Trail Mavens


Skill-based camping and backpacking trips for groups of extraordinary women. Ready to build fires, read maps, pitch tents, hike, laugh, and drink wine around the campfire? Join one of our weekend adventures.

Maven Memoir: Iyara, Asking All the Right Questions

Have you ever met someone who feels really *good* to be around, because it feels like they really understand what's going on - with themselves, with others, with the world at large? I'm not talking about someone who has all the right answers. On the contrary, I'm talking about someone who's asking all the right questions, someone who strives for awareness and understanding and empathy. (You'll see this come out in huge heaps in her writing.)

Whelp, that's Iyara. Add in an independent streak, a huge smile, goddess-like kitchen skills, spontaneity, and a laid-back, lighthearted attitude, and you've got an even fuller picture.

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Why Your Story Should Be Heard

Last week, I went to see Frank Warren, creator of Post Secret, in conversation. Post Secret's a blog I've followed occasionally for years, but hearing his story and the history of Post Secret gave me a holy-wow-aha-moment reminder of the importance of giving voice to our stories.

While the postcards mailed to Post Secret are anonymous, my fave part of last week's event was when audience members stepped up to mics placed around the theater to share their own secrets.

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Maven Memoir: Eirinn, Your Funniest New Friend

I wasn't on Eirinn's first Trail Mavens trip, but through a stroke of luck, she ended up in the Bay Area the weekend we tackled the Dipsea Trail back in August, and I got to meet her there. I'd heard she was awesome from her guides, Caitlin and Yana, but I didn't know quite how awesome until we spent some time chatting on the trail.

If you have the chance to hang with Eirinn, the first thing you'll notice is probably her giant, friendly smile. After that, you'll quickly learn she's a fearless go-getter (she moved across the country to pursue a career in film), she has fabulous sense of humor (check out her shorts on Funny or Die, or her new web series, My Life Worked Out), and she ponders the bigger questions in life (just read her thoughts below). We'll let her take it from here!

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Maven Memoir: Krupa, the (Amazing) First-Timer

Krupa first heard about Trail Mavens from a mutual friend (shout out to Sam McG in NYC!), and because she's the kind of person who says 'Yes' - yes to moving across the country from New Jersey even though she didn't know anyone in California, yes to cycling 100km a day around Vietnam, you get the idea - she said yes to a Trail Mavens adventure.

She'd never been backpacking before, but took on a three-day trip in Yosemite over Labor Day, covering nearly two dozen miles with a 40lb. pack on her back. Amazing? Undoubtedly. Here's what she had to say about her experience.

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On Canadian Honeymoons & Playing It Safe

If any of you were following along with my novice attempts to use Instagram stories on the Trail Mavens account for the past few weeks, you were flooded with photo after photo of insane turquoise lakes, mountains, and glaciers. Lest you get the impression that running Trail Mavens means I spend most of my time outdoors in places like this, let me assure you this was a unique situation.

See, I got married last August, and because the hubs and I busy people and all my planning juices go to Trail Mavens, this was our (very delayed) honeymoon. We flew into Seattle where we picked up a rental car, and spent three weeks exploring in Olympic National Park, British Columbia, and Alberta.

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Introducing Caitlin Kauffman

I learned how to row a raft before I learned how to drive, and I did so next to my sister and our friends. We were surrounded by strong, fearless women who taught us how to run rivers, ski smart, climb rocks and trees, run trails and most importantly, how to play.

After many backpacking and river trips with friends and family, I took a semester-long course with NOLS, which led to more trips and a deep distaste for backcountry falafel. I eventually started guiding in Wyoming for a river company, and met more kickass women with whom I fought the macho-guiding culture with hard work, honest tears and Whitney Houston.

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Maven Memoir: Katherine, the Half Dome Queen

What kind of woman takes matters into her own hands when she decides she wants to challenge herself and learn outdoor skills, but has no one to do it with? That'd be Katherine. 

Katherine is also a thrift store shopping, Amy Poehler quoting, marathon running, dog loving kind of gal. In short, we heart her so badly. Read on, and you will too.

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Maven Memoir: Anne (There Are No Words)

You might remember Anne from an Instagram post a few weeks ago, wherein I gushed (totally appropriately) about her after spending a weekend adventuring with her in Big Sur. In writing a title for this post, I found myself at a loss for words - perhaps because there are so many that could be used to describe her: intelligent. Captivating. Thoughtful. An incredible listener. Clearly a descendant of wood-dwelling fairies (this one will make sense if you meet her). The kind of person who includes the words 'life-changing shit' in her one-sentence Trail Mavens bio. Her cookieface attempt at the end of our trip is one of the most ambitious I've ever seen (and she's gluten free and couldn't even eat the cookie).

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Maven Memoir: Natasha, Story Creator, Wise Woman, and Mama

Confession time: now that I'm not the only Trail Mavens guide, I suffer from serious FOMO when I hear about the amazing women who attend trips I'm not leading. Case in point: when Jess (our guide profiled last week) started talking about this wonderful gal and storyteller named Natasha from her early April Big Sur adventure, I immediately wanted to meet her myself, and then proceeded to talk her ear off over the phone for over an hour (and all this over her son's bedtime)!

Natasha is every bit as thoughtful, intelligent, and all-around lovely as I'd heard from Jess, and her talent for storytelling and wordplay is abundantly clear in her beautiful writing. I dare you not to want to hang out with her after reading this.

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On Growth and Guides

If you've been reading this blog for the past six months or so, you know about my decision to keep Trail Mavens relatively intimate, opting for deep roots in California over national expansion. When I tell women about that decision, they say something like, "Oh! You're keeping Trail Mavens small. Small is good, too!" (When I tell men, I usually just get blank stares.)

When I hear that response as often as I do, it's easy to fall into the mindset of Trail-Mavens-is-just-a-little-itty-bitty-thing. And then, sometimes, I step back, get perspective, and realize things like: Trail Mavens has run more trips in the past two months than in the whole of our first year. I'm not usually one for an abundance of punctuation, but --> !!!!!

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Introducing Jessica Mastors

I grew up in the woods and spent a week every summer at an environmental education camp, trawling my ponding net through the muck in search of diving beetles and tadpoles and dissecting the occasional owl pellet.

At fifteen I spent three weeks in Maine backpacking and rock climbing with Outward Bound, which taught me that hiking stops being terrible after about two weeks, and that your hair starts to clean itself (!) after about the same about of time. It was in the final days of that trip, scrambling south through the field of boulders known as Mahoosuc Notch, that we encountered an extremely thin and haggard-looking man walking very, very slowly in the opposite direction. He told us he’d walked all the way from Georgia, and our little minds were blown.

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Trip Recap: Big Sur

This past weekend, eight intrepid women (including two first-timers!) came together and camped in the pouring rain in Big Sur. Did El Nino get us down? Absolutely not! Hikes were conquered, fires were built, edible plants were consumed, and not once did we stop laughing.

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Into the Woods with Trail Mavens

Five miles into a hike on Yosemite’s Mist Trail, I stopped and panted, wondering whether I should (or could) continue for the rest of the planned twelve miles. I tried to fend off disappointment in myself as I pondered, recalling a similar crossroads I encountered twelve years prior during my first ever backpacking trip.

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Trail Mavens Makes Headlines


Camping reservations at California state parks are up more than 20 percent over the past five years, with an increase in year-round camping as well. The majority of campers are men, but a growing number of women are also ready to take on the wild and San Francisco's Sasha Cox is ready to help with an organization called Trail Mavens.

Cox said there are three main barriers that stop many would-be female campers. They don't have proper gear, they don't have friends who want to camp and they don't have the necessary skills or at least they think they don't.

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My Solo Adventure | Learnings

A little over two weeks ago, I posted the following pic and text on Instagram:

"Yo guys. I'm standing at my trailhead, about to start a three day solo backpacking trip. Turns out, running a business is hard - yes, I'm aware this is a news flash only for me - and I've been craving some srs headspace to figure out what's next. Ironically, this is my first trip alone; usually I've got a posse of awesome ladies or @amatthiah with me. I'm excited to meditate by Lake Aloha, read the sh*t out of all the Brene Brown books on my Kindle, and hopefully reemerge Wednesday with a little more clarity. Special bonus: I get to break in my new 65L Aura pack (thank you @ospreypacks). Four hours of daylight left. Here I go! 👋🏼"

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