#DefendersofFun is a look into the adventurous lives of outdoor advocates who are working to better the outdoor community and protect the wild places we have fun in. Their story, their own words. Share your outdoor story on Instagram @DefendersofFun #DefendersofFun.
I’m lucky enough to call San Francisco home. Shout out to having a rent-controlled apartment!
As an entrepreneur, I’m kind of always working. In the rare moments I’m not, you’re likely to find me on a run (a lifelong road runner, I’m just starting to explore trails, and loving it), watching or practicing improv with a group of alumni from my college improv group, or bingeing on Netflix shows.
Trail Mavens brings together groups of dynamic women for camping and backpacking trips, and we provide all the gear, teach and hone your outdoor skills, and of course, introduce you to an awesome posse of ladies for you to adventure with in the future.
My long-term, big-picture goal is to—Silicon Valley buzzword alert — “disrupt” the standard of women learning outdoor skills from men, if they’re ever taught them at all. Because wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a whole generation of little girls and boys who could say, “Yeah, I learned how to build a fire and read a map from my mom.”
My mom raised my brother and me by herself, and since she had zero exposure to the outdoors, camping and hiking weren’t in our family repertoire. It wasn’t until the end of college that I started dating a guy who was outdoorsy, whose family lived locally and had all the gear we needed, and who was an exceptional teacher.
He took me on my first camping trip in Yosemite 13 years ago. We “surprise” climbed Half Dome, summiting as the sun set, with no remaining water, food, or headlamps. I got a lot smarter about things over the years, thank goodness.
I didn’t realize at the time how lucky I was. Having talked to hundreds of women about their experiences in the outdoors, more often than not, they get: “Hey, uh, babe, you’re doing it wro- No, not like that. Just…move over and let me.”
I love backpacking. I love pushing my body until I’m good and exhausted at the end of the day. I love crawling into my sleeping bag and falling asleep with my Kindle still on after reading only a paragraph of my book. I love the spacious, meandering conversations that happen with your backpacking buddies when you know you have nothing but time to talk.
Like a lot of people, my internal dialogue is dominated by ‘shoulds’: you should be doing more, you should be making more money, etc. I love that backpacking takes things down to the need level: I need to get to my campsite, I need to cook dinner. It simplifies what’s important each day, and that creates space for me to focus on what’s important in life.
The four-year anniversary of my mom’s death came and went a few weeks ago. In October 2012, I was orphaned —my father had passed away the previous year —and I felt utterly unmoored and mired in grief. I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing, working in the same job and pretending like everything was alright, so my boyfriend and I decided to quit our jobs to travel.
We started that December in East Africa, and by mid-April 2013, he and I were in Bolivia backpacking in the Andes. On the second day of one particular trek, I got up early and started cooking breakfast beside our tent.
The sun rose over the mountains and warmed my face as I stirred oats, slivered apples, and manjar together in my tiny pot, and in that moment, I was struck with an deep sense of fulfillment and well-being. My grieving process wasn’t over, but I realized I hadn’t cried in a few weeks, and that right then, I both had and knew everything I needed.
I wanted to share the moment with my two best girlfriends, and realized how odd it was that I had never combined the outdoors with my favorite people. I decided I’d take them backpacking as soon as I got back home, and make sure they knew everything they needed to know to get out and have their own empowering experiences.
About two seconds later, it occurred to me that I shouldn’t stop there. About an hour of brainstorming later, I came up with a name: Trail Mavens.
Being an outdoorswoman is all about attitude. It’s not about what you know how to do, but what you’re willing to try even when you feel like you’re going to fail, and probably getting messy and dirty in the process.”
—As told to Dirtbag Darling