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.

On Canadian Honeymoons & Playing It Safe

If you were following along with my novice attempts to use Instagram stories on the Trail Mavens account this month, you were flooded with photo after photo of insane turquoise lakes, mountains, and glaciers.

Only appropriate reaction: "HOLY SHIT." [Bow Lake, Canada]

Only appropriate reaction: "HOLY SHIT." [Bow Lake, Canada]

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 are busy people and all my planning juices go to Trail Mavens, this was our (very delayed) honeymoon. We flew into Seattle, picked up a rental car, and spent three weeks exploring in Olympic National Park, British Columbia, and Alberta.

Check out that view! [Olympic National Park]

Check out that view! [Olympic National Park]

Three weeks is a looong time, and before we left, I excitedly/prematurely imagined how the trip might change me or deepen my relationship with the hubs. You all have busy lives, so I'll get to the punch line: IT DIDN'T.

It was a fantastic trip, yes, but about two weeks in, I noticed I was kind of...bored. (I realize that saying I was BORED on my HONEYMOON in some of the most beautiful places in the WORLD makes me sound absurdly spoiled, but it's true.) I spent the last couple days of the trip mulling over how that could be, and came to a big fat realization:


Here's what I mean by that, in a few convenient subsections:

1. Three weeks is too long (for me) to be doing the same thing every day: backpacking, camping, and hiking. We should have broken up our trip by spending time in cities, or by doing something even slightly outside our comfort zones. The hubs and I have done a lot of backpacking, camping, and hiking together, so it all felt easy.

Know what happens when things are too easy? You get bored.

LESSON: Mix it up. We're hard-wired for novelty, and you won't fully appreciate that perfect turquoise lake if you've seen four just like it in the past two days.

Amazing, right? Just like the other two less than a mile away. [Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, Canada]

Amazing, right? Just like the other two less than a mile away. [Joffre Lakes Provincial Park, Canada]

2. Phones are life-sucking devices of eviiiil. We crossed the border into Canada after our stint on the Olympic Peninsula, and I felt a flutter in my stomach and I watched my phone lose signal. We'd have to rely on the Lonely Planet now, or ask other humans for directions, or walk around until we found a restaurant that looked appealing! Then, about five minutes later, I connected to wifi and discovered I could use my Verizon plan in Canada for a nominal fee. You can guess what I did.

I had access to 4G LTE most of the trip, and we Google Mapped, Yelped, and TripAdvisored our way across the Canadian provinces. Not inherently a bad thing, but that drive to optimizeoptimizeoptimizeohgodImusthavethebestoptionalways is exactly the way I lead my 'normal' life back in San Francisco.

Safe. Boring.

LESSON: Turn off your phone. Turn it off. No, seriously. Off.

3. We revert to stereotyped gender roles when we're outdoors. Bless his wonderful heart, my husband is a helper, and he gets his kicks by taking care of others - especially me. And that means when we're in the outdoors together, the things that brings him the greatest joy are carrying my layers and snacks and lip balm in his day pack so I can hike light and fast, or opening the bear bin for me when my frozen fingers are fumbling with the little catch, or pre-digging my cathole at night so I don't have to do it in the morning (I go from zero to poop emergency in three second flat after morning coffee).

Don't get me wrong; I adore this quality in him, especially the cathole digging. It just doesn't leave any room for me to struggle, and the joy it brings him is greater than the joy the struggle would bring me, so that's how our outdoor time ends up playing out.

But...when I feel taken care of, I feel very, very safe, and I bet you can guess where this is going by now.


I feel pretty damn empowered in the outdoors, and I'm as good or better than my husband at most outdoor things, and I STILL end up taking a backseat when we're camping or backpacking. And if I - a person who dedicates most of her working hours to empowering women in the outdoors - feel like I need a protected space to feel empowered in the outdoors, my guess is others feel the same way.

You'll be taken care of on a Trail Mavens trip, but the care we provide isn't necessarily of the "Oh, you're struggling? Let me do it for you" variety. Our eyes are on the long game, and we know that sometimes taking care of you means encouraging you to do something that makes you nervous, and encouraging you some more when it's hard and your first instinct tells you to quit.

And if you're like so many of the women who've come on Trail Mavens trips in the past, the prize waiting for you on the other side is that glorious feeling of, "Holy shit, I never thought I could do that, but I DID."

"Holy shit, I did NOT think I could run up 5k with that much elevation gain!"

"Holy shit, I did NOT think I could run up 5k with that much elevation gain!"

Need an injection of that feeling into your life? Check out our upcoming adventures.

P.S. So what moments DO stand out on our trip? 

  • nearly giving myself a hernia using the Diva Cup for the first time, more on that in a separate blog post for SURE
  • stuffing my face with blueberries on the High Divide trail in Olympic National Park
  • running on some AMAZING trails (I'm a reformed road runner just getting into running on dirt, see above)
  • going fly fishing for the first time, I caught a 21" fish and then cried because I felt bad for it