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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