unobstructed views of lakes and pastures were worth every hard-earned step and wheezy breath. As for the cycling, I would travel back to Kerry County for the road riding alone. Riding up (of course) the Gap of Dunloe counts as one of the top five most memorable views I’ve experienced on a bike. And then there was the racing culture. This group knew how to celebrate a hard day of work—with warm food, good music, cold beers, and Japanese




Gear for the day included a wool hat, sun hat, gloves, sunglasses, gaiters, trail shoes, a wind and waterproof jacket, food, first aid and emergency kit, long sleeve shirt, triathlon shorts, buff, bike helmet, hydration bladder, and a pack. Some racers, especially for the shorter distances, skipped the pack and raced in bike jersey’s with loaded pockets. hot tubs loaded with you and four of your new best friends. Who could complain? Perhaps if I had selected a shorter race, I wouldn’t have fallen sound asleep at the dinner table and missed the subsequent pub-crawl, but I would have missed the Gap of Dunloe. A smart trade, I would say. Thankfully, I (re) learned some handy lessons along the way. The “I know better” lesson (I had two …) If you’ve ever done a race, you know that one of the most important things you can do is to familiarize yourself with the course. Accessibility may make laying eyes on the actual course impossible before race day, but any race website worth their salt will have detailed maps and elevation charts. And the Killarney Adventure Race certainly did, but I should have spent some more time becoming familiar with landmarks, distances, and elevation changes. If your race is large enough to have waves, make sure you are in the proper one. Because I was from the States and have run in a lot of races, the organizers assumed I belonged in the elite field. When I suggested a move back a wave, or several, to participate with the other mortals, they kindly teased that I was sandbagging. I should have insisted. Instead, I found myself watching the rest of the elite wave disappear over the horizon just a few minutes outside of T1. (In adventure race-speak, that means the first transition.) It was good incentive not to let the next wave catch me! An adventure race is different from a running race Basically, it’s an adventure. And adventure assumes some degree of personal responsibility. Sure, I had all of my own food, the compulsory race kit and plenty of water. But, there aren’t regular mile markers in an adventure race—can you say rookie mistake! On the running portions, I could accurately guesstimate my distance. But I got lost in my surroundings (metaphorically, not

literally) on the bike and had no clue how far I had to go. Had I studied the map more closely, it would have helped—refer back to lesson one. Gear is critical I opted to rent a bike in Ireland instead of traveling with mine. And, for this occasion, I still think it was a good choice. But I underestimated the bond that I have with my bike. Putting in thousands of miles on it means we’re a pretty dialed team. To suddenly be pedaling a new machine (albeit a nice one) in a race situation was a rude awakening. If I go the rental route again, I’ll definitely bring my own pedals, rent a bike as close to my ride as possible, and pick it up in time to go for a shakeout spin before the event. Prepare yourself for T3 and beyond In a running race, you run. In a triathlon, you have to deal with two transitions and one gear change. In an adventure race, there are multiple transitions (five in this race), gear changes, and activity changes. I’ll confess to pouting as I switched gears from getting drenched while kayaking on wind-frothed Muckross Lake to running to the top of Mangerton Mountain, knowing that I still had another sprint bike and sprint run to go. Looking at the race in smaller chunks, basically one activity or section at a time, made it easier to focus, plus more manageable when I was wet and cold.

All racers began the second running leg of the race on the same route. This was one of the few signs on the course.

Relax into the experience No matter your goal, it’s important to remember why you are racing. I wasn’t in Ireland to win. I was there to have fun, see a new place, and soak up the culture. Even though I finished well after my fellow elite wave racers, I won on every other front. Now that I’ve completed a one-day event, I know I have a long way to go before tackling a multi-day race, especially when it comes to logistics and orienteering. The reward of the experience was well worth the work. Now it’s time to hone my map reading skills!

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a Advocate

Climbing the Corporate Ladder in the Outdoor Industry OIWC Helps Women Advance By Chris Kassar


n 1848, a group of forward-thinking pioneers held the first-ever women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. After two days of spirited debate and discussion, 68 women and 32 men signed a document that outlined equality grievances, called for women’s voting rights, and set the agenda for the women’s rights movement. The Declaration of Sentiments also included 12 resolutions calling for the equal treatment of women and men under the law. Although women have come a long way in the last 166 years, the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (OIWC) exists because there is still work to be done—especially when it comes to achieving workplace equity, diversity, and inclusion in the outdoor industry. It’s not just that there are fewer female river guides, bike mechanics, or expedition leaders. Even in the manufacturing sector of the outdoor industry, women make up just a small percentage of the CEOs for these companies—from 10.5% to 15%. “OIWC is critical to all of the industries we serve [outdoor, bike, snow, and run] because companies with diversified leadership teams make better decisions and are more profitable,” says OIWC Executive Director Deanne Buck. Research shows that women have a dramatic and positive impact on growth and the bottom line for the companies in which they work. “While the percentage of women in leadership is low in the manufacturing sector of the Outdoor Industry, those companies who do have women leaders are more successful,” says Deanne, who has more than 15 years of nonprofit and outdoor industry work experience. “This supports the key idea that diversity in leadership teams—or women at the helm—increases company performance.” With Deanne at the helm of the OIWC, this fact drives and inspires the organization’s varied


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work. In an effort to promote advancement, the OIWC offers professional development, education, and leadership training. It’s about changing the paradigm. “OIWC has always been about creating an inclusive and welcoming culture for women and girls within the industry. From our ads to our sales staff, our CEOs, and trade shows, we strive to show the outdoors is a place where girls and women belong and can become bold, ambitious, and respected leaders.” How do you convince a woman that she can have a successful career in the outdoor industry? Introduce her to a woman that already has one. To this end, OIWC launched the first ever crossindustry, cross-company mentorship program in August 2013. The program seeks to increase female employee retention and career satisfaction by pairing women in manager/director-level positions with women at the VP/CEO level. Research demonstrates that women who make it to senior management want to lead, but without a strategic and visible commitment from their company to advancement opportunities, these women often get discouraged and/or leave the company. By facilitating one-on-one learning and professional development opportunities for women at the mid-management level, OIWC aims to reverse this trend by building a “more robust leadership pipeline of qualified women who are committed to careers in the outdoor industries,” Deanne says. “Providing the framework and investing in developing more women leaders, will—in time—help companies rebalance their executive committees, which in turn increases the likelihood of sustaining gender diversity at every level of the workplace,” explains Deanne. But, the OIWC doesn’t only serve as a resource for women within the industry; it has also become a trusted resource for the entire industry—men included—through research, the

development of best practices, and the creation of industry models focused on gender equity, respect, and inclusion. For instance, in 2012, the OIWC conducted a workplace survey. From their findings, they released a Workplace Report that critically detailed trends that consistently interfere with the industry’s ability to “move the needle on gender diversity at the leadership level,” explains Deanne. These include a lack of women leaders, a disparity in values that make for an ideal workplace, a low rate of working parents, and what has historically been the path to leadership. “In some ways, all of these revolve around what one could call ‘trail cred’ or our passion for activities. Our commitment to getting outdoors is a critical criterion on our résumés and, historically, the path to leadership in the industry has involved an enthusiast’s passion and an expert



skill level,” says Deanne, who is an experienced climber of 20 years. “For example, if you aren’t an accomplished traditional climber, the chance that you work heading up a department at a climbing company is slim, regardless of your knowledge of the product. We understand and recognize that this has been part of our culture; it’s about being ‘authentic.’ But, this isn’t conducive to hiring a gender-balanced workforce or to promoting women into top positions. We are doing a good job of connecting to passion, but the question we as an industry need to ask ourselves is: Are we doing it to the exclusion of other values that could increase our workforce diversity?” Deanne, who has worked in all aspects of the industry—at a climbing gym, as a river guide, as a marketing director for an outdoor specialty gear shop, as an attorney for companies in the outdoor industry, and as an advocate for conservation of and access to our treasured climbing resources—is just the woman to lead an organization forcing outdoor industry leaders to examine tough questions. “We believe it is not singularly a ‘lean in’ orientation, but our ability to be successful—and, thus enable our industry’s success—is also about honestly examining those business practices that limit greater diversity in the workplace.” For this reason, under Deanne’s leadership, OIWC has expanded their mission to include workplace diversity programming. “Over

the next year we will continue to build organizational capacity in order to serve as thought partners with companies and business leaders to develop customized solutions that build and sustain workplace inclusion.” Much like the small 1848 gathering that ignited the women’s movement, the OIWC was grounded in humble beginnings and motivated by lofty goals. What began in the mid-90s as an informal gathering of women interested in creating change has morphed into a formidable force working to create a culture where any woman who desires a career in any arm of the outdoor industry can aspire to and fulfill lifelong career ambitions—whatever they may be. And, luckily, Deanne, who took over for OIWC’s first Executive Director Sally Grimes in 2012, is up for the adventure of running a nonprofit with such a critical function. “Change is incremental and OIWC’s goal is to accelerate the change that already exists,” she says. “Just as with adventures, if I think about the whole, it can be overwhelming. The mindset I adopt is that I have the skills, confidence, experience, and—sometimes—luck to get through what is in front of me, be it a pitch during a climb, a weather event, or a very steep hill. I have the vision to understand that each part is integral to whole and I have the patience to be present.”



Take Action Join OIWC: Individuals and companies can join the OIWC. OIWC offers up to three networking or educational events per year in each of the organization’s seven regions. These events are a great way to connect with other members and learn from like-minded people who are passionate about their careers and the outdoors. OIWC offers webinars, mentoring, research, leadership and recognition awards, and keynote presentations. “There are many touch points between OIWC and our members. The biggest barrier to engagement is probably an individual’s hesitancy,” says Deanne. So don’t hesitate anymore. Go to oiwc.org and join. Volunteer: Build your network, enhance your leadership skills, and learn new ones. Some volunteer positions are long-term commitments, like being an officer or board member, while others are project-specific or short-term. You choose what you do and how much time you have to give. Donate: Every penny helps. Give at the level that works for you, knowing that each dollar expands the opportunities provided to help women in the outdoor industries achieve their goals. Click “Donate” under the website’s “About” tab. Apply for the Mentorship Program: Mentees may begin applying for the 2015 program in December 2014.

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a Dream Job


Kate Schade Founder and CEO of Kate’s Real Food Interview by Brigid Mander

In the mid-1990s, Kate Schade headed straight for Jackson Hole after college and got busy living the dream of all devoted skiers by skiing all day and paying the bills with waitressing jobs at night. Today, she is still busy and living a dream, but as the founder and CEO of Kate’s Real Food—a growing, nationally distributed energy bar company that she started and still runs from the foot of the Teton Range. We caught up with Kate to get her perspective on running a business in the outdoor paradise for which she moved west. Tell us a little about the inception of your energy bar company. I moved to Jackson right after I graduated from the University of New Hampshire, and I skied every day. I started experimenting and making bars for something good to eat outside: something that was tasty and that was easy to throw in a pocket. We didn’t stop for lunch at the resort, and of course in the backcountry you need to bring food with you. My friends loved the bars I came up with, and they were all like, ‘You need to sell these!’ But I was a ski bum. I didn’t want to stay at home and make everyone else bars. Five years later, though, I started to feel a little differently. I gave it a go, sold them locally in Jackson, and started making a little extra cash. How did you make the leap from ski bumming into business? I started the company officially with the Tram Bar in 2005. At first I was really busy; I was still waiting tables, making the bars, and fitting in fun. It was tough. And they didn’t fly off the shelves right away—it is hard with so many bars out there for buyers to choose from. We grew mostly by sampling and word of mouth, and we grew slowly. But we had really good backing from the start: store employees loved them and helped sell a lot of


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bars! That was great marketing for us. Now we sell coast-to-coast in shops, on our website, and on Backcountry.com. Have the bars evolved at all since the beginning? The recipe has changed a little since I started. When I first began selling the bars, one of my other jobs was working at an organic farm in Victor, Idaho, called Cosmic Apple in the summers. That was when I started to learn more about food and nutrition, the quality of ingredients, and the importance of organics. After that I changed the recipe to make the bars as organic as possible. Organic just makes a better product, and is better for the environment. I am working on getting the company Non-GMO Certified now as well. What about your job inspires you? Part of the vision was that I knew I could do more to support and promote organic farms and the environment if I grew a successful company than I could as an individual. I want to be able to use my company to give back and to support things I value, like the environment and getting people out and into outdoor sports.


Dream Job


Name: Kate Schade Stomping Ground: Victor, ID, and Jackson, WY Job Title: Founder and CEO of Kate’s Real Food, katesrealfood.com

How do you balance work and play now? There’s a little bit of everything in my days now. I check on the bar production, sponsorship emails, sales, marketing, expansion opportunities, and setting up tastings. This works for us. If people try the bars, they buy the bars! The office and the bar factory are in Victor, Idaho (on the west side of Teton Pass). We have six employees, and there are three of us in the front office. It always smells like peanut butter and honey; people who come to visit ask me how I can work in there, as it smells so good. But I don’t even smell it anymore. Life balance is the hardest right now. I try not to sit in front of my computer all the time, and to remember what life was like before running a business, and to make time for friendships and hanging out with my boyfriend. Part of the balance is clearing your head, because most of my life is Tram bars. I get out and exercise in my free time. I ski and backcountry ski almost everyday, and I ride my mountain bike in the summer, but dirt biking is the only thing that really clears my head from work! You just can’t be thinking about work and ride a dirt bike—I have to totally concentrate on the bike. And you do need to completely clear your head from work. It makes you more productive. When you began Kate’s Real Food, did you expect to become this successful? When I decided to really give it a go as a business, I wanted to take the plan seriously, live off the company, and grow it significantly. Now we are really strong in the Rocky Mountain region, and I believe we will be in independent groceries and Whole Foods stores all over the country. I know it. If we grow it right, it will happen.

“I want to use my company to support and give back to the things that I value, like the environment and outdoor sports.”

Do you miss being a carefree ski bum? I’m not a ski bum! Been there, done that. Finding peace in the balance right now is tough—that’s small business. But I get a lot of satisfaction from what we’ve built, the feedback from fans is so rewarding. In the future, I’ll have more free time for these things that I love.

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a Dream Job


Camille Edgorf Fly-Fishing Guide Interview by Heather Hansman

It’s telling that the license plate of Camille Egdorf’s truck reads “RIP LPS,” since that’s fishing slang for setting a hook when a fish bites. Fishing has been a part of every aspect of her life since she was in diapers, and now she’s making a career of it. When she was 18, Egdorf became one of the youngest female fly-fishing guides in Alaska. Being on the river is in her blood—her parents own a lodge on the Nushagak River, and she’s spent summers in Alaska since she was born. She became a guide of her own accord, picking up tips from other guides, and teaching herself to read water and understand flies. Since then, she’s established herself as one of the best female fly guides in the industry. In addition to guiding, she’s making films about fishing, hosting international trips, and, in her spare time, finishing college. When did you first dream about becoming a fishing guide? CE: I grew up spending summers in Alaska and had always loved fly-fishing and fishing in general, so I think part of it was just being exposed to it. When I was 15 or 16, I got the idea that I’d like to try being a guide some day. I remember watching the guys out in the river fishing and being enthralled. I think that’s where it all came from, being so engrossed. I remember picking up a fly rod at a pretty young age and not having any idea of what to do, but, from there, I caught a couple of fish and then I pretty much just picked it up on my own. When I turned 18, I started guiding on my own. Your family owns a lodge in Alaska. How did that influence you? My parents started the lodge in ’82, and I was born in ’89, so I was raised around it. I think it was just the atmosphere; the lodge that they started was a fly-fishing lodge, even though they didn’t fly fish much. My dad grew up in Minnesota and he’s always been an outdoor enthusiast. He always had this infatuation and drive to go see Alaska. After high school he went into the military and got his pilot’s license. He started flying for another lodge in Alaska. He’d fly up there in his little Super Cub spotting for herring. That’s where he met my mom. She’s from Idaho Falls, Idaho. She went to beauty school there, but she left to become a cook in Alaska. That’s where they met. They loved the lifestyle and the area, and I think I got that, too. What keeps you on the river? There are so many different reasons. The main reason I love it so much is that it lets me forget


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about everything else besides that fish on the river. I like getting out and completely decompressing. There’s also the drive to catch the next big fish. You never stop learning, whether it’s a different type of casting method, or different fish, or river. I love trout fishing. In Alaska, I like to mouse fish for rainbow trout. You use a fly that looks like a mouse and you skip it across the water like a mouse swimming. I just recently got introduced to salt water fishing and salt water is a whole new game. The fish are faster and bigger, and there’s more variety. There’s nothing better than a fish taking you into your backing in two seconds flat. You just got into salt water fishing. Does that mean you get to travel a lot? Yes. In October, I became a travel host for a company called Fishing with Larry. I spent some time in Brazil catching peacock bass. It’s so cool. I feel really lucky. What are the hardest parts of guiding? You have to be really upbeat and positive, even when the weather is tough, or you have a client in your boat that isn’t great. I’ve learned how to deal with different personalities and shrug off negative comments. This will be my seventh year guiding, and I feel like I’ve improved over the years.


Dream Job

Do people treat you differently because you’re a girl—and young? I feel that women have an advantage in some ways. At the end of the day you’ll often hear male guides talk about how they had the worst day ever, and how they had rude, crude clients who were being gross. I’ve never once seen that as a female. I think clients might be more gentlemanly when they’re with a woman guide. I also haven’t seen much discrimination. Actually, the only time I’ve seen that is from another woman, a client. She didn’t want me to be her guide. You have a film, “Unbroken,” in this year’s Fly Fishing Film Fest. How did you get into that scene? The whole filmmaking thing happened out of the blue. Two years ago, in May of 2012, I decided to buy a GoPro to document my experiences. I ended up shooting more than 100 hours of film, started editing, and ended up with my first film “Forget Me Knot.” I had only planned on sharing it with family and friends, but it took off, and now I’m on to the next one, which was picked for the film festival. In years past, I would go watch the


film fest and think about how cool it would be to have my own film in it. It’s a very surreal feeling now. I would like to make more films. I think I’ll probably have to graduate from GoPro to a different camera. What advice would you give other women who want to guide about learning to fish and breaking into the profession? I would tell them not to get intimidated. There’s a lot to know and it can be very intimidating, especially as a women. I’ve had clients ask me, “Are you sure you’re strong enough to row a boat?” Don’t let stuff like that get to you. If you’re not strong in a certain area, go out and practice; be upbeat and personable; don’t get discouraged. There’s a lot to learn.

Age: 25 Stomping Grounds: Alaska/Montana This fly-fish chick’s website: riplps.wordpress.com

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


a Try This

Downhill Mountain Biking No Pedaling Necessary By Melissa McGibbon


e are somewhere near Calca in the Sacred Valley of south-central Peru. My friend, Kelly, and I decided to squeeze some downhill mountain biking into our Andean adventures. I feel like I’m wearing more body armor than Iron Man, but that’s a good thing—my downhill mountain biking talent is a trifle on the thin side. I’m pretty sure even the llamas ambling about the hillside are laughing at me. Given my proclivity to gravity checks on bikes, this is not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but here I am and this is happening. A driver from Gravity Peru, our tour operator, picked us up at our hostel in Cusco early that morning to take us to the small mountain town of Urubamba. We were starting our tour there and meeting up with our biking buddies, Justin and Ryan, who happened to be staying in nearby Ollantaytambo to take advantage of the stunning terrain and burgeoning downhill mountain biking scene. The difference being that they are legit downhill riders, whereas the two of us are what you might call dabbling downhillers. The van dropped us at the top of the Abra Azulcocha mountain pass, which gave us a 4,265-foot vertical descent before the next shuttle rendezvous point in the town of Lares. I picked my line, scooched my rear as far back off the saddle as it would go (bike in front!) and headed full-bore down the gravely singletrack. My mind and body agreed—the simultaneous joy and fear were palpable. Though our guides were incredibly hospitable, I doubt they would be able to do much—barring prayer—if one of us were to snap a derailleur or, god forbid, break a bone. (How do you explain a femur traction splint in Spanish?) We took in majestic views of the famous Urubamba River flowing far below and snow-capped peaks jutting high above as we rode the grassy riverside trails passing through the ancient Inca roads that carved the desert highlands and deep canyons. There were many ruins, some waterfalls, a few stone huts built sometime in the 15th century, and llamas galore along the way. When we approached the small farming villages, Quechua children— known for their distinctive rosy cheeks and big dark eyes—would run up the hills to watch us ride and wave at us. I grinned ear to ear when I heard them shout, “¡Hay mujeres también!” Yes, girls, you too can ride bikes with the boys. We opted out of Los Baos Termales de Lares while stopped there for lunch because some of us didn’t pack hot springs attire. Plus, we thought we might never want to leave if we relaxed in the thermal baths too long. If this had been our last stop of the day, I would have been so down for a soak. Our driver took us back up to the mountain pass so we could lose another 4,993 vertical feet before reaching Calca and the end of the ride. There’s some spicy, exposed singletrack on the Inca road and that part was somewhat horrifying for me because it combined everything I’m not good at all at once. It was ruthlessly steep, narrow, winding, and featured rock gardens with unforgiving ancient Inca staircases. The best decision we made that day was taking the opportunity to cruise down a zig-zaggy isolated canyon road instead of riding the last 12 miles in the van on the way to Calca. This paved road has no official name, but is sometimes referred to by locals as the road to Calca. The towering siennacolored canyon walls were magnificent, but I was more focused on the rapid


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DOs & DON’Ts: DO: Give yourself time to acclimate to the elevation, unless you are a Sherpa, in which case you’re probably fine. DON’T: Forget your bikini. DO: Make room in your luggage for your protective gear, you’ll be glad you have it. DON’T: Try to DIY. Hiring a tour guide is not negotiable. There’s no signage and the terrain is remote. DO: Bring enough Soles to pay for your tour. Many guide services don’t take American dollars. Weird. DON’T: Take #selifes with the llamas. They are not cooperative.

elevation plunge. My eyes were watering, my knuckles were white and my bike was making a lot of noises—there was zero pedaling. The exhilarating minutes of my life that I exchanged for this particular experience were some of the best I’ve ever spent. We celebrated our safe passage to the Plaza de Armas at Calca with a round of Cusquenas, “The Premium Beer of Peru.” I’m honestly not sure there are other beer options in the entire country, so “premium” might be superfluous, but either way it was a befitting way to cap our ride. At the end of the day, Kelly jokingly posited that there might be something wrong with my brain because I seem to be missing the inner alert system that warns, “Danger! Danger! Do not proceed!” I’ll admit there could be some truth to that, but, hey, I only crashed like nine times during our nearly 10,000-foot descent and it was a very unique way to see the Peruvian countryside. After some I Love Lucy-style translating, we got a ride back to Cusco, where we concluded our feats with más Cusquenas, hot showers, and the sleep of the dead. womensadventuremagazine.com

I’m Proof


I’m Proof That…

You Can Whitewater SUP From Raft Guide with Pro Snowboarding Ambitions to Champion Standup Paddler By Jayme Moye


ost people try standup paddleboarding for the first time on gentle, flat water. Not Brittany Parker. Equipped with a friend’s old gear—a 10-foot foam board from Costco and a paddle held together with duct tape—Brittany attempted a Class III section of the Roaring Fork River. “I pretty much swam the whole time,” she says, laughing. “But I loved it. I think I went out every day for the rest of the summer to learn how to do it right.” Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, Brittany Parker has always loved board sports like skateboarding and snowboarding. She also loves the Colorado River, which flows past the town where she lives. But she never figured she’d combine the two. “I had aspirations to become a professional snowboarder,” says Brittany, 24. “Then I tried standup paddleboarding on the river.” It was 2011. Brittany was 19, and had the day off from her summer job as a whitewater rafting guide in Glenwood Springs. She was out on the river with friends doing a fun float when a buddy named Shaine glided by on a standup paddleboard. Brittany was so intrigued that Shaine offered to teach her how to run the river on a standup board. She went with him the very next day, hurtling through the Roaring Fork rapids on the gear he lent her. “I was fascinated,” remembers Brittany. “It looked a lot like surfing, which I’d always wanted to do but didn’t think was possible living in Colorado.” Standup paddleboarding, or SUP, has exploded in the last five years, growing from a handful of surfers SUPing waves in Hawaii to more than 1.5 million participants across the nation. But most of that growth has been among the ocean waves, or in the flat water of bays, lakes, and ponds. What captured Brittany’s imagination—river SUP, also known as whitewater SUP, remains largely unknown. Professional kayakers first began running rivers on standup paddleboards a couple of years ago in mountain towns in Colorado and Oregon. The sport is less popular than other flavors of SUP, perhaps due to its danger and difficulty. The thrill of river SUP comes from paddling through fastmoving water and rapids—the bigger the better. “At first, no one thought a standup paddleboard was a realistic way to get down moving water on a river,” explains Ken Hoeve, a Colorado-based

professional paddler dedicated to promoting the sport. “But people have proven otherwise. Plus, with better-suited designs and materials like plastic and inflatables, the equipment has gotten so much better.” While Hoeve doesn’t think whitewater SUP is any more dangerous than big wave surfing, he wears G-Form pads—pliable body armor—to protect himself on the river. “Rocks and water are what make rapids,” he says. “When you fall, pads give a little extra cushion and help reduce the risk of breaking something.” Rather than deter Brittany, whitewater SUP’s high barrier to entry inspires her. She credits her father, a former high school football player and marine, with giving her the confidence to handle tough sports. “I was an only child, and my dad always said he wanted a boy,” she says. “So he basically treated me like one. Or never treated me like a girl, anyway. He never made me feel like a porcelain doll.” Brittany’s biggest challenge in learning to SUP on the river was getting over the fear of falling. In whitewater rafting, falling into the water is taboo. As a former guide, it was programmed into Brittany’s head to keep her body in the raft and out of the water. But that mentality doesn’t work when learning to run rapids on a standup board. Falling is part of the equation. “I kept dropping to my knees every time I came up on a scary rapid so I wouldn’t fall off,” Brittany says. “Then I realized I was never going to learn that way.” “Brittany is a legit mountain chick,” says Hoeve, who met Brittany two years ago on the river. “She loves the outdoors, she’s got character, and she’s really tenacious. She’ll paddle with me in the middle of the winter.” Brittany progressed quickly—whether because of her background in board sports, her experience reading the river as a guide, her steely determination, or what friends call “constant stoke.” It wasn’t long before Shaine talked her into her first competition. “Actually, he didn’t have to sell me,” Brittany says. “All he did was mention he was going, and I wanted to go, too.” She showed up at the Rocky Mountain Surf Festival in Glenwood Springs with her loaner gear and an orange PFD—the kind that tourists wear—and immediately felt out of place. “It was the first time I’d met other SUPers—pros like

Nikki Gregg, Dan Gavare, the crew from Badfish,” she says. “They had these really nice boards. I had Costco foam and duct tape.” The newcomer with the wrong gear surprised everyone with a third-place finish. “I was even ahead of Nikki Gregg for a while, until I wiped out in the Class III section,” says Brittany. “After the race, Nikki came up to me and told me she was thinking, ‘I can’t believe this girl is beating me on a foam Costco board.’ I liked her instantly.” Nikki encouraged Brittany to seek sponsorship, and explained the business side of being a professional athlete. In Brittany’s next race, FIBArk in Salida, Colorado, she took second. She’s since gotten a new board (sponsored by Badfish), and secured seven other sponsorships, including Level Six and Werner Paddles. Last season, she was featured in SUP the Mag and won the women’s SUP Cross race at FIBArk. This year will be her most exhilarating challenge yet as she heads to Cascade, Idaho, in June to compete in the Payette River Games, the biggest whitewater SUP competition on the planet with the biggest prize purse—$50,000. She’ll go head-to-head with Nikki Gregg, her friend and mentor, plus nearly every professional and wannabe-professional SUP racer in the nation. “I heard that the gals from California—the ocean paddlers—are coming,” Brittany says. “There’s going to be carnage.” After a pause, she adds: “I love carnage.” You can practically hear her smiling over the phone line.

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


a I’m Proof I’m Proof That…

A Bountiful Life is Possible After A Cancer Diagnosis Ovarian Cancer Survivor Sheila Wright Offers a Candid Perspective By Jennifer C. Olson


he was in transition. Before retiring, Sheila Phelan Wright, Ph.D., led an adventurous and enriching lifestyle. She traveled with her husband when he taught overseas every winter, explored with her girlfriends, and visited the East Coast where their family lives. Her life revolved pretty much around learning new things and having a good time. And it still does. Just in different ways than she expected. “I had really just retired,” remembers Sheila, a former professor who is still involved with the University of Denver, local theater, and a couple of non-profits. “And I’d never thought about cancer, other than breast cancer. I figured everybody usually gets that.” But she admits that she knew almost nothing about cancer in general and had never considered that she might ever have it. In December 2010, she and her husband returned from a few weeks in India and immediately flew to Florida for Christmas on the beach with family. “While in India, I was recording the biography of a good friend and well-known artist in Dharamsala, Sarika Singh,” the now 72-year-old recalls. “I’d bump and thrash around in old, tiny rickshaws early every morning to get to Sarika’s, spending many days at her home, just being with her and her beautiful family. Life couldn’t have been more filled with adventure, grace, and joy.” Once in Florida, though, Sheila could hardly enjoy her family because she was crippled with stomach pain. “I kept ducking into the bedroom, taking a brief rest, missing time with my boisterous brothers, sons, sisters-in-law, and two young grandchildren,” she says. “I thought I had Delhi belly.” Her family suspected otherwise and took her to the hospital. It wasn’t a fleeting case of Delhi belly at all. The stomachache and constipation were caused by a tumor wrapped around her colon, and that wasn’t the only tumor in Sheila’s body. “There were lots of them and none of them benign,” she says. “I was diagnosed Christmas night in 2010.”


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Her diagnosis of Stage IIIC ovarian cancer didn’t really hit home for a while, though. “By [the time I was diagnosed], I was so out of it,” she remembers, saying she spent 16 days in the hospital that first time. “What finally did hit me was that I had ovarian cancer when I had just really retired, closing that part of my life. I had two big losses at once. That was tough.” When she hears doctors tell patients things like, “You have five years,” or “You have no years,” like—she laughs—they do on TV, she doesn’t really tune in. Sheila just can’t think much about death; like most people, she says that it’s terrifying. But after the diagnosis, she found herself thinking about what needed to be done on an everyday basis and, contrarily, planning for a future in which she might not exist. “It’s going from, ‘Oh my god, I have to get my will done right now,’ to ‘I have to find a place at the beach next year,’ and ‘What are we gonna do for Christmas? I have to buy some presents now and wrap them, because I won’t be around next Christmas.’” Except, Sheila was with her family for the Christmas after her diagnosis, and the next, and the next.

The Journey

After undergoing surgery in Florida and growing well enough to go home, Sheila started vigorous chemotherapy treatments back in Denver, even though the wound from her operation didn’t heal until September. But that was the relatively easy part. “Chemo is worse than having cancer. I didn’t know how depleted I was,” she says now. “And how depressed. I knew I was really depressed. Luckily, someone from my family—at least two people—called me every day. I had to be up for those conversations, especially with the little kids. “I think people really under estimate how a call—or a text or an e-mail that doesn’t have to be answered—makes a huge difference,” she shares.

“Sometimes it’s almost better to get a text or email, because there’s no responsibility back. It’s just, ‘Someone’s thinking of me. Cool.’” Knowing people cared enough to check in helped Sheila mentally, but she did her own part to self-motivate during recovery, too. “I finally thought, ‘I’ve got to get moving, see if I can even walk around the block.’ Positive thoughts came so much more clearly and quickly in the fresh air.” Walking continues to boost her spirits and help her physically. “I’ve had chemo now three times and it’s always been in the winter,” Sheila explains. “It’s dark and it’s grim. But when spring starts, everything is beautiful. And it’s hard to walk outdoors with the stars or the sun shining and not feel something so much bigger than I am and to not think, ‘It’s so great to be out here.’” Being off treatments also helps. “Once chemo is over and a few months have gone by, everything is normal. Everything is great,” Sheila remarks. “Treatment has affected chunks of time in a negative way. But then there are huge periods where everything’s fine.” Besides, she says, “I think I’m pretty strong willed. And I’ve been fortunate to have this great support system, so many connections and friends. I don’t believe in any way I can cure or get rid of cancer. But I can live the life I had before.” Now that she’s recovering from chemo for the third time, though, Sheila confesses that she’s less


I’m Proof


Name: Sheila Phelan Wright, Ph.D. Age: 72 Profession: Vice Provost Emerita of Undergraduate Studies, University of Denver Adventurous passions: “Walking parts of the Camino is one of my favorite things I’ve done. I love anything outdoors where there’s walking involved. And, travel. I been lots of great places” Extracurricular: HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation Ambassador willing and likely less able to travel to faraway places for extended periods. “Lots of travel dollars that I might have spent on trips to Indonesia or something now will be spent on going to the East Coast to see my family.” Speaking of family, this journey has actually had a positive effect on them as a whole. “It’s connected people in really magical ways. We’re just much closer,” she says. And it’s not just Sheila who is closer with one person or each of them individually; everyone is more tightly knit now. They spend time together at the beach, drawing even the family members who are the busiest and farthest away to Rhode Island for a week each year. “It’s loads of fun,” she says, adding that they’re already planning the festivities for next Christmas.

Action Versus Whining

“People have every possible suggestion to make, over and over again,” Sheila observes about what others say to people with cancer. “It’s just like, ‘Shut up! I’m doing what I think is right. I’m doing my best at this. And I’m not a slouch.’ But it is kind of interesting.” Instead of complaining or focusing on illinformed comments, though, Sheila took action. She became an ambassador for a nationally recognized non-profit ovarian cancer organization that provides funding for cutting-edge research grants to scientists at respected medical institutions. “I was really annoyed that nobody has come up with a way to detect ovarian cancer early or make chemo work without killing all the good cells. The HERA Women’s Cancer Foundation really cares about research, and I really care about research,” Sheila says. As a HERA Ambassador, she’s an advocate representing the foundation and furthering its

mission to stop the loss of women from ovarian cancer by promoting Health, Empowerment, Research and Awareness (HERA). Sheila’s wiser bit of advice to others with ovarian cancer? “Just find a way to get on with life. It’s such a cliché but you just have to get up and do it. That sounds harsh … it’s not easy.” At first, Sheila herself struggled. “I’d make myself meet someone for coffee at least twice a week, just to get out of the house, to talk and think about something other than me,” she explains. “That’s what happens when some people get chronically ill. You sort of have to become self-absorbed. But then your world is all out of balance. There’s the job of bringing it back to, ‘Yes, I’m important and I need to do all of this, but there’s more to the world than me and my sickness.’” Another indication that she’s feeling healthier is when little things that’d frustrate a person without cancer bug her, too. “I sort of pulled out my back moving a planter, and now I’m more annoyed about that,” she laughs. “It’s amazing how the body recovers.” “Women with ovarian cancer are living a little bit longer; you just can’t not take advantage of your time,” she says. She’s vacationing more with family and living as fully as possible while at home in Denver. “It’s just so incredible to be living life so well and with such bounty that I can’t imagine somebody in the Women’s Adventure audience not just wanting to continue. Because it’s such a great lifestyle.”

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Sheila Wright is from the Denver area. She is a member of the HERA board, a committed yogi, and a stage IIIc ovarian cancer survivor. You can see more about her story at herafoundation.org.

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


A Rare


Allure of the Elusive Mountain Man By Kate Siber


n the middle of Banff National Park, miles from any road or vestige of civilization, a glacier steamrolls down a valley. On a weekday in April, its white-grey hue perfectly matches the fog-bleached sky and the muted snow of the peaks, creating a monochrome of white.

I’m on skis and connected by rope to a friend ahead of me and a friend behind me, because under the snow lurk great gashes in the ice known as crevasses. Above, the landscape’s only darkness—a granite band of cliffs—threatens with icefalls, and a series of seracs loom to the left. Our guides directed us not to stop skinning for some 1,800 vertical feet of climbing, so I slide one ski after the other methodically, watching the rope inch ahead to the rhythm of my friend’s footsteps. The night before, our guide Steve told me a harrowing story. One blue-sky day when he was climbing in the mountains, a house-sized serac like one of these loosened above and fell directly toward him and his climbing partner. “This is it,” he thought. He dug into the ice with his axes, his feet dangling, his head down. Inexplicably, the serac broke into two great pieces and only its meteoric debris hit the pair. They escaped with just broken ribs and a shattered ankle between them. On the glacier that day, I understood what Steve meant when he talked about the strange peace that comes when faced with such beautiful, terrifying risk. This was my first backcountry ski trip, and I didn’t notice Steve at first, not in the Canmore, Alberta, outfitters’ office, where he and the other guides checked our group for the proper array of 44

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mittens, layers, skis, beacons, and shovels. Not in the first granite gorge that we skinned up, which glowed with a fresh coat of snow. Not even at our first hut where we ate soup and gathered around wooden tables to watch the alpenglow ebb from the peaks. I did notice Steve when he unfurled his sleeping bag right next to mine in an empty corner of a bunk designed to pack in skiers like sticks of gum. “Hey,” he said. “Nice sleeping bag.” He smiled. We stayed up ’til 2 a.m. whispering. Over the next few days, Steve made excuses to sit next to me, to skin up icefields beside me, and to lay his sleeping bag next to mine every night. It seemed an unlikely attraction. I am a pale, risk-averse bookworm. He was a strapping mountain-man cliché straight out of a Patagonia catalog. A ski and rock-climbing guide, he was 6’4” with tanned skin, a square jaw, and a Crestwhite smile. It was easy to fall for Steve in such a gorgeous, dangerous place so far from the strictures of everyday life. We climbed up peaks together and arced turns through buttery slopes. Late at night, we snuck outside in our long underwear to marvel at the stars that cluttered the sky. In the morning, I watched him rinse dishes, his athletic frame backlit by the hut’s window and ensconced in steam. Everyone else seemed to disappear.

The night we descended from the park, the group met at a brewery in Canmore. After, outside on the sidewalk, Steve invited us all for a nightcap. Like everyone else, I was exhausted and turned to leave, but then something made me stop and turn around. Blind curiosity, perhaps. In the dim, wood-paneled bar, we ordered whiskey and retreated to a corner. Last call seemed to come in minutes, and we stumbled out into the cold, where a fresh storm silenced the streets. My flight left early the next morning, and I intended to walk back to my hotel room. But the silent, dreamy landscape seemed to magnify my late-night stupor, and I found myself instead walking with Steve toward his home. He didn’t ask if I wanted to come in. He just held the door, and I stepped inside. At first, I thought of Steve as nothing more than a mystery soon to become a lovely, distant memory. I knew anything more would be a joke. He was a risk-seeking mountain guide. I’m a teadrinking overthinker. He lived in Alberta. I live in Colorado. We’d need visas just to live in the same town. I’m practical to a bore, so it irritated me that I couldn’t help but daydream about running off together to live in a mountain cabin with only candles and a woodstove and stream water. But perhaps the impossibility of it was part of the appeal. womensadventuremagazine.com


The mountain man is a rare but wide-ranging breed with a lot of individual variation. I have always fallen for men who are more ablebrained than able-bodied, and Steve did not fit my preconceived image of a partner. The daughter of a staunch feminist, I fancied myself too evolved to fall for a hunky mountain man with outsize biceps. But it’s hard to deny the biological appeal of men who work outside, whose hands are rough and scarred, whose faces are chapped by the sun. In meeting Steve, I realized that the allure actually went deeper than appearances. Like cowboys—that other great cliché of North American masculinity—mountain men seem to exhibit a free-roaming spirit that is so hard to find in their city-dwelling counterparts. Mountain men seem so capable, so aloof to the trivialities of modern life, and so unconcerned with vanity. The stereotype connotes masculine qualities that seem to be in such short supply these days—loyalty, decisiveness, strength, self-reliance. I never realized I’d wanted those things. Steve was obviously more than a stereotype. He wasn’t exactly a grizzled longbeard in buckskins and a bear claw necklace. He drank cappuccino and read poetry, but he was also undeniably a man of the high hills. He grew up in a rough mill town in northern Canada and when his dad died early, he sought solace in the mountains. There was still something a bit wild and unfinished about him.

Steve and I started to email, chat on Skype, and talk on the phone several times a week. He wrote me long, detailed letters, and I returned them. A fling evolved into an ambiguously romantic friendship, and by summer he planned a trip to Colorado. In a way, I dreaded him coming, partly because I was nervous to see him and partly because I didn’t want this reverie to end. I picked him up at the Denver airport one windy July day, and we roamed south with reckless spontaneity, stopping at a crocodile farm and a UFO-spotting tower in the desert. We hiked into the shifting hills of Great Sand Dunes National Park, where thunderheads rambled across the sky. We dug our bare feet in the sand and let the rain prick our skin. Because I only knew him outside of my daily routine, Steve was more fun and hot and interesting than anyone who could exist in the context of normal life. Soon I’d realize that he suffered from the same delusional thinking—but for someone else. One moonless night, as I steered to the sound of a low bleating radio over Wolf Creek Pass, Steve told me about a girl he had fallen in love with the previous summer, a woman he had only mentioned briefly before. Elena, too, had been a client of his. He taught her to ski and ice climb while she was on a semester-long break from college. When she went back to school, they split

ways to pursue their disparate life paths. But he still pined for her, despite her absence—or perhaps because of it. He described her as a sort of perfect modern-day mountain woman: coolheaded, capable, rugged, athletic, smart. I pretended to sound sympathetic. Steve went back to Canada and we continued to call and email in between his wilderness expeditions. We became best friends and confidantes, and I was terribly honest about every aspect of my life, except my desire for him. I’d craft emails carefully so they sounded casual. I went out with guys only so I could tell him about it. I couldn’t concentrate at work and checked email like a Pavlovian mutt. The longer I didn’t see Steve, the more dreamy he became. I frequently googled him to find articles about his climbing adventures that stoked my visions of him as some Greek god walking out of the misty alpine tundra. Slowly he became more of a character in my head than a real person. The more I secretly obsessed over him, the more he obsessed over Elena, and I became fascinated with the idea of her. I also googled her and found evidence of her own climbing exploits and even a college photograph. It felt ugly and possibly illegal, but I couldn’t keep my fingers off the mouse. It was too easy to fit whatever materials WAM • SUMMER | 2014



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I found into a juicy—if mostly false—story of their lives. I think of myself as a rational person. I knew I was being ridiculous—more like insane—and that it had to stop. So six months after Steve and I met, I dashed off an email with the truth: I had feelings for him, and if he didn’t feel the same way, we had to stop talking. Before I could regret it, I clicked send. Three agonizing days ticked by before his response pinged into my inbox: He was surprised, and no, he didn’t feel the same way. The next day was the day before Thanksgiving, and I flew from Colorado to Boston to see my family. Denver International Airport was a blur of passengers, but as I rode the escalator up to the second-floor food court, I noticed someone familiar coming down the other side. It was her, Elena. My curse is that I never forget a face, and hers— the emblem of some unknowable perfection—was indelible from that college photo I had found online. In my vain stupor, I had to know if it was really her. Could we really have crossed paths in an airport crawling with tens of thousands of people on the busiest travel day of the year? While I would usually read a book on a threehour layover, I instead ambled the airport, toting my heavy duffel bag. “I’m stretching my legs,” I told myself. Half an hour later, in an empty waiting area, I spotted her. My cheeks flushed. My palms turned clammy. I walked away. But I had to know, so I turned around and walked purposefully over to her, trying to breathe, trying not to trip on the carpet. The girl had long blonde hair, a petite, athletic build, and full cheeks. She wore jeans and sneakers and carried a tattered technical backpack that clearly had been used for more than just books. She looked healthy and new, like the fresh-faced college student she was. “This is going to sound crazy,” I said, “but are you Elena?” I sighed shakily and hoped she’d say no. “Yeeeees.” She hesitated. “Who are you?” It turned out that Elena knew who I was, even though she and Steve didn’t talk much anymore. Steve was right: She was coolheaded, even while faced with a sweaty, red-faced, slightly deranged woman in an airport. She was surprised that I recognized her from a photograph, but she wasn’t alarmed, even though a baseball-capped teenager nearby looked at me, frowned, and muttered, “Dude, that’s creepy,” before wandering away. As much as I don’t like to admit that I had become obsessed, meeting Elena was fortuitous. Meeting her made me realize that she wasn’t the goddess Steve helped me imagine. She was a friendly, pretty, promising 21-year-old with a tattered backpack and a ponytail. Cute, but mortal. Relief wrapped around me like a familiar old coat, and over the next few days, I started to feel like my normal self again. Thoughts of Steve started to loosen and drift away. Perhaps, I thought, meeting the object of his obsession helped cure me of my own. In realizing that Elena was real, he

became real, too, not the perfect mountain-man character I had sculpted in my imagination with the help of phone calls, emails, search engines, and the dangerous elixir of distance. Yes, Steve was interesting and adventurous and had the body of an underwear model. But, looking back on our conversations, I began to realize that if I had spent more time around him, his moodiness, self-absorption, and goofy jokes would have grated on me. In time, he would have become a real person, with real virtues and real faults, just like me and just like Elena. Three months later, I happened to be in Banff, Alberta, for work, and Steve drove 30 minutes from his home to meet me at a bar. My heart didn’t race. My palms didn’t sweat. The dim light of the wood-paneled bar seemed, oddly, like the perfect light in which to see him as I hadn’t before. Here was a tall, athletic, slightly balding ski guide in dirty bibs with a toothy grin and an endearingly dorky sense of humor. I felt a warm fondness for him but nothing more. We exchanged our goodbyes and he drove off in his

“I knew I was being ridiculous— more like insane— and that it had to stop.” purple minivan, a vehicle that was so unmanly I couldn’t help but laugh. Meanwhile, I started to date guys without the sole intention of telling Steve about them. But there was one thing I was grateful to Steve for teaching me: I like my men both able-brained and able-bodied, if possible. In Durango, Colorado, where I live, it turns out that there are more than enough young, bearded, mountainloving types to go around. Some might say too many—the ratio of men to women is notoriously skewed in these small mountain towns. However, it seemed exceedingly difficult to find one with the same allure as Steve. Partly this was because the men here are real people. Their foibles are immediately apparent, from the inability to form a cogent sentence without the word “bro” to unusual personal-hygiene policies—or lack thereof. But the real problem was not them. It was me. I had moved from fantasizing about Steve to projecting my unrealistic desires and expectations onto other people, such as one tall, tanned man with a big nose and corkscrew brown hair who frequented my hot yoga class. As we performed sun salutations in unison in the steamy, windowless room, I imagined him as a strapping woodsman with a cabin in the hills outside of town. It

was plainly ridiculous, but I happily spun a false yarn about him anyway. One night after class, I said hi to hot yoga boy. And when he said hi back, my daydreams went poof. His voice didn’t sound at all like I had imagined. Suddenly, he was not the character I had created but a blank slate—a mystery. After three more classes, a few conversations, and several hints, Andrew asked me out on a backcountry-ski date in the mountains north of our home. That day a storm dusted the slopes with fresh snow and dropped a dreamy haze over the mountains. In this quiet hinterland, it was easy to start falling for a strong, scruffy-faced dude who looked so light and effortless on his skis. Back at home, I couldn’t resist the temptation to google him, but luckily his name appeared only seven times on the Internet: a few hockey and bike-race rosters and a college dean’s list from years ago. No photographs. No dirt. He didn’t even have a Facebook page. I soon found out that Andrew doesn’t really email and is about as talkative as a sea turtle on the phone. When I met him, he didn’t even know how to text message. Often, he would simply stop by my house while walking the dog to say hello and see if I was cooking something good for dinner. I would need to get to know him the old-fashioned way: in person. So we hiked up mountains and skied down them in the winter. We went to yoga classes and learned to paddleboard on the river. Along the way, I opened up to discovering him for who he is rather than seeing him within the limitations of a story I had already written. Strangely, Andrew wound up being a classic man of the mountains in many ways. He owns no buckskins or coonskin cap (thank God), but he does have a wolf dog, an ability to fix or build pretty much anything, and a talent for chopping wood for—you guessed it—his house in the mountains. He loves to roam and he’s strong and capable and adventurous. He is often bearded and just a little bit dirty. He’s strong and loyal and uncomplicated by the neuroses so typical of my overly urbanized ex-boyfriends. Best of all, Andrew is a real person, not a dusty stereotype. He has fears and feelings, dirty socks, and bad habits. Five years after we met, Andrew proposed to me on top of a blustery ski hill, and I said yes. Our story, of course, doesn’t end here. Marriage is how our story continues, but we decided to celebrate our wedding with a cheeky nod to our favorite place. According to a quirky, old wedding tradition in the mountains near our home, the groom must cart his bride around town in a wheelbarrow. I have no idea why, and, at first, I wasn’t so keen on this idea. But Andrew outfitted a wheelbarrow with sheets, pillows, and ribbons and convinced me to give it a try. It wasn’t so bad. So after we married in a sunlit meadow surrounded by our friends and family, I let Andrew pick me up in my long white dress, place me gently in the wheelbarrow, and cart me away. WAM • SUMMER | 2014



RunningDrug Psychology, ultrarunning, and the female body By Ashley Arnold


hen I first started running in high school, it was simply because running was an inconvenient requirement needed to get over hurdles on the track. If someone asked me to run more than 400 meters, I laughed. After all, who in their right mind would want to run long distances? I was a sprinter. And runners? Runners were, in my mind, insane.


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At least that’s what I thought during my freshman year of high school, 14 years ago. Less than one year ago, I ran and won my second-ever 100-mile race, Colorado’s famous Leadville Trail 100 (which is 402 laps plus some change around a track, by the way). Somehow I’d become one of those insane runners. And I loved it. Ultrarunners are runners who train for and compete in races longer than a marathon. When I moved to Colorado about five years ago for an internship with Trail Runner magazine, I started seriously running trails. I was lustful for dirt and mountains and wide-open vistas above tree line. I spent weekends in the wilderness. And, if I missed a run, I was miserable. I registered for races, and as soon as I finished one and had to rest and recover, I was depressed. Ultrarunning became my drug of choice, albeit a healthy one when compared to a myriad of abused substances … but still a drug. Except it doesn’t have to be. I’d like to think I’ve learned a great deal about how to balance my health as an endurance athlete. But before I learned that balance, I certainly experienced physical and mental health disturbances that result from too much of an activity that I assumed was doing nothing more than serving me. And, I reasoned, if I experienced the downsides of my sport, then other women probably did, too. Don’t be frightened. Even with the little data that we do have (there isn’t very much, since ultrarunning is a nascent sport), ultrarunners are, on the whole, a rather healthy bunch. In fact, a recent study published in PLOS (Public Library of Science) concluded that “compared with the

general population, ultramarathon runners appear healthier and report fewer missed work or school days due to illness or injury.” The only negative results from the study of more than 1,000 ultrarunners indicated “a higher prevalence of asthma and allergies than the general population.” And the higher rate of asthma is likely due to the amount of time ultrarunners spend outside in our environment and its poor air quality, rather than the actual running. For women in particular, though, a 2013 study published by the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism indicates that the female athlete population— endurance athletes in particular—have a higherthan-average risk for iron deficiency anemia. Evidence that “the iron-regulating hormone hepcidin is transiently increased with acute exercise,” suggests that this mechanism leads to anemia. Plus, after long bouts of an activity like ultrarunning, we experience increased gastrointestinal blood loss, increased cell turnover, and hematuria; not to mention the blood loss associated with menstruation. Still, something like this is easily managed with keen attention to diet. And to be honest, I don’t know many female runners with iron deficiencies. (Perhaps it’s because the successful runners I know closely monitor themselves to ensure they are receiving all the required nutrients.) But my intuition told me there was a more complex story at hand, one that had more to do with psychology than anything else. So I talked to fellow female runners, and medical professionals familiar with the sport, to find out more.

Stress, self worth, and the nervous system While, according to the Mayo Clinic, running has been proven to pump up your endorphins, provide in-motion meditation, and improve your mood, there’s still the old adage: too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. As people who run a lot, this is an easy obstacle to come up against. Take Boulder, Colorado, ultrarunner Gina Lucrezi for example. “Training is a major part of my life. Actually, it is my life,” says the 31-year-old who recently quit her full-time job to focus on training and racing trails. “When it isn’t going well, or when I’m injured, everything else in my life seems to be affected. If I have an awful workout, I’ll be bummed all day. On the contrary, if the workout goes really well, then I’m having the best day of my life.” It’s as though we sometimes cannot avoid letting our success and setbacks (good workout vs. bad workout, for example) as runners dictate our value as people. And it’s a slippery slope, explains Functional and Chinese medicine practitioner Tressa Breindel, a Boulder-based ultrarunner herself, who focuses much of her practice on neuroendocrine-immunology. “Maintaining rigid ideas of self causes us stress,” says Tressa. “For a female ultrarunner, this may mean that the goals you choose are reflections of who you think you are and what you think you need to be OK [either in your own eyes or in the eyes of others].” She heeds caution, saying we might tune out our physical or emotional needs in the pursuit of these mental constructs: I am an athlete, or success = x, or, if I don’t train this much, I will be slow/fat/no good/people will think badly of me/I’m not tough. And psychological stressors such as these add an even heavier load to the already-present stress innate to endurance training and racing. But, on the flip side, Gina says: If we do accomplish something amazing—like running 100 miles for example—we feel completely elated. When I finished Leadville for the first time in 2009, I started crying. It was my first 100-miler and even the thought of running the distance made me tired. (I did fall asleep during the race several times.) While on the course, I spent nearly 24 hours ricocheting through what felt like every possible emotion. I crossed the line exhausted, amazed, and so very thankful that I could do something so seemingly gargantuan as run 100 miles. WAM • SUMMER | 2014


Then, in 2013, when I won, it felt easy. I’m sure this was partly due to the fact that I had run the course before. I could imagine every step and could visualize the result. But still, I was having, as Gina says, “one of the best days of my life.” But why? Well, for one, I allowed the unnecessary stress of thoughts like, “Can I do this?” or “I’m not in shape,” to slip away, and instead focused on only the task at hand: run, eat, drink, repeat. It felt easy. Wonderful. “We are far more powerful than we ever thought possible,” chimes in Elinor Fish of Carbondale, Colorado. Elinor is an ultrarunner, former managing editor at Trail Runner magazine, and the host of Run Wild Retreats, specialized trail running and yoga retreats for women. “Ultrarunning gives us permission to push ourselves far outside our comfort zone to do something

“Somehow I’d become one of those insane runners. And I loved it.” daring, even a little dangerous. In that process, we tend to discover the depths of our power and strength.” So, if we are able to discover our strength through ultrarunning, we will only get stronger and stronger, right? Well, that depends on what you do post race. “Your body can’t tell the difference between you choosing to do all this physical activity and it needing to do it in order to survive,” says Tressa. “So, it will keep pumping out the necessary signals to keep you going … until it can’t.” Your overworked system is demanding rest. “I often see people riding this sort of inexplicable ability to train a lot or keep training after a long, hard race, even to their own disbelief,” Tressa says. “If they take advantage of this, they will often dip into a level of deficiency and fatigue from overuse that takes quite a while and some concentrated effort—or non-effort, really—to heal from.”


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The Withdrawal Effect Unfortunately that “healing process” can, with the wrong outlook, feel miserable. Until I recognized there were other activities I could pursue during my off-season that I couldn’t pursue while running, I, too, was part of the misery train. I was cranky, restless, and felt almost sick sometimes when I couldn’t run. Like any drug addict, I was suffering from withdrawal. “Ultrarunning causes endogenous opioids (endorphins) to be released,” says Dr. Dave Young, an emergency physician in Boston who has spent time studying ultrarunners. “I can only guess that when people run long distances, they may become tolerant to endorphins, similar to opiate abusers developing tolerance and requiring a higher dose to get high. “If this tolerance develops, then it is possible that an individual could experience withdrawal from endorphins, resulting in depressed mood, restlessness, agitation, and increased pain.” Still, he confesses, it’s a difficult area to study given the inherent variability in mood from person to person and situation to situation. And, while there may not be a medical study providing conclusive evidence on this topic today in relation to ultrarunners in particular, I can assure you there is no denying that post-race depression exists. “There is a lull that comes after a big event,” says longtime elite ultrarunner and former Women’s Adventure cover subject Krissy Moehl of Boulder, Colorado. “After months of focusing and training, it can be difficult when it’s accomplished. I’ve found that I need to avoid scheduling ‘what’s next’ after a big event and instead focus on recovery. It’s just as important as a race goal.” While Krissy admits it’s been hard for her in the past to take recovery seriously, she’s realized that after a race she is “not only physically exhausted, but also exhausted at a deeper nervous system and immune system level.” So what does she do? “I like to work on other things like yoga, climbing, reading, cooking, cycling, and writing—all of the activities I don’t really get to do when spending the majority of my time running.” Another longstanding Boulder-area elite ultrarunner agrees. “I have certainly experienced what I call ‘post-race blues’ after long races and heavy training cycles,” says Darcy Africa. “I think that when I’m running a lot, my endorphins are firing, and when I take a break right after, everything slows down. I try to always have something on the calendar to look forward to so as to avoid that downturn.”

Hormone Imbalances But truthfully, to some extent, the downturn can’t be avoided. And here’s why: During an ultramarathon our bodies are forced to pump out tons of hormones in order to maintain basic homeostasis. “During the race, the receptors for hormones and neurotransmitters are flooded,” says Tressa. “This causes an at least temporary down-regulation of receptors on the brain cells and synapses.” As soon as the race is over, we stop this highlevel hormone secretion, and what happens? Fewer receptors equal less signaling to the brain cells, and as a result, depression. Further, depression, anxiety, and mood disorders are now looked at as states of inflammation, something we certainly experience after ultrarunning. “Researchers noticed that when people are sick they feel depressed, in the same way that people who are depressed feel—even though they aren’t, technically—sick,” says Tressa. “When we look at chemical signaling in depressed people, we actually see a lot more inflammatory signaling than in normal controls.” Not only do said hormone changes dramatically affect the brain, for females, this depletion also affects our cycles. (If you add post-race iron deficiency anemia to this, you’re in for a hell of a ride.) “A menstrual cycle requires energy to prepare the uterus for implantation of an embryo, and the loss of blood and tissue when no embryo is implanted must be regenerated by the body,” says Dr. Young. “In situations of extreme stress, the body undergoes many physiologic changes to preserve energy, and it is presumed that, for women, this non-essential process is halted. Of course, in situations of extreme stress, becoming pregnant isn’t ideal for the mother or fetus, and therefore, in amenorrheic women, it is avoided.” For every handful of women who experience amenorrhea that I’ve met, though, I’ve also met a dozen who train and race hard and still main-

tain regular cycles. Darcy is one of them. And I’m willing to bet it’s because she’s “tuned in” to her body’s needs. “When I’m training, I have to pay close attention to how much I eat,” she says. “When I’m training a lot, I eat a lot more. I’m not a calorie counter, but when my appetite increases, I pay attention.” While Krissy admits to having struggled with irregular periods when she first started running, her ability to pay attention to her body has alleviated the issue. “In college, my cycle was not regular. Once I turned 26, I decided I was not okay with having an irregular cycle and worked with a doctor to learn what I could do to improve nutrition, training, and stress to ensure I was on track,” she says. “Having a regular period is a healthy sign to me that my body is getting what it needs along with training and racing long distances.”

Keeping the balance Krissy’s words are vital for us to understand if we wish to be healthy female athletes. Off-balance hormones mean an off-balance body. As of now, there are few—if any—conclusive studies about the long-term effects of ultra endurance sports and the female body. And yet, the truth is, science only goes so far. In the end, we have to learn to really pay attention to our own bodies, because we’re all different. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re going to get injured. And most of us in this sport aren’t only interested in running long now. We want to be able to keep running throughout our entire lives. Perhaps the best thing to do then, offers Tressa, is meditation. In fact, she prescribes it to every client she sees—she says that our ability to meditate is directly related to minimizing the stress to our homeostatic system. There’s new research to back up her claim. According to a study by the Biomedical Research Institute of Barcelona published in Feb. 2014, “mindfulness meditation can alter neural, behavioral, and biochemical processes.” So perhaps it isn’t the number of miles we run each week, the foods we eat, or even the hours of sleep we get—although those are certainly important for an athlete to tune into—maybe it’s meditation that will make or break the running drug. Let running just be that: running. And I should point out some anecdotal evidence here: Every dissatisfied female runner I know scoffs at meditation. “Our warped mental constructs of self-identity, which we often were taught by our parents and others or decided about ourselves as a result of environment at a very young age,” says Tressa, “keep us from truly attuning to ourselves. And only from being able to attune to ourselves can we maximize our full potential.”

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Women of the Water CAMARADERIE COuNTS in BOATING By Jennifer C. Olson


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It’s just another day, another few miles, another adventure in the course of a journey almost two years underway and far from complete. Considered the safest and most scenic waterway in the world, The Great Loop is a protected and navigable 5,600-mile waterway that passes through 25 of the United States. Michigan natives and best friends since childhood, Jessie Brave Zevalkink and Katie Ariel Smith are co-captaining a sailboat named Louise for the duration of this route (katieandjessieonaboat.com). Starting from their hometown of Northport, MI, in September 2012, the two 25-year-old women—and Katie’s dog, Reggie—headed down Lake Michigan toward Chicago where the lake meets the Illinois River. The Illinois leads to the Mississippi river, but the pair followed the TennTom Waterway—instead of taking the Mississippi River route—all the way to the gulf. “Tenn-Tom has less commercial traffic, more marinas, anchorages, places for fuel, showers and food,” Jessie says, “which is catering to people that are boating the great loop—a.k.a. ‘Loopers.’ I have also heard it is cleaner, prettier, and a more enjoyable adventure than the Mississippi River.” Since there are low clearance bridges throughout the route, they took down Louise’s mast in Muskegon, MI, and motored the entire river system. So when Jessie, Katie, and the Louise ended up in the ocean after passing through Mobile, womensadventuremagazine.com

Photos Courtesy of Jessie Brave Zevalkink and katie ariel smith

atie’s rich brown hair and Reggie’s pink tongue flap in the wind as Katie kayaks to shore and reaches to haul up the anchor. Back on the sailboat, Jessie is checking the oil and starting the engine, eventually outfitting the cockpit with food, water, a hat, and sunscreen— everything she’ll need for the next ten hours. When Katie and the dog climb back aboard, they settle into their usual spots: Katie on the deck with cookies and a book, Reggie sprawled on the floor of the Louise. Jessie creates her own comfy spot on a folding boat chair and spends the day keeping the boat on course. Suddenly ten hours have passed and the posse is anchoring again.

Photos Courtesy of red lady raft raCers

Alabama, they got the mast re-stepped and were able to set sail along the inter-coastal waterway. Katie and Jessie grew up sailing with their fathers but are now learning as they go. “Never had we ever had to make any decisions as captains before,” Jessie says, explaining that they embarked knowing very little. “We had never anchored, sailed in strong winds, been through a lock, talked to barges on rivers, and dealt with currents or tides. I had docked a boat maybe five times.” Which may be part of why this whole adventure began as a running joke. They lived in different states and occasionally kidded about sailing the Loop like Jessie’s father did in the 1970s. But their jokes evolved into plans and the plans led them to purchase and fix up a boat for the trip. “We spent a summer preparing Louise for departure,” Jessie says, explaining that they moved back to Michigan to refurbish her together. “It was almost one year from jokes to reality.” So, aboard their 1979 CAL 2-27, they are free to just be two young women trying to solve problems, making classic mistakes, and continuing a grand adventure with little knowledge and a low budget. “When our bank accounts show less money than our credit card bills, it’s time to park,” they explain. They’re not completing the ambitious journey in one big push. After finishing half of America’s Great Loop, they spent the first winter of their adventure working in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Last summer, they cruised the Bahamas before heading back to Michigan for a few months. This past spring, Jessie and Katie lived aboard the Louise while they explored the Florida Keys and earned some money waitressing. Now, they’re continuing the slow journey North, averaging about 30 miles per day and, some days, moving at just 5.5 knots. Their planned route skirts the Atlantic Ocean up the East Coast’s intra-coastal waterway and eventually back to Michigan. “You know, you really can’t miss anything when you move that slow,” Jessie points out. “Which, I am convinced, is the entire purpose of America’s Great Loop. The thought of traveling so slowly around America is unappealing to a lot of people. But I would have missed every single picture, animal, or personal interaction that has given me something to remember and something to write about. Those who wonder why we travel on sailboats are missing the point.” Two people who do get it are their fathers. “They are vicariously living through us and love it,” Jessie says, She adds that their mothers are supportive, too, though they were initially shocked that their girls were making the trip a reality. Traveling over water and relatively alone fazes neither of the girls, but they aren’t completely fearless. “Our travels depend one hundred percent on the weather. We move accordingly, and make sure we are always in a safe anchorage or in a marina when necessary. Every once in a while, you get stuck in something bad, and there is nothing you can do about it besides hunker down and pee in

the cockpit,” they explain. “Both us of start nervously eating when there is a lot of lightning.” Even if weather does hinder their routine, Katie and Jessie take it in stride. They take advantage of the wind’s power when they can, though they aren’t against using the motor and don’t consider themselves strict about relying on their sails. “The engine in ‘off’ mode is a beautiful thing,” Jessie writes in their blog, describing one brutally gusty day of sailing. “You could tell Louise was smiling; she was in her groove. Katie and I were even smiling as well, but it did reinforce our reasons for not being die-hard sailors.” These women travel with little and live happily without modern conveniences— like reliable plumbing, a microwave, a refrigerator, and constant wireless internet. On board, they do have an alcohol stove, an ice box for storage, a propane grill, a hand-pump sink with an 18-gallon water tank, a questionable toilet, and a V-shaped mattress. At sea, they mostly eat soup and canned goods, though they caught and cooked a blackfin tuna once. It’s “a life less cluttered,” Jessie says. And it’s a lifestyle that works for them. “I can bring my house anywhere I want,” Katie exclaims. Keys to their success include immediate conflict resolution and a mutual understanding that they’ll tackle this journey one day at a time, as cool-headedly as possible. “What we have learned is that when one of us has a gut feeling about something, go with that person’s gut. They are always right. Bottom line is, we share an extremely small space. There is not enough room in that space to argue,” Jessie says. “We’re women. We talk about everything!” Though they’re in no rush, the pair is focused on getting from point A to point B. Still, they don’t hesitate to embark on detours, however long. Before setting sail up the East Coast, they traveled to the Bahamas for a couple days—passing the time unhurriedly in quiet blue waters, carefree. “The feeling I get when leaving is starting to become dangerous. By dangerous I mean great,” Jessie rambles. “I get so excited, thrilled by uncertainty, a sense of awareness verifying the control I have over my life, the satisfaction of putting plans into action when no one really believes you … better yet, never really telling anyone the plan and just quietly slipping away. I remained unattached, to everything in life but Louise. I am free.” They both felt a heightened freedom after leaving Key West early this summer. “We didn’t need to talk about it, but we were both happy. The problem here is that leaving always feels right, it never feels wrong,” Jessie says, wondering whether she’ll ever stop craving life on the move. “Katie and I had been so anxious to get to Michigan, to get home, to complete The Great Loop. Something changed. No longer do we care. We will get there when we get there. Hell,” Jessie says, “let’s go back to the Bahamas … we will finish this loop next year.”

Large photo: Opportunities to fill up diesel tanks in the Bahamas are scarce. We utilized every fuel dock we could find, which usually meant we also go a bag of ice and cold beer. Small photos clockwise: We snorkeled an underwater aquarium in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, which is next door to an island owned by Johnny Depp. In this serene anchorage on our way down to Key West, Reggie anxiously observes any abnormal ripples in the water. Captain and crew. On this island called “Big Majors,” tourists feed wild pigs, which are massive, aggressive, and hungry. Reggie, casually showed them who is boss. WAM • SUMMER | 2014


Women of the Water

Julie Sutton really wanted to join the consistently winning Colorado raft racing team, the women’s team that had dominated the sport for ten years. But the team is based out of Vail, CO, and she lived almost two hours away in Salida, CO. Plus, she was never invited to join the team, despite her interest and experience level. She has worked as a river guide for 15 years and is the head guide at Arkansas River Tours. “Raft racing has been around as long as I’ve been a guide, and seeing Vail’s women’s team compete kind of got me thinking I might be able to do this regularly,” she says. “So, because I couldn’t be on their team, I made my own team.” The Red Lady Raft Racers team, based out of Colorado’s Arkansas River valley and made up of professional guides, came together in 2011 and really gained notoriety last summer. They swept all four events at the 2013 Nationals at the Royal Gorge Whitewater Festival in Cañon City, Colorado, and became the new women’s national raft racing team. Representing the U.S. at the World Rafting Championships in New Zealand last November, Red Lady Raft Racing brought home the country’s only medal by finishing third in the head-to-head portion of the World Competition and placing seventh overall. “Our time of 1:59:00 was the exact same time as the winner of the men’s head-to-head,” Julie points out enthusiastically. 54

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Putting together a team—and a winning team at that—was easier for Julie than it might be for most, largely because she lives in such mecca for river people. “It’s hard for teams to get started, because just in general there aren’t as many women river guides. Not everybody likes to go full throttle down forty minutes of river. So it’s just about finding women who are interested in racing and have the courage to go out and give it a try,” she says, emphasizing that it should always be fun and that it’s okay to move on if it’s not. Though their 2014 roster is slightly different than last year’s, the women are competing with

just as much success. Their primary goal this season was to win the National Championship and earn the bid to go to Worlds. “We did win nationals and are very excited to represent the U.S. again as R4! Let the fundraising begin,” Julie says At this year’s Worlds, the Red Lady Raft Racers aim to finish in the top five. “I believe champions are created by choices that are made with opportunities,” team member Heather Byrne says. “The sport of whitewater rafting provides an opportunity for our women’s raft team to cultivate our abilities and talents to become champions.” Long term, the team aims to increase the knowledge of raft racing and grow and develop the sport in the U.S. and especially for women. “In years past, maybe one out of ten teams were women’s teams,” explains Julie, who has been racing at the amateur level for about ten years. “But this past year was really cool, because at every single race, there were more women’s than men’s teams.” At the 2013 Animal Race in West Virginia, for example, there were four women’s teams competing. “That was incredibly exciting and showed the growth of raft racing for women specifically,” Julie says, pointing out that she knows of at least two other women’s team in the country prepping for this season, too. womensadventuremagazine.com

Photos By: sCott martin, todd toledo & miesha lee GiBson


Red Lady Raft Racers Roster


our will paddle. Two will be alternates,” Julie explains, adding that Cristin Zimmer rounded out the 2013 team roster but is busy with her family now. “She used to paddle for the Vail women’s team and provided us a lot of insight on taking our skills to the international level of competition.” Julie Sutton Tana Deklevar Jen Cook Jen Hodgkiss Eva Lambert (new to the team this year) Heather Byrne

Components of a Raft Racing Competition Each event is worth a determined number of points. The total at the end decides a team’s overall standing. SPRINT: At the National and World events but not always at others, there’s a sprint race. “That’s where you go as fast as you can down a certain section of river,” Julie explains. “It might only be a couple miles but it determines where in the brackets you are and where on the river you get to start for the head-to-head event. and leadership. The river is a great metaphor for “The river community, just like a lot of other life, and it’s through the river that we can find adventure sports, is kind of transient. People guidance and focus.” come and people go,” she says. “But there are Tana Deklevar has a similar view. “Paddling starting to be those you see everywhere. We did is moving meditation for me. Being in nature, meet a lot of cool women at Worlds.” around feminine vibrations, flowing with the Veteran river guide and the newest Red Lady river, and releasing built-up tension Raft Racer, Eva Lambert is a strong through physical movement gives example of why there’s been an me an outlet to truly be in the increase in female participation. She “The river here and now,” she says. “Neither describes why raft racing is attractive is a great the past nor the future exists. I’m to women. “My past experience on simply in the present moment and the water has been a focus of fun, metaphor for feel at peace.” leisure, taking the somewhat safest life, and it’s In addition to camaraderie with line in guiding a group down the other role models and the meditariver,” she says. “Raft racing has through lure of paddle sports, Heather brought on a whole new experience the river that tive adds personal growth to the list in terms of what being on the water we can find of reasons why adventure sports is to me. Now, it’s about intensity, a like raft racing are beneficial for higher level of excitement, guiding guidance women. “This requires each of us to as a team, and speed, how fast we and focus.” be disciplined, have a vision and a can paddle to get our boat in the dream, and an ambition to be the fastest current.” best. Each individual on the team Which leads into the other posimust cooperate with one another, work together tive aspects of the raft-racing culture. “We love for a common goal, respond appropriately to the river, love to paddle, and have the friendship of other like-minded women,” Julie says, likening victory and defeat, and posses somewhat ‘heroic’ characteristics. We have to cope with setbacks it to a knitting club. “We want women to know and continue to evolve as a team to ensure we about this unique ‘all-in-the-same-boat’ activity make our country proud on the World Champias an avenue to empowerment as well as provide onship stage!” a supportive place that fosters positive life skills

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The head-to-head is when two rafts race down a two- or threeminute section in a single-elimination round. The winner goes on and the loser doesn’t get to advance. And you keep moving forward until there’s a winner. SLALOM: Over a short section of river, the raft teams navigate between 15 and 20 gates, upstream gates and downstream gates. “It’s like kayak slalom but with rafts,” Julie says. DOWNRIVER: A race down 7-12 miles of river, maybe a 45 minutes to one hour of paddling as hard as you can. “You have to be able to paddle a Class Four rapid,” Julie says.

Large photo: Training on West Virginia’s Gauley River in 2013 was a wild time for Tana Deklevar, Jen Cook, Julie Sutton, Evangeline Lambert, Heather Byrne, Miesha Lee Gibson. Middle left page: The ladies attend opening ceremonies in New Zealand. Bottom right page: Red Lady Raft Racers Julie Sutton, Jen Hodgkiss, Heather Byrne, Cristin Zimmer, Tana Deklevar, Jen Cook are shown winning the Downriver portion of the 2013 National Competition. WAM • SUMMER | 2014


Sisters Maya and Ava Cairns-Locke unload the canoe after a long day of paddling on the Peel River during their family’s monthlong canoe trip in Northern Yukon, Canada. “We flew into a small lake, portaged to [the confluence of the Wind River and McClusky Creek], and were in the wilderness for a full thirty days,” says photographer Peter Mather. “I really enjoyed the scenery—the towering cliffs, the mysterious turquoise water, the ruby red rocks, the blue outlined radioactive-looking fish, and mostly the awesome designs I found on the rocks,” Maya remembers. “During our last day in the marvelous Peel, I had only paddled for two minutes, it seemed, when we pulled up at Fort McPherson. I was sad that the trip was over, but I found myself kissing the ground. If I turned around and looked back down the river, I could still see those towering cliffs.”


m Solo Overnight Trips

By Chris Kassar

Solo Overnight Trips

Heading Into the Wild Alone


It’s 3 a.m., July 7. You’re dreaming of a dip in a cool, refreshing alpine lake when something rustling in the trees rocks you from sweet slumber. Bear? Cougar? Squirrel? In a sleepy haze, you roll over to wake your backpacking buddy so she can share your fear and help you figure out what to do. But she isn’t there. Maybe Yeti already devoured her? Then it dawns on you— you’re flying solo this time, exploring the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park on your own. The rustling draws closer. You see the shadow of a critter on all fours circling your tent. Crap, you think. This giant animal is closing in and I’m gonna die alone. Then suddenly you surprise yourself. You inhale deeply, click on your headlamp and wave it around while shouting, “Go away. Get outta here!” The critter scampers off and you—left to your own devices and relying on no one else—have saved the day (or, technically, the night). Having only yourself to rely on is one of the best and most challenging parts about heading into the woods alone. So, if you have the skills and the desire, we’d highly recommend taking at least one solo trip into the wilderness this summer. What you discover will most likely surprise you.


of Americans backpacked (2-3 days overnight) at least once in the last year.* *2013 Pulse of the Outdoor Consumer Study

Our Experts Megan Maxwell thru-hiked all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail in 2012 and founded the blog Appalachian Trail Girl: A How To for Hiker Girls (appalachiantrailgirl. com) to inspire other women to hit the trail and have confidence in their hiking and camping abilities. “My first section hike was a solo trip in 2010,” she says. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I’ve been addicted to the trail ever since.” Jennifer Pharr-Davis first thruhiked the Appalachian Trail alone at age 21 and returned seven years later to break the overall speed record for the trail. Owner and founder of Blue Ridge Hiking Company (blueridgehikingco.com), Jennifer has also authored two books about her AT adventures and three guidebooks. Her Appalachian Trail record was voted Ultrarunning Magazine’s Female Performance of 2011, plus she has been named Blue Ridge Outdoors Person of the Year and a National Geographic Adventurer of the year.

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WHY PLAN A SOLO BACKCOUNTRY TRIP? Regain Sense of Self: “It teaches selfreliance and creative problem solving,” says Jennifer Pharr-Davis. Being out on your own forces you to overcome fears, find your independence, and really test your mettle since you have no one else to turn to for support. Freedom to Forge Your Own Path: Going it alone means you can do whatever you want. You can set your own pace, stop when you want to, explore a side trail, linger over a sunset—whatever you want. “It’s a very freeing feeling to walk in the mountains for days or weeks and not have to answer to anyone but yourself,” Megan Maxwell says.

Finding Spirit: Wandering with friends is fun and full of noise, chatter, and distractions. Hiking solo removes these diversions. “Silence and solitude can provide deep therapy and give perspective that you can’t find in a group,” says Jennifer. “Thinking, praying, and meditating all seem to come a little easier on a solo endeavor.” It May Be the Only Way You Go: “I got into solo backpacking because no one wanted to go with me. My very first backpacking trip was solo, and if I hadn’t gone by myself, I may have never gone,” says Megan. “I was scared of camping alone, meeting crazy people in the woods, and running into wild animals. Turns out, though, I was just fine.” womensadventuremagazine.com

Solo Overnight Trips


How To Pull Off A Solo Adventure

WHY SOLO TRIPS ARE BETTER Make Friends for Life: Being alone makes you more approachable and it usually makes you more outgoing. For these reasons, you meet more people when you’re alone. “If you’re hiking with a group, other hikers might not want to intrude or they might be intimidated to talk to the whole group. One person is far more approachable than several,” says Megan. Discover What You’re Made Of: Regardless of your competency in the outdoors, tackling an adventure without anyone else will push your limits—in a good way. “A lot of times we don’t know who we really are or what we are made of until we separate ourselves from a group and are forced to do something challenging alone,” says Jennifer. “Hiking solo is a great form of self-discovery and can result in a new sense of self-confidence.” Revel in the Moment: Many of us are social people. We’re addicted to social media and enjoy always having someone to talk to or text. Being alone in the wilderness takes away these options and forces us to look at ourselves and enjoy the moment. It allows us to focus on the important things and to dwell on the positive. “After days in the backcountry, I’m not going to go home and complain about how I stubbed my toe and it hurt for about five minutes, but I might share the story of an amazing campsite I found where I watched the sunset. It’s weird, but not having that instant gratification of being able to complain to someone helps to force those negative thoughts out of your head. You really learn to not dwell on the small stuff,” says Megan. It Feels Scary: Though this may sound like a challenge of hiking solo, Jennifer actually cites it as one of the most important benefits. “I think one of the reasons hiking alone is so beneficial is because it does feel a little scary. It forces people outside their comfort zone.” And, as we all know, immense growth occurs when you wander beyond the boundaries of where you are comfortable.

PREPARE. Knowledge is truly power. The more you know before you go, the more confident you will be and the more smoothly your trip will go. “If you are going out alone, it is extra important to know the trail, the terrain, and the weather,” advises Jennifer. Arm yourself with a guidebook or maps and do research about updated trail conditions and weather forecasts. Based on this, “set realistic expectations for yourself, and plan your gear accordingly,” urges Megan. TALK TO A PRO. No need to reinvent the wheel here. “Learn as much as you can from someone else who has hiked alone,” says Jennifer. “You don’t need to make the same mistake that someone else made if you take the time to listen and learn from their experience.” PRACTICE. Being comfortable with your equipment is key to a successful, enjoyable trip. Test your gear on day hikes to make sure it all fits and works well. Jennifer even suggests camping alone in your backyard, a group campground, or local trail first. “It will give you practice and confidence before heading out in the backcountry alone.” Plus, this will make you much more efficient at setting up camp in bad weather or the dark. MAKE IT FUN. The whole reason you’re out here is enjoy yourself, so once you’re on the trail, make it fun. That means different things for different people; some like to take their time, others enjoy logging as many miles a day as possible, while others revel in choosing a variety of stellar campsites. “Follow the saying ‘hike your own hike,’ and you’ll be alright,” advises Megan. HAVE A PLAN B. Contingency plans are critical for any wilderness adventure, but especially if you’re alone. “You need to be prepared to take care of yourself if something goes wrong,” says Jennifer. Do you know exit routes? If you will have cell coverage, how will you alert search and rescue? Should you carry an emergency locator beacon?


Facing Your Demons (or Imaginary Monsters in the Forest): Being alone makes it easier to get scared, down, or overwhelmed—especially if you get sick, the weather turns, or you’re forced with a challenging situation. But this is exactly where you can shine if you take Megan’s advice and “just believe in yourself.” You’re capable, accomplished, and tough. Push through and you’ll be rewarded.

WORDS OF WISDOM: “If you stop early consider identifying windflowers, practicing survival skills, journaling, drawing, cooking a gourmet dinner, or just hiking more.” —Jennifer

“The only way to get over the fear of hiking solo is by hiking solo. Preparation will make you more confident in your abilities, but the fear won’t actually disappear until you’re in the wilderness hiking and you see that you’re going to be alright.” —Megan

Tuning Out The Naysayers: Before you set out, people with good intentions will warn of the dangers of heading out alone—especially since you’re a woman. “It can be stressful and really make you doubt yourself,” says Megan. “But it’s not really any more dangerous to be a woman and to be alone in the wilderness than it is for a man. Take personal safety into consideration, but not to the point where it prevents you from living your life.” Watching Sunsets Alone: “You don’t have anyone to share the memories or the sunsets with,” says Jennifer. Take photos, journal, or create a mental memory so you can return to the cherished moments once you’ve left the woods. WAM • SUMMER | 2014


m Canoe Trips Plan a Route

Jenny Martindale helps lower the 17.5-foot canoe to the edge of the green-turquoise water. After a challenging mile-and-a-half portage, she and her husband and two kids have reached Grace Lake in central Ontario’s Killarney Provincial Park—a solitary paradise. White quartzite ridges roll smoothly into the bay, and a mosaic of pebbles is piercingly visible at the bottom of the lake’s belly. “It’s such a bonding experience,” says Jenny, describing what a typical canoe trip. “The everyday world is behind, you’re in the moment, and the feeling of the wilderness surrounds. You forget all of your worries.” When Jenny isn’t canoe-adventuring to gorgeous locations with her family, she’s the Senior Canoe Guide and Trip Manager for Wild Women Expeditions (WWE), which offers a plethora of women-only outdoor explorations to destinations all over the world. Here, Jenny and two other canoe experts—WWE’s canoe skills instructor Becky Mason and Melanie Whittall, an outrigger canoe racer and specialized sales and marketing representative for paddle sports companies—crack open their tips for taking canoe trips.

Try to Stay Dry

“The most important thing for happiness on a canoe trip is knowing how to waterproof your gear so that it isn’t soggy on the first day,” says Becky. Buy waterproof packs or dry sacks. If that’s not in your budget, stuff your gear—namely your sleeping bag and clothes—in waterproof plastic bags and put a protective nylon bag on the outside.

Practice: Before the trip, practice paddling with your canoe partners. “You’ve got to have this synergy where you work together,” says Melanie. Lead: Designate one canoe to lead the group, which is responsible for following the chosen route, shepherding communication, and introducing intermittent paddle breaks. Alternate the lead so that everyone gets the experience. Sweep: The sweep is the caboose and stays with any canoes that fall behind, such as if someone has a sore arm or a canoe tips over. When the sweep isn’t in sight, the lead knows to turn around and check on the group. Communicate: Keep the communication flowing with your paddling partner—ask her questions and share observations. Also, allow decisions to be all-inclusive among the group: “No one should make a decision without including the whole group. The whole dynamic is really important for having a good time,” says Melanie.

Packing Skills

Trim: “You want to trim your canoe—that’s getting your canoe flat,” says Becky. When you pack the canoe make sure you distribute the weight of the gear and the paddlers evenly. That way, the boat is balanced in the water and will travel efficiently. Easy access: To remember where the gear is located, you can use color-coding: Put the clothes in orange bags and the food in green bags or barrels. Bunch items: Keep all the rain gear—such as the tent, waterproof hat, rain jacket—together in one waterproof pack. Then, if it starts raining, you can locate and put on your gear in 30 seconds. For food, store the breakfasts together, the lunches together, and the dinners together. Label each meal, such as Day 1 Breakfast.

Wild women’s expeditions trip in Bon Echo park, guided by Jenny Martindale and Becky Mason.


WAM • SUMMER | 2014

Know the group. Understand how experienced each paddler is, what the health and fitness levels are, and what everyone’s motivation for the trip is. “Some people want to sit and relax and others want to travel 100 kilometers a day,” laughs Jenny. Then, plan the route around those details. Ask an expert. Call a local outfitter near the destination where you’d like to paddle, and ask them to help you go over different trip options. Research. Online resources include paddling.net, Canadian Canoe Routes (myccr.com), and the American Canoe Association’s water trails database (americancanoe.org). Study guidebooks, such as those authored by paddler Kevin Callan. Collect maps. Jenny gets her canoe topography maps from Chrismar Mapping Company. “The maps are waterproof and include interesting information about the area on the back, such as the flora and fauna and tips on how to plan your trip,” she says. chismar.com

Keep Kids Content

Jenny’s two boys started canoe tripping before they could walk. “When you take a trip with kids, you need to plan it around [them],” Jenny says. Consider how many miles you will paddle each day and include rest stops. Let the kids have a say in what the days look like, and stop often for snacks and water. Portages are a great opportunity for kids to carry their own little pack. Remember to budget in extra time for them to explore: “They’ll notice so many things that you’d just walk on by.” A great option is to set up camp once and do day trips from there. Choose a fun, spacious, and safe campsite such as a beachside with shallow water for swim-time, and remember to bring snorkel gear! womensadventuremagazine.com


By Morgan Tilton

Canoe Trips

Group Travel

Canoe Trips

Safety Prep

1. Choose a perfect-for-you PFD. Buy the best personal flotation device (PFD) that you can buy, so that you can have free-range movement and be comfortable the whole day of traveling, suggests Becky. Choose a women’s cut and, if you buy good quality, you’ll forget you’re wearing it. “I make sure I can windmill my arms in circles and move my neck down to my shoulders,” she explains. Cinch it down and put your thumbs under your shoulders and pull up to make sure it doesn’t slide over your head—you want it to fit snugly. 2. Take a course. Advance or hone your canoe paddling, navigating, packing, and rescue skills by taking a course or even earn instructor certification. Check out the curriculum offered by the American Canoe Association (ACA), the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) Paddling School, and the United States Canoe Association (USCA). Reach out to local canoe clubs or retailers that teach courses, too. “It’s best to defer and learn from someone who has a breadth of experience,” says Melanie. 3. Heed equipment requirements. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) requires that canoes carry certain safety equipment including: • properly fitting PFDs for each person; • a sound device, such as a whistle or horn, that’s audible for at least one-half mile; • navigational lights for use between sunset and sunrise or during restricted visibility; • visual distress signals (VDS) such as a hand-held red flare. Check the safety equipment requirements in the state or country where you’re canoe tripping.

Paddler Becky Mason canoeing on the Petawawa river in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Keep Learning

“Have synergy. Work together.” —Melanie

Check out educational symposiums such as the Maine Canoe Symposium, Ontario’s Women on Water Paddling Festival, or the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association’s annual assembly. You can sign up for canoe classes, and be exposed to new skills, shares Becky. Plus, it’s a great time to socialize with other paddlers. “I can always find and enjoy something to talk about with any canoeist in the world,” she says.


Choice Gear

Guide Gusto

Grey Owl Paddles. Paddles come in various shapes and sizes. For leisurely tours, Becky prefers a long and thin ottertail silhouette, which pushes less surface area; ergo, paddling is less exhausting. During high wind, switch to a wide paddle. Wood is also her top pick: “Wood paddles have an overall organic flex, so when you take a stroke there’s give.” greyowlpaddles.com Pelican Cases. These waterproof cases come in a range of sizes, and are great for electronics or first-aid supplies. pelican-case.com Harmony Waterproof Barrels. These 60- or 30-liter barrels are indestructible and keep the food safe from water and animals. For portages, make sure to buy harnesses with plenty of padding. harmonygear.com Duluth Packs. Traditional canvas-made canoe-specific packs. “Canoe packs are shorter and wider and fit in the boat better than regular backpacks,” Jenny explains, adding another suggestion. “If you choose to not pack your kitchen equipment in a barrel, Duluth makes a great camp kitchen pack.” duluthpack.com Outdoor Research Dry Sacks. “At my feet I keep a small, 5-liter dry bag with an extra hat, sunscreen, lip balm, Clif bar, chocolate, and a pair of gloves,” says Melanie. Choose among Outdoor Research’s 1- to 55-liter dry sacks. outdoorresearch.com Chaco OutCross Web. A sturdy, comfortable, trail-ready watershoe thanks to its functional combo of drainability and breathability plus traction and protection. $120; chacos.com Ecco Lagoon 360. Also multifunctional, this water shoe drains efficiently in the river and grips wonderfully on soil or rock. It is lightweight and comes in a neon rainbow of color choices, but most of all, the Lagoon is easy to slip on and off but stays secure on the foot through rapids. $120; eccoUSA.com

Guides are great for two kinds of paddlers: a novice, or, someone who has tons of experience but wants a break from the planning and packing, explains Jenny. For beginners, a canoe expedition with professionals is a great way to learn the ropes and practice skills—from safety and first aid to navigating and packing. In addition to Wild Women Expeditions, here are some other guides: Centennial Canoe Outfitters Inc.: Based out of Centennial, CO, they offer canoe rentals and guide trips in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming on nine different stretches of river. centennialcanoe.com Arctic Wild: Located in Fairbanks, AK, the Arctic Wild guides Alaskan canoe adventures in Katmai National Park, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, YukonCharley Rivers National Preserve, and the western Brooks Range. arcticwild.com Piragis Northwoods Company: Founded by Steve and Nancy Piragis in 1979 in Ely, MN, the company outfits and guides canoe trips throughout the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park—what’s collectively known as the Boundary Waters. piragis.com

Paddling Fitness

Melanie, who has been a competitive dragon boat and outrigger canoe racer for 20 years, leads an After a trip, rinse your canoe and active lifestyle daily, which helps paddles with fresh water. Hang up her stay fit for paddling tours. your paddles inside. For all-season Throughout the week, she rotates accessibility, store your canoes outher activities such as yoga, which side on stand-up racks instead of in is great for all-around conditionthe garage. Melanie foam-pads the ing, and cardiovascular workouts racks and protects her canoes with like cross-country skiing, which custom-made SPF canvas covers. is also great for core and upperMake sure the camping stove and tent are debris-free and dry, and then body strengthening. She also road bikes, takes spin class, and—of store them in rubber bins. “Campcourse—paddles. Top tip: Load ing equipment isn’t cheap anymore up your canoe and practice long and uses some of the highest techdaytrips to build up stamina for a nology. It’s worth it for people to multi-day voyage. take care of it,” says Melanie.

Post-trip Gear Care

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


By Heather Hansman

Urban Races

m Urban Races

Multi-sport adventure races are gaining popularity across the country, but what happens when you also add problem solving, urban navigation, and challenges like no-hands ice cream sandwich eating? That’s when you’re in an urban race. Urban races, the most diverse of those multi-sport races, are becoming increasingly prevalent and increasingly complex. The thing about urban races is that, because there is an element of mystery, a need for way finding, and the potential for unexpected challenges, they’re tricky to master. You’ll need a combination of physical fitness, navigation know-how, and map reading skills, plus a willingness to embrace the silly, and the ability to work in a team.

So what is an urban race? Good question. There’s no singular definition, but urban races combine the physical workout of a traditional race—usually running or biking—with mental challenges, dares or funny tasks, and elements of orienteering. They’re perfect for people who like the social and fitness aspects of a race, but don’t feel the need to try for a PR every time they race. “Think Amazing Race mixed with lots of running, biking, and beer,” says Emily Salberg, the event director of Oyster The Race.

Races to check out Oyster The Race Oyster is happening in 8 places across the country this summer, including Denver, Pittsburg, and Nashville. There are multiple divisions from the mild half Oyster to the full course, where teams of three race the entire thing. oysterracingseries.com Urban Dare Urban Dare, which is happening in 36 cities this year, combines racing, photography, and completing dares. Teams of two gain points for shooting photos or taking on dares at checkpoints along the route. urbandare.com The Great Urban Race Teams of two to four receive 12 clues, which lead them to locations where competitors need to complete a physical and mental challenge. Points are also awarded for costumes. There are 16 Great Urban Races this year, including championships in Vancouver this August. greaturbanrace.com City Solve A choose your own adventure kind of race, City Solve gives you multiple choice questions, and your answers lead you to different locations around town. citysolveurbanrace.com

Picking a team Speaking of communication, teammates will play into your success—and happiness!—in urban races more than they will in almost any other kind of race. Because you’re typically traveling in a pack and making decisions as a group, it’s 62

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important to make sure that you get along well, that there are no power struggles, and that your team can plan effectively. It can help to know what your teammates strengths and weaknesses are and to have roles defined ahead of time. womensadventuremagazine.com

Urban Races


Train to strengthen these skills Brains: “Don’t underestimate the mental and physical toughness [of an urban race],” says Salberg. “You should at least be in 5k kind of shape, so get that run game on, and you should be able to solve puzzles in some way, shape, or form—or find yourself a puzzle master teammate.” Map skills: Even if you’re usually tied to your smartphone map, brush up on your map and compass skills. Learn to orient yourself to the map, how to read for scale, and how to read a legend. Thumbing, an orienteering technique, is a helpful way to keep track of where you are. Fold your map and place your thumb directly over where you are, pointed in the direction you’re going so you don’t lose track. City navigation: Know your territory. Because urban races require you to take advantage of your surroundings, it’s in your best interest to have a working knowledge of the public transportation system and other public resources that you might be able to use to your advantage. Transition: Like any other multi-sport event, transitions are where a lot of people lose time. Practice switching from biking to running, and keep your gear as streamlined as possible so you don’t have to change up your kit.


Running: Physically, it’s a good idea to get to the point where you’re comfortable running for a few miles. To get in 5k-running shape, start six weeks out and alternate days of running with days of cross training. Once a week, try to do a slightly longer run and increase your mileage by a half mile each week.

Unlike a more straightforward race with a set course, strategy and the order in which you tackle the challenges play in heavily in urban races. “As a team, you must decide the order of challenges, the best route to get from point A to point B, and who on your team is best qualified to do the task,” says Salberg. A big part of that is communication. Your team should have a plan, and be on the same page in terms of expectations ahead of time.

Gear The gear you’ll need for the race might be slightly different than what you’d bring to a traditional race, so look into it before you go. Some races require helmets, cameras, or med kits. “We recommend our participants bring a smartphone, a pen, maps of the city, their phone charger, and extra cash for public transportation fare or random purchases,” says Jordan Diehl of The Great Urban Race. Here are some solid basics: ✔ Shoes you can wear to run, bike, and get wet: The lightweight, grippy, fast-drying Salomon Fellraiser will keep you moving in all kinds of conditions. ✔ A light layer: If the weather changes, throw on the wind- and water-resistant Torpedo Jacket from The North Face. ✔ A pack: The minimal, 12-liter Mountain Hardwear Fluid 12 will hold the gear you need for the race but won’t weigh you down. ✔ Stylish sunglasses: To keep your eyes protected and keep you looking good, try the Zeal Memphis shades. They’ll stay on your face when you’re moving and still look cityappropriate, plus they’re made of biodegradable materials.

One More Tip Attention to detail is important: The race organizers are often sneaky, and you could be getting tricked. Salberg says to keep your eyes pealed for secrets and hidden clues.

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


By Jennifer C. Olson

Minimalist Running

m Transition to Minimalist Running


Unless you are a Kenyan or a Tarahumaran from Mexico, you’ve probably been running and walking in shoes for your whole life. So before you ditch your shoes and jump in feet-first to the minimalist running craze, you need to learn about the risks and how to approach this new style of running with patience and care. Doing it the right way can improve your practice and your overall health—doing it the wrong way could have painful consequences. Here, three athletes share the benefits, the downsides, and the cold, hard facts about minimalist and barefoot running.

What is it?

Minimalist running is running without cushioning, motion control, or stability in a shoe, Stacey says. “It is a relaxed yet powerful form of primal movement.” “Using your body’s natural running gait by running barefoot-like, minimalist running rewards the runner with a lowimpact, mid- to forefoot strike and a quick cadence,” Jeff says, “allowing the runner to transition and move to less supportive, lighter footwear—or even no footwear at all once the runner’s feet are strong enough—if they so choose.” Some like to call it “natural running” because of the proper running gait (see “Pointers on minimalist running form”) necessary when running without supportive shoes.

“Be free and run long. It’s good for the soul. Giddyup.” —Jeff

Why should women run barefoot or minimalist?

To build strength and stability: “I don’t feel women particularly should barefoot or minimalist run on a regular basis,” Michele says. “However, I do feel that they can include it in their training to build strength in their lower body and feet.” To help your body better depend on its own natural suspension system: “There is still no evidence proving athletic shoes prevent injury. And, the traditional athletic shoe does not enhance our function,” Stacey says, citing research conducted by Dr. Daniel Lieberman, Harvard University that compares the foot strike patterns of shod vs. unshod runners. “With a mid-foot or forefoot strike [as part of good minimal or barefoot running form], the foot is able to more properly disperse ground reaction forces.” To improve your natural running gait to prevent injuries and develop longevity in your running: “When you add those two things together, you get consistency,” Jeff says, “and those three things are the synergy to life-long fitness.”

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Our Experts

Ultimate Direction athlete, Michele Yates stepped into the ultrarunning world from a personal training and marathon background. The two-time Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier eventually became a fourtime National Champion in the ultra trail events. This past December, Michele became The North Face 50 Mile Champion. “I am not a minimalist runner,” Michele says, “but, as a coach, I believe in including minimalist training to help strengthen ankle ligaments and tendons.” blog.ultimatedirection.com Since 2000, Stacey Lei Krauss has taught thousands of people how to strengthen and smarten their feet, eliminate foot pain, and enhance function and performance. She is the Lead Fitness Advisor for Vibram FiveFingers®, the creator of globally recognized barefoot fusion program The willPower Method®, a Reiki practitioner, and owner of The willPower FIT STUDIO in Denver, CO. She began minimalist running when the Nike Free was launched in 2004 and has been teaching barefoot movement for 15 years. “I’ve been in the fitness business for over 20 years, and I write educational courses to teach personal trainers and instructors how and why to train barefoot and minimal,” Stacey says. “I run minimal because it was the way our bodies were intended to run— functionally, like a primal animal.” willpowermethod.com Patagonia and Patagonia Footwear ultrarunner and trail running ambassador Jeff Browning (a.k.a. “Bronco Billy”) started dabbling with minimalist running concepts in 2006. He originally studied and worked to develop proper running technique to prevent IT band and plantar fasciitis issues but soon found that running with a barefoot technique is paramount for people in minimalist footwear. “I soon embarked on a six-seasonlong ‘baby steps’ journey to wean myself off hard plastic orthotics and strengthen my feet,” Jeff explains, adding that he was also motivated to explore minimalist running so he could take advantage of lighter footwear for mountain trail running, and race faster. “Shedding two ounces off a pair of shoes means a lot less weight to pick up over the course of a 100-mile race. I did the rough math and found if I could shed two ounces off my shoes, that’s approximately 27,000 fewer pounds I have to pick up during a 20-hour, 100-mile race!”


Transition to Minimalist Running


Pros and cons of minimalist running CONS PROS —Your Body Might Be Better Minimalist running advocates say that the ligaments and tendons below your hips will be healthier, your foot muscles will be stronger, your balance will improve. —Natural Shock Absorption With proper form (i.e. having a well-practiced mid- to fore-foot landing), running will be easier on your joints, and there is the potential for less torque on your knees. —Lighter Shoes, Heavier Wallet Minimalist shoes last longer because there’s no cushion to be worn down, so you’ll spend less money replacing your kicks. —Lean, Mean Calves Low-drop shoes give the back of your legs a chance to stretch and elongate, which is impossible in shoes with a heel lift. —Feeling Good It’s a freeing feeling to be liberated from your old-school running shoes, and you’ll have more of a connection to the various surfaces you experience during a run. Overall, barefoot or minimalist running helps harness the body’s innate suspension system so you will be better able to manage the impact of your footfalls. You can embrace your inner child and enjoy softer, more natural running and footwear.

—Ouch! If you rush into minimalist running, you can experience common injuries like plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, or sprains. Barefoot runners are subject to debris and infections. And perhaps the worst pain comes from adjusting to shorter runs and less satisfying workouts while you’re trying to acclimatize your body to minimalist running—it’s a slow transition. —Heads Up No more zoning out while you’re running, no texting or answering the phone in the middle of your workout—you’ll need to pay a lot more attention to exactly what you’re stepping on and where your foot is falling. —Who’s That Girl? People will look, and even stare, at your feet. They will ask you questions about your shoes, or your lack of shoes, and you might even get a nickname like “that barefoot chick.” —So Long to Style You will probably start to despise those hard, narrow-toed, cute shoes you once loved. And don’t get us started on high-heels! The only real con of running in minimalist shoes is major and serious—the risk of injury is real and should be heavily weighed as you consider whether to transition. If you have the patience and mental commitment to transition right, you probably won’t care what others think of your shoes or your bare feet and certainly won’t mind ditching the now uncomfortable slingbacks.

When shouldn’t women run minimalist-style?

“I feel the risk of injury outweighs the benefits of minimalist running in most cases. Especially because a majority of individuals have pronation, supination, or overall issues that will affect their running gait cycle,” Michele says. “In my opinion, [minimalist running] is best once a week on a soft grassy area, such as a football field.” Stacey disagrees. She thinks minimalist running will improve overall foot fitness and reduce the risk of—and maybe even alleviate some of—those conditions. “Type-A hard core heel-striking runners are a pain in my neck,” she remarks. “Those of you who are addicted to speed and distance: transitioning will be challenging, because it’s going to take patience… and possibly a season off of your favorite sport while you learn.” Still, if you are suffering from plantar fasciitis, neuroma, metatarsalgia, or other acute foot injuries, you get those under control before you start running. Jeff says everyone can work toward minimalist running. “If you’ve been in very supportive shoes and have rarely been barefoot for most of your life, you can still transition. It will just be slow. You’ll have to be patient and think in terms of years in order to shed your supportive footwear. There is hope,” Jeff reminds. “I did it. It only took me six years!”

WAM • SUMMER | 2014


Minimalist Running (continued)

m Transition to Minimalist Running


How to transition to a minimalist shoe “If your arm was in a cast, and one day you had the cast removed, would you go home and directly perform push-ups?” Stacey asks. “No. You know that you need to strengthen the atrophied muscles and mobilize the stiff joints. Feet are the same. You need to strengthen them.” If you’re minimalist running once a week for training, like Michele suggests, follow these tips: a. Go barefoot or wear your minimalist shoes around the house for a few hours at a time first. b. Once that gets comfortable, go barefoot or wear minimalist shoes walking around for the entire day. c. From there, try easy running on a grassy field, first for 15 minutes. Repeat this a few weeks in a row, once a week. d. Gradually add volume (5–10 minutes more every few weeks if your body hasn’t protested) and run up to 60 minutes at a time. e. If you are still feeling good, and stronger than ever, attempt to include some intervals (30 seconds off, 30 seconds on) for 60 minutes. Do this every few weeks or every other week. f. Ultimately, you could work up to doing a tempo run in minimalist shoes or barefoot. Example: easy 5 minutes, 30 minutes hard and steady, 5 minutes easy. e. Then alternate between an interval workout and a tempo run. “At all times, closely monitor yourself for any tightness, blisters, and aggravations,” Michele says. Jeff suggests this pattern when transitioning: little stress, then rest, recover, repeat, repeat, repeat. But that’s pretty general, he says, and everyone’s transition is different. “It really depends on your running background and other factors. For example, if you grew up running around a beach barefoot your whole life, the odds are that you have strong feet,” Jeff explains. “I wore shoes most of my life. So my feet were rather weak, especially after years of running in hard plastic orthotics. If you decide to make the jump—or rather the crawl—to minimalist running, be ready for a few little setbacks, even if you’re careful.” When he started barefoot running, Jeff was unwilling to back off on weekly training miles since he was racing up to eight ultra-distance trail races per year. So, he spent six years transitioning. “And, I got a little overzealous a few times,” he admits, “ramping up one or two easy runs a week in order to dial in barefoot running form and also strengthen my feet. I soon was experiencing sore overuse injuries in my feet.” Barefoot-mimicking footwear is better used as a tool to passively strengthen feet when not actually running, says Jeff who very carefully weaned his weak feet from orthotics to out-of-the-box minimalist footbeds over the course of several seasons. Which brings us to another point: Cross train. Cross train. Cross train. “I know you love running. I understand,” Stacey says. “But please stretch, twist, bend. Your body was designed to move on three functional planes.” The bottom line is to give yourself plenty of time to practice running minimal.

WAM • SUMMER | 2014

Pointers on form

Running naturally is easier said than done. Minimalist running is a long-term practice, and Stacey says these techniques will keep you healthily striding through the years: • Foot strike should be mid-foot or forefoot • Land gently and upright with your feet directly below your hips. • Foot turnover should be approximately 180 strikes per minute, which is relatively fast • Body should stay relaxed and all the joints and muscles should work together, rather than oppose one another “There are so many good tools for natural running form,” Jeff says. A few he personally studied and encourages others to check out include ChiRunning (chirunning.com), Pose Method (posemethod.com), and Good Form Running (goodformrunning.com).



of runners are

heel strikers,

transitioning to barefoot or


running means learning a new skill altogether.

Understanding and preventing common injuries

The potential for injury exists whether running in extra supportive and cushioned shoes or in very minimal shoes, but the causes and prevention methods are different. The majority of runners endure both chronic and acute sports specific injuries. Typically, these injuries—faulty alignment and gait patterns that lead to joint issues, shin splints, and so on— are a result over-use and overtraining. However, many of the barefoot running-related injuries are a result of improper acclimation. “When we take an existing runner and tell her that she needs to cut back to only one slow mile a day to begin, of course the runner is not interested, so she jumps in faster than she should,” Stacey explains. “Plus, since the perceived exertion is so low, she runs faster and much farther than her body is able to manage in the beginning.” The most typical injuries are extreme delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), specifically in the calves and foot bone edema. “You’ll be using all those small muscles and tendons of the lower leg and foot in new ways. Give it time,” Jeff says. “Doing too much too fast results in injuries.” Because you’ve been wearing shoes most of your life and your feet are weak, this will take years—not months—of diligence in transitioning and strengthening. “We also know that most runners are type-A personality, they are competitive, they like repetition, and they and become slightly addicted to the runners’ high. Therefore, even with impending injury, they don’t give themselves adequate rest and recovery,” Stacey adds. To support recovery, roll your bare feet over a golf ball or foot massage ball several times daily. “Common issues are plantar fasciitis, sore tendons in the lower leg and ankles, sore and tight calves and achilles that, if not rested and stretched, can lead to tendonitis,” Jeff warns. Also roll out your lower legs, your upper legs, and even your glut muscles, if you have time. “I use a lacrosse ball to roll my legs and butt,” says Michelle, who suggests stretching after every run and occasionally taking ice baths. womensadventuremagazine.com

Transition to Minimalist Running


What is a minimalist shoe?

Some of the problems with traditional athletic shoes which are designed to help make exercise easier and more comfortable, according to Stacey, include: • The small toebox de-forms the foot over time, leading to hammertoe conditions, bunions, neuromas • The arch support has allowed the muscles in our feet to atrophy and become disconnected, which makes them dependent on the man-made interface of many shoes • The motion control feature in shoes has also allowed the foot to become dependent—weak, stiff, unstable; when smaller muscles in the foot are weak, it leads to inefficient movement • The cushioning feature in shoes has dampened the foot’s ability to understand grade of force as it strikes the ground • The cushioning feature raises the heel higher than the forefoot, which leads to a shortened calf-Achilles complex and decreased natural ankle dorsi-flexion, hindering efficient movement also, the heel lift has changed our running gait and now people land on their heels, causing a force ranging from 1.5 – 3 times their body weight to be transferred up the skeleton as many as 1,000 times per mile

Denver july 26

A true minimal shoe has: -no cushioning -no stabilizing features -no heel lift -no motion control -a wide toe box or toe pockets -a straighter, flat arch area -a soft and flexible upper with a lacing or Velcro system -a low “drop” (This is the height difference of the heel compared to the forefoot of the shoe, which is also called the shoe’s offset.) “MOST toes are not smart enough to spread on their own, since they’ve been squished together for twenty or thirty or forty years,” Stacey says, explaining the benefits of Vibram FiveFinger-like minimalist shoes. “The separate toe pockets actually teach neural pathways, essentially training the toes to spread apart—for better balance and stronger push-off.” “A wider toe box allows your toes to splay,” Jeff says. “Traditional road shoes are relatively high with a 10- or 12-millimeter drop from heel to toe, while more minimalist footwear will be a 0- to 6-milimeter drop.”

How minimalist running “Each foot has 33 joints. affects the body This offers the human body “They will encounter some beautiful tremendous potential for toning to their lower legs,” Michele mobility! The amazing foot says with a smile. is designed to articulate And runners could potentially on variable surfaces and have increased toning in their gluteus textures. Keeping our feet muscles, too, Stacey adds. There’s also confined to a shoe has the potential of reduced knee or back essentially stunted the foot’s pain and weight loss. true functionality. Like any “You should be able to run more joint system in the body, consistently with less injury and less continually working towards impact. So, running should not beat you up as much as it used to,” Jeff articulation and full-range explains. “The other benefit of less of motion protects us from injury is consistency in your running, movement dysfunction which means no major breaks in your and physical issues, such as running. Therefore, it will help you arthritis.” —Stacey stay fit year-round.”

WAM • SUMMER | 2014



Staff Picks

Nemo Rhapsody 30 Down Sleeping Bag. Side sleepers rejoice! The spoon shape of the Nemo Rhapsody provides extra wiggle room for the elbows and knees. Shorter in length than the men’s Nocturne, the hourglass contours of the Rhapsody are designed for a woman’s body. The ultra soft hand of the liner fabric, a cozy Blanket Fold™ at the neck, and quilted baffle construction featuring waterproof down deliver a touch of luxury to your next night in the woods. Compatible with any sleeping pad and is also surprising light, the bag weighs 1 pound 3 ounces and compresses down to a nine-by-nine-inch package. $349.95; nemoequipment.com —Jennifer Davis-Flynn

What you need to do it all this summer

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derma e Anti-Wrinkle Vitamin A Glycolic Scrub. My skin takes on a noticeably improved sheen and smoother texture after I use this scrub, which clears away harmful dirt and oil and replenishes essential nutrients, like Vitamin A. $12.75; dermae.com

Patagonia Simple Fly Fishing book and kit. Fishing trips or afternoons out on the water are made even more effortless thanks to this new starter kit and beautifully illustrated book. It comes with a Tenkara-style fly rod in one of three varying lengths, a quick set-up guide, a box of professionally recommended flies, line and leader, plus Simple Fly Fishing: Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel, by Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews & Mauro Mazzo, which covers techniques for wet and dry fly fishing and also nymphing. Patagonia sets out to eliminate the complexity and diminish the initial cost of fly fishing for those who’ve dreamed to learn the sport but have had common reservations about trying it by debuting gear for getting started and mastering this ancient Japanese technique. $259-$279 (depending on rod choice); patagonia.com Dakine Odell Roller 39L. Boring black suitcases and exciting summer vacations just don’t mix. Enter this nifty roller, which comes in a variety of hues and patterns. At a legal carry on size but with a retractable handle, this six-pound roller packs a lot into a very little space. $130; dakine.com

just go! 68

WAM • SUMMER | 2014

After Bite. The tried-and-true brand added baking soda to the famous Itch Eraser’s formula, so it now relieves bites and stings even better. $3.99; adventuremedicalkits.com

adidas Outdoor EDO ¾ Climb Pants. Harnesscompatible knickers with tough and technical features but super flattering lines for climbing divas at the local crag. $50; adidas.com

UD Ultra Vesta. Hydrate right with this seamless women’s running pack that disperses weight well through a four-liter core compartment for a hydration reservoir and other trail necessities, smaller front pockets for quick access to nutrition, and symmetrical 10-ounce-bottle pockets located handily and comfortably in the front of the vest. $124; ultimatedirection.com Nutcase Water Helmet. Don’t find yourself at the put-in of this summer’s epic river trip without one of these bright and über protective brain buckets. $75; nutcasehelmets.com


Eureka! Cook Table. Unfolded, this counter stands at 32 inches, features a large, zippered storage cabinet, weighs 11 pounds, 3 ounces, and holds up to 90 pounds. $99.99; eurekatent.com

Switch Arya. It’s so easy to swap the lenses in and out of this female-specific and stylish frame thanks to a magnetic interchange system. Although buffing away smudges requires special attention so the lens doesn’t fall to the ground, this pair of shades fits comfortably and performs yearround. The Polarized lens works best in the brightest sunlight but as summer fades to fall, you might like to pop in the rose-tinted lens for low light conditions. The frames will stay put during activity and are durable and good looking enough to transition from your sport to kicking around town. $149; switchvision.com


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Bite+Burn. Takes the ouch away and helps heal sunburn, windburn, and bites with a natural cell stabilizer supplemented with organic aloe, witch hazel, lavender, and peppermint. $7.50; robertsremedies.com

Rayovac Virtually Indestructible Sportsman Lantern. Set this 400 lumen LED in one of its three light modes and relax in the glow of this small and handy, shatterproof lamp for up to 280 hours. $29.99; rayovac.com

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WAM • SUMMER | 2014


Partners W E E K E N D S 2014 C O M I N G

S O O N T O :

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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 |


We climb. We hike. We fight ovarian cancer one step at a time.




SUMMITFORSOMEONE.ORG TURN YOUR PASSION INTO YOUR PROFESSION Join the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition and invest in your future... today. Job Board (bit.ly/oiwcjobs) Regional Networking Events Interviews Mentoring

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 • SUMMER | 2014


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It’s Personal

Hiking the Holy Lands

How a Spiritual Crisis Led One Hiker to Where It All Began By Becky Kivlovitz


hiked the Middle East. Alone. At age 20. We barefoot danced in the light of the campfire as drums and harmonicas emerged from packs. Grass squished in our toes as we held hands, twirled, laughed, and sank, exhausted, into conversation. The poyke—a large cauldron full of veggies, meat, and beer—simmered as new hikers joined. Freshly picked cherries from the kibbutz stained our lips and hands a deep red. The full moon lit the trickling Hasbani River and the warm breeze carried our song into the mountains of the Israeli north: I was going to be okay. Getting “removed” from leading a youth ministry struck deep. I worked for years with the same group of girls, leading bible studies, adventures, and service projects. And then that time of my life was gone. Background: My atheist Jewish father married my nonreligious mother but, in a near death bout with cancer, my mom became a born again Christian. My parents, subsequently, divorced. My dad said my cross necklace reminded him of crusaders and the Holocaust. But Christianity was great. My life was service, adventure hikes into God’s creation, freedom from abuse and addictions, and a loving community. But Hell for the unsaved? Eternal suffering for my dad, brothers, Jewish family, and 68 percent of the world’s population? And what about other faiths? What made Christianity exclusively right? I spoke my Christian doubts to the ministry director, and after a few more meetings she suggested I step down from my position. I felt like I lost custody of my children. And my faith. What would Jesus do? I impulsively set out to trek across Israel, Jesus style. The whole first century package: I packed only what I could carry, including a book to record my travel parables, and I’d need to find a place to rest my head each night. I wanted the Jesus who tore up the Middle East, turning tables on materialism and legalism as he preached love, and I would hike those same deserts, mountains, and valleys on sections of the 620-mile Israel National Trail in the footsteps of my backpacking forefathers, exploring their words with my feet. “By yourself?” My mom was concerned. “Go for it,” my dad was thrilled. I started north at Kibbutz Yiron, and I immediately learned that the freedom and adventure I loved in Christianity wasn’t exclusive to Christianity. I splashed in waterfalls, explored secret caves, and set camp riverside before nightfall. Marked with white, blue, and orange stripes, the Israel National Trail traverses the snowcapped mountains of the north, the volcanic flats of the Golan, the hills of the Galilee, the beaches of the Mediterranean, the Negev Desert’s Sahara-like sand dunes, the African savannah in the Arava Valley, and southern Eilat with its granite mountains and Red Sea.


WAM • SUMMER | 2014

And there is no shortage of ancient ruins. As we approached a crumbling crusade watchtower, I asked Maoz, an Israeli hiker, what he thought about Jesus. “Jesus hung with Jewish people, pagan people, roman people,” he answered. “He met all those people and he learned from them. He sometimes taught them his lessons. We are all human beings. We want to live together and create a better world.” I later asked Tomar, a bearded Jesus-looking Israeli hiker, why humans even exist in the first place: “God, love, and foodsex,” he answered. “Foodsex?” I asked. He winked. I read my Bible less and listened to stories of people more. Farther down the trail, hiker Eyal shimmied up a tree to collect twigs for a fire to make hot tea with fresh herbs on a hike break. As we ate dried fruit and waited for the water to boil, Eyal explained his love for the trail: “It’s you, the skies, and God. You can’t run away from yourself. You meet yourself in a different condition, not in the regular way where you sleep in a bed, watch TV, and use the toilet. Because in nature, we are not ego, not fighting. No property and money. No, we are sitting here and we drink tea. There’s no money that you steal from me and I steal from you, and there is enough property for both of us.” He continued, “Out here, you think of many questions you never ask yourself. Where will I go?” These men reminded me of Jesus. I felt peace as I plunged into the cool, swampy Sea of Galilee to rinse off the day’s dirt—walking on water isn’t for everyone. And as my clothes dried, I lay outside in the warm night breeze, pondering under the stars. I knew then why Jesus, Moses, and Elijah headed to the Israeli wild to listen for God’s voice. I didn’t hear a voice, but I learned to love my questions and the mystery of it all. I used to think I could solve the Middle Eastern conflict if I could get everyone to believe in Jesus, but now I just wanted everyone out on the trail, dancing around a pot of poyke, and starlight reflecting. I think Jesus would approve. I found goodness in the infinite deserts, the golden fields, floating in the Dead Sea at midnight, and watching the vibrant corals sway in the Red Sea. I found goodness watching religious pilgrims desperately kiss the floors and walls of their religious histories. I found goodness in the kindness of both Jewish and Arab strangers. I found goodness in walking, laughing, crying, dancing, drinking, and eating with hikers of the world and its faiths. And I never did return to ministry. The ways of God are unsearchable and we have the world before us. We’ll love the good, fight the bad, and foodsex? Find online extras about the Israel National Trail and hiking solo at womensadventuremagazine.com. womensadventuremagazine.com

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