No Strippers, Yes Climbing (AKA Epilogue to our Wind River Adventure)

Previously: Adventures Delayed (AKA Prologue to Wind River Adventure) and Fun Layers (AKA Wind River Adventure in Three Parts)

Fourteen days for our pre-parenting adventure. Some people call it a babymoon. But that makes me think of lounging on beaches with virgin piña coladas. Not our style. Although if babymoons are supposed be like honeymoons, I guess ours has some similarities. Our honeymoon was 19 days of traversing the Canadian border by canoe in the BWCA. Not very romantic. Very dirty. Very Type 2 Fun. So it’s fitting that the first seven days of this adventure had been pretty gritty.

After seven nights in our tent, four of which rain was the least of our concerns, it was time for our one night in a bed. 

We pulled up to the independent family owned motel. Their clean cute website and reality didn’t match up.

As I waited in the car Will went to see about a room. A thin over-tanned wrinkly woman in a hot pink tank top came speed-hobbling by while muttering to herself before disappearing into the lobby. She told Will it would be less than $100 for the night. Sold. While doing the paperwork she made sure to tell Will, 

“There are female strippers tonight.”

Will didn’t respond but thought “It’s Monday in little Lander WY… really lady?” 

She continued “The guys were last night… that was nice.”

As we got into our clean but bare bones room Will said “If I’m kept awake by stripper music we’re getting a refund.” 

We didn’t. Despite a flaky AC unit, weak internet, and almost pointless curtains, it was mercifully quiet. 

The rest of our trip went mostly smoothly. We had two wonderful meals. One at the Lander Bar and one at the Middle Fork. Notice the “rabbit food” salad in the mixing bowl 😝on the far left. On the right is my “graham cake” French toast with lemon chèvre cream cheese filling and blueberry syrup. It was heavenly.

For the next three nights we camped in the Lander City Park and were entertained by the various comings and goings of odd characters, trendy van-lifers, and local families. On day nine we had a day of shopping for gear at Wild Iris and Wind River Rewind, restocking our groceries, and scouting the rock climbing opportunities. The next day we had a blast on a really fun four pitches of trad climbing. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon scouting for more climbs (which turned out to be off limits for the season due to nesting raptors, yay for birds, sad for us) and enjoying some tourist sights of The Rise and Trout Pool as well as The Sinks. 

By day twelve we were ready to start the journey home. Driving home is never the best part of a vacation. We at least had an absolutely delightful time being back in the Spearfish SD campground. We don’t understand why all the campers don’t hang out in the river.

Another 8 hours of driving and we were back home with our Pigeon 

We’ve got about 100 days before the adventure of parenting begins. As terrifying as that can seem, this trip was a great reminder of all that we’re capable of and what a good team we are. 

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Fun Layers (AKA Wind River Adventure in Three Parts)

Previously… Adventures Delayed AKA the prologue to this story or AKA how I ended up backpacking 52 miles while pregnant.

August 2021 – 21 weeks pregnant. McDonalds breakfast in hand and starting the two day, 15 hour drive to Lander Wyoming! 

After a pandemic year of canceled adventures and a general sense of being cooped up at home, it felt great to be driving out west. That drive, even when it’s seemingly empty and monotonous is also astoundingly expansive. The slower you move through a landscape the greater the sense of awe and connection. Flying is so unsatisfactory. 

Part One – We started with so much Type 1 Fun in Spearfish SD

At the Spearfish campground. We deeply enjoyed this creek.

How very fortunate that our first two days had gone so smoothly. Type 2 Fun was just around the corner. 

The Fun Scale:
Type 1 Fun is classic fun. It’s laughter and relaxing. It’s what most people when they think of a “vacation.” But for people like us, nothing but Type 1 Fun gets kinda boring.
Type 2 Fun is not fun at the time, but the best fun in hindsight. It’s miserable and challenging and sometimes scary. Type 2 Fun tests your grit, endows confidence, and makes for the best stories you retell for a lifetime. 
Type 3 Fun is not fun. You thought it was going to be fun and it wasn’t at the time and isn’t fun to recall. It’s traumatic. Type 3 Fun usually involves hospitals and sometimes bodybags. Be careful not to underestimate the risks in your adventure. 

Day three of our fourteen day trip was day one on trail. Type 2 Fun was sneaking up on us slowly. Our trail head was Bruce’s Bridge at 7,000’ elevation. We started in a warm intermittent rain. 

Our first evening was pleasant enough, but it was a good thing we had dinner at 4pm because at 6pm started a steady rain that didn’t let up for fifteen hours. 

Day two was also intermittent rain but now the temperature was around 50ºF. We took a lunch break shortly after making it to 10,000’ and crouched between some boulders for protection. 

Good thing the hiking was so easy and beautiful. I’ve done my fair share of hiking and backpacking. Some hiking is gorgeous but physically brutal. Some hiking is easier but claustrophobically green. Here the path was rustic but well maintained and surroundings from the trailhead at 5,000’ to 11,000’ were open and enchanting. 

On the afternoon of day two we had made it past the base of Wind River Peak and explored off trail to find a beautiful place for our dispersed camp site. It was at 11,000’ right when the trees turn into stunted little bushes. We set up on the east edge of an alpine lake with classic granite cliffs on it’s western side. 

Dispersed camping is when there is no established or required camp sites and zero accommodations. There are slightly different rules depending on the land you are on. Often the rule is that you must find your own place to set up at least 200’ away from any trails or water sources. There are often limits on how long you can continuously occupy the space. There are no fire rings or pit toilets and as always, you should Leave No Trace (LNT). Dispersed camping is usually free. It can also be very beautiful and peaceful as there should be a real immersion in nature with no human impact. It’s also challenging camping as you need to be very self sufficient and proficient with your LNT skills. 

It had been a long day so we decided to have two of our hot dinners. 

Part Two – Begin the ominous music…

Remember, Type 2 Fun pictures are very rare. When you’re in the thick of misery or fear, you rarely think “This is a great time to pause and fumble around with my phone/camera” 

While setting up and tending to the camp kitchen the temperature was dropping. The day of scattered rain was transitioning to scattered snow and sun. It was beautiful. And cold. I put on my puffy wrap skirt and mid layer jacket. Though one meal, and then the next (which was taking too long due to a packing error we will not make again) I was shivering on and off. As I struggled to choke down my much needed second dinner Will came back from securing our food bags and pointed to an dark cloud bearing down on us. I shoveled the food down as fast as I could while packing up the kitchen while sleet started to pelt down. 

I dove into the tent vestibule just as the hail hit. Shivering and fumbling with zippers I broke down. Will popped in to find me half in and half out of the tent sobbing. 

“Oh no! What’s wrong?” 

“I’m… just… cold…” I got out between sobs. I wasn’t quite hypothermic, but it’s something I’m prone to. We’ve been here before. 

Will ever so lovingly helped me get my shoes off, get me all the way in the tent, and redress me in all my warmest layers, and snugged me down in my sleeping bag. Even with the hail beating our tent I knew I was safe. It didn’t take long for me to feel very content. Everything was done, we were safe and cozy and would stay that way for the next 12 hours. Or so I thought. 

After I was warm and cozy, happily reading Jane Eyre, I took this picture of the hail from the vestibule. Back when I thought I wouldn’t be opening that fly for at least 10 hours.

10pm, we had been asleep for about two hours when we woke up to the tent wildly angrily flapping in the wind. It wasn’t just annoying, it wasn’t sustainable for the tent. Worried, we got out and saw to tightening things up. One guyline was being held out by a rock, which the wind had slid loose. So Will pulled it taught and piled up more rocks on it. It seemed to do the trick, the tent was quiet. We fell back asleep. 

2am WILD ANGRY FLAPPING. Fuck. What the hell? What else could we do? Just wait out a miserable anxious windy night? I figured we were awake, so at least I’d pee. While crouching in the vestibule with my pants around my ankles… SNAP! The windward corner by Will’s head had popped. FUCK FUCK FUCK. 

We had to pack up. Sitting in a broken tent with the wind continuing to rip at it was not a sustainable option. I struggled get my pants back on and into the tent. We deflated pads, stuffed sleeping bags, repacked our packs and crawled out of our sad tent into the sharp deep night. 

Careful to not lose anything to the wind in the dark, we un-staked and packed up our broken tent. By headlamp I made the short trek to the camp kitchen, and Will to the food stash. Will gave me his wind pants and gloves in the biting cold. Our headlamps swept the grass, rocks, and shrubs, scanning for misplaced gear. Then we began a slow careful hike down. We needed to get out of the wind. We needed to go down elevation until the trees were full sized. 

We had crossed some talus (in this case a field of pillow sized rocks) and a little stream to get to a goat trail which we followed to get back to the main trail. 

I’ve never had to navigate at night. This could have very much been an out of the frying pan into the fire situation. For some it may have been safer to just hunker down in some bushes and wait out the night. But being able to stay oriented in new surroundings, in the dark, under stress, was possible for us. It comes from being vigilant and super oriented while we explored during the day. It comes from practicing being always oriented in our daily lives. It’s also risk assessment. Even if something else went wrong while hiking in the dark, we were still equipped to handle it. 

Back on the main trail, Will started to dip off trail into trees periodically looking for a new place to set up. It didn’t take long to find a suitably flat soft spot surrounded by large healthy trees. Will fixed the broken tent corner and we got re-set up. Then Will had to poop. Of course. 

4am Finally back in the cozy tent, trying to fall back asleep. 

Part Three – Summits and more hail…

Day Three. We let ourselves sleep in until the exceedingly late 9am. It was a relief to wake up to a partially blue sky. 

Will starting breakfast on day three from the new camp spot we found at 3am.

Today was supposed to be our day to summit Wind River Peak of 13,197’. By 12:30 we had stashed most of our stuff in the shrubby Krummholz spruce (which we just call ‘crummies’), took one pack with water, snacks, and emergency supplies, and began our slow and steady hike up. It seemed ridiculously late to start a summit bid. But we agreed on a turn around time, and knew what conditions in both the weather and my pregnant body we would turn around for. 

Slow and steady, it started beautifully. 

At the base of Wind River Peak!
Careful hiking through the talus.

As we went up, the terrain changed from soggy grass, to scree, to talus and then finally to car sized boulders at up to a 42% incline. While it wasn’t “climbing” it also wasn’t “walking” and I was grateful for all my strength, mobility, and cardio fitness that made it a fun challenge. With 500’ or so to go (which feels way longer than it seems) we were fully in the clouds. We evaluated, was it safe to continue? Did we want to continue? Yes. We repeated that evaluation again with 300’ to go when the clouds were spitting a bit of snow at us. 

YES! SUMMIT! Even though there was nothing to see but the white sheet of clouds. 

Slow and steady on the way down as well. Many tragedies occur after people let down their guard. Yet with the summit behind us and the weather seeming to hold, we took our time to enjoy the views. 

Descending out of the boulders.

Five hours after we had started we were back to our stash of gear. We repacked and headed down another 500’ or so to find a peaceful spot to camp. Thankfully, after three long days and two challenging nights, this one was blissfully uneventful. We would need it because the next 24 hours would be eventful. 

Day four was for exploring off trail adventure! 

Looking at the map Will identified a peak just northeast from Wind River Peak. It was an unnamed little blip compared to the more jagged continental divide. After hiking down to the river on trail, we took a bearing for up and away. We were headed for what looked like some flat high areas about one mile off trail. It took some frustration and patience but we did find some high mountain meadows around 10,500’ to set up camp. From there we set off for our next peak! 

Will pointing to Wind River Peak. The peaks on the right in the foreground was our next summit.

It was beautiful easy hiking. I felt transported to the Sound of Music. I couldn’t help but skip and bound and run in the expansive grassy saddle adjacent to our summit.

The actual summit took a little boulder scrambling. We dubbed it Sprout Peak, after our nickname for the baby.  

Sprout peak dance!
360º view

Not long after beginning our nice walk down we got a glimpse of lightning in the distance and then the hail began to sting our faces. DOWN DOWN DOWN! Hiking over the rocks and through the trees as fast as we could back to our meadow and tent! We got ‘home’ safely and snuggled down. 

The rest of the afternoon was on and off sun with rain/sleet/hail. 

A moment of sun between the storms.

Around 4pm in an increasingly narrow gap of no rain we figured we should make dinner.  It unfortunately was again the same miscalculated meal we ate two nights ago in the scattered snow. It was still an unfortunate meal even with a revised cooking plan. We ate a watery burnt bean and rice thing in the wet cold. The best Will could say was “it won’t make us sick.” 

With everything done, clean, and buttoned up we crawled into our cozy tent. Then the rain and hail began in earnest. Then the lightning, which got quite close. But we were in the safest spot we possibly could have been. There was no point in moving. It passed. 

9pm and we had just been drifting off to sleep. In the dark, behind my eyelids I sensed the lightning.  Again. After a while of laying there counting seconds between lightening and thunder, listening to it get closer, I asked “Are you awake? Are you counting?” Yes, of course he was. 

When it got to 5 seconds (about one mile away) we reluctantly sat up. Sitting up means less potential contact with the ground in case of a nearby lightning strike. 

It’s not fun sitting up in the cold dark trying to count the seconds between the most blinding flashes and biggest booms, waiting for it to pass, trying not to let your imagination run away with you. 

It did pass. And the tent held. And we got sleep. 

We woke up at dawn to hearing the howling wind in the trees. Thankfully our tent was protected from the gusts but we could sense the stinging cold. 

Warm and snug in my sleep system I scowled at the weather. I proposed what I always hate. I hate hiking on an empty stomach. I hate having to pack up in a rush without enjoying some coffee and the morning light. But I also hate being cold. And it was certainly in the low 30s (F) and windy AF. 

So I said “Let’s just GTFO and have breakfast when we’re lower and warmer.” And that’s what we did. 

See the hail outline of our tent? it’s between Will and my pack. It was so cold we had to keep rewarming our fingers.

The hike down the north side of our special off trail mountain meadow was an adventure in itself. It was very steep, wet, and a maze of old blow down. Giant bark-less trees to work around or over with no end in sight for what felt like quite a long time. 

All the Type 2 Fun was worth it. Ultimately this trip was a Type 2 Fun sandwich. Big slabs of Type 1 Fun on either side of our adventure. On day five of our backpacking (and day 7 of 14 of our vacation) we had worked our way through most of our Type 2 Fun and were on to a big chunk of Type 1 Fun. 

The middle fork of the Popo Agie river

Our last 24 hours of backpacking were sunny, warm, and easy. We plenty of time sunning ourselves on smooth rocks, reading, and eating. Our camp was perfectly flat soft pine needles in an open bit of forest. We ate a quick, easy, satisfying meal and slept soundly. 

The most challenging (and memorable) part of this trip was over and we still had seven more days to go! 

Next up: No strippers, Yes Climbing (AKA Epilogue to the Wind River Adventure)

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Adventures Delayed (AKA Prologue to Wind River Adventure)

Years of anticipation.  So many desired and delayed adventures. Then it all seemed to happen all at once. 

2008 Kym dating Will, “Kids some day? Yes?” 

“Yes. Someday.” 

“Good. Someday.” 

Then for many years we embarked on wonderful adventures… our BWCA honeymoon, and Ironman, and winter camping… and every year we’d repeat some version of that conversation. 

Summer 2019 “Let’s start training for an ambitious adventure.” 

It would take a couple years to build up to it, but the dream was a Grade IV climbing expedition. That’s typically defined as a full 12+ hour day of technical 5th Class climbing. These types of adventures also often involve rugged backpacking approach to the base of the climb. 

We made a training plan and scheduled a preparatory training trip to Red Rocks Nevada for the following April. 

Winter 2019 “If we’re ever going to do this family thing, we’re running out of time.” 

There is no perfect time to have a baby. We would never be as ready as we wanted to be. We had gotten to a now or never time in our lives. So commenced a monthly cycle of trying, waiting… and nothing. 

March 2020… well, you know. The world came to a halt and forever changed. Losing our big April climbing trip was the least of our concerns. 

February 2021 “Hello, I’d like to make an appointment…” I tried to avoid the word, but there’s something really poignant when the medical receptionist bluntly says “You want an infertility consultation?” Hard swallow. “Yes.” 

March 2020 “Screw it! Let’s do an April climbing road trip to the Red River Gorge Kentucky!”

And then we became eligible for COVID vaccines. And the soonest we could get them was smack in the middle of our trip. So we didn’t go. So we started planning a different trip for August. 

April 12th 2021 – My 39th birthday and second pandemic birthday. We were supposed to be climbing in Kentucky. And then we were supposed to be climbing in Minnesota, but it was too rainy. So at least we could drink fun craft beers on our front step. I took a pregnancy test just to check, expecting nothing because that’s what it always was. 

“Ummmmm…. Will? Come take a look at this. Do you see a second line?” 

“Yes.” With a grin. 

“Damn. No beer for me. Wait, yay? Yay! Yay?” It was a little hard to wrap my mind around it. It still is. 

Parenting will be the most challenging, disruptive, rewarding, Type 2 Fun adventure ever. All the more reason to finally get to have some version of our COVID delayed adventure. Something that would challenge us in the ways we were most familiar with. Something that would remind us of our competence. Something to help us feel rooted in the lifestyle we want to be able to share with our child. 

We would road trip from our home in Minneapolis Minnesota to Lander Wyoming. The plan was for a short 5 day backpacking trip in the Wind River Range as well as exploring some of the rock climbing in the area. We knew we couldn’t be as ambitious as we otherwise would be. Yet we also knew that pregnant or not, this level of challenge would be well within our reach. We had the skills, fitness, experience, and gear to make this adventure an acceptable level of risk for us.

We ended up with a fun easy 52 miles of backpacking and some “fun” of rain, hail, more hail, lightning, wind, and a broken tent. It was perfect. 

Next post: Fun Layers (AKA Wind River Adventure in Three Parts) This is where all the best pictures are 😉

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Pick One: Fast, Easy, or Cheap – backpacking edition

Originally written for all types of goals on my blog in January 2021 and then updated and republished for Garage Grown Gear

Want a recipe for disaster? 

“I’ve never slept in a tent before but I’m going to get a FKT on the PCT* next season. I also don’t have the time and energy for this to be hard to prepare for. Does someone have an easy to follow template for a couch to FKT plan? It also needs to be free. I don’t want to spend money on new gear, or guides, or training.”


Fast + Easy + Cheap = 😭. The goal doesn’t get achieved, or your body breaks, or your relationships break, either in the short or long term. Taking all the shortcuts at once rarely yields success. 

This is the best scenario for pursuing goals that will be fun, safe, and successful:

✅ I’m able to be patient and spend seasons and years developing the fitness and skill for ambitious thru hiking. 

✅ I’m ready to commit effort and time to research, learning, planning, and training.

✅ I’m willing to invest money in equipment and professional services.

Understandably most people can’t check all those boxes. 

Pick just one shortcut and be willing to go all in on the others. Let me explain:

If you choose fast, be willing to put in the work and invest your money. A really big ambitious goal that you give yourself a short timeframe to accomplish means the research, preparation, and training are going to take over your life. It also means you have less time to make gear, test gear, and wait for deals. When you don’t have time to learn things the hard way by trial and error, season after season, it often means paying for classes, guides, coaches and more. 

If you choose easy, it may mean investing the money and being patient. You can do big ambitious adventures and have it be fairly easy. For example you could hire a coach and trainer and body worker so all you have to do is show up for the workouts. Then hire a guide to do the food and route and gear prep as well as help keep you safe on trail. You can also make it easier simply by distributing the cost and preparation effort over years. Turn that one year goal into a three year goal. 

If you choose cheap, it’s going to take elbow grease and take more time. You can make gear and find used gear, both of which take way more time than loading up the shopping cart. You can create your own strength workouts and design your own training plan. You can read all the guides, reviews, and stories to plan your trip. You can create and test all your own recipes. It’s rewarding and affordable, but it does take a lot of time and effort. 

This is simplified to illustrate a point. Can you be just partially fast, easy, and cheap? Sure. Just realize that you can’t shortcut everything and have stellar results.  

Are there successful people who seem to be doing it the fast, easy, and cheap way?  Sure. Those are fantastic best selling stories. But for every one of those there are hundreds of sad failures that don’t make the news.  

Pick your path. Know what trade offs you’re making.

*FTK = Fastest Known Time (AKA record breaking) PCT = Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 of very rugged miles)

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This is Fun?!? 6 Tips For Taking A Loved One Backpacking (or any outdoor adventure)

Originally written for and published by Garage Grown Gear

“Never again!” Is not the response you’re hoping for when you take your spouse or kid or BFF backpacking. You love this shit. You want to share the magical beauty and wonder of days immersed in nature unplugged. This can be your chance for deeper connection and making memories to reminisce over for decades to come. Or the trip will be remembered with resentment that represents the gulf between you. 

“I’ve been thinking about what to tell people about this trip. And nothing against you two, but I don’t think I could call it fun. There were times yesterday I wanted to go home.” 

That is what my sister Annalesa said to my husband Will and I on day three of our winter camping adventure. It was a challenging Type 2 Fun trip, but it was also filled with giggles and actual fun (proof). 

Three years later this is what she has to say about it now, “It was a phenomenal experience. I would absolutely do it again. The amount of confidence it gave me is remarkable.” 

Between Will’s Outward Bound work, my coaching, and accumulated personal experience; here are our six tips for taking your loved one into the woods: 

1. Pick a location and season they will enjoy. Just because you love the rich, green, humid heat of a thick forest in peak summer might not set them up for success. Where do they want to go? What climate suits them best? 

2. Plan a route that’s easy for you and not too hard for them. You want extra energy to be a good guide for your loved one. Plan something well within your ability so you can take load from their pack, or do some scouting, or manage a self rescue if things go wrong. The route should also not max out all the ways they can be challenged. This should not be their longest, fastest, highest elevation, most remote thing they’ve ever done. They shouldn’t be so exhausted and scared they never enjoy the views.

3. No hazing! This is not their initiation to your inner circle. Don’t throw them in the deep end. Just because you had “fun” learning things the hard way doesn’t mean they have to. This is not the time to prove to them how impressive you are by putting them through the wringer. 

4. Communicate expectations. This helps them have an appropriate mindset. 

Be explicit about the physical experience they can expect. Don’t try to hide the fact that they will probably get a blister, bug bites, and be too hot or cold sometimes. If they are mentally prepared for the discomforts you can help them focus on the fun stuff. 

Give an example timeline of a day. They shouldn’t be surprised if you need to be hiking by 6am or if you want to set up camp ASAP and not after a rest and reading break. They should also know when to expect down time for personal care or fun and games. 

Tell them what tasks will need to be done and what they’ll be able to help with. Will they set up the tent while you start dinner? Give them a chance to ask questions, learn, or practice these tasks before you leave. 

5. Carry extra luxuries. What are their comfort keys or concerns? We all know that it can’t be 100% comfortable or we’d just stay in bed. But don’t strip all the comforts away if you’re trying to convince them this is fun. What are some trail luxuries will really make a difference for them? Is it a more cushy sleep system? A quality camp chair? Special foods? The time and ability to get really clean? Games? Art? It might mean extra bulk and weight in your pack, but that’s why you picked a route thats easy for you. 

6. No silent suffering! Or angry suffering! While we don’t want whining and complaining, it’s also important to share when we are not ok. Help them take care of themselves. You don’t want to find out at the end of the day that they were so crabby because their foot was a bloody pulp from an untreated blister they didn’t want to whine about. You also don’t want them spiraling into a depression because they didn’t want to tell you how homesick they were. You don’t want a rescue for chest pains that were actually caused by days of constipation because they were afraid of spiders in the pit toilets. Normalize talking about bodily and emotional needs. 

Now go guide your loved one on an trip they will love. Be bonded by the intimacy of pooping in the woods. Inspire an appetite for adventure. Create another nature lover. You’re going to have so much fun. 

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Planning the Big Picture so You Can Have Fun and Not Die

I think we can all agree that a successful adventure does not include helicopters and body bags. Preferably, no hospital involvement either. So how do you avoid that disaster scenario? Even better, how do you have a trip that isn’t just “not a disaster” but absolutely amazing? There are a zillion considerations in adventure planning, such as gear, budget, food, etc. Those are important, but take a step back, zoom out. 

These six elements of adventure planning encourage you to plan the big picture before narrowing in on decisions like whether or not to cut the handle off your toothbrush or eat nothing but cold bean paste out of a Talenti jar. 

They are:

1️⃣ Mental/Emotional wellness and group dynamics

2️⃣ Camp Craft

3️⃣ Technical Skills

4️⃣ Location and Navigation

5️⃣ Fitness 

6️⃣ First Aid and Evacuation Plans

You can read all about them on the article I wrote for Garage Grown Gear:

Planning the Big Picture: 6 Critical Considerations for Every Adventure

This kind of planning also makes it way more likely that you’ll have fun and not die on your summer adventures.

I used to be consumed by “What if…” worries. Planning for camping, being in the tent, hiking… I’d be trying to problem solve for every possible scenario.  

Will, who was the veteran professional outdoor educator and WFR (Wilderness First Responder) always replied “We’ll stay or we’ll go, either fast or slow.” Which felt infuriatingly simplistic and did nothing to ease my worries. 

It wasn’t until I spent a week getting my WFR certification that I had my light bulb moment 💡and it finally made sense! I was able to put all possible scenarios into that simple framework of “Stay or go, fast or slow.” I felt way more empowered and way less worried.  Which made room for so much more fun. 

You don’t have to get special certifications to understand how to make better decisions with the skills you already have. I can help you put all of your “What ifs” into three different categories of response. Less worry, more fun. 

Register for my online class Have Fun. Don’t Die! Through Kula Cloth!

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Breaking News! New Type 2 Fun Adventure!

I have nothing against Type 1 Fun. I love naps, watching Pixar movies, or beers with friends. I’m writing this in bed with Pigeon curled up in my lap. 

Type 2 fun is where it’s at. Will and I are all about the type of fun where it’s miserable at the time but makes the best story later. Whether it’s wilderness adventures like our honeymoon trip or athletic challenges or running our Zest Ed business, we expect some worthwhile suffering for great memories.

Will and I are embarking on the most Type Two Fun adventure ever. It was the most rational-irrational and selfish-selfless decision we’ve ever made. We are attempting to create a healthy happy human to positively contribute to the world. It’s going to be epically hard in so many ways for so many years. Just like any other adventure, it should also be incredibly rewarding and filled with love and laughter. 

Expecting it to start by the end of 2021!

It was a long and difficult road to get to this trail head. For years we put it off, feeling insecure financially and feeling scared of all the unknowable changes and challenges.

Every year we’d say “Not yet.” Eventually became now-or-never. So months before the pandemic we didn’t know was coming we said “Screw it! We’re competent adults. We’ll figure it out.” 

I have some bones to pick about my teenage years of sex-ed. There is so much more to know that is so empowering. What you need to know to prevent an unwanted teen pregnancy is so different than what you should know to get pregnant in your late 30s. Initial excitement turned to bewilderment to disappointment and frustration. Over a year later we were about to start the infertility journey. 

Then on my 39th birthday I took a pregnancy test, not expecting anything because nothing ever happened, expecting just to get the permission to drink some special birthday beer. It was positive. 

This has been a whirlwind of physical, emotional, and logistical (insurance 🙄) experiences. I was and am super fortunate to have a small circle of friends to talk to. Yet the overwhelming message was to KEEP IT ALL A SECRET. Which wasn’t all that different from when I got my first period. For all sorts of reasons the message seems to be “Shhhhh 🤫 don’t talk about it.” 


Puberty, menstruation, conceiving, pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, postpartum, menopause, and all hormonal changes by choice or not are part of a healthy human experience! People going through any of these biological experiences should feel free to talk about them without stigma or taboo. It is when they are in the light of day that people can get the mental and emotional support they need. Everyone can be more educated and less isolated. 

If someone shares part of this process, listen and pause before any knee-jerk standard responses slip out. 

I just happen to be in a peak frenzy on the long journey of the biological experience of living. It’s going to be a pretty intense year.

In the meanwhile we are still competent adults with full lives we are excited to share with a new human. We will continue to be endurance and adventure athletes with goals. I still hope to do the Arrowhead 135, just not next year. We still have big rock climbing, backpacking, and paddling plans. I’m still primarily a self-employed coach working hard to build a sustainable business. We still live in a tiny apartment. It’ll all have to look a little different, but we are not the first adventure and entrepreneurial family. Our lives are about to get more “fun” in every way possible.

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Don’t Get Hurt – Six Ways to Prepare Your Body For Adventure

Check out the article I wrote for Garage Grown Gear!

What can you do to prepare your body for adventure? 

1️⃣ Build Gradually – Do something, but less is better than too much. 

2️⃣ Train Specifically –  Do or mimic the same movements you’ll be doing on your adventure.  

3️⃣ Address Imbalances – Some parts of you need more strength, some parts need more stretching, ignoring that will lead to injury. 

4️⃣ Practice Skills – From the complex (climbing safety) to the mundane (getting up and down front he ground), train these skills so they are more durable even when you are tired and distracted. 

5️⃣ Train Your Gut – This is the linchpin and the keystone to everything else functioning. It takes planning and practice too. 

6️⃣ Log Your Training – Don’t just rely on your memory.  Write it down. 

Intrigued? Read the full article and/or message me!

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Stick Bathing

Part one of our 2021 winter adventure starts with Not Hot. I may be biased, but I highly recommend it.

An entirely different experience from traveling on the ice, was our regular stick baths. If Japanese forest bathing is like soothing caresses in a muscle relaxing bubble bath, our stick baths are like being aggressively scrubbed in a powerful car wash.

“Stick bath!” 

Became our rallying cry to ward off wild frustrations in bushwhacking. Because we didn’t sleep outside this year, we didn’t need to pull two heavily loaded pulks (aka sleds). Because we didn’t need to travel with so much stuff and we could travel until dusk. We could explore and create a special route just for us. It meant forging our own path through forest and swamp that would not normally be navigable in the summer. 

It meant an extremely tactile experience with all the trees snagging on every possible part of our bodies. It could be infuriating to be constantly untangling yourself from the Velcro like forest. Back at the cabin (which had no running water) we’d strip off our layers and sticks, twigs, and pine needles would shower the floor. 

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Not Hot

I confess. This is the first winter camping trip where we didn’t camp. I’ve never been so tested on how many times our adventure plans could change. 

Original plans went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.  

Then became 2, 3, 4, 5, 1.  

Then 2b, 3, 4, 5, 1. Then…

We went off road a mile from the cabin in pitch blackness at -20 the night before.

Finally the end result was @#$%!!?, 3, 2z, 3, 2z, 4c, 3, 5, 1. (If you need a diagram of this kind of plan)

It was still a fantastic winter adventure like no other we’ve had.

“It’s like the surface of Neptune!” 

Will would say many many times on this trip. The polar vortex 2021 meant that our day time high temperatures were usually around -10ºF. Lows around -30 or even -40ºF, without windchill. We were awed watching the steam billowing off of Lake Superior with the ice sculptured rocks and Will said bug eyed “It’s the surface of Neptune!” And again whenever we’d open the cabin door. And again when laughing at me all bundled up.

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