An Open Letter to Outdoor Women on Independence and Bad Relationships

Ladies, I hope you’re ready to hit with the feels–because I am full of them today. It’s been a while since I curled up to write something raw, but when the lovely Sidni West included me on a list of 65 rad humans to follow, and described me as ‘writer’, it reminded me that I’ve gotten a little too caught up in day-job marketing and neglected my true love: honest, this-is-me writing.

20151213-DSC04614

So, prepare yourselves for a little real talk that’s been brewing for a while–probably about two years–and now is finally being put down into words:

It’s mind-blowing to me that it was three years ago that I started living in a van, but it’s taken me until very recently to recover from a little something I’d like to call “girlfriend to a boy who goes outside” syndrome. In my case, this ‘outside’ was actually climbing–but it can apply to anyone with an ambitious partner. It started out innocently, sharing a strong passion for the same activity, but by the end of our relationship, it was toxic and damaging. Here’s my question to you, ladies:

When is the last time you got outdoors without your partner? A just-for-me, don’t-need-no-man, this-moment-is-mine adventure doing what you love? A trip that’s just yours?

When my ex-boyfriend and I started dating, he truly helped me become a climber. He worked at the local rock gym, so we’d stay up late climbing after-hours and before-hours and all-hours. I still remember the day I fell head over heels for him on our first date. He was rugged, outdoorsy, and seemingly king of a world that I wanted to be a part of. He was there during my first climbing trip (before we started dating), and took me on 99% of any climbing excursions I went on for the next four years.

He was my coach, belay partner, and trusty spotter. He introduced me to everyone I knew in the community, always pitched my tent, drove the tricky dirt roads I was intimated by. He did everything. I didn’t realize it then, but I completely lost myself in the “us” of my relationship. I loved my year exploring the USA in a van, but by the end of it, I just wasn’t having fun anymore. He picked all my climbing projects, pressured me into trying hard–seriously I still resent myself over that one–and no decisions were made based on what I wanted to do. I wasn’t climbing because I loved it, I climbed because I felt like I needed to for him to still love me. I wasn’t stoked on the situation anymore–and he wasn’t either (which is probably why he cheated on me with a younger, more motivated climber, but I digress).

Major pump the brakes, back it up, this doesn’t sound like the Katie Boué we all know, right? I know. My bad ladies, I promise it’ll never happen again.

After he left me, I was devastated and lost. I promptly packed up my bags and hauled ass out to Colorado to lick my wounds and start anew. I felt good about a new beginning–but it still felt like there was something wrong with me, and honestly, I felt ashamed to be ‘over’ climbing. I had forgotten what it was like to follow my passion. I knew I still loved being outdoors and going climbing, but I didn’t know how to do it anymore. I had to start my journey as a climber from scratch. The worst part is: it wasn’t his fault at all, it was mine.

20160118-IMG_0737

I thought about all of this last week while I took a solo drive up into the Blue Ridge Mountains to watch the sunrise over Asheville. Looking at that toxic relationship in the rearview mirror, it’s infuriating that I let things get that way. Currently, I’m in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had, and at first I was frustrated that my partner isn’t as stoked on alpine starts and pebble wrestling as I am–but it taught me something crucial: the value of doing things for you.

I am a stronger, healthier, happier person now that I frequently take solo trips and go adventuring without my boyfriend. I adore the trips we do take together, but I also cherish my time outdoors without him. I feel confident when I’m on a trail alone, and stoked when I pull up to a crag to meet friends on my own. When I top-out a project at the rock gym, I don’t look around seeking approval anymore. That moment and satisfaction is mine. If I want to go somewhere, I go. If I’m not feeling it, I don’t.

So here’s my call to you, ladies: ditch your boyfriend more often.

I’m preaching to the choir with a lot of you badass women, but I know more than a few rad females who tend to use ‘we’ more often than ‘me’. You’re not doing yourself or your relationship any favors by losing yourself and becoming dependent on your partner–or anyone else for that matter. If you can’t remember the last time you spent a weekend out in the woods with just your fine self and/or a few fellow female ass-kickers, change that. If your boyfriend always carries the heavy gear and navigates the tricky sections of dirt roads, you’re doing it wrong. Leave your man behind, do exactly whatever it is that gets your blood flowing, don’t ask anyone for permission, live your passion, and always pitch your own damn tent.

And if we’re going to be honest, nothing is sexier than a strong, independent woman. Don’t worry about hurting your boyfriend’s feelings by leaving him behind–there are few things more attractive to an outdoorsy dude than a woman covered in dirt and radiating from her own adventure.

Need some help on the journey of ditching ‘ours’ in favor of ‘mine’? Here are a few ideas:

  • Go for a solo drive. Trust me, I know it isn’t easy going from doing everything as a couple to taking the reigns back on your she-time. Start by picking a new mountain road and exploring it for a few hours. Catch a sunset, or a sunrise.
  • Invite your favorite friends for a girls-only climbing night at your gym. 
  • Plan a ladies’ weekend of camping, hiking, climbing, whatever gets your blood flowing. Bring wine.
  • Start carving out a weekly time when you get out and do something on your own. Go for a run, spend a few hours writing at a cozy coffeeshop, head out on a mission to explore a new trail every week–whatever it takes. Form a habit that’s all yours.
  • Call me and let’s plan a damn adventure! Seriously though, I’m down. Let’s do it.

In case any of you need reminding: You’re a capable, confident, sexy, clever, inspiring, strong, badass woman. And I’m pretty stoked on you, and hope you’re stoked on yourself too.

PS: For the record, you were right Mom. Ladies, always listen to your mother’s opinions of your partners. Or at least listen to my mom, because her success rate is 100% in identifying bad seeds. 

PPS: If you need some no-nonsense female back-up to kick you in your lady parts and remind you that you absolutely do not need no man, go hit up Sidni West. She’s the shit. I strive to be as beautifully bold as she is on a daily basis. Also her dirty humor is the best.

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Celebrating 27 – City to Creek to Camp to Climb

The week approaching my 27th birthday was, frankly, a bit humdrum. I had been so busy with ‘life‘ and work that I hardly even registered it was my birthday week until someone else pointed it out. “Oh well, 27 isn’t a big deal–let’s just go with the flow on this one,” I figured, and decided to not sign myself up for any crazy climbing birthday challenges or big trips. We had a fly-fishing clinic scheduled as a work outing on my actual birthday, and that was groovy enough for me.

Every outdoorist should have an ‘adventure bug out bag’. You know, that one pack that always has your outside playtime essentials ready to go at a moments notice. In my evrgrn Kickback pack, you’ll find a Hydro Flask, my trusty notebook + pen, my Nikon D7000, an extra scarf–because autumn is upon us, chapstick, and a spare $20 in case I find a taco stand in the middle of the woods. You never know.

Photo: Mehri Russo

Photo: Mehri Russo

As it turns out, I’m a much better photographer than I am fisherman. The time I spent along Boulder Creek with a rod in my hand primarily consisted of me trying to perfect the flick of my wrist and then spending 10 minutes untangling the line. I did catch something though: a rock. The lack of freshly caught fish for dinner didn’t deter me though–I tossed my pack into the car, hauled from Boulder to Denver, and caught up with some of my favorite people for a latin feast at Cuba Cuba.

The next morning, I realized that a birthday weekend can’t just go to waste–so Mcgoo and I grabbed our packs, tossed our down comforter into the back of his Subaru, loaded up on cheese and kabob ingredients at Whole Foods, and headed towards the mountains. We ended up at West Magnolia Trailhead near Nederland, miraculously finding the perfect campsite at 3:00 PM on a Saturday. There were rolling mountain views, sprawling fields for Amble to plow through, and plenty of forest to explore. We played, relaxed by the fire, and I even got a jumpstart on my birthday resolution to start writing more snail mail. I’ll let the photos tell the story:

20151017-DSC_363920151017-DSC_367020151017-DSC_370720151018-DSC0358920151017-DSC_376520151017-DSC_377720151017-DSC_381520151017-DSC_3822 Continue reading

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Getting weak, growing up, and getting back in the game.

It’s been 2015 for exactly one month – and so far, I’m pretty psyched about this year. I’m absolutely smitten with my job running social media at Outdoor Industry Association, my calendar is full of travel, and I’ve been making fairly good on my resolutions.

But here’s the thing: I am so over winter. I haven’t been climbing outside since December when I went to Indian Creek for a weekend – and while it was a fantastic weekend of sandstone and desert landscapes, it just wasn’t enough.

Bouldering at Indian Creek. Photo: Kyle O'Meara

Photo: Kyle O’Meara

Love the view from Big Bend boulders in Moab!

It’s basically impossible to get out to Utah or anywhere I want to climb (my hatchback is not snow-worthy), and a weeklong bout of the flu during Outdoor Retailer knocked me off my training game. I want warmth, and sunshine, and camping weather! Winter bogs me down, and the two weeks of training I missed during my sick phase knocked me off my groove. Coming back to the gym on leg day didn’t help either – my thighs are still on fire!

Well, maybe 2015 isn’t going as smoothly as I thought – yet. I finally recovered from weeks of sickness, which led to me also finally catching up on e-mails and turning my training plan into posts, cleaning out my pantry, and updating this blog. Tomorrow kicks off a solid week of training and climbing. Next week, I’m heading to Florida for my cousin’s wedding. March is quickly filling up with climbing trips to Utah and a possible adventure down to Tallahassee for the 5th annual Save The South bouldering competition.

And it all leaves me with 55 days to get in shape – or at least that’s what I’ve decided.

Two months of solid training ought to provide the perfect jumpstart to the spring climbing season. I chose the 55 day path because it leaves me (hopefully) in crush-mode right in time for the climbing comp at Tallahassee Rock Gym. It’s been so long since I’ve been back to my old home, so it’d be killer to come back in proper form. The plane ticket isn’t finalized, but even if this falls through I’ll hit spring ready to get outside and collect some new projects.

I’ll start sharing my training weeks/routines this week, in case anyone else out there wants to stop being such a winter couch potato and get back on the path towards climbing righteousness. It’s almost spring, y’all! My training all happens in the early mornings with my ladyfriend Heather, who thoroughly enjoys kicking my ass with new workouts. Oddly enough, I love waking up before the sun to go do some fitness – I get to start my day with cotton candy sunrises from Movement Denver.

A signature Denver sunrise seen from Movement Denver.

And I promise I’m going to get back to writing and playing on social media. It’s been a lot of work, work, work – and I honestly put some thought into cutting back on blogging all together. As much as I love putting all my creative energy towards my new job, I realized I still want to keep doing some of this for myself too. (And I’ve gotten a ton of e-mails that are going to make for some sweet Q&A posts!) So thanks for reading, and thanks for miraculously not letting my page views drop during my monthlong absence. You rock.

 

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

The Ambitious Art of New Years-ing

I adore the holiday season – but there’s one particular reason for celebration that shines the brightest in my world: New Years. The festivities, the sentiments of new beginnings, the air of hope and possibility. It’s the best.

2014 was a year of transition for me. My yearlong trip ended, my long-term boyfriend/co-pilot and I broke up, I moved my life out to Colorado on a whim, and I spent months regrouping, reorganizing, reprioritizing, and revamping. Towards the end of the year, things finally started to fall in place. I moved into a gorgeous house built in 1904 (with original hardwood floors!), and started a new job with Outdoor Industry Association.

And now I’m here – a few days out from 2015 and already eager to start a new year.Photo: Katie Boué

Resolutions are great, but a fresh year offers so much potential beyond making declarations like “I’m going to stop drinking soda!” (let’s get real, I’ll never stop drinking soda). I like to treat each new year as an opportunity to focus on becoming who I want to be.

This year: I want to get strong. I want to travel to new places. I want to kick some major ass at my job. I want to train harder, work harder, and play harder.

Here’s a peek into my New Years-ing:

  • Training: I’m starting to train, every day. Whether it’s a morning workout on my yoga mat or a session at the rock gym – doing something to improve my climbing every day. I want to climb my strongest year ever, so I have to train harder than ever too.
  • Letters: This year, I want to spend more time with pen + paper. I’m starting by writing notes to everyone who profoundly impacted my life in 2014. As it turns out, I have a lot of letters to write. The first one was to my mailman, because he’s a badass and trudges through wicked snow so I can get my holiday cards delivered.
  • 2015 Word of the Year: I like to choose a theme word each year – last year it was “focus.” (Which I both did a good and horrible job of embodying.) For this year, I chose the word “create.” I want to write more (again, pen + paper, baby), doodle and draw more, craft more with my hands. I want to build, connect, imagine, and make messes more.
  • Simplifying: 2014 was the year of me trying to pile as much on my plate as possible. It was fun, challenging, and exciting – but this year I want to really focus my energy where it matters the most, and cut the rest of the distractions.

The universe has handed me a set of perfectly aligned stars to start 2015 with, so I’m going to roll with that and make this the best year of my life (so far, anyways). I thought nothing could beat the year I spent living in my big yellow van, but 2015 might just be the one.

I’ve got a brand new Moleskine, a cute dress to wear when the clock strikes midnight, and more ambition than I know what to do with. Let’s do this, 2015!

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Why you should just take a rest day today.

When is the last time you took a real rest day? I’m talkin’ no agenda, no training, no trips. You woke up, and spent the rest of the day within a half mile of your bed. There may have been some whisky-spiked coffee involved. Mine usually include long socks and napping with pups. You know – a real, bonafide rest day.

Rest days seem pretty hard to come by.

This is what my rest day looks like.

I find that outdoorsy people (climbers, I’m looking at you) seem to struggle with the idea of taking rest days. We’re always on, always planning, and constantly feeling like we need to maximize every opportunity to be out on an adventure. It’s a travesty to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon not on a trail or halfway up a cliff. But why? Continue reading

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Chasing Summer: Puerto Rico

Every time I return to the sea, I am reminded how essential it is to my being. My short trip to Puerto Rico was no exception. From the moment I inhaled the sticky sweet island air, I was enamored.

Honestly, I accomplished pretty much nothing I intended to do while visiting Puerto Rico. There wasn’t any climbing, nor did I get my drink in a pineapple, nor did I even so much as set foot on a trail. But I had a wonderful trip.

IMG_3207IMG_3147

Continue reading

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

Why I Still Drink (Just One) Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks

This morning, I woke up and it was suddenly autumn. An evening storm cooled the air down to a crisp breeze, and my open windows let the chill drift beneath my blankets. I’ve never been so excited to shiver. Something felt different – special somehow – but I couldn’t put my finger on it until I noticed that today is basically a national holiday: pumpkin spice lattes are back! I immediately put on a beanie, flannel shirt, and leather boots, then skipped my way to the nearest Starbucks.

Enjoying my first (and only) Starbucks pumpkin spice latte of the season!

Here’s the thing: I know Starbucks isn’t the best. I am fully aware there’s no pumpkin in their lattes. I also understand that in lieu of pumpkin, they pump their flavored lattes with cancer-causing, questionable ingredients – but for the duration of this grande pumpkin spice latte I have in my hands, all bets are off. (After today, it’s back to my homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe, with real pumpkin).

So why did I spend $3.26 on a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks this morning?

Continue reading

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

What’s in my pack? #FLtoCO Road Trip Edition

In exactly 12 hours from this very moment, I’ll be on a red-eye flight down to my hometown, Miami. I’m heading south for a few reasons: I am in desperate need of some sea-time, I’m celebrating my little sister’s graduation, and we’re embarking on a cross-country road trip to move her out to Denver! Instead of the usual two-day haul I usually struggle through during drives from Florida to Colorado, we decided to make an adventure out of it.

First, we’re heading up the Florida coast to Tallahassee to see my pup, Amble, and climb at Tallahassee Rock Gym. We’ll visit my sister’s friend in Atlanta before heading to Chattanooga for my favorite part of this trip: climbing at Stone Fort and a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium! Then we’ll jet westward, stopping to visit family friends in Kansas City and exploring along the way.

Since my sister will be bringing everything she owns in her little sedan, I’m trying to pack as light as possible. I’m only bringing my Topo Designs Klettersack, and my new Keen sling I picked up at Outdoor Retailer last week. Here’s a quick peek into my #FLtoCO road trip bag:

What's in my pack? Miami to Colorado edition. #FLtoCO

Continue reading

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

The Next Big Adventure(s)

I’ll be honest: when my yearlong van trip ended, I felt a bit of an adventure void. My epic climbing journey was over – so now what? For a while, I just recovered in the comforts of city life. I planned a two-week trip to Spain with my family, but other than that, my adventure agenda was wide open.

Somewhere over the last month, my adventure planning has taken a sharp turn – in a very positive direction. I got invited to backpack Conundrum Hot Springs, committed to road tripping out to Salt Lake City for OR Show, booked a ticket down to Miami, and then my old climbing friend Libbi called.

Libbi started saying things like: Puerto Rico, climbing, Spain, flights, Venice, trains, Australia let’s go.

And then I was all: YES.

When all was said, done, and booked, I realized that I’m only going to be home for 12 days from now until the end of September. My summer adventures quickly went from local playtime to hardcore exploration. I’m going to be climbing, hiking, surfing, road tripping, and writing all over the world for the next few months. My climbing + training is definitely going to kick up a notch in preparation. Let’s do this!

As you know, I’ve renewed my sponsorship with Teton Sports for another season, this time as part of their Mountain Adventurers project. I’m stoked to use their gear to haul my life around in a single pack while I travel abroad. You’ll also continue to see my photos and stories shared through Nature Valley’s social channels, and on the Sierra Trading Post blog!

The Morning Fresh hits the road towards the jetset life.

Continue reading

Follow, like, share, spread the love!

The Art of Fresh Starts

via the morning fresh.

I was always warned about the aftermath of my year of adventure: returning to the “real world” after extended travel is rumored to leave you with a nasty case of post-trip blues — but I never really admitted that it was happening to me. After my year of the van, life kind of started happening really fast. I spent a month back in Florida, abruptly packed up everything and moved to Colorado, settled into a new life, and fell into a funk. I’ve been in Denver for almost three months — and I’ve only climbed once (but it was awesome). I stopped writing, and fell out of love with my website and social media in general. It sucked, but I needed it.

It was difficult to cope with all of the change at first, and I felt like I was selling out in a way — after a year of being the adventurous girl who lives on the road, it didn’t feel okay to become someone who spends most of her time getting outdoors by way of rooftop patios, city parks, and my little second-story stoop. Would everyone think less of me? Wouldn’t it be shameful to admit that I wasn’t out hiking or camping every single weekend? I was pretty unsatisfied with it all initially, but I’ve come to realize that this is all just part of the process. This is just a new chapter of adventure in my life — and hopefully you still want to join me for it. 

Taking a hard, cold look at what I do and don’t love in life, what makes me happy, what I miss when it’s gone, and where I want to go ended up teaching me a lot. And after semi-accidentally deciding to change my blog’s entire look, I fell back in love with everything. I re-vamped my workspace, and dove into the task of bringing The Morning Fresh back to life in a way that I adore.

So much has changed since my life has gone from living in a van in the woods to waking up every morning in the heart of Denver. Adventure doesn’t always come quite as easily, and my priority list now includes things like keeping my tomato plants alive, cooking big Cuban meals for my housemates, and finding satisfaction through my work. Finding adventure will always be a huge driving force in my life, but I just have to work a little harder to find it now. And I’m up for the challenge! 

What do y’all think about The Morning Fresh’s new look?

PS: Seriously, go look at this site on a smart phone — it looks so good now. 

Follow, like, share, spread the love!