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Pursue Your

Passion Paddle

Jen Pharr Davis attempts a record on the Appalachian Trail


Cycle Thrive


SUMMER 2011 Display Until September 15


This national paddling champion shares her kayaking secrets on page 43

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fat tire amber ale is brewed by new belgium brewing fort collins co


Table of Contents



Pharr Hikes Phaster

What do you get when you divide 2,180 miles by 47 days? A new speed-hiking record. Jennifer Pharr Davis, who holds the women’s record for the fastest supported thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, aims to break the overall speed record this June. If everything goes as planned, the 26-year-old owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company will average 46 miles per day and finish in fewer than 47 days. But, we ask, why and how? She bares her soul and shares stories from her more than 9,000 miles on long distance trails.


23 Feet

Last July, Lisa Montierth and Allie Bombach packed into a 1970 Airstream and hit the road. Their goal was to produce a short adventure film about people living simply in order to pursue their outdoor passions. As they logged 2,600 miles through five western states they documented a colorful cast of dirtbag climbers, vagabond surfers, and soulful adventurers. While Allie produced a film based on their adventures, Lisa reflected on the lessons she learned from the colorful cast.


8 On the Map A world of adventure awaits 10 Pinpoint Great migrations 12 The Big Picture Authentic vs. insensitive 14 Media Reviews Books for summer 15 Man Handle The mountainsexual 16 Trend Sport-a-skort 18 Psychobabble Escaping stress outside 20 It’s Personal Reunion rejuvenation


24 Dream Job Overseas English teacher 25 Your Adventure Snapshots 26 I’m Proof Inspired traveler 28 Try This Bouldering 30 Destinations AK, MI, & ME 32 Roar Paddling against plastics 34 Whole Health Blood clots & birth control 36 Beyond Join a team







Lessons in camp stoves, raincoats, standup paddleboards, and our staff’s picks for bomber summertime accessories.


0 Road Cycling Hill riding secrets 4 43 Kayaking From flat- to whitewater 46 Parenting School’s out for summer 68 Marketplace 69 Musings

WAM • SUM | 2011  1


Rob Casey

Seattle-based writer, photographer, and avid standup paddler, Rob Casey is known for surfing every single wave he encounters. So when a passing tug kicked up a surfable curl during his first standup paddleboard race last summer, he rode it—all the way back to the starting line. “It was the end of my short racing career,” he laughs. Rob is a paddle-industry expert and author of a new book, Stand Up Paddling: Flat Water to Rivers and Surf (Mountaineers Books, $22), which easily qualified him to write this issue’s Roar profile of paddler Jenny Kalmbach (page 32). Kalmbach is helping to raise awareness about one of Rob’s pet causes: plastic contamination in the ocean. “I began collecting and creating still-life photos of items I find on the beach,” says Rob, whose list of everyday finds includes a Santa hat, shotgun shells, tampon applicators, and sake bottles—“research suggests they’ve floated across the Pacific from Asia,” he says. Rob also writes for SUP Magazine, Standup Journal, and Canoe & Kayak Magazine.

EDITORIAL Longest continuous time playing soccer

Longest hangglide flight




Fastest MTB downhill time on the World-Cup course at Leogang, Austria

Cycling Editor/Web Director Susan Hayse



Most beers drank during a 10k

Copy Editors Mira Perrizo, Michael Bragg Contributing Editor Jayme Otto

Longest distance on a unicycle in 24 hours



Most ambitious geo-political trek

Assistant Editor Jennifer Olson Contributing Web Editor Tara Kusumoto

Contributing Writers Jen Aist, Laura Binks, Rob Casey, Adam Chase, Melissa Gaskill, Alli Langley, Brigid Mander, Lisa Montierth, Kia Mosenthal, Emily A.P. Mulica, Abbey Smith, and Rachel Walker

Brigid Mander

Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based writer Brigid Mander spent the better part of the last decade traveling nomadically on ski adventures from British Columbia and the Rocky Mountain West to South America. After a stint writing ski columns for the local paper, she now contributes regularly to a blog at, The Ski Journal, Skiing Magazine, and ESPN Freeskiing, while also writing about adventure, skiing, and outdoor-industry personalities for a variety of other magazines and websites. “Usually I stick to sports-related topics,” says the Long Island, New York, native who wrote about blood clots and birth control for this issue’s Whole Health (page 34), “but those of us who think we are in the clear need to know the symptoms and potential for misdiagnosis when it comes to blood clots.” When she’s not writing, Brigid tries not to get too distracted from big mountain skiing and downhill mountain biking.

Contributing Artist Krisan Christensen Contributing Photographers Kevin Arnold, Roger Brendhagen, Jeff Chow, Glen Delman, Jenny Dengler, J. Di Grigoli, Silas Fallstich, Mick Follari, Ben Fullerton, Greer Glasser, Matt Hage, Lori Honrath, M. Houyvet, Alan Kahler, Caleb Kenna, Courtney Nash, Corey Rich , Tyler Roemer, Christy Schuler, Sian Tabor, Caroline Treadway, and John S. Vater

SUBMISSIONS For contributor’s guidelines, visit Editorial queries or submissions should be sent to Photo queries should be sent to Women’s Adventure is always looking for new and innovative products for women. For consideration, please send non-returnable samples to 3360 Mitchell Lane, Suite E, Boulder, CO 80301




I’d smash the 31-hour, 35-minute singles tennis marathon

Key Accounts Sue Sheerin 303 931 6057

Abbey Smith

“With climbing, you’re constantly pushed to the edge, both mentally and physically,” says 28-yearold Colorado native Abbey Smith, who’s balanced professional climbing and writing careers for the last decade,“and I try to do the same with my writing.” Climbing is Abbey’s unwavering passion and platform for (almost) all that she does, including this month’s Try This about bouldering (page 28), where she offers up advice geared toward beginner-intermediates and folks trying bouldering for the first time. Abbey’s own bouldering agenda focuses on “highball” bouldering, in which she climbs single, 20-foot-plus pitches. “I look for stand-alone boulders with distinct, proud lines—particularly in high alpine settings or exotic international destinations,” she says. Her adventures as far afield as Thailand and the Indian Himalayas have appeared in ESPN, Men’s Journal, Outside, Escalade, Climbing, Alpinist, Rock & Ice, Dead Point, and Urban Climber magazines.

2  WAM • SUM | 2011

If you could break a world record, which one would you go after?

Account Manager Lisa Sinclair 970 556 3279

Senior Multi-Tasker Extraordinaire Anne Blichfeld


Most spins on a snowboard off half-pipe

Longest underwater kiss


Multi-Tasker Extraordinaire Elizabeth Melton


Multi-Tasker Extraordinaire Meghan Maloney

Fastest three-legged half marathon winner

Copyright © 2011 by Big Earth Publishing. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is expressly prohibited. Outdoor activities are inherently risky and participation can cause injury or loss of life. Please consult your doctor prior to beginning any workout program or sports activity, and seek out a qualified instructor. Big Earth Publishing will not be held responsible for your decision to thrive in the wild. Have fun!


Tour for multimedia extras including:


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On the Web


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Does the mention of blueberry pudding make your mouth water? Ours too, so we snagged the recipe for you. Columnist Tara Kusumoto sat down with the authors of Campfire Cookery to ask about their fave ingredients, their cookout foibles, post-meal campfire activities, and lessons learned penning the almost one hundred recipes you can take outside. V IDEO :

Watch a trailer of the film 23 Feet that inspired Lisa Montierth’s story in this issue. Filmmaker Allie Bombach of Red Reel Video Media adds her two cents with an extension of the Q&A we started with her on page 52.

Get inspired about bouldering. Pro climber Abbey Smith shares images from her 2010 expedition to India where she and fellow climbers Pete Takeda, Jason Kehl, and Mick Follari put up new routes at the base of the Himalaya.

T h e Ot h e r S i d e :

Our columnist’s take on ecotourism is a tough one, and she’s got dissenters on every side. Keep track of the debate and form your own opinion about the good, the bad, and the middle-ground of ecotourism.


Our Trek-sponsored cycling toolbox is up and rolling. For tips, videos, and bike maintenance tips, check it out.

We are proud to partner with the following events. Look for Women’s Adventure at these locations.

4  WAM • SUM | 2011

Mick Follari, Alan Kahler


Editor’s Letter

Running Tours for Adventurous Women!

Victoria Falls

Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K

Victoria Falls, Africa August 19-31, 2011


t was the best moment of my day: when the standup paddleboard under my feet tilted and I didn’t fight back. I gave in, let go, and dropped into the water with a splash.

I’ve never really struggled with balance in its most literal sense. Not as a child gymnast, not as a novice cyclist, and not as I stood on boards all day, paddling for the reviews in this issue. I’m not claiming that I’m 100-percent steady—slacklining, occasional yoga poses, and even slick, muddy trails sometimes have me flailing for control—but when it comes to balancing on my own two feet, I usually manage better than most. Maybe that’s why my struggles this year to balance my life have come as a bit of a shock. Maybe that’s why as I shifted my weight, purposefully searching for (and finding) the instability sweet-spot of that board, I felt more than just the embrace of the frigid water. I felt a liberating release of my own expectations; I felt the mild panic of being overcome by momentum; I felt the giddiness of falling into something unexpected and invigorating; and I felt the hopeful anticipation of a fresh start. No amount of practice will make balance inevitable, and maintaining equilibrium is something that requires effort—at work, at home, and at play. What I’m just beginning to understand is that, unlike the muscle-memory perfection you’re trying for when you swing a golf club or visualize the crux of a climb, when it comes to practicing balance, you learn as much from consistent perfection as you do from complete and total failure. This issue provides proof that even some of our adventure heroines struggle with balance. Jennifer Pharr Davis juggles her endurance training with a successful business and an ambition to break the Appalachian Trail’s overall speed record (page 48). Jenny Kalmbach balances more literally—atop 16foot waves as she paddled across the Hawaiian Islands to raise awareness about plastic in the oceans (page 32). And almost every writer that I work with to produce this magazine—from freelancers to contributing editors—weighs family responsibility against careers and adventures that make the story of creating this magazine almost more inspiring than what you’ll read in its pages. Even here at Women’s Adventure, we’re finding a new equilibrium as we mourn the unexpected passing of our leader and our close-knit company’s owner, Dave Oskin. We’ve all struggled for balance whether physical or philosophical, fundamental or incremental. Until recently, my M.O. has been to hold on tight and try to make good of a teetering performance, to overpower imbalance and try to muscle it into submission. What I didn’t realize is that a shaky hold on balance is actually a blessing; it keeps me constantly engaged, nimble, and creative in my approach to challenges. And, like leaping off a standup paddleboard, succumbing to imbalance—giving in and allowing for a natural self-righting—isn’t as scary as I had thought.

Jeff Chow

I know it’ll be a challenge to balance my time and priorities this summer. My calendar is jam-packed with mountain-bike trips, family functions, meetings to plan Women’s Adventure’s future, weekends with friends, and fundraisers—a Project Athena trip to the Grand Canyon and the three-day Courage Classic benefiting the Children’s Hospital Foundation. Instead of fighting to control it all and grinding my teeth through the effort to balance it, I hope I’ll be able to continue to embrace the gentle teetering and swaying imbalance that’s part of my reality. Even if it results in an occasional dip into uncertainty or a cold re-awakening that sharpens my focus, I know that the practice won’t end in perfection. But I also know that it will ensure an exciting adventure education.

BASIC TOUR INCLUDES: 13 Days/10 Nights - Johannesburg & Victoria Falls Air on SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS, Including All Air Within S. Africa Victoria Falls, Zambezi River Cruise, Daily Safari Game Drives, Park Fees, Tips & Most Meals • Official Run Entry Fee From $ 5790.00 (double occupancy) from Washington Dulles (other US cities available), plus air tax Optional 3 Night Extension to Cape Town

Angkor Wat

Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K

Vietnam & Cambodia Nov. 26 - Dec. 6, 2011 BASIC TOUR INCLUDES: 11 Days / 8 Nights (3 Nights Hanoi, 5 Nights Siem Reap) Air fare on Cathay Pacific from LAX, Intra-Asia Air, Superior First Class Hotels, Full American breakfast daily, Special Lunches & Dinners, Extensive Sightseeing including famous Angkor Wat Temple • Park and Run Fees. $3,680.00 (sharing double room) from LAX, plus air tax

Optional 5-day Air Extension to Phuket & Koh Yao Island


Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K

Feb. 16 - 28, 2012


BASIC TOUR INCLUDES: 13 Days /10 Nights • Game Safari in Tanzania including famous Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara. Authentic Deluxe Camping Safari • Most meals, Run Fee, Pasta and festive Farewell Dinner • Optional balloon safari From $5780.00 (sharing double room) from east coast (other US cities available), plus air tax

Kristy Holland

Kathy Loper Events • 619-298-7400

Optional 6-day trekking extension to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro PLEASE CONTACT:

Follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook. We give prizes away to followers every week. WAM • SUM | 2011  5

16 Trends

Great migrations


18 Psychobabble 20 It’s Personal

Escaping stress

Making time

Matt Hage


10 Pinpoint


On the Map

On the Map Women’s leaders, readers, events, and adventures around the world…

Minnesota, USA “We hope to make it before the polar bears get too hungry,” says 22-year-old Natalie Warren of the 85-day itinerary that she, and paddling partner Ann Raiho, have planned for their 2,250mile journey between Minnesota and Hudson Bay. If they finish, they’ll be the first women to canoe the route and the first expedition to make the trip in 75 years.

England Chester Triathlon Club in northwest England hosts the Deva Divas Triathlon on July 10. Participants—about 300 novice and intermediate racers—start with a 500-meter open water swim in the River Dee then transition to a 25K bike and a 5K run through scenic Chester Meadows. Be prepared to warm up with a rendition of the kid’s classic: heads, shoulders, knees, and toes.



Whistler, B.C. Minnesota Spain

Mexico Hundreds of whale sharks—the largest of the world’s fish and docile swimming companions— congregate in the tropical waters off of Isla Mujeres each July. The 4th Annual Whale Shark Festival adds information-packed events, speakers, and films to the thrill of swimming alongside one (or dozens) of these gentle giants. July 15–17.

Washington, D.C.


Chile By the time she returns to Valparaiso in 2013, German paddler Freya Hoffmeister may have paddled more miles than any other sea kayaker—adding nearly 14,000 miles to her résumé by circumnavigating South America. In September, the 47-yearold plans to begin the first leg of her trip; She’ll start paddling south along Chile’s coast, round Cape Horn, and pull into Buenos Aires next spring with the first 4,700 miles behind her.


Washington, D.C. , USA With a mission to motivate and empower families to explore America’s wilderness, WAM Reader Jenny Dengler took off on a one-year road trip with her family. During Expedition America 2011, the three will average one week in each state while attempting to climb their highest peaks. Read more:

Spain With thermals triggered by warming limestone along the Pyrenees foothills, the skies above the Áger Valley will be swarming with paragliders during peak summer flying season. That’s also when 125 women pilots from all over the world and of all flying abilities will take to the sky in the second International Women’s Paragliding Open. August 28– September 3.


Canada With more than 12 weekend programs between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the Trek Dirt Series will introduce hundreds of women— mostly in Whistler, British Columbia—to riding on dirt. From technical jumps to basic skills, pro-level coaches will explain it all.

Where in the world are our readers? According to our Twitter and Facebook: all over the map. Readers mostly hail from the USA (about 70%), 8  WAM • SUM | 2011

Norway The adrenaline-fueled roll-call of events at Norway’s Ekstremsportveko reads more like the check-list of a suicide mission than a line-up of legit spectator sports. Hang gliding, climbing, wingsuit aerobatics, and whitewater kayaking are jam-packed into this week-long festival. More than 1,200 athletes from 30 countries attend to swap extreme-sport secrets, but even spectators can get in on the action: A $1,700 “Try it” package buys instruction in seven of the event’s 13 disciplines. June 26–July 3. Mongolia Navigating nearly 630 miles, 27-year-old Sophia Mangalee is one of four women who’ll be racing across rugged Mongolian steppes and plains in the 10-day Mongol Derby. Arguably the longest, toughest horse race on the planet, the event kicks of August 6 when Sophia and a field of 30 others will set out heading east on a course that’s only revealed two days before the event. The 14-hour-per-day action barely stops—riders switch horses every 25 miles or so and rest to feast on food provided by nomadic families camped out along the route. Germany



Germany Grace, strength, and athleticism combine in Germany this summer when 16 of the top women’s soccer teams compete in front of sold-out crowds in the 6th-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. “The future of football is feminine,” says FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter. With four years of build-up between tournaments, it’s likely to be aggressive, too. June 26–July 17.

South Africa

South Africa The June 25 event is sold out this year, but mark your calendar for the 2012 Big Five Marathon. The race traverses the savanna surrounds of wild lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo, and rhinos in South Africa’s Entabeni game reserve—the largest private reserve within the UNESCOdesignated Waterberg Biosphere. June 23, 2012.


Nepal With 73 Mount Rainier Summits behind her and having stood atop Everest’s South Col three times already, climbing guide Melissa Arnot is no stranger to high altitude. But early this summer Melissa and fellow climber Dave Morton will attempt to climb the world’s fifth-highest mountain—27,825-foot Makalu, on the border between Nepal and China—without supplemental oxygen. After Tackling Makalu, they’ll head to Mt. Everest to attempt Melissa’s fourth and Dave’s seventh summit there.

New Zealand Fly south this summer for a dose of winter. The 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games is 16 days of snow-and-ice sports competitions attracting 1,000 athletes from more than 30 nations. In addition to ski racing, curling, and an off-road triathlon, the 38 events—split between seven of the islands top resorts—include big-air comps, nighttime rail jams, and an adventure film festival. August 12-28.

New Zealand

but we’ve got healthy followings in Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Indonesia, and Mexico. We’ve even got 9 readers in Pakistan, too! WAM • SUM | 2011  9



On the Move Action-packed sightseeing in the world’s most engaging eco-systems. By Jayme Otto


Learn more about how to minimize your travel impact in critical wildlife habitats. We asked Reefs to Rockies founder and wildlife biologist Sheridan Samano to share wisdom gleaned from more than six years’ experience as a wilderness guide and planner. Read more at: womensadventuremagazine. com/web-exclusives

herd of elephants tromping across the Serengeti resembles a symphony. There’s a grace in their movement and rhythm in their synchronicity; they are a living, moving concert. But there’s something even more magical about animal migrations— they stir a sense of direction from deep inside our own psyche. It’s as if, witnessing such mass movement, we can’t help but be honest about where we’ve come from, and where we’re headed. We start to ask the tough questions about our own path, an inquiry that can lead to the realization that we need to move on, or out, or try a different course, or hold steady on the current one. Add one of these mega migration trips to your bucket list, and see where it takes you.

Monarch Butterflies, Mexico

The Great Migration, Tanzania

In the fall, as many as 300 million monarchs set flight on a 3,000-mile journey from the northeastern U.S. and Canada to milder wintering grounds in the volcanic mountains of central Mexico. During peak monarch activity—from mid-January to mid-March—is when you’ll see thousands alight onto a single tree, bending its branches with their weight, painting the entire tree orange, from trunk to bough. Five butterfly sanctuaries in central Mexico offer viewing opportunities, where you’re as likely to see a monarch-covered tree as you are to become a perch for one of the fluttering insects yourself.

Every summer, hundreds of thousands of elephants, rhinos, zebras, wildebeest, and gazelles, along with their predators (lions, leopards, cheetahs, and hyenas), traverse the Serengeti plain in search of food and water. The best time to witness this epic movement is June to October, but Tanzania’s early season starts in May and still serves up big game—plus countless birds and primates—before hordes of tourists take their turn. A traditional safari is the best way to see the action, so long as you’re on the lookout for an outfitter that promotes conservation and local community interests. You’re not likely to completely avoid the use of a jeep, but should be able to find a trip that includes ample exploration by foot. Getting there: Reefs to Rockies is a U.S.-based travel-planning firm with a handful of African safari adventures. Each itinerary is fully customizable, and your cost includes a donation to a local on-the-ground conservation organization.

Southern Right Whales, Patagonia

Polar Bears, Canada

By the time they migrate north from their Antarctic feeding grounds to give birth in lagoons off Argentina’s Peninsula Valdes, the Southern Right Whale may measure a whopping 60 feet in length. These grey giants are so dependent on the temperate, sheltered waters of the Gulfo San Jose, located between the peninsula and the Patagonian mainland, that it’s been protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. The best way to view the whales and their calves is by kayak mid-September through early December, when some of the 20-foot calves are playful, innocent, and likely to approach. You may hear them before you see them: baby Rights have a distinctive goat-like call, while adults are laid back, slow-moving floaters trumpeting water from their blowholes.

Between October and November, Churchill (pop. 923), in Canada’s northern province of Manitoba, houses more polar bears than humans. The small coastal town is a gathering point for bears during their migration along the coast of the Hudson Bay—where they wait for winter’s deep freeze to allow ocean-top hunting. It’s safest to view the bears from inside a “tundra buggy” with a guided tour, in which you’ll see young males play fighting and mothers with cubs. But there are also plenty of trails where you can hike out into the arctic tundra, along the coast, or venture into the treeline of the Canadian Shield’s vast boreal forest. Along with plenty of polar bears, expect to encounter caribou, arctic fox, and Arctic birds, such as snowy owl and gyrfalcon.

Getting there: Women-owned Sea Kayak Adventures works with a local outfitter on the Peninsula Valdes who has secured special permission to camp at a private beach on the lagoon. That means whale-watching right from your tent door, and no other groups to compete with while out on the water. Sea Kayak Adventures also includes a day trip to another area of the peninsula to view penguin colonies.

Getting there: There are no roads from Churchill leading to the rest of Canada, but there are six daily flights from Winnipeg and plenty of places to stay, ranging from hotels and bed and breakfasts to remote eco-lodges accessed by helicopter. Due to the high bear activity, the city of Churchill recommends visitors hike with a guide and utilize the tundra buggy tours, all which can be arranged upon arrival.

Covering more than 44,000 miles each year between the north and south poles, the Arctic tern holds the record for the longest animal migration. 10  WAM • SUM | 2011


Getting there: For a fun three-day weekend, fly into Mexico City, about a 3-hour drive (rent a car or take a bus) to the tiny village of Angangueo, home to two of the largest sanctuaries. Spend one day hiking the 140,000-acre El Rosario Reserve. Overnight at the rustic Posada Don Bruno in Angangueo, and spend the next day exploring the Sierra Chincua Sanctuary by horseback.

WAM • SPR | 2011  11


The Big Picture

Is the Tourist Footprint Ever a Good One? We’re drawn to off-the-beaten path locations because they’re remote and unspoiled—but is our presence there ruining them? By Jayme Otto


or the sake of full disclosure, I am a hypocrite. I just became the first American woman to trek across the West Bank of the Palestinian Territories, literally stomping all over a place where no tourist had been before. For nearly 90 miles through shepherd singletrack, from the city of Nablus in the north, down to Hebron in the south, there was no tourism infrastructure—no hotels, souvenir shops, ATMs, or McDonalds. And I loved every gritty, outsideof-your-comfort-zone moment. But—and here’s the rub—I wouldn’t recommend it. Not because the experience didn’t change my life, but because I don’t want other tourists going there. I don’t want to see a drive-through Starbucks accessible by donkey in the middle of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Or a “Guns ’n Moses” T-shirt cart outside of the monastery housing the tomb of Moses. And that’s the issue with us wanderlust types: we think everyone else is a tourist. Not us. No, no, we’re explorers. Or travelers. People who trod lightly, who blend in, who give back to the places we visit, who want to preserve the places we discover. But this is the mindset of everyone lured by unchartered waters—the world’s 5 million eco-tourists. In reality, whether you’re the first person to visit a place or the last, you’re still a tourist. Along with tourists comes money and development. That $20 I gave Nahla Awwad, a 36-yearold teacher in a tiny West Bank town, to feed me dinner and let me sleep on her living room floor… Well, it’s got her thinking. What if she opened a little bed and breakfast in her village? Pilgrims passing through on their way to visit the Abrahamic sites in the area might then stay the night instead of booking a hotel in the major city nearby. Next thing you know, some olive trees get cut down to make room for a scenic entry road, and busloads of tourists can stay right there in the village. And then a restaurant or two goes up. So, why not? Advocates of ecotourism would argue that the hypothetical development I’ve initiated in the Palestinian village of Awarta is organic growth based on demand. It’s creating cultural understanding between Americans and Muslims. It’s generating income in an economically suppressed area. Ecotourism is benefitting everyone, right? Maybe not. I think this perspective is misleading. This on-demand growth isn’t organic

Ecotourism noun \’e-ko-’tur-i-z m\ 1. Responsible travel to natural or wilderness areas that is centered on conserving the environment and e

12  WAM • SUM | 2011

“I don’t want to see a drive-through Starbucks accessible by donkey in the middle of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.“ growth—it’s opportunistic and fickle growth. An illusion that lures locals away from, in Nahla’s case, her teaching job. One skirmish between the Palestinians in her village and the Jewish Orthodox settlers just three kilometers away, and the tourists will stop coming. Nahla’s bed and breakfast stops making money. Meanwhile she’s already stepped away from her more stable career as a teacher and has now lost all sources of income. Well, maybe that’s a worst-case scenario. But what’s the best-case scenario? Palestinian-Israeli relations remain stable enough to encourage a surge of tourists and her bed and breakfast hits capacity every weekend? Giant desert eco-lodges go up, roads go in, camels are fed all-natural diets, and the area’s first Ironman triathlon is held at the River Jordan? Are those results “best case”? The metrics for determining the positive benefits or negative effects of eco tourism may never present a clear-cut net impact. There’s economic growth on the scale of GDP, but as an ecotourist, the growth I care about is tied to the way my own money contributes to the well-being of this new place. I don’t want my $20 payment to Nahla to build an infrastructure of travelerpacked internet cafes; I want it to help her send her daughters to college. I definitely don’t want my story—the story of the first American woman trekker in the West Bank—to result in the pollution of a culture, over-development of a landscape I want to protect, and overpricing Nahla out of her hometown. Is it better if I stay away? If we all stay away from the truly authentic places left in the world? I’m not sure I can recommend that either. n The Other Side “We don’t have all the answers,” says Kate Webb, “but we can’t stop people from coming to off-the-beaten track locations.” The 30-year-old Brit and co-owner of the Malawi-based Responsible Safari Company recently finished her Master’s thesis about the impacts of ecotourism on individual communities. Her attitude toward the topic is “based on realism,” she says, “but there’s a middle ground that can turn tourism into a positive.” Read Kate’s essay and response this story at




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improving the well-being of local people. WAM • SUM | 2011  13


Media Review

Books for Summer Summertime tomes with travel appeal By Tara Kusumoto

Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India


ive years in India is more than enough time to indulge a love of travel. But that’s not what NPR reporter Miranda Kennedy was after when she moved to New Delhi from New York. Instead, what started as a move to establish herself as an international reporter and world traveler evolved into Kennedy’s newly released Sideways on a Scooter, a thoughtful study of the tug-of-war between cultural tradition and modern freedoms that’s raging on the Indian subcontinent. The obvious contrast of Kennedy’s femininity and independence creates personal trials for her in India. But through the Indian women she meets—who balance womanhood with their culture’s changing ideals—she gains a full understanding of the country’s contradictions. There’s progressive Geeta, who aches for Bollywood-style love, yet remains drawn to an arranged marriage. And then there’s Parvati, a brash reporter who breaks cultural rules, both shunning and kowtowing to “this pure virginal Mother India bollocks.” Kennedy’s keen observations capture liberating glimpses into a new India, and she relays images such as “several black burkas [hanging] on the wall like so many molted snake skins” at the American-style gym, while offering historical context and data that lend credibility to her memoir-style writing. Indian families, for example, spend $7,000 more than average American families on weddings, even though the per capita income in India is 90 percent lower than that of the U.S. Indian cultural immersion, new friendships, and freelance reporting assignments that expose Kennedy to other south Asian perspectives— those of the expat community in Afghanistan and Indian Ocean tsunami victims—force her to reassess her own goals. At once a bold travelogue and serious reporting effort, Sideways on a Scooter captures the everyday moments that define not only a culture in flux, but an individual at a personal crossroads. (Random House, $26)

Pink Boots and a Machete:

My Journey from NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer


hat’s wrong with wearing lip gloss in the jungle? According to Mireya Mayor, absolutely nothing. In fact, she sees it as her alphafemale right. This former NFL cheerleader with good looks, a fiery Cuban personality, and sassy sense of humor is a legit scientist, but she has struggled to be accepted as a serious explorer. Pink Boots charts Mayor’s journey into unmapped territory: tracking gorillas in the Congo, protecting leopard cubs in Namibia, and extreme climbing in search of new species atop a remote tepui (a sheer, flat-topped mountain) in the South American country of Guyana. She retells gripping accounts of adventure and danger while sharing a passion for conservation that played a hand in tripling Madagascar’s protected areas and protecting the world’s smallest primate—the mouse lemurs she studies. A Fulbright scholar with a Ph.D., as well as wife, mother, and host of the television series “Nat Geo Wild,” Mayor proves in this book that she’s got the chops of a true scientist and explorer. She just looks great doing it. (National Geographic, $26)

CO O K I N G W I T H C A M P F I R E S T Y L E :

New encyclopedias of outdoor dining Campfire Cookery: Adventuresome Recipes and Other Curiosities for the Great Outdoors By Sarah Huck and Jaimee Young Finally, a cookbook with personality! Cheeky and charming, this camp kitchen must-have is overflowing with practical tips, humorous commentary that’ll inspire your next open-flame cooking adventure. (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $30)

The Camping Cookbook: 95 Inspirational Recipes—From Hearty Brunches to Campfire Suppers By Annie Bell Recipes that focus on simple ingredients and easy prep. Feta with pistachios in honey, chocolate toasties, and no-chop spaghetti puttanesca are sure to become family favorites. (The jury’s still out on the sour patch kid skewers.) (Kyle Books, $17)

The authors of Campfire Cookery share their fave ingredients, recipes for fun, and lessons learned at 14  WAM • SUM | 2011

Man Handle


Spotting the Mountainsexual Avoid a broken heart (and breaking his ego): learn to identify a posturing mountain man. By Adam W. Chase


hy, pray tell, would a guy ever want to look faster, more rugged, or stronger than he is? It just sets him up to fail and breaks his inflated ego. Who does he think he’s fooling, anyway? And yet it happens all the time, and we men, peacocks that we are, do it with fervor and panache. You know the city-guy type, the metrosexual, who embellishes himself with hair product and designer jeans. But many of my women friends complain about the athletic version: the guy who breaks in his Castelli chamois on a café stool instead of his bike saddle, whose Arc`teryx jacket won’t ever protect him from summit winds, and who avoids puddles to keep his Salomon trail shoes from getting muddy. He’s what I call a mountainsexual. What are they thinking—that they’ll fool a trail goddess or snow bunny? That you can’t tell the difference between a six pack and a beer belly? The mountainsexual sets himself up for failure—in his high-altitude pursuits as much as his relationships—by building a false pretense of competence and achievement.


He’d be so much better off being honest. There are laid-back lady riders and madam mountaineers—all looking for men their speed. Mountainsexuals end up turning off both groups; the former judge him too hard-core and the latter see straight through his GPS-app dependence. He ends up a welldressed disappointment, getting dropped on bike rides and under-achieving in his Under Armour. To compound matters, the mountainsexual’s prowess with unsuspecting urban hotties inflates his own expectations of himself. Thanks to his sensitive ego and insecurity, he also has a bad attitude when it comes to getting chicked.

What to look for?

Clues to Mountainsexuality • No muscle tone, despite shaven legs • No chalk marks on his climbing shorts • Gear is new, sparkly, or totally matching (i.e., he’s not a pro, he’s a “proser”) • Chain grease on his right leg or other amateur scars or marks • A bike, skis, or kayak are permanently attached to a rack that matches his car • He uses product, so his hair is always combed and never helmet-sweat–set. • Leaves his race number, body markings, finisher’s medal, or race shirt on long after the event is over • Carries his avalanche beacon but leaves behind his probe and shovel, or vice versa

Aside from keeping an eye out for these frauds, I’ve got another piece of advice for you: Apply a little self-scrutiny and don’t lose sight of the image that you, yourself, are projecting in your Patagonia dress or your too-core cycling kit. One of the arts of womanhood is misleading men, and it’s especially easy when men see past your imperfections, labeling you a trail goddess or underestimating the toned arms of a one-time ballerina— who couldn’t climb a jungle gym much less a 5.9 crack. Keep in mind that mountainsexuality isn’t gender specific and it’s sometimes better to sandbag and impress us than it is to disappoint us with a powder-puff performance. n








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Take a hike from stress Savvy reasons for a backcountry escape when you’re stressed out By Emily A.P. Mulica


-minus two weeks to our wedding day and my fiancé, Matt, and I are teetering on the edge of a stress-induced meltdown. We oscillate between thinking “no human way” and believing that we can actually manage our long list of wedding to-dos. Naturally, then, we should head into the backcountry for a few unplugged days of premarital bliss, right? I was the one, in fact, who had suggested this last-minute weekend—but that was two months ago, when I pictured myself, at this moment, much farther along in the planning and implementation process. As our wedding day drew near, I’d have already designed programs, created the perfect centerpieces, planned the music list, and completed a host of other tasks. What better time for us, and my future brother-in-law Craig, to disappear into the wilds?

ing person,” confirms Miller. “Another important part of having an adventure with a loved one is that it is often a new and unexpected event to share, unlike the ‘same old same old’ date night that couples can get stuck in.” In addition to the mental boost, schlepping a 35-pound pack for three days had the added benefit of toning my body, tuning into the fitness level that I’d hoped to peak around the big event. My husband and I aren’t exactly “gym people.” We spend our weekends skiing, hiking, and rafting, but have no interest in paying money to work out indoors with a bunch of other sweaty people. That said, we both wanted to look our best on the big day—and for the gazillion photos that we’ll someday show our grandkids. From the pack hoisting to miles of ascending and descending, backpacking is a full-body workout that lets you settle into deep sleep and de-stress with constant and arduous activity, but it’s also unexpected—a style of exercise that helps prevent complacency in your other workouts. Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress, notes that the body tends to adapt to any routine, and needs to be surprised. “Hiking takes me deep into the heart of nature,” she says, “so I get more out of it than any treadmill. The terrain varies, and one needs to use core stabilization muscles, too.” It’s not just that rush of endorphins and muscle surprise from the unfamiliar, says Miller. “When you remove the distractions and instead enjoy the great outdoors while exercising, you can get a double-dose of benefits.” Their bottom line is that that re-visiting a favorite outdoor activity will simultaneously be a better-than-average workout and more fun. While there are limitations to your last-minute trek’s ability to override an unhealthy lifestyle, there is potential for it to promote a healthier lifestyle post-trip. Not just in terms of your fitness, but also in terms of the relationships you may have been stressing as a part of the event planning. “Adventures and experiences

While logic didn’t turn out to be part of our decision to stick to the backpacking plan, I discovered that such a trip provided a revival that helped us to enjoy our wedding day even more. Stress, both positive—like a momentous life event—and negative, taxes your body, reducing body function, says author of Healthy, Sexy, Happy, Nancy Deville: “Once your adrenals reach peak output of stress hormones, your body is forced to go into survival mode, overtaxing your entire endocrine system.” She adds that taking a break and going into the wilderness is a great way to spare your body, mind, and spirit. “How many people have said, ‘I hardly remember my wedding, it was such a blur.’ The reason is, by that point your brain simply can’t process any more information.” It turns out that one of the best ways to prep for a big day—or any big event, be it a cross-country move, giving birth, or graduating from college—is to step away from the mile-long list of things to do, silence the unsolicited advice-givers, and put the event into perspective with some time in the out-of-doors. “Being outside is especially powerful,” says Caroline Miller, a professional coach and author of Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide, “and this impact is separate from any boost that comes from being physically active or being with people you enjoy.” According to a series of studies published in a 2010 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology, even just remembering your favorite trip to the wilderness can help reduce stress. The studies showed that the effects of being in or recalling nature made people feel happier and more zestful in as little as 20 minutes. “This is called having a ‘savoring’ mindset, and it’s a sign of a flourish-

A UCLA study suggests that testosterone and estrogen react differently with the stress chemical oxytocin: gendered stress responses may be very 18  WAM • SUM | 2011

are the only things that appreciate in value as time passes,” says Miller. No matter the event, taking quality time to re-connect and breathe some life into your relationships is a key to making them last. Unexpected trials that pop up during shared adventures can also be considered bonding opportunities. Late-summer backpacking in the Rocky Mountains, in our case, is an uncertain proposition and ripe for frustrating circumstance, too. The crux of our hike put us atop a mountain pass blanketed in thighdeep snow that pushed our 5-month-old puppy to the brink of exhaustion. In the three-plus years of our relationship, Matt and I had championed through trials and tribulations. But as my superhero fiancé struggled over the pass with 30 extra pounds of puppy in his pack, I appreciated the last-minute opportunity to witness our genuine, good-natured efforts as a team. It’s easy to get hung up on the tiny details while in the throes of planning, but taking a break from my own pre-wedding mania allowed me to return to the production process with a more effective and joyful mindset. Long-since recovered from our trials atop the pass but closing in on our big day, my darling reminded me that “It’ll get done,” as I scrambled to print programs, make my Greek grandmother’s baklava, ready the guest book, and otherwise tie up all the loose ends for the wedding. Everything did get done. I remember almost every blissful moment of it, and we look great in the pictures, too. n

Chemistry Decoded Fight or flight: Those are your body’s reactions to stress, whether you’re running from an angry bear or prepping for a high-profile presentation. While fleeing is usually the safest option from a survival standpoint, if you’ve ever had cold feet before a big event or felt overextended after a deadline, you know that those instincts aren’t always spot-on and the damage of long-term stress manifests in sometimes unhealthy ways. Chrissy Oberholtzer, owner of the Maesa Stress Management Center in

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Philadelphia, PA, confirms that your body’s endocrine system responds to stress by producing hormones that trigger a survival response but can also do damage if they’re pumping constantly or excessively. “The big problem with stress is that our nervous systems don’t know the difference between running from a bear, a wedding day, and a busy workplace,” she says. While short-term exposure to stress can give you a performance edge, longterm stress can do serious damage.


Short term

Long term

Epinephrine/ Adrenaline*

Muscle readiness and increased blood-flow to the brain and muscles allow you to out-pace and out-think a would-be attacker; used to treat cardiac arrest.

Prolonged increase in blood pressure results in hypertension and early onset diabetes.


Lowers pain sensitivity and increases memory allowing you to recall lifesaving survival skills and apply them despite injury; used to treat inflammatory diseases.

Suppresses immune system and increases healing time; reduces bone density and muscle tissue; linked to cardiovascular disease.


Regulates the reward and pleasure center of the brain and motivates goal-hitting action; enhances decisionmaking skills; reduces inhibitions and pain sensitivity.

Imbalances are linked to susceptibility to psychotic illnesses, including schizophrenia; linked to vasoconstriction and increased blood pressure.


Causes arousal and increases alertness by increasing blood sugar to provide energy in stressful situations; dilates airway for easy breathing.

Increases blood pressure; imbalances may result in hot flashes, palpitations, insomnia, and anxiety.

*Catecholamine, a group of stress hormones that are named for their chemical makeup.

different. Read more at WAM • SUM | 2011  19


It’s Personal

Making Time

Sometimes the best inspiration for a girls’ getaway comes from a group of guys. By Rachel Walker


will be backpacking around the Maroon Bells with three of my girlfriends the second weekend in August. I know this for sure, even though I’m writing in March as a late-season storm is blanketing the Rockies and the high country is months away from wildflowers and lush meadows. The dates are penned in and our route is all but certain, and I will do anything to bring this trip to fruition. We will be four women without kids, husbands, or boyfriends, and we will roam until the blisters pop on our feet and the sweat in the small of our backs dries into crystallized, salty stains. And that will be exactly what we want. Hell, it’s just what we’ll need. Like most women, my friends and I long for hours and days devoted to sunshine, adventure, inside jokes, and impromptu deep talks. We yearn to spend time together in the western landscape we love, to feel singletrack dirt under our knobby tires, to chase each other on runs amidst the turning aspens, to head out for a summer hike to lung-busting elevations. And yet, we don’t. A decade ago, it was easy to jump in one gal’s Subaru and adventure our way into dirt, grime, camp-stove burritos, and tailgate margaritas. Back then, we were unhitched, unmoored. Today we blame the relationships that turned into marriages, the mortgages that suck up the money we make, and the husbands (supportive, loving men, we assure our girlfriends) whom we hesitate to leave alone for days with the kids. We say we want to plan a girls’ trip, but as soon as the words leave our mouths, our minds race to the dollars and cents. How much? How long? How could we possibly make this happen? The real question we ought to ask is: Why? (Put another way, why not?) Retreating into the wild with my women friends is what keeps me independent, sun-kissed, and alive. Achieving the liberating and simple rhythm that comes easily in the outdoors, in the company of like-minded girlfriends, evokes a tribal solidarity: We are women, and together we will walk (or ski, or climb, or bike). In doing so, we’ll remember our strength, and ability. When there are no men around, we don’t shy away from the dreary tasks. We pitch tents, fix flat tires, wax our own skis, and solve problems. Take my backpacking trip with Evelyn in Colorado’s Indian Peaks in 2008. Five days of one foot in front of another, Chloe the Australian shepherd, and packs weighing 30 pounds. On day three, we sidled up to the base of Lone Eagle Peak on the banks of Mirror Lake. The snaggle-toothed mountain towered over the frigid water as ominous storm clouds billowed above. A quick skinny dip, and then we erected the tent and fished out dinner: tortillas, cheddar, dehydrated black beans, and, for an appetizer, powdered soup.

The rain erupted as the lightning illuminated everything. The terrifying crack of thunder nearly broke us in half. Chloe jumped out of her skin before shivering in fear. Evelyn and I were both nervous. I dashed into the tempest to rescue boots and packs from the deluge. She cooked dinner in the tent’s vestibule. We both comforted the dog. Then we started to read out loud as the storm dwindled, taking comfort in the other’s lyrical voice. I had gotten married five weeks earlier, and I hadn’t seen my new husband in days. Yet there was nowhere else I would rather be than confined in that tent reeking of wet dog with Ev, a true and intrepid friend. We passed the time as if it were red wine. This is not a closeness that could be replicated over coffee, or shopping, or at a book club, or a movie. In the intervening years between that trip and the making of this August’s plan, my friendships with my girlfriends accidentally devolved into tiny spurts of face time. We posted on each others’ Facebook walls and sent the occasional wistful email reminding each other of our bond. We went months without seeing one another. And then we went to Alta Ski Resort this spring. It was a rare girlfriends’ getaway, and we stayed at the Peruvian Lodge—a no-frills spot that is more like a youth hostel or a fraternity than a ski hotel. Think: luxe ski shack. At the Peruvian, my two girlfriends and I were the only women, among the 150-some guests, who were there without men. Seriously. The few females in the dining room at dinner sat at tables filled with men, groups of them, who told us proudly that they have been going on an annual guys’ getaway with the same crew for decades. Talking to those men—on the chairlift, in the hot tub, over roasted New Zealand lamb chops—I marveled at their simple commitment and lack of guilt. They did not overthink their choice. None said they questioned whether they should take an annual ski trip, leave the wife and kids, use coveted vacation time. They had a tradition they loved, and they honored it. As women, it is easy to succumb to a lifestyle where we put our needs last, fail to make “me” time, and gradually leave the wild world that helped forge our sassy, independent, adventurous selves. We taper off the backpacking expeditions, the off-season bike trips to the desert, the surfing from our

Friendships equal good health. In an Australian study, old people with a large circle of friends lived longer, and women with breast cancer who had 20  WAM • SUM | 2011

“We agreed on one rule: no guilt. We won’t feel bad carving out the time. We won’t regret the effort and money required to plan and take our trip.” thatched-roof home base in Baja. We gradually spend more time in scripted roles we’ve chosen: wife, professional, mother, companion. Ten years ago, I might have vilified those men at the Peruvian as selfish jerks who shelved their fatherly and husbandly duties at the expense of their loved ones (ah, the days of my omniscience). But now, married, with a baby, a job, and a dog, I admire them. They know something we don’t. And here it is: A person can check out from their family for a few days with their friends and everything will be just fine. The dog will get fed and so will the kids. The person who stays home will stay up all night and have cereal for dinner—and be happy. And the one who takes the trip will return rested and revived. Which is why, after a day of punishing our quads on Alta’s steeps, surrounded in the steamy hot tub by salt-and-pepper haired men with shaggy chests and backs, we planned our August expedition. Girls-only. It’s going to be demanding, breathtaking, and, with this crew, hilarious. But just because we aren’t inviting men doesn’t mean we won’t take a page from their book. In the Peruvian, we clinked our wine glasses and toasted our upcoming adventure. And we agreed on one rule: no guilt. We won’t feel bad carving out the time. We won’t regret the effort and money required to plan and take our trip. Instead, we’ll channel the dudes from the Peruvian. Sure, it’s ironic to take cues from bros on how to achieve the ultimate girl time. Who cares? It’s been too long since I’ve been in the wilderness with my friends. If it takes some prodding from vacationing ski bums to make it happen, that’s fine. I’m counting down to August. n no close friends were four times more likely to die from the disease. WAM • SUM | 2011  21

32 Roar

AK, ME, & MI

Stand up for something

34 Whole Health

Risky business

M. Houyvet


30 Destinations

WAM • SPR | 2011  23

Dream Job


Chrissy Huszczo

Still buzzing from a study abroad program in college, Chrissy Huszczo quickly found working in a cubicle constricting, so she quit her job in Los Angeles for something more handson—teaching English overseas. We caught up with her just after she finished teaching backto-back evening classes for 13-year-olds to find out what it was like to take the plunge from corporate America to South Korean classroom.



hat surprises you about living and working in South Korea?

People from home, back in the U.S., thought I was crazy to come here. They said it was a war zone. It’s not. I’m not saying that it’s easy to be here, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. The culture is just so different, and nothing can really prepare you for that. People are extremely hard workers here; they never rest. To stay home sick from work means you are so sick that you’d need to call 911. I was sick the other day, and my director actually came to my home and insisted I go to the hospital. I just needed to rest for a day, but that doesn’t really translate in this culture. I’ll never regret a second of any of it though; the entire experience has been so valuable, and so eye opening for me.

What inspires you about your work?

I’ve met people from all over the world and every day is so different from the life I had in corporate America. Just walking down the street to work is an experience in itself. And I absolutely love the kids. I’m one of only two foreign teachers at my hagwon, so the kids want to know all about what Americans are really like. The things that come out of their mouths can be hilarious. The other day, some of them told me that Americans are tall because we play basketball. The kids and I laugh a lot together. What challenges you about your work?

Not knowing the Korean language is challenging on a day-to-day basis. I’m taking classes, but I’ve been here five months and know

enough to be able to take a cab ride, which is a start. No one speaks English in this town. It’s not like Seoul. It’s also hard to make meaningful friendships because people who speak English are often only here temporarily. How did you make the leap from a desk job in the music industry to teaching abroad?

In college, I was originally an education major before switching to communications, so teaching has always been an interest. But honestly, there wasn’t a lot of planning involved; I just knew my career needed to be more of an adventure and that I loved to travel. I had a friend teaching abroad so I googled it, and a program in South Korea was the first thing that came up. There was an immediate opening for a teacher in Ulsan;


stomping ground: job:

Ulsan, South Korea

Teacher at G.A.T.E. English Academy

I sent an e-mail, had a phone interview the next day, and within a month had a visa and one-way plane ticket. What is a typical day on the job like for you?

I work at a hagwon, an academy that offers after-school enrichment programs in English, so my workday begins around 3:00 p.m. I teach back-to-back classes starting at 3:50 p.m. and ending at 10:00 p.m. My students are between the ages of six and 15. Classes for the younger students are 40 minutes, and 50 minutes for the older ones. I get a fiveminute break between classes and a 20-minute dinner break.

To find out more about what Chrissy’s life in Korea is like, read two blogs she wrote for us at 24  WAM • SUM | 2011

Courtesy of Chrissy Huszczo




Your Adventure Courtesy of (left to right): Nikki Hodgson, Courtney Muro, Christy Schuler

u Christy Schuler, 33; Santa Barbara, CA Forty-degree temps and the threat of waist-deep water didn’t deter Hawaii native Nichole Gutzeit from hitting a perfect Natarajasana pose—the dancer—atop a standup paddleboard near Santa Barbara, CA, last spring. Nichole’s fiancé Paul Reece submitted this photo taken by their friend and photography teacher Christy Schuler. “She didn’t fall off,” he says, attributing the board’s stability to Carbonerro “training rails” invented by Nichole’s brother, “but between poses you could hear her teeth chattering.”

s Nikki Hodgson, 27; San Diego, CA “For the record,” says Nikki Hodgson, who snapped this picture in Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert while on a girls-trip vacation, “Lawrence of Arabia makes riding a camel seem a lot more romantic than it actually is.” Nikki’s favorite moment of the multi-day trek was just after taking this picture: “It felt empowering to be doing a girls’ trip on our own in the middle of a region [the Middle East] associated with so many stereotypes discouraging women from traveling,” she says, “but, in this moment, we were just three girls lounging around on the rocks, soaking up some sun, talking about boys, and wondering what was for dinner.”

t Courtney Muro, 26; Sacramento, CA Heads or tails? That’s how Courtney Muro (right), Danielle Walker (left), and friends Kaberly Doerr and Jacqui Peters ended up on these quads outside of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. The girls—childhood friends from California—flipped coins or voted on the countries to visit during their 9-month travel, volunteer, and work tour of Southeast Asia last year. They added nine country stamps to their passports during that trip and plan to add at least a handful more when they set out to combine travel, volunteering, work—“and partying,” adds Courtney—as they explore South America this summer.

Want us to feature your adventure shot? To be considered, e-mail your picture and contact information to edit@staff.womensadventuremagazine. com ®

WAM • SUM | 2011  25


I’m Proof That...

I’m Proof That…

Travel broadens the mind. T

here was a time when I was unaware of most travel and adventure possibilities and when I didn’t even understand my potential to achieve them. But that’s history.

Sandra Ferguson hometown:

North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada ag e : 44 mot to : Do what fuels you. Follow your passions. jo b :

Before moving from Ontario to British Columbia as a teary-eyed and naïve 21-year-old I had never lived away from home, much less explored much of Canada. Still, I rode west on the train just to work in a ski shop. After that, my next big journey was a road trip down the California coast and to New Mexico. We had a Volkswagen Westfalia camper van and very little money, but my friend and I took our time and, over the course of two months we stopped to mountain bike in Moab and to camp along the coast. Utah made an impression, and my family has made three trips for more mountain biking, camping, and hiking.

Educator and coordinator for

AdventureSmart—teaching adventurers to stay out of (and get out of ) trouble. 5- m i n u t e p e ac e : Yoga after daily runs. S h o rt -t e r m goa l: Be true to myself, give to my children, and laugh. adve n t u r e hi ghli ght: Knowing that I help people “get informed and go outdoors” for safe adventures. I ’d r at h e r b e : Planning a trip. Anticipation is half of the adventure! Qu i r k y m ot i vato r s: The way the rain/ snow/weather feels on my face when I’m running, skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, and boating. Favo r i t e de st i nat i on: Moab, Utah M u s t - h av e g e a r : Lip balm! And Merrell hiking boots, a hydration pack from The North Face, and a toque—that’s Canadianspeak for a beanie—from a friend.

I’d never traveled alone or been overseas, so finally, at age 42, I decided I wanted to experience a day, a week, or longer with no agenda and the freedom to follow adventure. With my family’s support, I packed my bags and flew to France. My luggage missed a connection, so I explored Lyon until my bag arrived and then hitched a train ride south to enjoy views of autumn trees against the Pyrenees. A sign beside a country road in Figueres, Spain, advertised drop-in “Skyschool” (paragliding lessons). I signed up. Those flight lessons kick-started my adventures abroad, and they continued: skinny dipping in the Mediterranean, eating farm-grown lunches, and climbing a via ferrata in the French village of Llo. I’d looked forward to scrambling up Europe’s via ferratas— protected routes featuring fixed cables, bridges, and ladders that can be climbed without ropes or belays—since learning that they were originally built for troops to use during WWI.

“I’ve built memories and confidence in adventures exploring this great, wide world.”


l Beth age 7 Caught a 5-pound bass on a cane pole with my grandfather.

l Sandra age 15 Worked at a family greenhouse business in my Southern Ontario hometown of 124,000 people.

That was two years ago and now I am back at work as the coordinator of an outdoor recreation safety program called AdventureSmart. Work allows me to travel within Canada, speaking to outdoor clubs and training volunteers for search and rescue prevention programs. I’ve ventured up north, climbed to the 11,364-foot South Summit of Mount Victoria, and hopped around in the Gulf Islands on the Pacific Coast. It’s neat to see the other side of this huge country and it turns out that Newfoundland is one of my favorite destinations—it has beautiful land and a lovely coast but, most of all, lots of warm and friendly people. This summer, I’m eager to take my kids caving on Vancouver Island and hiking near the lakes north of Whistler. My experiences abroad and locally affect my approach to life, influence my lifestyle, and awaken my interest in challenging ventures. I’ve built memories and confidence in adventure, so I aim at inspiring my children to explore this great wide world. Some say that we only live once, but a friend recently pointed out that we only die once. Living can and should happen every day, everywhere. We just have to take advantage. Happy trails everyone—no matter where they may lead you,

l Beth age 12 l Beth age 19 Raised more Learned to sail than $15,000—including a Sunfish. $2,500 in chocolate-covered frozen bananas—for Makel Beth age 16 A-Wish Foundation in a Climbed my 30-hour dance marathon. first peak.

l Sandra age 21 l Sandra age 25 l Sandra age 30 Unsure what to Realized my pasGot married and study in college and sion for adventure pregnant. Began needed change— while working at working as a park moved 3,000 miles Grouse Mountain ranger. away from home. ski resort.


l Beth age 22 Competed in my eighth College Sailing Women’s National Championships and fourth dance marathon.

l Beth NOW I am on a mission to “buy a kid a burger” for Big City Mountaineers, and prepping for sailing season. l Sandra age 42 Took my first trip abroad—solo.

l Sandra age 40 Started working and traveling Canada to educate adventurers and train about search and rescue prevention.

l Sandra NOW Taking family caving, rafting, and standup paddleboard trip, and aiming to hike to an elevation of 14,000 feet this summer.

Is your story proof of something unexpected or inspirational? Submit your adventure tales and photos to us at 26  WAM • SUM | 2011

Courtesy sandra Ferguson and Beth Holland

Na m e :

I’m Proof That…

Every penny counts, especially to charities. Name:

Beth Holland

h o m e tow n:


’m a hiker, skier, and sailor, who discovered the outdoors as a kid. As an adult, my goal has been to give other children the opportunity to experience the wild, too.

Newport, RI

A walk to the beach with my two dogs.

5 - m i n u t e pe ac e : C h e c k li s t :

Food, water, gear, dogs, and the dogs’ gear.

S h o rt -t er m goa l: Raise money to pay for a big chunk of the food required by Big City Mountaineers for the summer. A dve n t u re hi g hli ght:

Summiting 14,026-foot Mt. Langley in California’s Sierras. I ’d r at h er b e :


We like to sing big-hair 80s songs while sailing. Q u i r k y mot i vato r s :

Wo r st a dvi c e I e ve r f o llow e d : Just before crash-

ing over a bump, head-first, on skis: “Bend your knees!” G o - to a dve nt ur e :

Hikes with my beautiful dogs. Favo r i t e a dve nt u r e de s t i n at i o n: Any regatta at

Malletts Bay on Lake Champlain in Vermont. An ugly but warm hat with the logo of sailboat-mast-maker Hall Spars on it. M u st - h av e g e a r :

In 1993, I signed up for an adventure-learning program called ActionQuest, where I learned about goal setting. My instructors challenged me to articulate tangible goals contingent on personal achievement, not dependent on external factors. So I did, and I learned to push myself not only athletically, but also philanthropically. It was 2008 when I finally set a goal to combine my athletic, outdoor, and philanthropic pursuits. Together with my husband, I embarked on a 9-month quest to raise money and climb Mt. Langley in the Sierras as a fundraiser through Big City Mountaineer’s (BCM) Summit for Someone program. I was hooked and wanted to do more. 1 1/31/2011 6:04:11 PM

Last summer, I accompanied a group of BCM teens on a week-long backcountry trip and helped to fundraise for it, too. This year, I’m still fundraising for BCM. People think I’m nuts. I set goals for only 12 to 18 months out, expecting new opportunities to arise and possibly change my direction. My immediate objectives involve hiking, sailing, skiing, and working with teens. I’d love to take on some technical peaks, but for now, I’m working to get my mountaineering skills on par with my fundraising ambitions. It’s good giving back,




Have an adventure while giving something back




7 day projects $299


l Beth in her 40s Find a creative career path to help kids— and myself—spend more time outside.

l Beth in her 50s Ski bowls and trees somewhere big, like Revelstoke or Whistler, and find a way to get even more kids outside.

l Sandra in her 50s Explore the Galapagos Islands, take an African Safari, go on an expedition.

l Sandra in her 60s Maintain a healthy lifestyle and continue challenging myself.

l Beth in her 60s Thru-hike the Milford Track, Patagonia, and/or the Tour Mont Blanc, and become a leader within a nonprofit devoted to getting teens into the wilderness.

l Sandra in her 70s Live in a little house with a garden, but travel to new and exciting places.



n Sophia in her 70s Teach my grand kids to ride.

n Bonnie in her 70s Make sure I look like I’m still 50.

and we might feature you in this department in an upcoming issue. WAM • SUM | 2011  27


Try This

How to

Your goal: problem solving. Rocks present puzzles, called problems in climbing-speak, and bouldering is the process of coordinating mind and body to overcome them. Climbing techniques—and climbing-toned muscles—may help you scale a stand-alone rock and power your way to the top of a problem. But in bouldering there are no rules, and creativity is key in vision and execution.

Bouldering Solve problems, challenge yourself


By Abbey Smith


t was a race, and I was scrambling on orangey-red sandstone boulders, pulling whatever acrobatic maneuvers I could to beat the boys to the top. As an exgymnast, I was limber, competitive, and fearless. I often heard the boys warn: “This move is too big for girls.” Their dismissal only made me want to prove the gangly goons wrong. I knew nothing about climbing technique, but outsmarting the boys with superior balance and hard-earned flexibility became a fun pastime. I never expected my life would eventually revolve around climbing similarly diminutive crags in the most remote and exotic regions of the world, but those first urgent scramble sessions happened more than ten years ago.

Bouldering focuses on the roots of all climbing movement, emphasizing powerful dynamics, full-body coordination, impeccable strength, and graceful flexibility. It takes place on individual spans of boulders, large and small, above a nest of foam crash pads for protection. The difficulty, control, and technical skill that makes for good bouldering is raising standards in all styles of climbing. And, according to 26-year-old Angie Payne, who set a new bar by climbing a V13—the hardest boulder problem yet climbed by a woman: “Women are definitely stepping up to the challenge.” Pioneer Bobbi Bensman confirms, “Nowadays, bouldering is very much a women’s sport,” she says. n

• Plan your attack before pulling onto a problem. Inspect every hold, scope the finish (or “top-out”), and imagine the sequence. Smart, planned, and conservative efforts leave you energy to continue climbing. • Prior to each attempt, re-align crash pads with the direction of any possible fall. Take note of uneven edges, gaps, straps, and sharp objects. Recruit a spotter (or two) you trust so you can climb harder and spend less time worrying about fall risk. • Climb with people who are stronger than you. Observing how they move can help you learn new skills, understand body positioning, and develop a strategy.

Gear Breaking into bouldering won’t break the bank and, with these essentials, you’ll be fully equipped.

La Sportiva Cobra Climbing Shoes ($120;

Verve Powder Ho Bouldering Chalkbag ($24;

Lapis Boar’s Hair Brush ($7;

• Climbing is a mental game. Try problems that push your personal limits and comfort zones, but know your limits. If you’re feeling on point, don’t hold back; if you’re tired or in over your head, know when to call it quits.


• Grope holds with unchalked and sweaty hands—you’ll sabotage the rock’s natural friction and texture. Keep your work area clean: Brush holds after every attempt. • Be afraid to be openly competitive with other climbers. Seeing another girl “crush” a problem is the ultimate motivator. “Healthy competition drives the sport forward,” says Angie Payne. • Let your attention stray while spotting other climbers. Play close attention to where the climber might fall, be ready to move quickly to help her avoid obstacles on the ground, reach for her hips, and help protect her head.

Marmot Kompresor Pack ($40;

Revolution Mission Crash Pad


• Let fear and insecurity limit your potential. If you’re scared of a particular move or the height of the boulder, gradually build confidence by climbing incrementally—one hold higher—than your comfort zone and practicing controlled falls. “Don’t give up,” Payne says. “Persistence is everything.”

Last fall Abbey put up first ascents on a climbing expedition to the Himalayas. See a slideshow at 28  WAM • SUM | 2011


When I started climbing, Lynn Hill was pushing free climbing standards and Bobbi Bensman was crushing steep sport routes, but I was most captivated by Lisa Rands, who was breaking barriers in bouldering. She proved that women could climb just as hard and high as men, and she made first-female ascents of extremely difficult and dangerously tall problems—climbing lingo for bouldering routes. At the time, this dynamic sport was widely considered “practice climbing” for longer roped routes but, in conjunction with the explosion of climbing gyms and because of easy and inexpensive access, bouldering has gained popularity and matured to claim an identity as a sport of its own.

• Take time to stretch your muscles and warm up your finger tendons before grabbing small holds and attempting difficult moves.


Chick Lit

Enjoy life in the wild with new spring books from National Geographic.

Only Pack What You Can Carry: My Path to Inner Strength and True Self-Knowledge Discover how outdoor adventure can help you “(en)lighten up” in this charming story of solo travels and life challenges that led author Janice Holly Booth— a self-proclaimed average working woman without a trust fund or any real survival skills—into uncharted territory. Follow her journey as she reveals how courage, solitude, introspection, and commitment became the foundation for her own life.

Pink Boots and a Machete: My Journey from NFL Cheerleader to National Geographic Explorer Who wears pink boots into the jungle and tracks wild animals like she’s stalking a cheating boyfriend? Dr. Mireya Mayor, primatologist, explorer, and Nat Geo WILD Channel host, who tells all about her most thrilling adventures in the field. Whether diving with sharks or standing down a gorilla, this compelling and often hilarious memoir reveals her relentless determination, indomitable spirit, and fierce love of animals and her commitment to protecting them. “Entertaining reading for the intrepid at heart.”—Kirkus

Fly Fishing Spots, National Historic Sites, Native American Sites, National Monuments,

Glaciers, Capital Attractions, Beaches, Wildflower Blooms, Fall Color, Bird-watching Sites,


Backcountry Lodges, National Battlefields, Rock Formations, Arches, National Preserves, National Monuments, Birding Locales, National Lakeshores, Scenic Drives, National Parks,


Birding Locales, National Lakeshores, Scenic Drives, National Parks, Epic Hikes, National Rivers,

10 Best of Everything National Parks This entertaining, information-packed guide is a treasure trove of best things to experience at America’s playgrounds. The 800+ picks cover all the parks—classic national parks, monuments, historical parks, scenic trails, and beyond. And the 10 Best lists feature natural wonders, wildlife, attractions, and activities—such as best waterfalls, caves, megafauna, epic hikes, night skies, backcountry lodges, and much more.





4 nights

Spend some time (nearly) alone. There are few actual trails in Denali National Park and Preserve—an area larger than the state of New Hampshire—and thanks to permit limits in the park’s 70plus units, overnight visitors are spread thin as they wander among glacier-fed streams, below towering peaks, and through natural habitat for caribou, wolf, and bear. Multi-day trips up your chances for prime permit areas. Try for a 5-day, 30-mile trip: Start by hiking south alongside the Teklanika River in unit 6 and cutting east across unit 5 and the Alaska-Range foothills before looping north along the Savage River in unit 4.


10,879 calories*

Worthwhile destinations for those with time, money, or energy to spare. Tiny Talkeetna faces the flanks of the Alaska Range and Denali National Park, a vast area encompassing some of the wildest lands in the United States, yet it’s within reach of civilization (barely). Twenty-hour summer —Melissa Gaskill days mean near-endless fun and adventure. Other fun




All aboard! Employ flag-stop service on the Anchorage-to-Denali railroad to absorb some authentic Alaskan atmosphere at the Talkeetna Roadhouse—an inn with a warm, welcoming bakery.

13550 East Main St.; (907) 733-1351;

E at

Fill up on Twister Creek Restaurant’s specialties: Denali Brewing Company spent-grain granola with yogurt and fruit for breakfast, beer-battered fish and chips for dinner.

13605 East Main St.;


Sing along—or just listen in—to some of Alaska’s best live music at the Fairview Inn. This 1920s-era saloon is always hopping with climbers, tourists, and locals alike.

101 Main St.; (907) 733-2423

Pl ay

Weave among Mount McKinley’s three most prominent peaks and stop for a glacier close-up below the Wickersham wall— one of the world’s most impressive faces—on a 2-hour flightseeing tour with Talkeetna Air Taxi.

$270–$385; (907) 733-2218;


Zoom over winter snow on Iditarod-style dog sleds with outfitter Wings & Paws Kennel. Two-and-a-half hours of runnerperched sled riding followed by s’mores. $150 per person.

Mile 96.1 Parks Highway, Montana Creek;


$2,940+/4 days

The miles-from-nowhere Don Sheldon Mountain House lies at 6,000 feet on the Denali massif, but fortunately it’s only a short hike from the glacier-cumlanding strip. Simply soak in the sight of Mount McKinley looming, or ski and climb glaciers with Alaska Mountaineering School guides. Room $135/night for four, round-trip flight $500/person, guide $1,900 per person. Custom packages also available.

DREAM adventure:

$1,045/4 days

Float crystal-clear waters spotting bears, moose, and eagles, hiking to waterfalls, and enjoying some of North America’s best salmon fishing with Denali Southside River Guides. Gourmet meals, riverside camping.

*To figure the energy values for this story, we used’s calorie calculator, the weight of 165 pounds, and these estimates for each 30  WAM • SUM | 2011

Silas Fallstich;

Talkeetna, AK

More than 6,260 feet of rolling elevation gain make the 92-mile road through Denali a thigh-burning ride. Tundra views, occasional glimpses of the namesake peak, and nearguaranteed wildlife sightings make it a once-in-a-lifetime trip, too. The pavement turns to dirt and the road is closed to private vehicles after 15 miles, so traffic is low, but regular park busses mean that help—or an out- or in-bound lift for tired riders—is close at hand. Bus reservations recommended; two bikes per bus.

Mount Desert Island, ME This rugged granite isle hosts a national park, bustling resort town, and access to woods dotting Maine’s rugged coastline.

Isle Royale National Park, MI Lake Superior’s largest island—also the centerpiece of a national park archipelago—is an isolated wilderness playground. time: 5


Hop aboard the round-island ferry with your kayak in tow and settle at McCargoe Cove before beginning a 4-day exploration of the island’s northwest coast. Spend nights one and two at Pickeral Cove and nights three and four base-camped at Belle Isle, while spending days scouting sandpipers, gulls, and even occasional eagles while paddling the Amygdaloid Channel, Belle Harbor, and Robinson Bay.

time: 3

energy: 10,692


Spend sunny days paddling sky blue waters along granite cliffs topped with pine trees. Local entertainment includes seals, eagles, and porpoises. Tuck into gourmet meals, complete with wine, and slumber near cobblestone beaches on some of the hundreds of uninhabited islands scattered throughout Bar Harbor. $399/person includes equipment, guides, and meals.

energy: 5,068


Pack a map when you take to the criss-crossing, hillside-skimming, 45-mile Carriage Road system at Acadia National Park. Crushed-rock surfaces, perfect for mountain- or cross-bikes, wind and circle through wooded hills to Bar Harbor vistas, traversing 16 granite and cobblestone bridges. Be sure to hit the Eagle Lake, Around Mountain, and Aunt Betty Pond loops for at least 23 thigh-burning miles.

money: $475/30

Know a girl who could use some adventure? Fun, creative, inspiring wilderness adventures . . . for girls ages 8–18.


The 42-mile trek along Isle Royale’s centerline ridge takes you from island extremes—the ferry dock at the Windigo Visitor Center to rocky outcroppings on Mount Desore, and coniferous stands near Rock Harbor to orchid-speckled inland lakeshores. Start at Windigo and hike north to Rock Harbor, catching peek-a-boo views of the island itself and the Minnesota mainland. Plan 3 to 6 days of hiking rugged trails and pre-arrange transport for this point-topoint.

money: $697/48


Upscale your Isle Royale experience with a lakeside room at Rock Harbor Lodge, four hours of fishing for lake trout and coho salmon, and a rented kayak to explore barrier islands stretching to the Rock Harbor lighthouse, roughly 7 miles to the southwest. Room: $252/night; Fishing charter: $388/4 people; Kayak: $57/day.

Strong girls. Strong women. Better world.


Acadia Air tours, Lori Honrath

Strap into a parachute, buckle into a World War II fighter plane, and spend thirty heart-stopping— and gravity-pushing—minutes of wing dips, barrel rolls, and even a loop that hits speeds of 200 mph above the wilds of Maine’s central coast. Or dial back the adrenaline with a peaceful thermal-fueled sunset flight in a glider. Nearly silent, glider flights can cruise directly above the park. (glider tours: 40 minutes, $369 for two). R e l a x Pamper yourself after a long day on the water with an aromatic salt glow body treatment or 80 minutes of stone massage at the Bar Harbor Inn & Spa.

Newport Drive,

E at Nab fresh-from-the-boat lobsters at Beal’s Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor. Eat your catch at one of their dockside picnic tables or boil it in your own kitchen at home.

182 Clark Point Rd., (207) 244-7178,

repeat Fall colors paint the course of the Mount Desert Island Marathon—voted one of the nation’s most scenic—as it winds from Bar Harbor past the Cadillac Mountains and around the Atlantic coast’s only fjord.

October 16;

explo re Scuba among Lake Superior’s shipwrecks on Isle Royale Charter’s five-day live-aboard trip. Bring your dry suit—Superior’s waters rarely top 52 degrees F.

The Grand Portage Marina;

Eat Catch your own lake trout or coho salmon and have it cooked to order at the Rock Island Lodge’s Lighthouse Restaurant.

Rock Harbor; 906-337-4993

repeat This seasonal destination is only open April through October, but make a list for next year: Hunt Isle Royale greenstones (the state gemstone) and otter-spot in Washington Harbor.

A progrA m of

April 16–Nov 1;

activity (16.5 hours of cycling in AK, 8 hours of cycling in ME, and 24 hours of hiking in MI). 303-938-9191 Strong Girls. Strong Women. Better World.

WAM • SUM | 2011  31



Standing Up for Something World champion paddler Jenny Kalmbach is raising awareness about an invisible—but detrimental—problem in our oceans. By Rob Casey


hey couldn’t actually see it: 16-foot waves blocked any sign of the Kauai beach where they’d land after 16 hours of standup paddling across the Ka’ie’iewaho Channel. But just because the goal was hard to spot, didn’t mean that Jenny Kalmbach and Morgan Hoesterey would give up. The women, both accomplished Hawaii-based standup paddleboarders, were on a mission to cross the 72-mile channel—along with seven other open-ocean channels before the month was out—and also to raise awareness about what Jenny calls “an invisible problem”: plastic debris in the ocean. Jenny, who grew up playing on Costa Rica’s Pacific beaches before moving to Hawaii in 2005, took the standup paddling (SUP) world by storm in 2008 when she started racing and quickly racked up trophies at the first annual Battle of the Paddle and the Molokai2-Oahu Paddleboard World Championship. “But even though I’ve spent a lot of time on the ocean,” says the 27-year-old, “it’s only within the last two years that I’ve realized what a problem plastic ocean debris really is.” Awareness is low because currents move plastic to the middle of the ocean or to remote beaches where tides concentrate it—and few people see it. “Plastic isn’t an in-your-face issue for most people on the water,” says Jenny, noting that during the women’s 300-mile paddle last spring, she never spotted any plastic in the water. That’s why Jenny and Morgan teamed up with Algalita Marine Research Foundation as the beneficiary of their expedition paddle. Algalita has been conducting research and raising awareness about dense pockets of plastic debris in the oceans, called gyres, since 1997. The organization was founded by a Captain Charles Moore after he sailed through the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre and noticed lots of pollutants—fishing nets, toothbrushes, plastic bottles, and bits of shipping

containers—which he later discovered covers an area as large as the state of Texas. According to Algalita researchers, 80 percent of ocean debris originates on land, and the best chance for reducing plastic contamination in the oceans is by reducing the use of plastics in general. Aside from making the first female SUP crossing of Ka’ie’iewaho Channel and cruising more than 3 degrees of latitude on their paddle across the Hawaiian islands, Jenny and Morgan spoke to community assemblies, reached out to conservation groups on each of the islands they visited, and looked for evidence of plastic contamination on remote beaches. It was on the island of Lanai, near the beginning of the trip, that the reality of plastic contamination hit home for Jenny. “We were visiting Shipwreck Beach on the north side of the island, and the entire beach was covered in bits and pieces of plastic,” she recalls. “It was shocking and really sad to see.” Through paddling, Jenny’s learned that it’s hard to stay focused on a goal when it’s not visible, and that’s one reason she thinks the movement to stop the problem of ocean debris has only just started gaining momentum as a serious issue and why she’s trying to help raise awareness about it. “People tend to not care about something unless it’s affecting them directly,” she says, pointing out that ocean pollution does impact human health. “As they break down, plastics leech chemicals into the water, and little bits are consumed by fish, which are consumed by people.” So what’s the lesson that Jenny and Morgan want people to take away from their mission? That reducing your personal use of plastics will reduce ocean contamination and health problems associated with plastic chemicals in the environment. “Our trip might not make people go out right away and buy a reusable bottle, and I’m sure some people will still take a plastic bag at the grocery store,” says Jenny, “but if they’ve heard our message, that’s a start.” n

How you can help in… …10 Minutes

Read up about how plastic debris affects beaches and the ocean. It’s what inspired Jenny and Morgan’s Hawaiian-Island expedition,“Destination 3 Degrees.” Watch trailers of the film about their expedition—it just hit stores in April—and share their message with friends via Facebook and Twitter.

…1 Day

Join more than half a million worldwide volunteers on September 17th for the Ocean Conservancy’s 26th Annual International Coastal Cleanup. In addition to removing millions of plastic bags and bits of plastic from beaches and waterways—events take place in inland rivers and lakes, too—the data gathered during the cleanup contributes to a report, which helps strengthen and focus policy initiatives for healthy oceans.

…1 Week

According to MarineBio, a Californiabased conservation organization, learning about the oceans is the number-one way to inspire an appreciation for their fragility. Their advice? Learn to scuba dive. Do it responsibly, with environmentally conscious dive operators, and stick to small-boat tours. Leave only bubbles, take only pictures.

…1 Month

Become an actual researcher and see a gyre for yourself. The Algalita Marine Research foundation’s research vessel—a sailboat called the Sea Dragon—makes cross-ocean cruises trolling for plastics and documenting evidence of plastic contamination. Pick a leg of a journey—from Easter Island to Tahiti, or British Columbia to Hawaii, for example—and spend time as a part of the crew.

In 2009, volunteers for the International Coastal Cleanup collected 1.1 million plastic bags and enough plates and utensils for a 100,000-person picnic. 32  WAM • SUM | 2011

Sperry Top-Sider’s SON-R Technology™ charts new waters with a revolutionary footwear collection that facilitates feedback to your brain about what’s happening beneath your feet. This patent-pending innovation provides a sensory “feel” on land or in water, enabling greater traction and stability on all types of terrain. Whether portaging over rocks, hiking through slippery streams or adjusting your feet inside your kayak, SON-R Technology™ lets you SEE WITH YOUR FEET, encouraging a more connected and inspired paddling experience. To learn more about Sperry Top-Sider’s SON-R Collection, visit


Whole Health

Risky Business

Knowing blood-clot symptoms can save the life of unlikely victims: young, healthy athletes on birth control. By Brigid Mander


hen 25-year-old endurance mountain bike racer Carmen Messina went to the doctor in June of 2010 with complaints of breathing difficulties, she was diagnosed with seasonal allergies and exerciseinduced asthma. Skeptically, she walked out the door with an inhaler, something she’d never needed before. A week before, at the end of the first bike race of the season, Messina felt great. She stood on the podium after an 8-hour cross-country endurance event—the first she had planned for the summer—and confidently anticipated a successful season before heading home to Jackson, Wyoming, to continue training. While in the doctor’s office, she wondered aloud whether her breathing issue could possibly be a side effect of Seasonique, a birth control pill she had been on for three weeks, and the only variable Messina could think of in her routine. “I remember the doctor saying that I didn’t fit the risk profile at all. So I pushed through the pain the next couple of days, thinking it was just inflammation from pollen, and went on one really hard ride … which turned out to be a bad idea.”

Health Organization. That risk is elevated due to birth control pills’ employment of estrogen. In conjunction with progesterone, estrogen is used to mimic pregnancy and tricks a woman’s reproductive and hormoneThe morning after that tough workout she awoke coughing up blood. Messina immediately called another doctor who ordered a CAT scan, which revealed two control systems to prevent pregnancy from actually occurring. Estrogen is a useful side effect to protect a mother’s blood supply during and after large clots and a plethora of tiny, more dangerous ones in her lungs. pregnancy and childbirth, when life-threatening blood loss is a risk. But estrogen in oral contraceptives raises the risk of clots in otherwise healthy The typical risk factors for blood clots affecting women on birth control are women whose blood supply isn’t a life-threatening concern. fairly well-known: blood pressure greater than 140/90, obesity, smoking over the age of 35, and inherited tendencies to clotting (i.e., family members with Third- and fourth-generation contraceptives (the most newly released) clots or strokes suffered before the age of 50). contain new formulations of progesterone to maximize beneficial side effects of oral contraceptives, including clear skin and reduced symptoms However, experts in ultrarunning and endurance racing are warning, with of premenstrual syndrome. But for unknown reasons, the progesterones increasing frequency, that there may be increased risks of blood clotting that in these new pills are suspected to increase the risk of blood clots one-andare specific to pro and endurance athletes. The long periods of physical stress, coupled with dehydration and prolonged post-race inactivity (when athletes are a-half times more than other pills, according to Christina Moran, a nurse traveling) can contribute to clotting. For female athletes on certain types of birth practitioner of family health and gynecology at a clinic in Jackson, Wyoming. control, these factors increase the blood-clot potential even more. Ultra-runner and Ironman athlete Robyn Dunn discovered that she’d developed blood clots shortly after starting on Yaz, a relatively new birth Several days after her initial misdiagnosis, Messina quit a training ride due to control pill that is one of the most widely prescribed. During a 50K race, leg cramps. She loaded up on electrolytes and water, assuming that she must still be recovering from the stress of the race. But by the time of her CAT scan she had difficulty breathing and had to drop out of the event—a first for a few days later, she was so consumed by her breathing difficulties that she had her. “I remember that I was out of breath on a tapering [short] run a couple of days before the race,” says Dunn, “but I never would have thought that forgotten all about the cramps, which were a definite warning sign. symptom was due to clots.” Like Messina, she didn’t connect the dots between her early symptoms and her race-day breathing problems. And The symptoms of blood clots are the same whether an individual is in a because she also didn’t fit the high-risk profile for blood clots, she was well-known risk category or not, and include one or more of the following: initially misdiagnosed and placed on anti-inflammatories for her lungs. Five eye problems such as lost or blurred vision, slurred speech, severe headaches days after the race, she went back to the emergency room with new chest (signs that the clot has traveled to the brain), severe abdominal pain, chest and back pain, and doctors found bilateral pulmonary embolisms. pain, shortness of breath, tenderness in the calf or thigh, or—as Messina experienced—severe leg cramps. Messina and Dunn were lucky to have made full recoveries—thanks to In general, within the female population taking birth control, the risk of clotting their diligence in seeking further treatment when their symptoms persisted. The sooner clots are identified and treated, the less damage they can do. while on oral contraceptives is 1 in 3,500, according to studies by the World TKGenny also volunteers the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition, an organization that professionals in the outdoor The genetic disorder, Factorfor V Leiden, increases deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism risksupports in womenwomen who take oral contraceptives by 35 fold. 34  WAM • SUM | 2011

This means that awareness of blood-clot symptoms, birth control’s active ingredients, and risk factors for clotting can lead to quicker diagnoses and easier recovery from potentially deadly clotting scenarios, such as deep-vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. Especially at risk are women with thrombophilias—abnormal blood-clotting disorders that are hereditary conditions. Messina, who eventually tested positive for Factor V Leiden—the most common hereditary clotting-gene mutation—should not have been on oral contraceptives at all. “I didn’t like the pill I was on, so the nurse in the office just gave me a free a sample of another pill and said, ‘Try this and see if you like it,’” she recalls, stressing that pre-prescription testing and screening questions should be a higher priority for physicians and nurses. In Messina’s case, her hidden genetic susceptibility only surfaced when she tried oral contraceptives, even though the pill she was on is one of the lowestdose estrogen pills on the market. Messina’s doctors saw her active lifestyle and put her in a non–risk-associated category, when in fact her intensive training schedule, race-pace efforts, and her hidden genetic mutation actually made her a high-clotting-risk patient. The lesson she learned from the experience is that young, active women have the responsibility of creating awareness in their doctors and pushing for recognition of clotting symptoms that their doctors aren’t looking for. “If a woman feels she might be at risk for blood clots, either because of lifestyle, family history, or maybe just not wanting to deal with the risk,” says Moran, who treats dozens of elite-level athletes at her clinic, “she should know there

are plenty of contraceptives that do not use estrogen—patients just need to tell their health-care provider they want to discuss other options.” After recovering from her embolism, Dunn also suggests not to be drawn in by slick advertising campaigns, and to ask serious questions about which method of birth control is right for each individual. “Television ads for these pills show cool, hip women having a good time. They aren’t great at portraying how dangerous these medications can be,” she says. “I want the medical community to raise physician awareness, and I want to take what happened to me and help others.” n

A Pill for Him? Is carrying a 28-pill packet putting an unwanted burden in your pack? You may soon have a chance to shift the weight.


or 50 years, the pill has given women control over their reproductive health and liberated us from unwanted pregnancies. But the novelty of liberation has faded, and some women want to avoid side-effects and bloodclotting potential, while others want to escape the grind of taking—and remembering—a daily pill. What’s a girl to do? For some of us, the answer could be: Go ultralight and pass the birthcontrol scrip to the man in your life. Recent studies suggest male hormonal contraceptives (MHC) could be on the market as soon as 2013 and the most promising methods are man-friendly and low-maintenance: quarterly injections or once-yearly

under-skin implants. Studies suggest that the active-ingredient hormones—mainly testosterone and progesterones—shut off sperm production with few side effects and that men would welcome the opportunity to have a little more control of their own when it comes to reproductive rights. It’s a win-win, so what’s the hold-up? According to Dr. Christina Wang, head of the MHC clinical trials at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, it’s a funding issue. “We know it works,” she says. “We just need support to make sure it gets to the market so people can use it.”

Some people with Factor V Leiden never develop clots, but experience another symptom: unexplained pregnancy loss in the second or third trimester.




The Weakest Link It’s a scary starting-line realization, but even the weakest link can be part of a winning team. By Kristy Holland

he three-legged race might be the ultimate team endeavor. It’s simple, there’s no world-championship pressure, and it’s an education in cooperation that even a couple of kindergarteners can understand. It’s impossible to perfect a hobbled canter, so most teams end up as a heap of giggles without any regard for their lost momentum. Let me be clear: That is not the kind of team event I signed up for. Or, at least, I didn’t think it was. When a mountain biking buddy, Jon, told me about the 24 Hours of Leadville Mountain Bike Race and asked me to fill a slot on his team, I hesitated. If I joined, my first-ever fat-tire race would have me riding upwards of 50 miles, onethird of them in the middle of the night and all of them at an elevation above 10,000 feet. As if that wasn’t enough to scare me, Jon—an endurance junkie fresh off a 46-mile overnight epic in the Grand Canyon—introduced the rest of our team: Rebecca Rusch, the women’s record holder for Leadville’s famous 100-mile ride, and Adam Chase, trail-runner extraordinaire who’d not only raced, but won, more than 20 ultraruns. I’d recently run my first marathon; last fall I finished a 24-hour race, and I’m no slouch. But I’d been riding mountain bikes for only two summers and, by comparison, I was clearly the weakest link.

Jon convinced me that I was wrong. He argued that my go get ’em attitude, my sense of humor when sleep deprived, and, in this case, my availability would be assets to the foursome. “And your bike’s in good shape, too, right?” he checked. “We’re just doing it for fun. Rebecca heads to the World Championships next week, so this is just a training ride for her.” I’m not sure whether that made me feel better or worse.

shared war stories from the trail. We swapped secrets about riding in the dark and offered each other advice on topics as wide-ranging as work and wheelbases, family and fork tuning. I, on my fastest lap, averaged 3 mph slower than Rebecca on her most sluggish circuit, but the team cheered for me, and I for them. We whooped every time someone took off from the start and hollered as each teammate rounded the last corner toward the finish.

Three days later, I was setting up camp, shaking hands with my professional-cyclist relay partner, and talking strategy about lap order with the boys. When the starting gun fired, Rebecca red-lined up the hill, her energy mirroring the crowd’s palpable excitement. I was terrified. I really started freaking out when I saw that she was in second place, completing the first 17.6-mile lap in an hour and twenty-six minutes.

When I finally rolled to a stop after my final lap, I’d helped land my world-class team in second place—behind the only other team in our division. I couldn’t have been happier or more proud. The race was simple, there was no world-championship pressure, and for me, it was an education in cooperation that, as a grownup, I finally understood.

When I stopped asking myself if I would let down my friends, if I could handle it, and if I’d ruin my We were in 12th place overall by the time I started team’s chance to win, I opened a door to an advenmy first lap, and, by then, I felt nauseous. But ture that I never expected. I—we—owned it, and when I finished, we’d only dropped a few more embraced our different abilities and strengths. We places, and I was glowing. The course was tough, were teammates with a comic approach to the entire but doable, and my teammates were waiting with ordeal, and our four-person effort ended in a kind of I’d never loved team sports, preferring hiking over high-fives and congratulatory hugs as I rolled into failure—and success—that wasn’t anything like the volleyball and kayaking over crew, and my aversion the transition area. piles of laughter strewn along the path of a threestemmed in equal parts from perfectionism and legged race. We were weary-eyed, dirty, each with a insecurity. That combination has kept me from joincouple of new scratches and bruises. But we’d enjoyed ing leagues and warming benches—as much for my We each had thirty-five miles of riding ahead of us, and, over the course of the next 24 hours, we a kind of forward momentum I’ll never forget. n own good, as for the good of the team. Right? Studies show that “free-riding” isn’t actually a problem for most teams, and, in fact, when a team’s membership has widely varying skill levels, the 36  WAM • SUM | 2011

Glen Delman


The Weakest Link

Team events are super-fun and offer challenges—and motivations—you’d never encounter on your own. Here’s a round-up of events, a few first-timer friendly, some funky, and some full-on, where you can bring your friends. Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series

Bike, run, balance, climb, and end with a sopping 60-foot slog in a mud pit. Between April and December, this 18-race series sends more than 38,000 participants—most in costume-bedecked teams of two—through a five-obstacle course spread out over nearly seven miles. Teammates alternate off-road running and cycling between acute balance or teambuilding efforts before they finish with wide, muddy smiles.

June 3

Cork & Run Relay; Indianapolis, IN; Optic Nerve 24 Hours of ERock; Castle Rock, CO;


The Longest Day; New Paltz, NY; A point-to-point format, Renegade Playground Challenge; Loudon, NH;

Courtesy of Muddy Buddy, Merrell Oyster Adventure Series, Kevin Arnold, TransRockies

Rock Dallas Adventure Race; Dallas, TX;


Ragnar Relay Chicago; Madison, WI;


SOAR Highlands Adventure Race; Highlands, NC;

Merrell Oyster Urban Adventure & Oyster Shooter; Pittsburgh, PA; Merrell Oyster Off Road; Bend, OR; Tough Mudder Colorado; Beaver Creek, CO; Plot, Pedal, Paddle Adventure Race; Dixon, IL; dragonazadventureracing.


Tough Mudder Colorado; Beaver Creek, CO;

July 2

12th Man Adventure Race; Navasota, TX; Thunderdown in the Underdown; Gleason, WI;


Adventure Extreme Adventure Race; Summit, CO;


Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; Detroit, MI; muddy-buddy. Cascade Cream Pull 100-mile Mountain Bike Race; Westfir, OR;


Equinox Traverse; Hidden Valley, PA; traverse.htm


Big Bear 2x12 Mountain Bike Race; Bruceton Mills, WV; 24 Hours of Pats Peak Mountain Bike Race; Henniker, NH;


Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; Atlanta, GA; Run, Row, Rock & Roll Adventure Race; Fairbury, NE; Green Mountain Relay; Jeffersonville, VT; Ragnar Relay Wasatch Back; Logan, UT; Muir South Kettle Classic; Mukwonago, WI; Boggs 24 Hour Mountain Bike Ultra; Cobb, CA;


Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; Buffalo, NY; muddy-buddy.


Odyssey Endorphin Fix; Oak Hill, WV;

Salsa Two-Four 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race; Hastings, MN; 24 Hours of Kirkwood Mountain Bike Race; Kirkwood, CA;



Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; Chicago, IL; muddy-buddy.

Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; Minneapolis, MN;


Levis Trow 100 Mile Epic; Hatfield, WI; Breckenridge 100 Mountain Bike Race; Breckenridge, CO;


Lake Tahoe 36-hour Adventure Race; Lake Tahoe, CA; Sheltowee Extreme 3; Morehead, KY;

Ragnar Relay Northwest Passage; Blaine, WA;


Merrell Oyster Shooter; Seattle, WA; Tough Mudder Wisconsin; Merrimac, WI; Odyssey One Day & Sprint Adventure Race; New Castle, VA; The Hardcore 24; Naples, NY; 12 Hours of Humboldt Mountain Bike Race; Arcata, CA;


Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; New York, NY; Tough Mudder Wisconsin; Merrimac, WI;


Kirtsa Griesacker Memorial Adventure Race; Hamburg, PA;

Merrell Oyster Racing Series Surprise! With as many as 10 checkpoints, a six-hour time limit, and a list of possible surprise events that includes bowling, eating, shopping, and—no joke—“scootering,” this race will keep you guessing all day. The goal: have fun as possible, raise money for local charities, and enjoy the challenge of corralling up to 6 team members on an unexpected adventure through your city. This series includes two off-road and a handful of sprint “Shooter” events, too.

24 Hour Races




Kwik Fill Kinzua Country Tango Adventure Race; Warren, PA;

Many hands—or wheels, in this case—make for light work. Twenty-four hour mountain bike events carry an intimidating mystique, but the reality of riding relay laps, cheering your teammates out of the starting gate, and reminiscing about midnight miles is pure, plain fun. The more folks on your team, the fewer miles you’ll be expected to ride, so find a group of like-minded friends, grab a bike, and saddle up for an unexpectedly good time at a “hard-core” event.


24 Hour Champion Challenge Mountain Bike Race; Seven Springs Resort, PA;





Wild West Relay; Fort Collins, CO; 24 Hours of Great Glen Mountain Bike Race; Pinkham Notch, NH;


Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; Boulder, CO;


Ragnar Relay Great River; Winoa, MN;


Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; Vancouver, B.C., Canada; Merrell Oyster Urban Adventure & Shooter; Portland, OR;


Gore-Tex TransRockies Run; Buena Vista, CO; 24 Hours in the Sage; Gunnison, CO;


OfficeMax Hood to Coast Relay; Mt. Hood, OR;


Merrell Oyster Urban Adventure & Shooter; Denver, CO; The Shag 12 Hour Adventure Race; North Jersey Highlands, NJ; Thunder Rolls Adventure Race; Oregon, IL;

24 Hours of Leadville Mountain Bike Race; Leadville, CO; The Blue Ridge Relay; Asheville, NC;


Adventure Extreme Adventure Race; Glenwood Springs, CO; Terra Firma Women’s Race; Cedar Park, TX; 24 Hours of Adrenalin; Idyllwild, CA;


Ragnar Relay Napa Valley; San Francisco, CA;


Tough Mudder Norcal; Squaw Valley, CA; The Big Mountain Adventure; Woodland Park, CO: Tahoe Big Blue Adventure Race & Sprint; Incline Village, NV; 24 Hours of Hanson Hills Mountain Bike Race; Grayling, MI; 12 Hours of Bradbury Mountain; Freeport, ME;


Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride and Run Series; Portland, OR; Tough Mudder Norcal; Squaw Valley, CA;


Ragnar Relay Washington D.C.; Cumberland, MD;


Merrell Oyster Urban Adventure; San Francisco, CA;

entire group is more productive. Also, most Americans think “being a team player” is the most important factor for getting ahead in the workplace. WAM • SUM | 2011  37



40 Road Cycling

43 Kayaking

38  WAM • SPR | 2011

Caleb Kenna

46 Parenting

WAM • SPR | 2011  39


Your Challenge: Commit to training for a ride at least 10% longer than any you’ve ever done. Timeframe: 3 months

Who’s Done It:

Kathy Ellingson | 59, Downers Grove, IL “My first road ride was in May 2009 but I began riding a couple of times per week and averaging 25 miles per ride. Then I heard about the Metric Melon Ride and decided to work toward the goal of completing 62.1 miles. I surpassed it by completing the 70 mile loop!”


Smooth and responsive, Giant’s Avail Advanced 2 is well suited to riders with high standards but with room to grow into a performance ride. Giant’s hand-tailored Advanced Composite construction ensures a light frame that optimizes power transfer and also absorbs vibration from the road. The oversized head tube adds stiffness that translates to confident cornering but with Shimano 105 components, you could also stop on a dime if you had to. This bike also earned extra points for style—the most noticeable, if not performance-focused, element of Giant’s 5-point system for designing women’s-specific bikes. ($1,930;

Emily Seagrave | 28, Boulder, CO “I basically went from zero to 157 miles in one swoop. First the event, then the bike, then my clipless pedals, and now I’m just trying to ride as much as I can. I’m not sure everyone begins biking in that order, but I signed up for a three-day charity ride this summer and I’m committed to completing the entire ride. Issue

Gender Gap Sure, there’s a Women’s Tour de France and a female version of the Giro d’Italia. The heroine of women’s cycling even shares a last name—though no genetic material—with the sport’s All-Star man of the century. But have you ever heard of her? Despite Kristin Armstrong’s gold medal in the 2008 Olympics and her dominance in American women’s cycling, probably not. “In order to grow the sport on the women’s side,” says Andrea Smith of USA Cycling, “we have to create heroes and role models out of women like Kristin.” It sounds easy enough: The 37-year old has a clean record, a glowing smile, and a brand-new baby on her hip, but with women’s races relegated to low-profile status and without big sponsorship dollars, it’s hard to put cycling’s top women in the spotlight. “It should be easy, because women cyclists have great stories,” says Smith, “but their only real chance to shine is at the Olympics.”

— Kristin Armstrong

Jokes of the Day: What’s the hardest part of learning to ride a bike? 40  WAM • SUM | 2011

(The pavement.)

“Goal-setting is the only proven way to excel in your sport.”

With Olympic-caliber esteem spread between 4-year intervals, it’s no wonder that the women’s membership of USA cycling has stayed steady— hovering between 12 and 14 percent—for the last decade. So how do women like Kristin make the shift from obscure, elite-level athlete to role models and push women’s cycling to the next level? According to Smith, sponsorships dollars and more prestigious events: “Growing the sport from the bottom up will help. We need more sponsors—like LUNA, for example—that are really dedicated to helping the sport gain exposure.”


Road Terms

Parlez-vous français? No? Don’t worry, you don’t have to speak French to ride bikes, but lots of cycling lingo originated from the country where the bicycle was first invented. Danseuse: Riding out of the saddle, standing up, usually with lots of lateral movement. Domestique: A rider who typically rides in support of a designated team leader. Echelon: A line of riders optimizing draft potential in a crosswind by riding in a diagonal line. Lanterne Rouge: Red Lantern, as found at the end of a railway train; used to describe the lastplaced rider in a race. Peloton: A large group in a road race; also called a field, bunch, or pack. Riders group together to save energy and reduce wind resistance. Soigneur: Equivalent of a trainer, a team member who helps maintain physical health of the other riders and gives massages.

Why couldn’t the bicycle stand up on its own?

(It was two tired.)

Road Cycling

m Skills

Skills Fitness

Queen of the Hill Don’t let an imposing profile scare you. Hills build strength, can add oomph to casual rides, and provide opportunity to perfect shifting, standing, and descending technique. Tackle ascents with a little forethought and you’ll be Queen of the Hill in no time. Rollers Maintain power and momentum with a quick cadence of 80-90 rpm. Attack at hill bases, maintaining effort equivalent to flats and increase intensity on steepest sections. Stand then downshift with every 5 rpm drop in cadence. Shift up near hill crests and recover on the descents. Tip: Accelerate at crests and, on the descents, use handlebar drops and a quick cadence (toward the base of the hill) to maintain momentum and transfer energy to the next climb. Isolated Hills Downshift on the last stretch of the approach to build speed and increase cadence to 80-90 rpm. On convex hills (steeper at the bottom), downshift early, and build power with high-cadence pedaling on the approach. On concave hills (steeper at the top), maintain speed on the approach and downshift as the grade steepens. Perfect shift timing with practice. Tip: Reduce tension on your pedals immediately before shifting to smooth the transition and avoid breaking your chain. Mountains Maintain cadence above 70 rpm but not above 90 rpm. Sit back in the saddle to increase leverage and leg extension. Stay seated as much as possible, standing occasionally to stretch muscles. Maintain low intensity to allow for extra effort on steep pitches. Tip: Weak and riding in a group? Try to start climbing near the front of the pack, which allows you to stay with the group as other riders gradually overtake you.



Saddle Up

Comfort is a major factor in riding pleasure—and pain.“A bicycle saddle can be a girl’s best friend or her worst enemy,” says Paula Dyba of Terry Bicycles, makers of more than 15 women’s specific seats. Remember that a proper bike fit can help resolve many saddle-soreness issues, but if you’re on a bike that fits and it still feels like you’re riding on a bed of nails, use this guide to choose a saddle that suits you: Problem

Sore tailbone; sciatic nerve pain

Soft-tissue pain or numbness

Chaffing along inner thighs

Look for

A cutout that extends all the way back, allowing for slight flex and eliminating tailbone pressure; gel cushioning for long-distance comfort.

A cutout or channel that prevents soft tissues from bearing weight; a flat sit-bone area to allow for shifts in sitting position.

A saddle back matching the width of individual anatomy—supporting sit bones—that narrows toward the nose.

Terry FLX Gel. A firm saddle with a fulllength, flexible channel. Great for long-distance riding and relieving tailbone pain. ($120;

Bontrager Affinity RL WSD. Specialized Lithia Comp Gel. Medium-firm with a gently A medium-soft gel saddle dipping nose channel and zoned available in three widths so density foam to provide comfort you can dial in your perfect fit along entire saddle. and eliminate chaffing. ($100; ($85;


D e s t i n at i o n s

Friendly Faces (and Places)

Not every corner of the USA is a cyclists dream—cars rule most of America’s roads, after all. But the League of American Bicyclists rates cities and states for bicycling friendliness with Washington State topping the list and Alabama at the back of the pack. Lucky for you, cycling-friendly-rated cities are spread across the nation, and every corner of our country offers up an epic ride. Enough to keep you busy for a long, long time. Northwest: Bend, OR For gentle climbs and 360-degree views of Mount Bachelor’s snowcapped peak, the 71-mile course of Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Road Race is a worthwhile destination ride. Set out from Wanoga Snow Park, west of Bend, for a clockwise cruise that starts in the Deschutes National Forest, rounds Crane Prairie Reservoir, and continues to Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, rolling over quick and gradual climbs between elevations of 4,400 and 6,400 feet.

Northeast: New York, NY Hop in the saddle at Bear Mountain Bridge in Westchester, then head north along the west side of the Hudson River through urban areas sprinkled within the dense green woods. Cross the river at the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, then turn south and loop toward your start point along the river’s east bank. You’ll cover hilly but not punishing terrain with 2,700-feet of vertical over 42 miles. Stick around to catch one of the weekly summer concerts at West Point.

Make the grade Instead of angles, cyclist measure roads in terms of percent grade. The measurement is simple to calculate (divide rise over run), relative, and makes it easy to know what to expect from any hill—anywhere. 10% - Steep. Most riders will walk and fit/expert riders will be near their maximum power output.



0% - Flat. Spinning is easy and cadence is fast.

6% - Moderate. Riding speed reduced by half or more and rise absorbing 80% of riding power. 2% - Gentle. Substantially reduced speed and incline sufficient to absorb half of power output.


Least Friendly

Cities rated for friendliness.

Southwest: Tucson, AZ Ride from the desert to the cool alpine temps atop Mt Lemmon. Begin the 21-mile out-and-back from Molino Basin Campground then spin out your legs on the flats in preparation for the steady 3,700foot ascent to the base of the Mount Lemmon Ski Area. The road is steepest between Bear Canyon and Windy Point—you’ll climb 1,500 feet in just two miles after exiting the canyon. Your effort to reach the peak is rewarded with views of Tucson Valley and cool alpine air.

Southeast: Blowing Rock, NC The hilly 51mile point-to-point along the Blue Ridge Parkway between Doughton Park and Blowing Rock, North Carolina, offers wildflower-laden views and speedy descents past sheer rock faces. This is no Sunday leisure ride, expect ridge-top rollers and a climb to the highway that’ll add up to more than 5,000 feet of climbing from either direction. In June look to open-valley meadows for fiery rhododendron and flame azaleas in full bloom.

You know you’re addicted to cycling if... you clean your bike more than you clean your house and you use wax on your chain, but not your legs. WAM • SUM | 2011  41

m Skills

Road Cycling (continued) Skill

Be Polite

Double Pace Line Riders line up in pairs

Riding in pace-line or pack formation requires that individuals, sometimes just inches apart, practice good etiquette and avoid potentially dangerous faux pas. Drafting off lead riders and riding close saves up to 30 percent of the pedal power you need to keep pace—even more in windy conditions—so the benefits of a pack mentality can outweigh the potential for crashing. Especially if you pay attention, be nice, follow the rules, and keep the rubber side down.

• Stay 10 inches behind the rear wheel of the rider ahead of you. • Keep the pace. Note the group’s average speed and effort so you can maintain it—not out-do it—when you’re pulling. • Look about 30 feet ahead so you have time to react if something goes wrong. • Point out hazards, such as broken glass or a pothole. • Signal steering intentions using hand signals (if you’re in front) or by calling out (if you’re in the pack). • Yield to overtaking vehicles. The rider in the rear shouts “car back” so the group knows to make way for the passing driver. • Relax.


the rating of helmets as a factor for reducing cycling-related head injuries and fatalities

70 Single-file Pace Line Ride single file when conditions are not suitable for riding two abreast

head injuries


percent of cyclists who wear helmets


effectiveness of helmets in mitigating head and brain injuries

upper age limit of most agespecific bicycle helmet laws


average age of cyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles

*Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

• Brake hard. Instead, slow down by taking a couple soft pedal strokes, sitting up to catch some wind, or feather braking (squeezing your brake softly while continuing to pedal). • Be a hog. Let others take turns pulling, share the workload. • Pull if you’re exhausted. If you’re feeling weak, drift to the back as soon as you reach the front or create space for other riders to move up in the line ahead of you. Take a turn when you feel stronger. • Overlap your front wheel with your partner’s rear wheel. If she swerves you’ll both crash. • Weave back and forth. Be predictable, and keep your adjustments small. • Whiz past slower riders. Say “on your left” and leave three feet when passing, “slowing” when you slow down in a group, and “stopping” if you must. • Follow other riders into an intersection without checking whether it’s safe for you too. Sign Language Know how to show your intentions.

Right turn

percentage of fatal bicycle crashes involving



Left turn

9,000,000 number of of daily bicycle trips in the U.S.

How a paceline works Groups organize either single file or two-by-two and take turns (called “pulls”) at the front before peeling off to the side and rejoining the group at the rear. The peleton cuts efficiently through wind and stays together in a predictable (read: safe) pack.


By the Numbers:


Glove Love

Circular Pace Line Advanced: Riders cycle in two parallel lines and circulate, each taking turn once coming to front

gear Fingers tingling? Does riding make your hands numb? You’re not alone. Seventy percent of riders experience cyclist’s palsy—damage to nerve endings that eventually zaps hand strength. Largely due to compression of the ulnar nerve under the palm of the hand, the condition is exacerbated by incorrect bike fit and handlebar padding that doesn’t provide cushion or relief. According to a 2010 study completed at HardinSimmons University, riding with gloves can help. The study focused on recreational riders, aged 21 to 51, and showed that subjects who wore cycling gloves maintained hand strength and sensation, and one third of the glove-wearing riders actually increased their grip strength. Get Some: Pearl Izumi’s Women’s ELITE Gel-Vent Glove is soft, cushy, sweatwicking, and uses gel-vent technology to help take pressure off hands. ($40;

Only one third of all bike accidents are collisions with cars, the most frequent cause of bicycle accidents may be collisions with other cyclists. 42  WAM • SUM | 2011



Timeframe: 3 months


Who’s Done It: Linda Ly | 30, Los Angeles, CA “Whitewater kayaking and rolling courses opened up a whole new world to me. I learned about technique and safety, but also boosted my confidence. I love being able to explore rivers and feeling the thrill of being in those powerful currents—instead of just viewing them from above.”

Kate Howe | 39, Aspen, CO “The biggest plus is not that I got certified to guide but that I was able to take my kids out in the water safely. Because I have a swift-water rescue cert, I felt so much better about teaching my kids to play in this environment! Water is an incredible, beautiful playground, and even those of us lucky enough to play on it all the time can benefit from an eyeopening, life-saving experience in a controlled environment.”


Courtesy of Recreation Engineering and Planning, Courtesey of Truckee River Whitewater Park, Courtesy of Recreation Engineering and Planning


Your Challenge: Take a river-based skills course.

Where the Action Is

Whitewater parks can facilitate a gentle lesson or serve up world-class standing waves. Anna Levesque, founder of Girls at Play—an organization dedicated to women’s kayak instruction—schooled us about the difference between natural and man-made whitewater parks, giving thumbs-up to man-made parks for accessibility and difficulty, but thumbs-down for lack of natural obstacles and unpredictable water behavior—water flows differently in real rivers, she says. Parks built on natural rivers win points for slow-moving eddies and natural rocks forming the riverbed, but man-made rivers offer a real challenge. There’s only one guarantee: No matter what kind of water-park you’ve got access to, you’ll have a great time getting wet.

Salida Whitewater Park Salida, CO

Green River Whitewater Park Green River, WY

Truckee River Whitewater Park at Wingfield Reno, NV

U.S. National Whitewater Center Charlotte, NC

Arkansas River

Green River

Truckee River

Enclosed system

Type; Flow

Natural; average summer flow: 700 cubic feet per second

Natural; 500–3,000 cubic feet per second

Natural; average summer flow 550 cubic feet per second

Man-made; peak flow 1,250 cubic feet per second


Hippies and high-country brews, not to mention stunning mountain views.

River rats playing in 5-foot holes and rafters floating the west’s least lethargic lazy river.

Brimming with swimmers, surfers, inner-tubers, and kayakers alike.

A playground for Olympiccaliber athletes, families, and casual observers.

Best Feature

Fun-to-surf play holes for paddlers ranging from beginners to experts.

Castle Falls, an adjustable 8-gate feature for advancedlevel paddlers.

Hole 4, where kayakers spend all day practicing playboat tricks.

The competition channel: challenging, fast class IV rapids.

Water Source


The more comfortable and efficient you feel with each pull through the water, the more likely you are to go boating again and again. The paddle you use affects your power and level of ease, so here are some things to consider when choosing one. Weight Whether aluminum, plastic, fiberglass, or wood, the ideal paddle weighs two to three pounds and has a heavier shaft with lighter blades. Blade Shape Blades will be slightly cupped and shaped either symmetrically or asymmetrically. Shaft A bent-shaft paddle keeps your shoulders aligned and your wrists in a neutral position to cut down on chronic injuries. Flex in the shaft makes it easier on your joints, and a smaller diameter is comfiest for a woman’s usually-petite grip. Length Tall women paddling long boats might like a longer paddle, as will those who paddle at a slow cadence. Shorter or quicker folks will likely do best with a short paddle. Not too heavy, not too light, just stiff enough, and with a medium-sized blade for both river running and playboating, Adventure Technology’s Play Glass paddle is a worthy choice. Available with a small shaft diameter and in a variety of lengths, this fiberglass paddle is durable in whitewater rodeos. Thirtydegree offset blades come standard, but custom offset options make this already versatile piece of equipment a no-brainer. ($200;

With more than 100 local club affiliates, American Whitewater is one of the most influential paddling advocates in the USA; WAM • SPR | 2011  43

m Skills

Kayaking (continued) Profile

Emily Jackson

Age: 21 Job: Professional Whitewater Kayaker Hometown: Rock Island, TN Favorite rivers: There are too many to name— the Nile River in Uganda, the Ottawa River in Canada, not to mention my home sweet home, Caney Fork River! Favorite thing about kayaking: The people you meet, the places it takes you, the killer body it encourages, and the freedom and feeling of being one with the water. Most used paddling skill: Keeping my head above water! As a whitewater kayaker I spend a lot of time upside down, good thing I know how to get back up using the roll! Short term goal: Win the ICF Freestyle World Championships in Platting, Germany. Biggest challenge as a pro: Giving myself a break. I have such drive to improve myself. When I wake up, I ask myself: What can I do today that will make me better at kayaking by tonight? Obviously the answer is to go kayaking, but some days my body wants me to spend time with a good book and a cup of tea. Long term goal: Living healthily and happily ever after.



Reading the Water

Predicting how your boat moves through the water is a hard-earned skill that’s complemented by an eye for what’s happening in the river around you. Knowing how to read currents and spot obstacles can help you pick a line that has—for lack of a better word—flow. Here are some pointers to guide your way: Know the nature of the river. In general, the fastest flow in whitewater will be down the center of the river. The current on the river edges moves more slowly. Follow downstream-pointing V shapes. They reveal the course of the main flow and are also called “tongues” of clear water. Upstream-pointing V shapes warn of rocks just above or below the surface. Always look ahead. The water is dynamic. If you’re just staring at the bow of your boat, you’re a step behind.

Clap abbr \’klap\ 1. A memory-friendly acronym for Communication, Line-of-Sight, Avoidance, and Positioning: critical elements for river safety.

Choosing a Kayak

Start Here

You need a sturdy boat that won’t tip when you cast a fishing line.

With a fatality rate of 15.2 deaths per 100,000 people, driving a car is much more dangerous than many adventure sports, including Scuba 44  WAM • SUM | 2011

Corey Rich

You’re an ambitious paddler and will conquer some class IV by year’s end.

Perception Essence 16.5, $1449; perceptionkay

You’re working you way up: slow-moving rivers this summer, whitewater next.


You seek speed on fast-moving water and live for play holes.

Dagger Approach 9.0 , $699;

hobie cat.c om Hobie Mirage Outback, $1,799;

II Polym Necky Manitou

er, $1,050;

The kids and their picnic will float the river with you.

Wilderness Systems Pungo 100, $699; w ildern esss yste ms. com

When the weather’s nice.

Women-specific kayaks are built to accommodate a low center of gravity. They’re easy to lean and usually smaller in the deck, but you’ll want to factor in other length, weight, and shape options, too. “A long boat can be loaded down but still carry its speed,” says Bob McDonough, senior designer for Confluence Watersports, who warns that loading down a short boat will only give you barge-like performance. “While short boats may be slower,” he says, “it takes less muscular energy to keep them moving.” So how do you choose between a stubby playboat and a tour-ready vessel? Bob helped us navigate the tricky waters of boat selection. You’ll take multi-day trips Just a few times a year. You’ll get on on rugged rivthe water... ers, big lakes, or In all my free time. touring coastal beaches


Chute An area where a river’s flow is suddenly constricted—energy and volume are compressed, amplifying the current into a narrow tongue of water.

Hole A feature that can hold boats and paddlers for extended “play.” Caused by water falling over a rock, dam, or other gradient, creating pressure sufficient to cause a vertical reversal of water flow and forcing some water to recirculate at the base of the drop.

Eddy A calm spot usually found along inside river bends and below obstructions where currents circulate, stop, or turn upstream. Often marked by a sharp boundary—an “eddy line”—of swirling water and bubbles where opposing currents diverge. Typically good places to stop, rest, or go ashore.

Pillow A cushion of water that often forms along the upstream edge of boulders. A large pillow—usually in big rapids—can often be used by boaters to avoid collisions with the obstacle or boulder beneath it.

Haystack A series of rhythmic waves resulting from the convergence and slowing of channel currents, usually associated with deep water rising, underwater obstacles, and ledges.

Riffle A section of river in which shallow gravel or sandbars cause numerous small surface waves.



River Features

GLOSSARY Whitewater is graded by classes I through VI. Think lazy-river for class I and highimpact, unrunnable rapids for class VI. No matter what type of river you’re running, you’ll sound like a pro if you use lingo that describes features accurately.


average number of days per year a kayaker spends on the water



percentage of kayakers who occasionally skip wearing life jackets


Paddle with your core. Rock-hard abs ensure that each stroke really counts, but strong obliques can also help with balance.“With each paddle stroke, rotate your whole torso and unwind with a twist so that your abs are doing most of the work, not your arms,” says women’s waterfall record-holder Christie Glissmeyer, who ran Oregon’s 82-foot Metlako Falls in 2009.

4Life Climb



RA es: t a HonEe of these sit a s u ter at Join Regis

Paddle Strokes Stroke

These strokes will help you position the boat skillfully and stay on your line.

What It Does


Forward Stroke

Propels forward and increases speed

Place blade in water well in front of you without splashing. Pull blade back using whole body.

Sweep Stroke

Turns kayak or corrects direction

Reach forward. Place paddle in water close to hull, driving face outward. Sweep paddle out and back to finish stroke near stern.

Draw Stroke

Helps adjust lateral positioning

Extend paddle in desired direction of movement and pull the submerged blade’s driving face toward you; when the paddle is vertical, twist it 90-degrees (to reduce drag) and remove it from the water. Replant blade to continue momentum.

Paddle Brace

Helps prevent flipping in rough water

Lean into the wave or rapid to counter the water’s force. Using your body weight, place your blade’s driving face flat on the foam.

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

diving (3.5), climbing (3.2), whitewater boating (2.9), bicycling (1.6), skiing (0.4), and hunting (0.7). WAM • SUM | 2011  45

Your Challenge: Sleep in a tent for 4 nights.

Timeframe: 3 months

Who’s Done It: Stefi Lai | 29, Switzerland “The best part is the fresh air in a tent and the sensations—you hear, feel, smell, all that’s around you. If you can keep yourself and the kids warm, it’s the best sleep ever.”

Stacy Stelling 37, Denver, CO “We are outdoor people, so we want that for our daughter too. She sleeps great in a tent and I’m breastfeeding, so it is super easy to get her out and I don’t have to pack any food for her.”

By Jen Aist


m Skills

Pa c k


A knife? A lighter? A compass? The traditional list of “hiking essentials” isn’t right for kids. But that doesn’t mean they should set out unprepared, even as part of a group. What can kids carry, or how can you modify the ten essentials to be kid-friendly? Here’s some advice for prepping kids and for teaching them how to handle emergencies: Essential

Should kids pack it?

Do This

Navigation: map and compass


Teach: If you get lost, stay in place and do not wander. Your group will look for you, and if you stay put, you’re most likely to be found.

Sun protection


Prepare: Slather kids before setting out. Teach: Seek out a shady, but not hidden, place to wait for help.

Extra clothing


Pack: A warm layer and a hat. Teach: Stay warm and dry, and keep your head covered. Staying warm helps conserve energy.

Illumination: headlamp or flashlight


Pack: 12-hour glow sticks. Teach: Memorize your surroundings in the daytime so you can imagine them at night and avoid being afraid.

First aid supplies


Prepare: Pack a kit yourself, unless a child requires a specific medication and knows how to administer it; in which case, pack them with a one- or two-dose supply.

Fire: lighter or matches


Teach: Stay warm by creating an insulated “bed,” keeping clothes on, cuddling with friends or a pet, and using your emergency blanket.

Repair kit or tools


Pack: A signaling whistle and CD or smooth-sided reflector for signaling search aircraft.



Pack: A high-calorie energy bar or gummy energy chews for emergency use.



Pack: Use a heavy-duty Ziploc bag to store emergency equipment. Teach: Stay away from moving or deep water, and use the bag as cup for collecting water from puddles or off leaves.

Emergency shelter


Pack: Lightweight and reflective space blankets or a heavy-duty garbage bag with a 6-inch slit cut in it as a face hole


Leave No Trace Even little feet can have big impact on natural spaces, but Leave No Trace educational program manager Sarah Folzenlogen says lessening kids’ impact is easy. “It’s not about not enjoying the outdoors, you don’t need to tiptoe,” she says. “Leave No Trace is about leaving outdoor places better than we found them.” Sarah offered kid-friendly explanations for a few LNT ideas. Stay on trails. “When you’re in nature, it’s like you’re in animals’ homes,” says Sarah,“and it’s important to respect their space.” Sticking to established paths also reduces erosion, and you’re less likely to damage tiny plants, injure animals, or scare creatures away from trailside nests that you might not even notice. Pack out your trash. Litter alongside trails or in rivers is ugly, sure, but it can also make animals sick, says Sarah. “Always bring a bag to pack out your trash, and you can make a game out of picking up trash you find on the trail.” Keep a safe distance from wildlife. “You might startle or upset animals,” explains Sarah, “ and that can make it unsafe for you, too.” Sarah calls her trick for estimating a safe distance the Rule of Thumb: “Put your thumb up and your arm out. Close one eye and point your thumb toward the animal. If your thumb covers it completely, you’re far enough away to enjoy watching the animal safely. “ Bring a camera and/or binoculars. Animal sightings and spotting new, unfamiliar things make exploring nature even more fun.“Seeing animals and taking pictures helps create a story for each outdoor experience,” says Sara.“It’s like being an adventurer or scientist and allows you to share your trip with friends.” Be observant. “There are a lot of hidden treasures in the outdoors,” says Sarah. She suggests looking all around—including above and below you—and keeping a list of the plants, animals, and natural objects you see. “You’ll find that you saw more than you realized,” she says. Learn more about Leave No Trace and its programs for kids at Slide on sun glasses


Slip on sun protective clothing

S’s to beat the sun

Seek shade, especially during the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Slap on a widebrimmed hat

Slop on 1 oz. of sunscreen every couple hours

A T-shirt blocks just 50 percent of the sun’s UV rays, even less if it’s wet. Look for clothing with a UPF rating above 25 or use a wash-in treatment 46  WAM • SUM | 2011


Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke Don’t wait until kids say they are thirsty; keeping your crew hydrated is your numberone defense against heat-related sicknesses. Start your day by having everyone drink a pint of liquids, and if you’re nursing, be prepared to do it more often. Know the symptoms and signs that the heat is taking a toll: Heat Stroke

An excessive loss of water and salt due to sweat. If left untreated, heat exhaustion will progress to heat stroke.

When the body is no longer able to regulate heat because a rise in body temperature shuts down the sweating mechanism.

Warning Signs Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, dizziness, headache, nausea/ vomiting, fainting

Warning Signs Extremely high body temperature (103 degrees F +), red, hot, or dry skin that isn’t sweating; rapid or strong pulse; headache; dizziness; confusion; unconsciousness

What to do Drink cool beverages, rest, take a cool shower/ bath/sponge bath, and wear lightweight clothing. Seek medical attention if symptoms are severe, if the victim has heart problems, or if the victim has high blood pressure.

What to do Seek medical attention. Get into shade and cool the victim rapidly using any method available (immersion or sponging in cool water); monitor body temperature until temp drops to 101 degrees F. Do NOT give fluids to drink.


Keep Cool Sweltering summer days don’t exactly encourage kid-friendly trail epics, but you can still enjoy outside time if you plan ahead and choose destinations that are heat-wave free. 1. Get wet. Lakes, ponds, and lazy rivers are swim-tastic targets, and lounging in water is a sure-fire way to drop your body temperature. 2. Head to the hills. With every 1,000 feet of elevation you gain, temperatures drop about five degrees. Just be sure to do your climbing in the cooler morning hours. 3. Pick a trail with trees. Terrain features like cliffs and valleys can throw some shade your way, too.

Kid Q&A




Heat Exhaustion


the number of children and adults who attend camp each year



percentage of ACA accredited camps offering wilderness trips



percentage of overnight camps that are girls-only

What’s the secret to getting kids interested in the outdoors? We went to the experts— the kids themselves—to find out.

“Find out what your kids like the most—chocolate always works for me—and bribe them. The bribe will initially get us excited about whatever you’re planning, and, in the end, we’ll feel like we’ve accomplished something, but we’ll get the chocolate, too.” —Joslyn Spizak, age 11

“Make it fun. My mom always says nature is like Disney World and she lets us turn it into an amusement park of our own—we can explore rocks, play games, and bring friends. I especially like overnight trips where it really feels like we get away from everyday life and are on vacation.” —Jake Sheerin, age 12


Floatation Kids don’t float, and drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1–4 and 10–14. Whenever your kids are near the water, make sure they’re strapped into one of these life-saving personal flotation devices.

Kid weight: 9-25 lbs. Baby Bijoux baby vest ($80;

Kid weight: 30–50 lbs. Stohlquist Nemo PFD Child ($50;

Kid weight: 50–90 lbs. BOB from MTI ($60; mtiadventurewear)

such as SunGuard. One treatment is effective for 20 washes. ($2; WAM • SUM | 2011  47

Photos courtesy Jennifer Pharr Davis

Pharr Hikes

Phaster There's No Such Thing as Too Fast for Jennifer Pharr Davis

By Jennifer Olson


he’ll climb up frosted summits, stumble over exposed roots, tiptoe around wildlife, run over ankle-turning boulders, and walk—a lot. Her daily routine will entail slogging through snowmelt, and laboring down muddy trails will test her grit and punish her body. But Jennifer Pharr Davis is on a mission; this summer, the fastest woman to have ever hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) will hike all 2,180 miles of it again—with her sights set on smashing the men’s record, too.


n what’s become her tradition, early on day one Jennifer and her husband, Brew, will set off together to the trail’s start at the summit of Mount Katahdin, Maine. From there, she’ll begin a 47-day march south along the nation’s longest marked trail toward its southern terminus atop 3,780-foot Springer Mountain, Georgia. The word “march”—even with its connotation of discipline and purpose—seems too mild a noun to describe what she’ll be doing. To break the current AT speed record, Jennifer will have to reach Springer’s summit in fewer than 47 days, 13 hours, and 31 minutes.

In order to do it: she’ll deprive herself of sleep, hike for 16-hour stretches, eat 6,000 calories a day, and bandage scraped knees and bruised elbows that will follow inevitable tumbles. But she’ll also pause occasionally to relish the “mountain top moments,” 360-degree views, and talk to trailside friends, including a species of orange newt she finds “cute.” A self-proclaimed girly-girl, it’s not in Jennifer’s nature to enjoy being dirty or uncomfortable, but she’s always had wild ambitions and a knack for realizing goals. As a 21-year-old Classics major and college tennis player, Jennifer traded in her racquet for a hiking stick (a mop handle, actually) and completed the AT as a solo thru-hiker in 2004. Until then, she had no backpacking experience and only three nights of camping under her belt, but Jennifer transformed that summer from a cultured scholar and one-time beauty pageant contestant to a lanky, long-distance hiker known on the trail as Odyssa—the female version of Homer’s epic hero Odysseus. In keeping with these contradictions in her personality, Jennifer felt more beautiful after days on the trail than she ever had in a beauty pageant, and she discovered an awe in

nature and her passion for long-distance trails—a passion, she says, that some people misinterpret as an obsession. “The trail gets in your mind and haunts you,” she says. “You start thinking about it at unexpected times.” Unable to resist the call of the trail, Jennifer drifts to it every chance she has. She’s so dedicated that she even created a lifestyle that allows her freedom to hike as much as she wants. “We work really hard during the [school] year so we can play during the summertime,” says Brew, a teacher in Asheville, North Carolina, where Jennifer is a “professional hiker.” She founded the Blue Ridge Hiking Company there to encourage and enable others, especially women, to hike. And she spends her time guiding, speaking, and writing about her beloved outdoors. “When we aren’t thruhiking, we’re planning when we will be able to do it,” Brew says, pointing to a list of dream trips they keep on their refrigerator as proof.

Since her 2004 journey, though, hiking has become more of a joy. “I still learn about myself on the trail, but it’s not scary to me anymore,” she says. Not much does scare her these days; she accepts that she’ll get cold and wet, and hungry and dirty on the trail. Having a modified expectation of comfort makes trail-life feel normal: “Once you don’t feel entitled to the things we have in our daily society, the trail starts feeling like home. Some people have beach cottages. I have my tent.” Doyle understands Jennifer’s rebellion against convention. “Societal institutions by their nature limit us, group us to the lowest common denominator,” he says. “All the rules and regulations limit people who want to move forward and test themselves. We live in a 5- to 10-mile-a-day world. The only place where we can really expand or test our limits is out in nature.” Testing her limits is important, but speed records weren’t Jennifer’s original goals for getting onto the AT. A series of casual encounters with more experienced hikers planted the speed seed, and curiosity drove her to hike farther and faster—putting up speed records on Vermont’s Long Trail in 2007, Australia’s Bibbulmun Track in 2008, and her AT record later that year. With this summer’s hike, she says, she’s exploring her potential and won’t forfeit the hike unless something out of her control forces her to stop. “I want to make the most of my time and ability while I still have them.” Just knowing she did everything possible to attempt the record, though, will satisfy her. Whether she beats her personal record, the overall record, or no record at all, she’s grateful for the excuse to be on the trail, and the chance to say that she tried. “Just completing the AT for the third time is a feat in itself,” she says. “Only good things could come from it. Why wouldn’t I want to try something where all the results are beneficial?”


Though she hasn’t always been a hiker, Jennifer has always been active. The former Division-1 tennis player, marathon runner, and Ironman finisher loves sports but really “felt the connection” during her first trip on the AT. Brew adds that speed hiking long distances combines everything Jennifer likes: challenging herself, solitude, and experiencing nature. “This was both literally and figuratively another mountain to climb,” Brew says, boasting of his wife’s natural athleticism and mental stamina. “She’s probably the toughest person I’ve ever met,” he says with pride. Strength and resolve aside, as far as her goal for this summer is concerned, Jennifer says she’s not trying to prove anything about herself. “I want to illustrate what it means to do something challenging,” she says, explaining that she doesn’t shy away from challenge because discipline and hard work end with great rewards. “It’s good to try something my body hasn’t been able to do before,” she says. It was that physical and emotional challenge of hiking that first lured Jennifer into the woods. “I had a lot to figure out,” she says. “My 2004 thru-hike was five months of stripping back the layers and finding out who I was.” Warren Doyle, the AT aficionado who founded the Appalachian Folk School and is a mentor for Jennifer agrees: “Every time she goes out there, she loses another layer of cultural conditioning.”

f Jennifer’s success on the trail doesn’t define her, what does? Brew says God and her faith take first priority, and that the trail is secondary to their relationship as a couple, too. Hiking doesn’t even rank third, though. “She’d say that the prospect of our family, of having kids, is more important than the trail,” Brew says, hinting that they want children soon. Until then, they’re tackling this summer’s record attempt as a team. “Sharing the trail with Brew has made me a better hiker,” Jennifer says, laughing since it’s mostly true because he slows her down and balances the intensity of her outdoor experience. “I love hiking all day, but he wants to take a break and read or stop to cook.” Without Brew around, there’s only one surefire way to get Jennifer to take an extended break: Stage a wildlife encounter. She’s seen close to 100 black bears on the trail and is proud of how she handled an emu charge in Australia. She especially loves a portion of the AT in southwest Virginia called Mason Highlands, where wild ponies roam the jagged and exposed landscape. “I get way distracted there, because I want to chase the ponies and take pictures,” she said, finally admitting her central weakness. “If you want me to stop hiking all day every day, then put an animal in front of me.” Andrew Thompson, take note.


hompson is the trail runner who holds the current AT speed record. The two are friends but differ in their approaches to speed hiking. While Thompson ran 120 miles per week leading up to his record, Jennifer’s training plan includes mellower mileage— and plenty of gardening. She gets fit pulling weeds and mowing her

But now, Jennifer has nothing to prove. Since her 2004 voyage, hiking has

become more of a joy. "I want to make the most of my time and ability to do it while I still have time."

expansive lawn but does work in runs, averaging a still-impressive 20 to 100 miles per week. “I want to give myself every advantage possible,” Jennifer says, also explaining that her start date depends on trail and weather conditions in northern Maine. She’ll wait for most of the snow to melt from the mountains and only depart from Mount Katahdin with a clear forecast. Even if she’s lucky enough to start with blue-bird days, she expects hiking through Maine and New Hampshire’s grueling terrain to be “the ten most painful days of my entire life.” It’ll be full-contact hiking, she jokes: “You think hiking is with your feet, and then you get to southern Maine.” On top of the rugged trails, no one will be around to help boost her over boulders or pluck her from the mud, so positive self-talk will get her through those sections that make her want to sprawl across the trail and cry. Her on-trail routine, which she plans to keep up for 47 days straight, includes hiking from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., falling into her sleeping bag shortly thereafter, and waking up before sunrise the next morning to complete another 16-hour hike. All those pre-dawn to post-dusk days will add up to about 752 hours outdoors, not counting nights. Every day will exhaust her, so she’ll depend on Brew and other friends for support, mainly meeting her at road crossings with food and water. “It’ll be intense,” Brew says, “but relaxing, compared to the usual routine and life we have in Asheville.” Finishing in record time will require their entire focus, and Jennifer just wants a fair shot at going fast without distractions or outside influences. To break 47 days, she’ll push aside the desire for comfort and any fear she’s let slow her before—like hiking in the dark. Her anxieties will only include things beyond her control. One of her big concerns is that, with so much media attention focused on the speed record, her hike will be interrupted by reporters looking for interviews. But there won’t be any time or energy to do anything but hike. There won’t even be time, she hopes, for worrying what other people think if she starts to falter. “I don’t want to let society impact me while I’m on the trail. I don’t want anyone telling me that not finishing is a disappointment or that finishing in more than 47 days isn’t good enough.” She’ll try to resist societal influences

that might corrupt her motivation or, worse, convince her that she’s trying to prove something to other people. “This hike is a personal endeavor,” Jennifer says. “Knowing and focusing on that truth will serve me well.” Brew calls this summer’s effort her “last hurrah” as far as record attempts. Children are in their future, and Jennifer is eager for the day she has kids. “It’s hard to see all my friends building families when I still have dreams I want to pursue,” she says. “It’s lonely when you’re still waiting.” The couple wants to take their youngsters on the trail every summer. “But it’ll be different,” Brew says. “We’ll do day hikes and shorter backpacking trips.” He’s doing shorter hikes this summer, anyway. He trekked up to 20 miles a day during Jennifer’s 2008 record, but is recovering from an ACL injury this year. He’ll be lucky to hike 6 miles a day, and his diminished mobility leaves Jennifer uncertain about the strength of her team. But his handicap is just one of the million little things, like black flies and mosquitos, that could affect Jennifer’s time on the trail. Only, she’s faced insects and setbacks before. She’s never completed a supported thru-hike without Brew being able to run in and alert her when something happened off trail, or boost her mood when she’s feeling lonely. At least he’ll be nearby because, as Jennifer likes to say, “It’s easier when you’re hiking toward the person you love.”


any people, Jennifer clarifies, are faster hikers than she is. But the key to her record-setting success is consistency. And that’s where being a woman becomes an advantage. “It’s part of our makeup to just be consistent rather than competitive,” she says. “It means we’ll put in more miles than those hiking fast. I’ll just start hiking early and stop late. People who go faster get tired earlier.” And despite her records, speed hiking is never the emphasis of her public talks or guidebooks—Jennifer ultimately aims to promote trails to women and children. She thinks positive outdoor experiences can help solve some of the problems she sees in society, like the overconsumption of food and material goods. “The biggest blessing of the trail is that it makes me more the person I want to be and teaches me about the quality of relationships,” she says. “It’s given me the confidence to go in my own direction and not worry so much about convention.” Trail living impacts Jennifer’s lifestyle so hugely that she is bursting to share the perspective she’s gained. “For me, thru-hiking—whether a record or not— is about the lifestyle: being outside and playing,” she says, repeating that she’s not hung up on numbers. “All my spare time is spent being active outdoors.” Jennifer hopes to share her outdoor passion and lifestyle with her children someday, too, and she lists that as a chief reason why she’s attempting the record this summer. “I want to be able to tell my children that I did my best,” she said. “Trying something out of my comfort zone is a great example to kids.” As a role model, she’s now in a position to educate and encourage others to hike, but Jennifer once relied on maps marked with scribbled advice from Doyle. “My expertise now is in coaching and mentoring,” he says of his role in her final record attempt. So, just as Doyle coached her, Jennifer instructs others to reach beyond their current boundaries and try spending more time outside. “If you day hike, that’s great. If you feel okay spending a night in the woods, fantastic.” This summer, Jennifer is exploring the far reaches of her own limits and answering a call from the trail to go farther and faster. “It’s not a publicity stunt. This hike is personal and precious,” she says. Most of all, she wants to try and eliminate all regrets. “I have to do it,” Jennifer says, “and I can’t wait.” n

WAM • SPR | 2011  51

23 Feet

Last July, we packed into a 1970 Airstream and hit the road. Our goal was to produce a short adventure film about people living simply in order to pursue their outdoor passions. We logged 2,600 miles through five western states documenting a colorful cast of dirtbag climbers, surfers, and soulful adventurers. Allie Bombach produced a film based on our adventures, and I reflected on lessons learned from the colorful cast of vagabonds.

By Lisa Montierth

Where are all the men?”

I was standing in the gravel parking lot of a rural gas station in central Utah, pie-eyed and caked in red desert dust, staring blankly while I tried to think of an answer for the gruff man in front of me wearing cowboy boots.

But there were no men with us—in the john or otherwise. Allie, our friend Greer Glasser, and I were encrusted in dirt and sweat, traveling in a white truck loaded up with bicycles, water jugs, and a homemade hula hoop, towing a shiny, 23-foot 1970 Airstream. We had just started filming “23 Feet,” a short film that would turn out to be a story that’s a little about a road trip and a lot about people whose love of the outdoors inspired their ultrasimple lifestyles. Allie, a filmmaker and co-owner of the new media company Red Reel, took a cue from the “dirtbag” climbing culture—dusty troupes living out of cars or tents to spend more time on the rock—and dreamed up our project as a way to explore, rustle up a bit of


“Why do we need ’em?” answered Allie Bombach, my traveling companion and a woman I can count on to have the perfect retort to unanswerable questions. Cowboy Boots laughed. “I thought they might have been in the john,” he said as he walked away, shaking his head.

adventure, and pay homage to lives lived off the beaten path. She bought a vintage Airstream as her own back-to-basics home and christened the whole affair “23 Feet.” I met Allie in the summer of 2009 in the musty basement of a run-down boarding house in Durango, Colorado, where I was living. We bonded over live music and a shared love for micro-brewed IPAs, and over the course of a year we became close. I admired Allie’s gusto—she talked in far-reaching metaphors and punctuated her speech with cartoon-like zeal—she started sentences with a BOOM! and wrapped them up in a POOF! Plus, she was living her passion—she made a living chasing down cyclists, ice climbers, and outdoor athletes with a camera in hand. When Allie gave me the pitch to join her for “23 Feet,” I had a few reservations, but I couldn’t resist five weeks on the road with my two best friends: three women sharing 23-feet of aluminum trailer, traveling 2,600 miles through five states, and finding and interviewing a cast of wild vagabonds. My role was to write about our experiences, and to help maneuver the hopelessly awkward Airstream Safari—a bulbous extension that we affectionately nicknamed “Roma.”

brown, curly hair so that we could see his face. I tugged it into lopsided pigtails, my pulse quickening a little, thrilled by this sudden intimacy. Patrick had just starred in the short skate film, “Second Nature,” and we watched footage of him barreling down roads through huge mountain passes on his longboard, barely holding on through the curves. He looked fearless. “I think everyone should have adventure and passion,” he told us. “I’d rather see someone be extreme about something, and be alive and passionate, than to see someone who’s totally dull and lifeless.” As we explored the trails and trees of King’s Canyon and neighboring Sequoia National Park with Patrick, he opened up about the loneliness of living on the edge. His honesty and readiness to articulate his anxieties brought me down to earth a little, and I considered that the romance of simple living might be coupled with a brutal lack of stability. Patrick found an unlikely balance by reveling in the extremes he craved. “Pain is just a secondary form of pleasure,” he told me one night. His vulnerability was heartbreaking, and I wondered if there was some sort of method to his madness—a way of finding his center in the midst of chaos.

Filming would wrap in Portland, Oregon, a city that beckoned with promises of progressive sophistication and scrawny single men riding bicycles. I quit my job, broke my lease, sold every piece of furniture I owned, and committed myself to the project. It was a gamble—there were no guarantees about who or what we would find on the road, and there wasn’t anything waiting for me in Oregon except my own expectation for lush, green grass. But in the end, the gamble paid out. The men and women I met on the road deeply inspired me to change my life.

We started our trip with four days in the red-rock surrounds of Moab, Utah, and by the time we ran into Cowboy Boots in the center of the state, we’d already stumbled into a few adventures and found a few of the outdoor-loving vagabond types we sought out for the film. We’d spent time with a couple living in vintage buses at the base of a canyon, taken a blind-folded yoga class, mountain-biked among desert rock formations and natural bridges, and suffered at least twenty mosquito bites each. We were headed toward one of Utah’s famous climbing destinations, Maple Canyon, to meet a rowdy band of climbers who were waiting for us with a cooler full of cold PBR and an ornery blue heeler. Just another chance to embrace the unexpected and the ordinary chaos of life on the road. Through canyon country, down into the Mojave Desert, then approaching the blue saline fog of the Pacific Ocean, the habits of conventional life dropped away, scattering like broken glass on the highway. Our car troubles turned into romantic adventures, and cans of baked beans sparked poetic appreciation of all things simple. When we met Patrick Rizzo in California’s King’s Canyon National Park, I was fully lolling in the depths of a road-trip honeymoon.

Days later, after our truck died and we stumbled

Patrick grew up exploring the hills of Berkeley, California, on his skateboard, and he credits a lust for bigger slopes for his introduction to nature. A self-described naturalist, Patrick splits his seasons: working for California’s National Parks during the summers and packing into his maroon Westfalia and snowboarding all winter long.

Katie took us to a wall she loves. We clambered up a rough trail and sat up on the slick gray stone as the sun slowly crept down behind the western ridges. “Coming out into nature ... it’s life changing,” she said. “It’ll show you a lot about the world, and it’ll show you a lot about yourself.”

His right arm hung heavy in a sling, the elbow dislocated in a fall, and he was struggling to keep his tiny cabin in order with the use of only one hand. Before we sat down to film him, he asked me to tie up his

through the chaos of an unexpected hitchhike into Yosemite Valley, we met climber Katie Lambert. Katie has been climbing for 15 years, and after leaving the promise of a conventional life in Louisiana in 2005, she’s become a Tuolumne Meadows fixture. The Valley, she says, is her true home. Within it she finds an almost spiritual connection to the rock—a sentiment many diehard Valley climbers echo.

Katie survived a traumatic fall a few months before, and when the wind blew her hair back, I could see the scars on her face. Rather than letting those jagged scars put her off climbing, she believes that they’ve drawn lines of wisdom on her soul. For Katie, the lessons learned on the rock

WAM • SUM | 2011  53

“Places like this remind you what you’re doing here and who you are,” she said with a palpable sense of peace... and I began to notice little glimpses of the sacred everywhere I looked. translate into lessons on life, and she wears a badge of affirmation for her love of climbing and for her home among Yosemite’s big walls. “Places like this remind you what you’re doing and who you are,” she said with a palpable sense of peace. As we sat in the fading light amidst a sanctuary of rocks and trees and mountains, Katie’s eyes glowed citrus reflecting the California sun and I was reminded of the healing nature of wild places. My own eyes opened by her energy, I began to notice little glimpses of the sacred everywhere I looked in Yosemite. Following my own spiritual awakening of sorts, our next stop in San Francisco felt coldly surreal. After weeks of dirt and mountains and cold streams, I felt groundless in its concrete streets and overwhelmed by our small crew’s togetherness and the pressure of writing—mining content from our adventures. My love affair with the road was on the rocks and this reintroduction to mainstream society near the end of our trip triggered an uneasy reality check into my uncertain future. I was suddenly terrified. The chaos of busy streets and the passing of short-term friendships left me full of uncertainty and languishing in a sense of danger that contrasted so starkly against the peace that I had found with Katie. By the time we left the city, my sense of adventure had all but evaporated, quietly stolen away into the freezing ghost-mist of summertime San Francisco.

Nellyda Anslow helped to bring it back. We met Nellyda in Newport, Oregon, and I was still grappling with my uncertain future. Newport is a funky town full of hard-core Oregon surfers and it was our last stop before we ended our trip in Portland. Nellyda welcomed us with an invitation to join her on a local beach, where we could film her surfing with her friends—most of whom she’d met on the water. Allie and I watched from the shore as they bobbed in the surf. Nellyda was easy to spot through the coastal fog, as she was the only one in the frigid water who wasn’t wearing the hood of her wetsuit. Nellyda’s path to those waves had been colorful. As a young woman, she’d constantly reinvented herself—as a surf bum in Hawaii, a snowboarder in Colorado, and as a bartender in northern Alaska, serving drinks to roughnecks. Later, she experimented with a conventional lifestyle: going to school, becoming a nurse, and buying a house. But she was deeply unsatisfied with that experiment, and the experience of “normal” life eventually pushed her farther off the grid. “I started living in my car at the coast,” she said. “I was like ’This is it. I’m just going to spend all my time surfing.’” She was on the road, searching for more waves, when she received the devastating news that her mother had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Immediately, Nellyda moved to Newport to be with her. Now, she works as a nurse, cares for her mother, and surfs every day. “Everything fell into place,” she told us. “I got this awesome job, I got to be close to my mom, and I’m living in this great house a block from the ocean.” Nellyda’s ability to provide strength for her mother and to focus her passion in the face of a devastating situation was the wake-up call I needed. I sat on the floor of her beautiful home, surrounded by pictures and art and exotic totems from places she’s been—the rewards and mementos from the risks and uncertainties that she has faced—and I saw my own fear of uncertainty for what it was … manageable and designed to make me stronger.

As we pulled into Portland, my head was brimming with lessons learned from Nellyda, Patrick, Katie and dozens of others we’d met on the steps of our Airstream—the whole shifting cast of motley adventurers I’d spent a month documenting. I thought about Greer and the comfort of 54  WAM • SUM | 2011

her friendship when I was overwhelmed by uncertainty and risk. I looked to Allie and was struck, too, by her support and conviction. On the road, nothing was certain, but we had had one another. In Portland, we parked the Airstream in a long, mossy driveway, and I lived there for a few months, practicing living simply as much out of necessity as choice. I didn’t feel the acute sense of groundlessness I’d felt in San Francisco, but I didn’t feel the peace I’d found in Yosemite. As I looked for work and got to know the new city, I drew on the lessons I’d learned on the road and I struggled to embrace chaos. I was barely surviving on spotty freelance jobs and, of course, my old abused laptop shuddered and died. Then one gorgeous sunny afternoon, I was hit by a car while walking my bicycle through Portland’s busy downtown streets. I escaped with a few bruises, but I was on shaky ground. I remembered Patrick’s unlikely ability to balance strength with vulnerability and find calm within chaos. I tried to recognize some thrill within the uncertainty I was facing; the pleasure in the pain of striving to find something I hadn’t yet defined. I was lonely and felt disconnected. So I thought of Katie’s love for nature and went outside into the lush urban landscape. I took long walks at dusk and sat on the Oregon-green grass in city parks spotted with young lovers, and connected to the glowing natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Finally, when that wasn’t working for me any more, I took a cue from Nellyda—and reinvented myself. For a few years I’d been dreaming of a winter on snow-covered slopes, and since I was deeply inspired by the love of outdoor sports that I saw in the men and women we’d filmed for “23 Feet”—I packed up and moved to Utah, to learn to ski. On the road, I was welcomed into a community of people thriving in the sun-dappled corners of our wild lands, driven by different passions, bound by a love for experiencing the natural world with their hands and feet and bicycle tires. I met every sort of soulful adventurer—bright and unusual drifters, dark and tormented escapists, wise and earthy philosophers. Though all different, they shared a common conviction for the worth of their unconventional community and the support of those they love. As I move forward in my life, I will carry the simple lessons of balance, appreciation, and versatility. I know there is community around every corner, and the next adventure is only a short trip away. n

Trailer Talk

For 25-year-old Allie Bombach, life in a 23-foot Airstream wasn’t over at the end of last summer’s road trip. The shiny-sided trailer has been Allie’s home base for more than a year and, for the last few months, it’s been (mostly) parked in Portland, Oregon. This summer Allie’s taking Roma—revamped with a fold-away film screen and equipped with a high-tech projector—on the road once again to screen “23 Feet” in cities all across the west. She took some time away from her production company, Red Reel, and preparations for this summer’s tour to answer a few questions about her own lessons from the film, the roadtrip, and life’s little uncertainties. WAM: What’s the biggest lesson you learned from making the film and what do you want people to take away from it?

least, I hope to continue the conversation about a lifestyle that finds beauty in simplicity.

ALLIE: I learned that reevaluating your life and making changes is well worth it. Each and every person we interviewed said that living simply isn’t necessarily simple, but I got an overwhelming feeling that they wouldn’t have it any other way. This idea goes for living simply to pursue your outdoor passion, and also in the leap we take in creating a film. It’s not always easy, but it’s so worth it. I think I want what many outdoor filmmakers want: for our audience to leave feeling gleefully inspired to run wildly, hearts racing with wide-eyed childlike nostalgia, into the great out-of-doors! At the very

WAM: Tell us about Red Reel: What are you working on and how does ”23 Feet” fit into the company’s big picture? ALLIE: This film really shifted our mindset. My business partner, Sarah Menzies, and I are now looking at storytelling and reaching the audience through a whole new lens. We’ve had an amazing response from a passionate audience. It is very important to us that we continue to stay connected to that in future projects. “23 Feet” really started a larger conversation at Red Reel: How do we continue inspiring people to get involved in what they are passionate about?

Read the rest of Allie’s Q&A, see a trailer for the film, and catch a full listing of screening dates and times at WAM • SUM | 2011  55




© 2011 Nikwax Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Photo by Patitucci Photo.

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56  WAM • SPR | 2011

: e d i u G r Gea ol’s in Session Scho

No books, no essays, no detention—we promise. The best way to learn about gear is to go outside with it and play. That’s exactly what we did with the 25 products in this issue’s gear pages. We stomped in puddles trying stand-out rainshells, we walked on water assessing standup paddleboards, and we fed students—young and old—with meals cooked on this year’s hottest camp stoves. Trust us when we tell you that our education’s been a fine one and that everything here makes the grade.

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r a o b e l d d a P p Standu A cross between surfing and kayaking, standup paddleboarding (SUP) appeals to die-hard athletes and kids who just want an excuse to get wet. It’s easier than it looks and can be a tranquil pastime or an all-out sweat-fest. We tested a smattering of new boards and broke down distinguishing features that may help you find the perfect fit.


Have a need for speed? Then length will be one of your big considerations when it comes to standup paddleboards. Extremes range from below 9 feet for maneuverable river boards to upwards of 16 feet for ocean-going touring or racing boards. It’s hard to surf boards over 11 feet in length, and longer boards are more difficult to store and transport, so the length of many all-arounders and introductory boards hovers around 11 feet. How you’ll use the board—for racing, flatwater, running rivers, or surfing—will be the most important determining factor for this important board characteristic.



Several factors affect a board’s tracking—how well it moves in a straight line. In general, longer boards and boards with hard rails tend to track better than short boards with soft rails because the more a board is in contact with the water, the less it’ll move laterally. Fins are also a major factor in tracking (and maneuverability) of a board with single, large fins enhancing tracking. Secondary, or shorter fins prevent sideways slipping in surf.

We tested widely varied boards and construction types from inflatables to molded plastic-like polyethylene, to traditional boards with wood and foam cores layered with fiberglass, epoxy, and other laminates. Each construction type has its own advantages and disadvantages: molded polyethelyne is relatively heavy, but nearly indestructible and inexpensive whereas foam and epoxy boards are lightweight, but can be more delicate and costly. Each construction method has trade-offs related to price, durability, weight, transportability, on-the-water performance, and environmental impact, so consider your own priorities before asking a shop for advice or settling on a specific board.


Stability is key for most new SUPers, and deck width majorly influences how stable a board feels. Wide boards— we tested one that was 36 inches—are most stable, while more moderate boards in the 30-inch range are less so, and narrow boards (around 25 inches across) can be downright tippy but fast. Moderate-width boards might require more practice—though they’re still pretty easy to master—and they’re more versatile overall. Some race boards and crossover kayak-styles have carved out decks to lower a paddler’s center of gravity without compromising stability and speed. Also look for deck-mounted D-rings, compression gear straps, and handles that can make tying-off, touring, and handling the board on land easier.

58  WAM • SUM SPR | | 2011 2011


Hull contours regulate stability and glide. Having evolved from traditional surf boards, the earliest SUPs had planing hulls with slightly upturned ends, called “rocker,” which are shaped to enhance performance in surf, but which aren’t fast or maneuverable in flatwater. Displacement hulls are faster and more maneuverable—slicing through the water and tracking well—but also less stable. Most recreational boards compromise somewhere in between with half-planing half-displacement hull combos that optimize maneuverability and performance in different conditions.

rd s

C4 Waterman iSUP Sub Vector 9-3 Surf’s up! Built-in (and unbreakable) fins plus gentle rocker make C4 Waterman’s newest inflatable perfect for riding surf anywhere you might go to find it. Relatively short and 30 inches wide, this board is maneuverable in whitewater rivers and pumps stiff enough to ride without feeling sluggish. Heavy-duty PVC, sealed to prevent air leaks, is stabile and rigid. ($1,100;

BIC Sport 10’4” ACS SUP

This family-friendly board is a combination of surf and kayak technology—a lightweight foam core wrapped in a layer of tough-as-nails polyethylene. The result is a 33-pound board that is durable enough to let the kids drag around, light enough for an individual to carry alone, and, thanks to a single 10-inch fin, tracks like an arrow. Rounded rails add core-boosting instability that we appreciated (and it didn’t get us wet), and its flotation is suited for riders up to 180 pounds. ($799;

Hobie 10’8 ATR-I

Small enough to carry on a plane (including the pump, paddle, and repair kit—all part of the package) this inflatable is a great travel companion. It’s well-suited for flatwater, and the triple-fin configuration translated to good tracking on flatwater. The larger center fin is removable, which makes for more fun and less aggressive lines surfing small waves. Testers loved this board’s rigidity—which makes it feel relatively efficient despite its construction—and the deck’s built-in features including the grippy footpad and bungee gear-keeper. ($1,099;

Tahoe SUP Bliss 12’6

Beauty inspires serenity and, in this board’s case, fast paddling. This bambooconstructed foam-core board is lightweight and—with long lines and a narrow platform—slices through the water. Hard rails add stability and, along with the 10-inch center fin, contribute to spot-on tracking. While its epoxy and resin exterior is delicate, the paddling you’ll do from its deck—whether for touring, racing, fitness, or just fun—doesn’t have to be. ($1,699;

Ocean Kayak Nalu 12.5

Stand or sit? You’ll be asking yourself all day long because, either way, this kayak/SUP hybrid is a blast. What the 49-pound board compromises in off-the-water awkwardness, it more than makes up for with versatility, indestructibility, and on-the-water performance. Great tracking with the displacement hull’s integrated fins, stable enough to inspire confidence, and below-deck storage sufficient for a full day’s worth of gear made this crossover board a favorite. ($749;

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s l l e h Rains

Whether torrential conditions threaten to drench you or a light drizzle spatters your sunglasses, the right rain shell could add sunshine to an otherwise miserable adventure. Waterproof and breathable fabrics have come a long way—as have fit and fashion—so that rain won’t soak your next adventure.


Waterproof? That’s so passé. This is the age of air-permeable waterproofability and moisture management that keeps you dry on the inside and out. And we’re not just talking Gore-Tex. A host of high-quality and proprietary waterproof laminates—Omni-Dry, HyVent DT EC, or PreCip—have raised the bar for waterresistance. These layered laminates are usually backed or sandwiched by nylon and polyester and they all have the goal of cutting down on condensation while still maintaining wind- and water-blocking potential. While you may read results for Moisture Vapor Transmission Rates (MVTR) and Water Vapor Resistance (RET)— standard industry lab tests for breathability and water permeability—keep in mind that the thickness of the base fabrics, construction, fit, and dynamic real-world conditions can all play a part in a garment’s ability to keep you dry.


A potential weak-spot for wetness, zippers affect a garment’s weight and level of water resistance. Laser-cut zippers are lightweight and fit so tightly together that wetness can’t permeate the space between teeth, but their exacting fit dissipates with wear so their lifetime as waterproof can be as short as a few years. Traditional coil zippers are heavier, but can also be made waterproof with the addition of sealants, laminated backings or tapes, or storm flaps to shut out the rain.


Even with the most breathable fabrics, layers can trap body heat and moisture when you’re sweating hard. Instead of completely removing your jacket and exposing yourself to the elements, the option of fully or partially unzipping to vent body heat can make or break a jacket’s rain-protection factor. Before buying, consider your personal perspiration and look for systems that offer practical solutions—two-way zips, underarm zips, and lapel or back-panel vents all balance protection with perspiration.


An ill-fitting jacket could offset the benefit of sealed seams and waterproof technologies by allowing leaks, reducing the air space required for optimal membrane performance, or hindering your flexibility. A good fit will zip smoothly over base- and mid-layers and give you wiggle room. Expect fewer custom-fit features in ultralight jackets, but in mid-weight or heavy-duty varieties, look for draw cord hems and Velcro cuff tabs to help seal out wind and water, and look for strategically placed stretchy panels that flex with your movement.

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Columbia Peak Power Shell

Super breathable but with the downpour-stopping power you need in the backcountry, Columbia’s OmniDry polyester is a clear winner when it comes to protection. Laser-cut waterproof zippers, well-placed venting options (including a chest-closure you can use when the jacket’s unzipped), gripping silicone shoulder details that prevent pack straps from wearing, and a full-coverage drop tail enhance protection on the go. ($350;

The North Face Venture

Castor oil subs as an alternative to petroleum-derived materials in this jacket’s membrane, reducing the synthetic components in the fabric by 50 percent. While the fabric cuts down on environmental impact, this jacket doesn’t skimp on other features: sealed seams, a drawcord-adjustable hood and hem, a chin guard lining, and generous pit zips. ($99;

First Ascent BC-200 Jacket

In this ultralight hardshell, Eddie Bauer’s mountaineering brand streamlined features and incorporated lightweight breathability with welded seams—unusual at this pricepoint—for hardshell protection that tipped our scales just at 9.2 ounces. The durable shell features harness- and pack-friendly pockets with water-resistant zippers, and the integrated hood is large enough to accommodate helmets but also cinches tight when you’re not wearing one. ($199;

Sierra Designs Wicked

The only thing wicked about this 11-ounce rain shell is the weather it’ll withstand. The durable and highly breathable waterproof jacket is constructed of 2-layer polyester rip stop and features a stretch panel across the back plus extra material under the arms. It earns bonus points for pack-friendly pockets that sit above the waistbelt for comfort and easy access. ($149;

Marmot Storm Shield

Water-shedding comfort—that’s the draw to the Storm Shield. This coat combines fit and comfort-enhancing features such as the elastic draw cord hem and next-to-skin mesh and taffeta lining with waterproofability that’s second to none. Seam taped closures and a double storm flap over the front zipper block moisture to prevent leakage, and Marmot’s PreCip waterproof fabric sheds heavy precipitation plus has a special ceramic-infused weave that makes it extra durable. ($125;

Mountain Hardwear Cohesion Stretch Jacket

With all-over stretch and a helmet-friendly hood that rolls away when you don’t need it, this 12-ounce jacket is almost as flexible as you are. It offers all the standard comforts, such as a chin guard to save you from zipper chafe and a draw cord hem, plus breathable fabric and pit zips for maximum ventilation. Mountain Hardwear offers a coordinating waterproof pant for extreme alpine attempts. ($170;

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Camping Sto ves

After a day in the great outdoors, nothing tastes better than a hot meal. But it takes a reliable stove to transform a cooler full of ingredients—or, if you’re a culinary genius, a bag of instant rice—into a restaurant-ready meal. Fuel up, flip a switch, and simmer your way to a satisfying meal.


Your stove’s fuel is a major practicality factor: Safety, convenience, expense, weight, and performance all hinge on it. While, ultimately, fuel type may not be the deciding factor in your choice, it’s worth noting a few key benefits and disadvantages of the most popular. Liquid gas works well at subfreezing temperatures and is inexpensive, but it requires priming in most stoves. Alcohol is renewable, burns clean, and has low combustibility, but it’s less efficient. Canister stoves using butane or isobutane are very easy to use, but performance drops in temperatures below 35 degrees. Besides, canisters can be expensive and weighty on long trips. Propane is consistent and inexpensive, but is too heavy to carry backpacking. Some stoves will work with several fuel types (including diesel, unleaded gasoline, or even kerosene), which may burn with more residue and require more stove maintenance, but will also make it easy to find appropriate fuel anywhere in the world.


Knocking over a pot of boiling water is a sure-fire way to ruin a post-hike meal. If you’re planning to cook for groups or use a pot larger than 2 quarts, pay extra attention to a stove’s stability. A wide cooking platform and pot supports, a stable base, and ease of accessing the operating controls under an oversized pot—with gloves on and without burning yourself— are all things to consider.

Cooking Style

Large, double burner or basecamp systems may outperform your range at home, while an ultralight setup might require a simplified, boil-only, recipe repertoire. Be realistic about your cooking style and how far you’ll be carrying your stove. Your needs will be different if you’re at an established campground vs. the backcountry, but going “lightweight” doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing flame control and giving up on a gentle simmer.


The lightest stove we tested weighs in at 2.5 ounces, and our heaviest, 12 pounds. While the weight of your base-camp stove may not matter, when you’re backpacking, saving ounces is important, especially on extended trips where the weight of the fuel you’ll be carrying may tip the balance toward efficient stoves and away from super lightweight ones. Don’t forget the added ounces of windscreens, repair kits, and other accessories.


How long does it take a stove to boil a liter of 70-degree water? That labidentified “boil time”—likely somewhere between 3 and 10 minutes—is offered by most manufacturers as a standard measure of a stove’s efficiency. But in real-life camping scenarios, wind, cold, high altitude, or otherwise imperfect conditions will make cooking take longer. Look for windscreens and heat-trapping cones to improve efficiency, but also take note of inherent differences in fuel types—butane burns hotter than alcohol, for example—that will play a role in which stove type will most effectively match your needs in terms of cooking style and weight.

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Jetboil Sol

This next-generation Jetboil integrated system is meant for serious ounce-counters who crave convenience. Both options—weighing 9 ounces in titanium or 10.5 ounces in aluminum—include the complete setup from stabilizing attachments to the 0.8-liter capacity cup. A new pressure regulator standardizes the canister’s fuel flow at temps as low as 15 degrees F. Plus, the super-concentrated burner, along with the cup’s FluxRing translate to boil times below three minutes in our tests. Best suited for single-person or boil-only recipes. (Titanium, $150; Aluminum, $120;

Snowpeak GigaPower Baja Stove

An upside-down canister helps this single-burner liquid-injection stove— great for single-fuel base-camps or as a car-camping add-on—maintain consistent output at low temps, too. The super-tough stainless platform has a stable, wide base and heat control knob that makes cooking gourmet-style meals in camp easy as pie. ($160;

Trail Designs Caldera Tri-Ti Sidewinder Stove System

The only ultralight stove we tested, the Caldera’s cone captures and maximizes heat from three potential sources: wood, alcohol, and esbit (a solid fuel tablet). While it doesn’t allow you to dial-in simmering heat and requires a little more patience when bringing water to a boil, this versatile system requires much less fuel than petroleum-based systems so it’s more weight-efficient for backpacking. ($80;

Primus Profile Duo Camp Stove

Grilling and sautéing at the same time? It’s a gourmand’s dream. Primus’ newest base- and car-camping unit accommodates (according to our tests) a medium-sized pot of baked beans and up to six chicken breasts at the same time: everything you need for a group of happy campers. Independent heat control for the grill and burner, simple operating dials, easy-to-clean surfaces, fold-up side-panel windscreens, a built-in igniter, and fold-away design makes this 12-pounder a chef’s top choice. ($120;

Soto MUKA Stove OD-1NP

Until this game-changer of a stove hit stores this spring, priming was one of the biggest trade-offs in liquid fuel stoves—along with flare-ups, and carbon-covered pots. But no more. Soto’s MUKA provides all the benefits of a traditional liquid-stove system (performance in lowtemperature environments, and the ability to burn several types of gas) but its vaporizing canister system eliminates the need for priming and it burns cleaner and requires much less maintenance than traditional liquid-fuel stoves. Fuel bottle sold separately. (Stove, $148; 1000 ml bottle, $21;

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s k c i P f f a St

We’re not as hard-core a group as some rough-and-tumble teams, but here at Women’s Adventure, we do have the chance to try lots of fun, summer gear that we think you’d like to know about. Whether you end up doing morning laps around your local reservoir on a SUP or cooking camp meals for your family (like we did), these products that became our faves could be a good fit for you, too.

GSI Outdoors Crossover Kitchen Kit

Always at a loss for kitchen tools, editor Kristy Holland thinks the eleven-piece Crossover Kitchen Kit is an easy answer to one of her camp-cooking dilemmas: “With such an awesome assortment of camp stoves in our line-up, I needed the prep tools to go with them,” she says, “and I get in big trouble when I steal the spoons and tongs from my kitchen at home.” The kit includes more than just serving utensils: a large pivot spoon, spice shaker, squeeze bottles, a cutting board, and even a nonstick-friendly scrubby all fit into the crescent-shaped case. ($35;

Native Eyewear Chonga

“Fresh and comfortable, lightweight, with good coverage, but not too big,” is how publisher Sue Sheerin describes Native’s Chonga, her favorite of the sunglasses we tested. Anti-slip nose-cushions keep them in place and with interchangeable lens options, these glasses can easily transition between Sue’s tennis tournaments and her trail time. “I’ve been wearing them for everything,” she says, “they’re hip, but not too hip.” (Polarized: $109;

ZYM Rival Sport Drink Tablets

Hydration with everything you need in a tasty tablet. ZYM’s electrolyte tablets are stevia-sweetened, caffeine-free, easy-onthe-stomach and packed with B vitamins. The special ingredient: Rhodiola rosea is a fatigue fighter, and cycling editor Susan Hayse gave Rival top marks for hydration on and off the bike: “I keep a tube with me so I’m never without that B-vitamin boost,” she says, “and the natural sweetener won me over. It’s a nice, light flavor and keeps me sipping.” ($10 for a tube of 10 tablets;

64  WAM • SUM | 2011

Brunton Restore

Adidas Tarushi 2”

Electronic battery life and the backcountry (especially smart phones in combination with GPS apps): Not exactly a match made in heaven. But Brunton’s portable, solar-powered charger helped keep our electronics going for on-the-beach phonecalls and post-hike GPS recharges at camp. Weighing in under 8 ounces, the safety factor of reliable power is well worth the price of carrying this rugged unit around. Charge it up—2 hours plugged into the wall or a day’s worth of sunshine— and pack it along. ($125;

A short-short that’s meant for the Adidas Tarushi beach, the 2-inch Tarushi’s 2” soft microA short-short that’ s meant for the fiber fabric feels great against skin beach, the 2-inch Tarushi’ s soft microfiber fabric and the 2-inch-thick waistband gives it great against afeels flattering fit that skin hits and nearthe the2-inch-thick hip. waistband gives it a flattering that “I loved theis drawstring,” says our fit sales hits near theBlichfeld. hip. “I loved thewearing drawstring,” team’ s Anne “I’ll be says our team’ s Anne kayaking Blichfeld, and “I’ll be these all sales summer between wearing these ($40; all summer between kayaking wakeboarding.” and wakeboarding.” ($40;

Patagonia Women’s Sunshade Hoody

A technical hoody with casual flare, the lightweight polyester in this UPF 30 cover-up was a clear winner for associate editor Jennifer Olson who sported it on sunny spring mornings in Colorado and in 80-degree Cayman Islands afternoons. “It was easy to slip over my swimsuit, it never felt wet, and I was covered, sun protected, and casual at the same time,” she says. ($59;

Columbia Triton Time Long Sleeve Rashguard

Sun protection doesn’t have to be an issue when you’re SUPing. These slimfitting rashguards have UPF 50 so you can enjoy a worry-free day on the water. Aside from flatlock seams, a stretchy fit, and hot colors, it was a small detail that put this top at the top of our list: we’d been bragging about the great fit long before noticing the stay-put gripping hemline treatment. ($45;

Keen Cabo Flip

Simple, fun, classic, and comfortable: all the key elements of a footwear favorite. This flipflop’s brushed sole is soft yet non-slip and the bright straps’ coconut-shell detail made this shoe a perfect fit for tropical beaches, and an uplifting surprise during desert downpours, too. Arch support kept us comfy in them all day. ($30;

Bic Sport Jungle SUP Paddle 170-210

When you have one board—or in our case six—and a lot of paddlers who want a turn, paddle size can be a problem. If it’s too short, a paddle won’t give you power and if it’s too long, you’ll struggle with your stroke. That’s why one of our shortest SUP testers, Elizabeth Melton on our ad sales team, loved this easy-adjusting paddle from Bic Sport. “It was comfortable to handle and super lightweight,” she says of the 29-ounce paddle that adjusts to suit short and tall paddlers. “It made testing boards much more fun.” ($199;

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66  WAM • SUM | 2011

Photo ©2009 Christina Kiffney Photography


Celebrating women Congratulations!

in the outdoor industries

Recipients of this yeaR’s pioneeRing Woman aWaRd

Sally McCoy, Camelbak Elana Chase, Vail Ski Club bike Ellen Johnson, Pacific Cycle outdoor snow

Learn more about OIWC programs and activities at

Recipients of this yeaR’s fiRst ascent aWaRd

Kate Ross, Williamette Riverkeeper Rachel Gitajn, Burton Snowboards bike Tara Moeller, Specialized Bicycles outdoor


SpeCial thankS to:


WAM • SUM | 2011  67

Musings There is no pleasure in having nothing to do. The fun is having lots to do and not doing it. —Mary Wilson Little

68  WAM • SUM | 2011

Whether you ride for change, in the spirit of celebration, or just for the passion of peddling, when you sign up for Venus de Miles you are riding for a cause – to support Greenhouse Scholars and Colorado’s most deserving and promising young college students. Join us in Boulder County for Colorado’s only all-women’s road ride. In our fourth year, we’re making the event bigger than ever – adding a 100-mile course to our 67-, 51-, and 33-mile rides. So whether your bike collects sponsorship stickers or cobwebs, as long as you’re ready to have fun, you’re ready to ride Venus de Miles.

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© Wolverine Outdoors 2011


is key to Every day brings new adventure. That’s why versatility This innovative, Glove. Pace Barefoot everything Merrell does. Take our minimalist design gets you closer to the ground to liberate and strengthen your feet. With its traction and minimal cushioning, you’ve got unlimited access to any terrain you choose. The Merrell Barefoot collection. Let Your Feet Lead You.

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Summer 2011 Women's Adventure Magazine  

Pursue your Passion: Cycle, Paddle & Thrive. In this issue, Road Cycling, Kayaking, Parenting, Your Health and Birth Control, Destinations,...

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