Well they both contain self indulgent questions that are fun to answer and you have to pass them on or you die… no, I’m just kidding.
So seriously, this Liebster Award thing has been bopping around blogs for a while now and although I have been nominated a couple of times I have never followed through because, let’s be honest, something about it reminds me of those chain e-mails we all used to get back in the late 90s. But yesterday Eat&Climb nominated me, and something about her nomination just feels right. To start with she is a badass chick, who climbs and snacks and does a lot of the same things I like to do. Then there is the fact that she only nominated three blogs total (diminishing her nomination’s chain e-mail affect) and offered up some interesting adventure related questions. Not only was I intrigued but I actually felt like her blog and her nomination fit with my blog so it is my honor to support her and nominate three other awesome ladies at the end of this post!
The fun thing about the Liebster Award is that it comes with a set of questions, dreamt up by the person who nominated you. This makes for an easy blog post (I don’t have to come up with topic or theme today) and gives you, the readers, new insight! So enjoy.
What keeps you outside?
The usual bullshit would have us believe that “outdoorsy people” keep going outside because that is where they feel the most like themselves. I actually think that the outdoors is where I go to push and grow my knowledge of myself, to get out of my comfort zone, to step away from the norm and enter the extraordinary. I don’t necessarily think that I am a truer version of myself outdoors vs laying at home in bed binge watching Making a Murderer, but the version of myself that exists outside takes deeper breaths and smiles more for no reason, if you know what I mean.
What got you outside in the first place?
My life has been punctuated by the outdoors: I was a girl scout; my family went car camping every summer; I grew up playing in the woods behind my house. I am from the PNW so I always felt this closeness to nature, but also this undeniable pressure or assumption from outsiders that I must be “outdoorsy”. As a result I signed up for hiking trips in college and pretended to feel more comfortable outside then I actually did. I envied my brother for his Environmental Humanities major because I felt that it was my god given right to be closer to nature than other people and somehow I had missed out on it. Deep down I felt like a fake. So the important question, for me, is “When was the first time you chose to go outside?” When I made the decision to go work in Arizona for the American Conservation Experience I did so knowing that I was going to be camping almost every night of the month, that I was going to be working in remote isolated places, and that I was going to be surrounded by authentic real outdoorsy people. That was the first time I chose to step into nature and I have never looked back.
What’s the most miserable you’ve ever been on an adventure?
The great Sufferfest of 2015. It was Kyle and mine’s first climb without our Boealps climbing team and we decided to go climb El Dorado in the North Cascades with our friend Phil. It turned out to be one of the hottest weekends of the summer. When we started our climb at 3:00am it was already balmy and hot. The sun wasn’t fully out until we got to the glacier but then it was reflected back at us from every angle. We summited (yay!) but to the realization that we were all out of water. We ran out of water three more times that day. We had to pass through the boulder field of doom on the way back down… The entire climb took us fourteen hours. But the orgasmic pleasure of submerging ourselves in the freezing cold creek next to the parking lot after we got off the mountain… there are no words for how good that felt. You can read about the entire experience here.
Have you learned any ~*enduring life lessons*~ outside?
The most important life lesson I have learned to date centers around how vital it is to human happiness to frequently step outside our comfort zone. This life lesson certainly wasn’t realized in one big AH-HA! moment. It has been pieced together from many different sources, from outdoor jobs that I have worked, the Appalachian Trail, Kyle, climbing mountains… a continued culmination of all my outdoor experiences. It is certainly not a lesson that one can only learn outside, but that happens to be where I came to it and I think that is what set my life on an outdoorsy path.
Did you play sports as a kid?
Oh boy did I play sports. Although my parents describe my T-ball days as “spent in the outfield making daisy chains” I did play soccer for years (I was mostly in it for the friends, but that didn’t keep my dad from hoping). I rode horses in Pony club. When I was in middle school I decided I was going to make every varsity team so I played soccer, basketball, volleyball, and ran track. I did most of these things pretty terribly but I was competitive, stubborn, and loved the team aspect of sports. When I got into high school though my sports aspirations died quickly because I discovered, wait for it, theater. That’s right, I was a very nerdy theater kid. After that the most athletic thing I did was take a lot of dance classes. What is crazy though is that even though my high school and college career were dominated by a more academic artistic focus I have come back around to something akin to sports… my love of the outdoors centers around recreational activities, physical undertakings, bodily pursuits. I would have never dreamed that some of the biggest things I have achieved in life make me, in some sense of the word, an athlete.
Best gear purchase?
This probably isn’t intended to be such a difficult question but so much of our gear has been great. Thinking about the kind of adventurers we are though I think one gear
purchase kind of epitomizes everything we are about: our Cascadia 7s. We bought our first pair on a whim on the AT and it changed everything for us. It marks the turning point for me from amateur backpackers to ultralightweight badasses who could survive pretty extreme amounts of discomfort. It was when we lightened our entire approach to life. Of course now Cascadia 7s are our gear unicorn. We will forever search for the next best trail runner.
Biggest gear regret?
Uh, not having more money and buying ALL the gear!
Jetboils: overrated or actual magic?
Over rated, they are heavy and with a “pot” shaped like that how the hell are you supposed to cook anything creative? Plus our MSR stove boils water way faster. We own one, don’t get me wrong, but we rarely use it anymore.
How do you feel about fruit leather?
Indifferent? We don’t eat a ton of it but I do have some big plans for fruit leather on the PCT. How does mango ginger cayenne make you feel?
What is something that all outdoorspeople can be better about?
Being better environmental stewards. I think often people are scared to have hard conversations with people about LNT ethics. I know that on the AT I often got dirty looks from people for telling others not to litter their food scraps or burn their trash in the fire. I think there is this expectation that as outdoorspeople we are all going to be laid back and chill all the time. If you want to litter then go ahead and litter! NO! We all need to stand up and speak out again people feeding animals and pooping right next to the trail. These things are not okay, they can have a huge impact on the environment as well as our own experiences in nature. We also need to support each other in teaching newcomers the ways.
Stepping off my soap box now…
Adventure dogs or adventure babies?
Neither. Adventure partners.
Obviously lots of people have dogs that they adventure with (babies are a bit harder) but I think it takes a very special dog and a very special pet-owner relationship to do it right. Also, in general, dogs greatly limit the kind of adventuring you can do. We couldn’t have done almost any of the things we did this summer with a dog, because of land use rules or because of the scope of the activity (I don’t think dogs and glaciers mix well). On top of all of that many of our adventures are fun because we push ourselves to our limits, but when you add a dog into the mix you have to be very careful to assess their limits, made almost impossible by the fact that they can’t speak. I love dogs, and some day we will probably get one, but for now I am still enjoying the freedom of only having to worry about myself and Kyle (who often behaves like a two-year old so I guess in some ways I have an adventure baby).
Well that was deliciously self-centered! Who doesn’t love filling out surveys about themselves? I will be nominating three other people by commenting on their blogs. If you want to check out the people I have nominated you can click on the links below.
Loki Travels: This blog is written by an amazing woman who travels with her partner, just like Kyle and I. She is a great writer, really smart about money, and sometimes she swears. ALSO, we will be hiking the PCT at the same time, yay! Check her out.
Trailhiker: A blog by Sue Kelso about hiking all over California. Great information for people who live in California but also great inspiration for people who aren’t about to go out and quit their jobs and hike for months on end. This woman section hikes all kinds of trails on her weekends. She is the ultimate weekend warrior and her posts provide great detailed trip reports!
Sirena’s Wanderings: Sirena hails from Arizona, a state near and dear to my own heart. She is an avid hiker but also a do-gooder. She has hiked the Arizona trail twice, once to raise awareness about Fibromyalgia (a disease she herself suffers from) and once to help raise awareness and money for the AZT itself. She is an amazing environmental steward and supports others in the hiking community by writing about their accomplishments. Plus she runs rivers in the Grand Canyon… how freaking awesome is that?
My questions for these intrepid women:
- Do you think hiking/backpacking is a sport?
- If you could have one super power that would help you be a better hiker/backpacker what would you choose?
- What do you say to people who claim they just aren’t outdoorsy? Is nature for everyone or are there really some people who will never appreciate it?
- What food do you fantasize about the most when you are hiking?
- Dream trail?
- What other outdoor activity would you like to take up?
- Did you read Wild? Did you like it?
- On that same note what is you favorite book that is in some way related to your outdoor pursuits? Maybe it is a book about hiking or maybe it just inspired you.
- What piece of gear could you not live without?
- Do you have a really lazy guilty pleasure, like something that is basically the opposite of hiking?
Thanks for indulging me, now back to our regularly scheduled broadcast…
P.S. If you want to indulge yourself and answer these questions please feel free to leave your answers in the comments bellow. I would love to read them.