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: Michelle, a.k.a. 'Dallas'

A couple weeks ago, brainstorming with the Trail Mavens board, we struck on a brilliant idea: to profile Trail Mavens alumnae who we feel are amazing, badass, and deeply emblematic of our culture and values. It's only fitting that we kick things off with Michelle, who joined us in early June for her first-ever backpacking trip. 

Name: Michelle Parsons
Trail Name: 'Dallas'
Trail Mavens Adventure: Backpacking in Point Reyes

What inspired you to join Trail Mavens' Point Reyes backpacking  adventure?
I read the book 'Wild' after hearing Cheryl Strayed interviewed on NPR.  During that time I was going through a breakup with a man I’d been with for five years. It was devastating, and her story spoke to me at a time when I felt I’d lost my nerve. After I finished the book I ran across a CNN article mentioning Trail Mavens, and I thought, “Why the hell not?” It was time for me to quit crying, and get back the light I felt had slowly dimmed over the years. I thought the trip would be a good jump-start.

What previous camping or backpacking experience did you have?
None. Zip. Zero.

What, if anything, were you most nervous of before going on your trip?
You’d think it would be the hiking part given my non-experience, but it was pooping in the woods. You have no idea how long I stood in front of the toilet paper rolls at REI weighing my options. My dad was very adamant about making sure to pee down hill. Friends were giving me squatting tips. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a teensy bit disappointed I never got the chance! Next time, Trail Mavens, next time. [Editor's Note:  There was no woods-pooping only because Point Reyes backcountry sites are equipped with pit toilets!]

What did you learn on the trip?
Two things: a renewed faith in female world domination, and that when you’re on the trail, there are no options except to put one foot in front of the other. Oh, and that the women on the trip with you ARE what gets you through, whether they’re aware of it or not.

Jump Shot at Alamere Falls

What surprised you about the trip?
That 12 miles up and down hill with a 40-pound pack full of gear on my back, and a jog down a flat suburban street in a cute tank top are two totally different things.

What are you most proud of from your trip?
Completing the hike. I’ve never pushed my body like that before, and there were a few times I felt like sitting in the middle of the trail and crying. Every time I thought, “You can’t walk anymore. This is crazy,” I just concentrated on whomever was in front of me, stared at her feet, and followed.

How many pairs of underwear did you bring?
Too many. 

Any suggestions for future Trail Mavens?
It’s totally cool if you have no idea what you’re doing; take lots of pictures; and be ready to experience genuine kindness rarely found anywhere else.

P.S. If anyone comes up with a cleverer name than 'Maven Profile,' let us know in the comments!