Sasha Cox, founder + chief maven
I was born and then raised in two capital cities: first Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and then Washington, D.C. I was brought up by my mother, who was decidedly a city girl herself, meaning she called the shots when it came to family leisure time. As a result, I went camping only once as a kid. The closest I got to nature was looking kind of like a bug because of the bowl haircuts my mom gave my brother and me.
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Years later, I abandoned city life for decidedly greener, tree-filled pastures at Stanford. The improv class I took there was ultimately my most influential undergraduate experience, as it completely reshaped my life philosophy. I learned the principles of accepting failure with grace, saying yes to adventure, putting the needs of my partner above my own, and trusting that my partner would do the same for me. On my improv team, I met the women who I would call my best friends for the next decade (and beyond). Finally, I learned I loved the off-the-cuff nature of teaching, and that I was pretty good at it.
I went into my first serious adult relationship at 20 knowing virtually nothing about the outdoors, but brought an improvisor's spirit to my first car camping trip in Yosemite, and was completely hooked. A year later, I was on my first multi-day backpacking trip (coincidentally my first backpacking trip of any kind) through Peru's Cordillera Blanca. The beauty, the emotional intimacy created with my backpacking partner, and the physical boundaries I pushed were intoxicating. I was also intrigued by the fact that my body refused to poop for over 127 hours. Take that, Aron Ralston.
Every subsequent relationship I pursued was with someone who could be described as a mountain man. I picked up skills from each one of them, and delighted in occasionally knowing more than them. I felt empowered in my knowledge and my comfort with discomfort.
As I edged into my late twenties and early thirties, my friendships with other women became paramount in my life. For years I'd been close to lots of guys, and suddenly I found I preferred the support, insights, and questions my female friends provided to the easy banter of my bromies. Two of my best friends and I started a monthly get-together where we'd cook, coach each other, drink wine, and generally nourish each others' spirits...and never spend time outdoors, a realization I made while boiling oats over an open flame on a trail in western Bolivia in April 2013. I realized I had no idea what, if anything, they knew about the outdoors, because it wasn't part of our ordinary dialogue.
I decided on the trail that day that I'd start a business devoted to getting women outdoors. There would be no men in sight; women would be the teachers and the students. They'd walk away with new friends, new knowledge, and a new appreciation for their own unexplored capacities.
Oh, and my body finally learned it's OK to poop outdoors.
Jen Snook, Chief of Operations
There are two threads that are consistently woven through my life: spending time in and valuing the great outdoors and looking at the world through the lens of business. Currently, these two life-threads are doing a happy dance, leading trips and driving business operations at Trail Mavens.
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I was raised in a family business. My parents started Performance Bicycle, a now national bicycle retailer, within a month of my worldly arrival and thirty some years later we’re both going strong. Growing up, I viewed the family business as a second sibling and valued the passion and dedication that my parents put into the company, the happy blur between family and professional life, and the ability to address a need by creating something new. As a child, I explored new business ideas for fun, worked for the family business after college, and went on to get my MBA. I have worked in various corporate and nonprofit settings, with most of my experience as a strategy and operations consultant. I like playing with Excel and making processes more efficient, which Sasha has been happy to let me do at Trail Mavens.
The wilderness has always been a backdrop in my life. I grew up camping along the White Rim Trail in Utah, hiking and rafting down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and backpacking in the Maroon Bells Wilderness of Colorado. In college, I came into my own outdoors when I started leading trips in North Carolina’s Pisqah National Forest as a student at Duke University. On the trail, I learned about leadership and the balance between self-sufficiency and interdependence. Since then, I have combined my love of travel and backpacking to explore the world and challenge myself: summiting Kilimanjaro, trekking the Inca Trail, and backpacking solo through Patagonia.
I believe humans have an innate positive connection with nature, a concept coined by E.O. Wilson as “biophilia.” We are simply physically and psychologically healthier through exposure to the natural world. In addition to leading amazing groups of women with Trail Mavens, I serve on the board of Bay Area Wilderness Training, a local non-profit whose mission is to create wilderness experiences for underserved youth. I am passionate about helping others get outdoors and hope to see you on the trail!