Making Strides

I am excited to report that I finished 2016 with the fulfillment of a personal goal! I went on a five mile hike/trail run completely on my own! I’ve definitely ventured into the woods alone before, but not to hike alone.

Often, I have found myself about to go hike alone when I chicken out. I’m so used to people telling me its dangerous or stupid to go outside alone that those insecurities have been ingrained in my mind. While I appreciate people’s concern for my safety, I also appreciate people not discouraging me from my hobby.

There are definitely a lot of things to take into account when going outside alone, but it’s also more likely for me to be injured or killed in my drive to the trail head.

When I come across someone knitting, I don’t give them a lecture about the integrity of their scarf or how to do it because I only knit occasionally, so I assume they have a better understanding of what they are doing than I do. Similarly, if someone doesn’t regularly hike, I would appreciate them taking my experience into account before telling me just how likely it is for me to be injured. I appreciate concerns for my safety, but I don’t appreciate it when someone takes the conversation from polite concern to projecting their own insecurities on me.

I’ve been hiking and camping my whole life and backpacking for about eight years. I’ve been a leader on a number of backpacking trips, and my dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail was sparked when I was just a fourth grader. In my years of hiking, I have hiked injured, I have helped those who have been injured, and I’ve been caught in some really scary weather. None of this has discouraged me. If anything, it has encouraged me. I love and crave the simplicity of life on the trail. It is humbling and inspiring, and on my worst days, it is a reason to live.

Not just as a hiker alone, but as a woman alone, I take a lot of precautions when I go outside. Though nature can be scary, I trust it. People on the other hand- if I don’t know you, I don’t trust you. Nature can be mostly prepared for with a smartly packed daypack, but every person met, has a different motive, good or bad.

I am thrilled that I finally went more than a mile outside on my own. It was freeing and a personal best. The only time I was wary was in passing hikers I did not know. I started my hike with some frozen rain that dissipated with warming temperatures. Despite the grey sky, my heart felt happy. The fear instilled in me from countless lectures from various people, dissolved as I found myself right where I was meant to be.

I want to validate those who express concern for me because it is genuinely appreciated that you care, but I want my feelings validated too. Being outside puts me at ease, and I would never go out alone unprepared. So you hike your hike, and I’ll hike my hike, and when we need each other, we’ll reach out to support but never to discourage.

Cheers to 2017, and hiking your own hike. Let 2017 be a year of love, support, and respect.



the nitty gritty of being a lady outside

So last year when I started my first b12308363_10204330410694272_632819222802126837_nlog that this one is now replacing, my first post was about having a period while backcountry camping. I’m copying a pasting that post here now because it remains an important topic for female adventurers. So many times, I’ve had women use their period as an excuse to not go outside. To me, a period is the perfect reason to get outside. Here’s the original post from my old blog:

“First post, and it’s about female hygiene on the trail! I found this article last year, and it’s pretty great. It covered a lot of territory with some great tips and tricks.

The one thing this article doesn’t talk a lot about is having a period on the trail, but that’s a really important thing to have information on.

This article
lists three options for periods in the backcountry. One of these options is birth control that keeps you off your period, and one is using a diva cup or something similar. The other option, of course, is just using tampons and pads on the trail. I know, it sounds grody and uncomfortable but it’s not any worse than having to keep up with a diva cup. So how do you go about having a period on the trail? Well, for your trash, take a ziplock baggie and cover it in duct tape. This way, you have your own trash bag, and you can’t see what’s inside. Then, in another baggie, think of periods past– how many tampons do you use in a day and night? Multiply this number by how long your period lasts or how many days you’ll be gone with your period, and take that many tampons plus two. I recommend tampons over pads because you can’t feel them and they won’t deteriorate with movement or burst if they get wet. Just carry some hand sanitizer with you, and make sure your trash baggie goes up with the bear bag. Don’t let your period keep you out of the woods. When we’re inside, following the dull path of everyday life, we often forget how much exercise actually helps periods. By being in the backcountry with your period, you have no choice but to be active. Stay hydrated, and bring some midol if you need it, but don’t let Flo get you down! Having a period outside really isn’t scary once you give it a shot!”

As a side note, one year later, another possible period option for the trail is period panties! Period panties are still a new thing in the world of feminine hygiene products, and right now they aren’t the most economically appealing option, but they might be a great alternative to someone looking to replace pads and decrease waste. I’ll let you know how backpacking with them goes once I have the opportunity to give it a shot. However, that may be a solid six months since I won’t be doing much, if any, backcountry camping while I’m in Italy.

hello, friends

What better way to start this blog than with a little art history.

Tonight, my mom broke out some of her old sketchbooks from childhood and college. I took some photographs of a couple of her drawings from a figure drawing class.

One very unique thing about how my parents chose to raise me was that, from an early age, the human body was never hidden from me. We had story books that taught about human and child development and how babies were made. As I grew up, I was not uncomfortable or overly curious about bodies of the opposite sex because it wasn’t a mystery and it wasn’t taboo. Right from the beginning, I was taught that the human body was science and art. I feel blessed and thankful that I was raised this way, and I have no doubt that it helped shape who I am as an artist today.

Here are a few of Mom’s drawing from 1980 and 1981.