Womxn of the PNW: Breanna Bushaw

Breanna is an elementary school teacher, and mom to a 5 year old son. She loves hiking, rock climbing and traveling in her free time.

How long have you resided in the PNW? What brought you here?

I have lived in Washington for over six years. I am originally from Arizona. Growing up, I was never a huge fan of the extreme heat of summers in the desert. I love that the PNW actually has seasons, not just a year long summer. Each year, I get excited for the beautiful change in the colors of trees and blooms of the flowers. Also, you can drive just a couple hours in each direction and have beach, mountains or desert. 

Has the outdoors always played a significant role in your life? How were you introduced?

As a child, we went camping now and then, but my parents were not super “outdoorsy”. When I was in college, a science professor started an “Adventure Club,” and was asking people to join. I decided to go outside of my box and give it a try. I’m so glad I did because it literally changed my life and helped me discover a love for the outdoors and a passion for hobbies I never knew I had. 

Where is your favorite place to adventure in the PNW? 

It really depends on the time of year. In the winter, I love exploring the North Cascades, and working on my skiing skills…they are still a work in progress. In the spring, I enjoy escaping the rain and heading to Vantage for some early season rock climbing. Summer, pretty much anywhere in Washington is gorgeous, but Rainier is the winner for sure. My favorite fall hike, so far, was a thru-hike in The Enchantments last year to see those magical golden Larches.

What is your favorite outdoor experience/memory of all time?

My favorite memory so far was summiting Mount Adams last year. Not because it was my highest peak so far, but the people that I was with who made it awesome. I love the encouragement and motivation to push each other along with great conversation and laughs along the way. It was a small taste of mountaineering that excited me to set bigger goals for myself. Our bodies are capable of amazing things when you put your mind to it.

How has motherhood influenced your outdoor lifestyle?

It hasn’t really, other than I get to share my experiences with my son. When I was pregnant, I was still hiking and backpacking. Kaden went on his first camping trip when he was just a few months old. When he was younger, I would carry him and it was great training weight. Now that he is older, he hikes along with me and can almost out run me on a trail…almost! I just started taking him outdoor rock climbing. I can’t wait to see what other adventures I can take him on as he gets older.

Any advice or lessons that you’ve learned that you think could be helpful for other mothers and parents hoping to cultivate an interest in the outdoors with their children?

Just go for it! There will be plenty of melt down moments and piggy back rides, but it’s all worth the experience and memoirs in the end. Bring a friend, and go with other kids if possible. Play games such as I spy, scavenger hunts, or trail bingo. Start with short, easy nature walks with low elevation, and work your way up from there. SNACKS! You can never have too many snacks.

What inspired you to become an ambassador for the group, PNW Outdoor Women?

I wanted to become an ambassador to connect with other women in my area who had similar interests and hobbies. I had been a member since the first year the group started and had really enjoyed attending events. Being new to the area at the time, this group is how I made a majority of the friends I have now. I really wanted help other women meet people to go adventure with and support each other in the outdoors.

What do you enjoy most about being an ambassador for PNWOW?

I have really enjoyed meeting people who are new to hiking or climbing and teaching them new skills and knowledge in the outdoors. It is the best feeling to watch someone overcome fears or doubts and try something new and be successful. It is also amazing to meet other ambassadors and group members who are accomplishing their goals as well. I am always so inspired by seeing others stories and adventures in the PNWOW group.

What are some goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

SO many goals this year! I have a goal to summit all five Washington volcanoes, so just continuing to train for that and practice safety skills. I would also like to continue to work on my lead climbing and progress in my rock climbing ability this summer. As far as non-outdoor goals, I am working on completing my MBA degree this year and making a career change from teaching. I would love to eventually combine my love for the outdoors with a career one day.

Do you have a specific idea about what you’d like your outdoor career to be/look like?

I don’t have a specific idea of what I would like my outdoor career to look like. I’m really interested in marketing and if it was for the right company. I would also love to do something that promotes women and kids in the outdoors. It would be great if it could include both environmental science and adventures. I’m really open to trying a few different roles and seeing what fits best.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, Breanna! Is there anything else we should know about you? Fun facts, trivia, etc.?

Can’t think of anything!

You can follow Breanna’s adventures on Instagram: @breezy_adventures


Womxn of the PNW: Melissa Sher

Melissa is a midwest transplant now based in Portland, OR. She is a gym owner and former outdoor guide dedicated to sharing her love for the outdoors. At her gym, which she owns with her best friend, their mission is building strength and capability that people can take AWAY from the gym and experience the outdoors and their lives with more capability.

How long have you resided in the PNW? What brought you here?

I moved to PDX in 2008 after graduating college in Kansas. I’m from Missouri and needed OUT of the midwest 🙂 I graduated with an art degree but realized in my senior year while at a conference for design that I wasn’t on the path I wanted to be. So I, semi-randomly, got certified as a Personal Trainer, packed up my Honda Civic with whatever would fit and drove to Portland hoping for the best!

Has the outdoors always played a significant role in your life? How were you introduced? And what are your favorite outdoor activities?

As a kid we went “camping” but not really…:) The men slept in a tent and the women slept in a camper pop top (don’t get me started on that gender divide…) But my favorite outdoor memory was my dad taking me every summer to this place in Missouri that was like a natural series of rock formed water slides.  I would always come home totally bruised up from banging my shins on the rocks and jumping into the pools that were just slightly not deep enough. I would look at my bruised legs like trophies! I thought the whole thing was the coolest ever.  I was officially introduced to life in the outdoors by my friend Emily who was my first housemate in Portland and now best friend (my partner for the Trifecta). She told me the first month I moved to Portland that I would be going through Raft Guide Training the following year. When I argued she simply said that I had “nothing else better going on.” She was right – I went through training – fell in love with the outdoors, quit my job, lived out of my car for a bit, waitressed on the off-season, and fell in love with the outdoors.

Where is your favorite place to adventure in the PNW?

In Portland: Forest Park is the easiest/closest getaway. In PNW: I love Leavenworth, WA and Bend, OR.

What is your favorite outdoor experience/memory of all time?

My friend Emily and I started planning endurance style events for ourselves that we do each summer. Our first, 2 years ago, we named “The Trifecta.” We started at my house in PDX and biked to Mt. Hood, climbed it, biked to Mt. Adams, climbed it, then biked to Mt. St. Helens, climbed it, and biked home in 6 days (might’ve been 7–I can’t remember). Anyway, the cool part for me was standing on top of St. Helens and looking at Hood and Adams and the distance and terrain in-between. It was really special to me from a perspective of realizing how much we can push ourselves to do and how our greatest experiences can come out of the biggest challenges. We had attempted the adventure the year before but had to stop early due to weather on the mountain. I like to talk about how the process of whatever we do can be more important than the end result. Having this event we dreamed up and trained for over the past 2 years come to a successful end was so great because of the journey it took to get there. Also we took the best nap ever on top of St. Helens.

How long did you work as an outdoor guide? How has being a former outdoor guide shaped your current role as a gym owner, coach, and business womxn?

I worked on and off as a guide for probably 5 years or so in different forms. First as a river guide and then as a cycling and hiking guide. When I met Kimberly, my business partner, we both realized that we had the same dream of a gym. We wanted a space that messaged and trained people to use the gyms as a means to feel strong and capable in activities they love outside the gym. I think my experience outside has made the importance of maintaining fitness so you can do the things you love really important.

What inspired you (and your best friend) to start POINT Gym and Kitchen? 

Basically, we were both just disenchanted by the messages surrounding the fitness industry. Fitness has turned into this means to an aesthetic end when movement should be fun, attainable and empowering. We had seen it all working in the industry and wanted to create a welcoming space and community where people would feel like they could come as they are and build the strength they need to feel capable in their lives.

What are some goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

I have a few events lined up, but my main goal is to be more intentional while I am outdoors. I can get caught up in thinking about “after I do this thing” mentality – for example: I think about all the potato chips I want to eat or what I’ll be doing the next day. I tend to try and turn my mind to something else besides the physical effort. Now that I am comfortable in the outdoors, I want to be more intentional about enjoying the moments and surroundings and appreciating how lucky I am to be able to experience what I’m doing more in the moment.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, Melissa! Is there anything else we should know about you? Fun facts, trivia, etc.?

Hmmmm. Favorite color is orange. I am addicted to chocolate. I have 2 dogs and a wife that I’m obsessed with. One of the dogs is my adventure buddy; her name is Elton Joan and she loves listening to Elton John music.

You can learn more about Melissa and follow her adventures on Instagram: @makestufftough @point_gym_kitchen @dirtyhealthco

Womxn of the PNW: Samantha King

Samantha is an outdoor enthusiast who loves trail adventures and exploring the outdoors. Running, climbing, and backpacking are just a few of her favorite things!

How long have you resided in the PNW? What brought you here?

I was born and raised in the Portland, Oregon area and have lived here all my life! I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I feel like we have it all! Mountains, trails, beaches, deserts, you name it! 

Has the outdoors always played a significant role in your life? How were you introduced?

Growing up we camped (car camping) and hiked. I loved camping, but I hated hiking. My dad and I laugh about it now. A big part of why I didn’t like hiking was because of heights. Little known fact is I used to be very scared of heights! I am still not the biggest fan of heights and exposure, but I’ve continued to push myself into doing it more, and I’ve gotten better and better at handling it.

Where is your favorite place to adventure in the PNW?

My favorite place to adventure is a hard one, but I’d have to say the Columbia River Gorge. It’s where I first began hiking and running, and it always feels like home to me. 

What is your favorite outdoor experience/memory of all time?

My favorite outdoor memory to date is probably my first backpacking experience. I did the Timberline Trail, solo, having no backpacking experience at all. It rained torrentially the entire time and was thoroughly a sufferfest. However, I learned so much about myself and what I was capable of. I was stronger and braver than I ever could’ve imagined. And I am happy to report all of the following backpacking and fastpacking trips have been much less eventful!

You often run, hike, and backpack solo. What do you enjoy most about doing solo adventures? Any words of wisdom for others who might be interested in doing more solo adventuring?

I love solo adventures! It’s a great time to learn about myself and what I’m capable of. Some basics are to know what you’re doing, make sure you’re carrying appropriate emergency gear, and know your limits. Make a plan and leave your plan with at least one other person, but preferably two. 

I can only imagine that being a mom to two kiddos gets insanely busy. How has motherhood (and family life in general) influenced your outdoor lifestyle? How often do you do outdoor adventures as a family?

Having two kiddos definitely makes things more challenging! It’s so much coordinating and scheduling. I often get up to run at 4 or 5 am while everyone is asleep or it doesn’t happen. I have a very supportive family who helps with the kids immensely and I couldn’t do a lot of what I do without them. I try to get them out for hikes and camping as much as I can. There is often complaining about “tired” legs, but I try to push them a bit. I don’t want them to grow to not like it, but I want to show them what they are capable of. I took them on a little overnight backpacking trip and they did pretty well all things considered! I plan to do a bit more every year and hope that eventually they’ll be able to handle bigger trips with me and I’ll have built in adventure buddies.

What are some goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

My biggest goal for this year is to run from Cascade Locks to the summit of Mt. Adams and down. It will be 100 miles and my biggest challenge yet!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, Sam! Is there anything else we should know about you? Fun facts, trivia, etc.?

My favorite color is pink. Dark pink to be specific! 

You can learn more about Sam and follow her adventures on Instagram: @samantha.mountain.trail

Womxn of the PNW: Cat Eckrode

Cat is an entrepreneur from Portland, Oregon, who has turned her passion for the outdoors into a business designed to get people started on their own adventures. Camera in hand and canine companion at her side, she can often be found exploring forests, mountains, and more around the Pacific Northwest.

How long have you resided in the PNW? What brought you here?

I grew up in the PNW, with most of my childhood spent in the Columbia River Gorge outside of Washougal, Washington. Although I’ve had the opportunity to travel, no where else feels like “home” and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s the perfect home base with so many incredible adventure opportunities nearby!

Has the outdoors always played a significant role in your life? How were you introduced? And what are your favorite activities?

I was lucky enough to spend most of my childhood up through my teen years in a rural area, surrounded by northwest forest; I just didn’t know I was lucky at the time and was impatient to move to a city. My family explored some of the old logging roads and mines hidden in the region not far from Washougal, and for a few summers we camped in our trailer near local rivers. Most summers saw us in Eastern Oregon for part of our vacation, and other times we would go to the coast and explore the beaches. Through my teen years and well into adulthood, I was not at all an outdoorsy person! I was out of shape and suffered from horrible allergies, telling myself I was meant to be indoors only. About seven years ago, I moved to a new home with an amazing yard that attracts all kinds of birds; I started bird watching, and started exploring nearby parks to see more. I didn’t know any other birders, so I would often go by myself. Eventually I started venturing further from home, until my hobby turned into an outright obsession with hiking and backpacking!

PC: Stacey Arnold

Where is your favorite place to adventure in the PNW?

I love exploring in the Columbia River Gorge – there is just SO much to discover, year-round. I am often found on the west end of the Oregon side. The steep elevation is such a rewarding challenge, leading past seasonally-changing waterfalls, amazing geology, both young and old growth forests, talus fields, open meadows, and often results in spectacular views. I always feel reinvigorated after an adventure in that region!

What is your favorite outdoor experience/memory of all time?

My favorite outdoor experience  -so far! – has been reaching the crater rim on Mount Saint Helens for the first time. I was just starting to think seriously about creating some sort of business on my own, and was going through a very personal journey at the time. I had set a goal for myself of reaching the top that summer and felt like I was out to prove something. I obtained the passes, coordinated for my little group of climbers, and trained for months (for this climb as well as other adventures). Our party had to deal with one member having food poisoning set in, and another overcoming a fear of heights, in addition to the expected challenges of the terrain. That last uphill slog through the ash field seemed like it would go on forever…and I will never forget the emotions that rushed through me as I took the last few steps. It was the most incredible view I’ve ever seen, seeming like the entire world had opened up before me; the feeling that I could do anything combined with the beauty and sense of personal accomplishment was overwhelming. It was such an amazing feeling that I walked a little further along the rim laughing until I had tears in my eyes. I don’t know if laughter is what others experience at the top of a mountain, but it was the happiest and most exhilarating thing!

PC: Jess Rembold

What inspired you to start The Outdoor Adventure Kind? How has your entrepreneurial journey been so far (milestones, challenges, etc.)?

As I took up hiking, often solo, I found the experience to be so much more rewarding than I’d ever imagined. Not only was I getting more physically fit, but I was feeling better emotionally while also discovering a new sense of empowerment and confidence. Along the way, I kept hearing from others that they would like to take up hiking or do more than the ‘easy’ hikes but that they couldn’t…and almost all of the reasons they gave were ones I’d at one time faced, too. I started unofficially coaching friends & family, encouraging them to get outdoors. I shared my stories, gave advice, and took people along on adventures with me. It was such an incredible thing to inspire & educate others, and to see people discover their own abilities and start their own adventures, or take them to new levels. I realized I wanted to keep doing that, so I made the leap from a 15-year-long career path to first-time entrepreneur. It’s been a whole new kind of adventure!

The last few months have been all about refining my goals as a small business owner, learning what exactly it means to own my own company, and developing both the structure for an online presence as well as the kinds of supporting services I want to offer to the community. The process has been slower than I initially envisioned, but I have learned so much along the way!  I wholeheartedly believe that anyone should be able to enjoy the outdoors; my goal is to be inclusive, supportive, and encouraging while opening up the definition of “adventure” to encompass pursuits as varied as the individuals who get outdoors. I also endeavor to educate others on good stewardship practices to protect and preserve our wild spaces.

How often does your dog, Bailey, join you on your adventures? What do you enjoy most about hiking with her? 

I adopted Bailey with the intent of her being my Outdoor Adventure Dog, and she’s with me as often as is reasonable when I am on the trail! She has her own gear for hiking and backpacking adventures, and gets super excited anytime she can come along. You wouldn’t know she’s not a PNW native (she’s from Hawaii), because she took to outdoor exploration like a natural. I love having her along for companionship always, as well as an extra sense of security when hiking solo. She takes her job very seriously, keeping eyes and ears alert to our surroundings. When we are in areas where she is allowed off leash, she sticks to the trails without needing to be told and stays close at hand. We’ve just recently adopted another dog into our pack; Ruby Mae is still a puppy, but Bailey’s job will soon include teaching her to be a good adventure companion, too. And for those who are wondering, we absolutely always pack out everything, and follow leash laws & regulations as posted. We do our best to be good stewards for adventure dogs and their owners!

What are some goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

I try to set a few goals each year to keep myself motivated and continuously growing, and I am super excited about some of this year’s plans: I’m going to run my first full marathon in August, I’m going to summit at least one more volcano (probably Mt. Adams), and I am going to hike the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier. And while I am training for all of that, I’m also going to grow The Outdoor Adventure Kind in support of others discovering their own amazing adventures.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, Cat! Is there anything else we should know about you? Fun facts, trivia, etc.?

Although a lot of my time & passion goes into my fledgling business and outdoor adventures, I am also a pretty big geek. I’m particularly a fan of fantasy & sci-fi genres; some universes/worlds include Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Game of Thrones (books, then show), and Kim Harrison’s The Hollows book series. I could write a much, much longer list… I also enjoy video games (mostly PC, sometimes console), comic books, graphic novels, and role playing game when I can find the time and opportunity.

I mentioned that bird watching lead to me starting to hike – it also sparked a passion for nature photography. I am still an avid birder and growing my photography skills, and dream of traveling internationally to photograph exotic new species and locations!

You can learn more about Cat and follow her adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and at https://www.theoakind.com/.

Womxn of the PNW: Stacey Arnold

Stacey is an aspiring Adventureprenuer and adventure-obsessed woman that lives just outside of Portland, Oregon. No matter what kind of adventure she’s on, she always carries her 5lb camera and is well known amongst outdoorsy friends for stopping mid-strike to say “look at that mushroom!” She’s also obsessed with learning about local wildflowers, wild edibles, and picking up way too many rocks at the beach!

Successful summit of Helens with Cat Eckrode (August 5, 2018)

How long have you resided in the PNW? What brought you here?

I’ve been in Oregon since just before I turned three. My parents grew up in the Portland/Tigard/Beaverton area and after they met they ended up moving to Hawaii, getting married, and living there for 10 years. My brother and I were born there, but my parents moved us back here just before I turned three so we could go to better public schools than on the island.

Has the outdoors always played a significant role in your life? How were you introduced?

Oh man yes! When we lived in Hawaii we lived on several acres in the rainforest and there are pictures of me stark nekkid enjoying the warm breeze! When we moved back to the mainland my parents found a small farm on 8 acres and my brother and I grew up playing in the dirt, mowing the lawn, catching crayfish in the creek and all around being filthy little demons as often as we could be. Mom and her best friend would take us camping all the time in the summer to Eastern Oregon and we’d get dirty in the desert dust and then dunk ourselves in the Prineville Reservoir, chase lizards and go “snipe hunting” and try to catch bats by tossing mini marshmallows up.

Hiking Lava Canyon with my good friend, Carla Wakins (Summer 2018)

Where is your favorite place to adventure in the PNW? 

That is so hard to choose! Like choosing a favorite kid. I love all the places for different reasons. The Gorge is incredible because of the incredible history of the Missoula Flood that carved it. The North Cascades for how rough and wild they are. The area around Mt. Hood for how accessible it is to me, especially for a snow fix in the winter. Eastern Oregon for childhood memories with family and because it’s so different than the green trees near home. The Oregon Coast and Olympic Coast for the sea stacks, tide pools, and rockhounding that is available. Mt. St. Helens because that mountain is personal for me.

What is your favorite outdoor experience/memory of all time?

Two years ago I set out for a solo hiking/photography weekend near Mt. St. Helens. Even though it was July I was dealing with some seasonal depression-like symptoms from not spending very much time outdoors soaking up vitamin D. I had planned on getting up soon after midnight and driving up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory in time for sunrise, but when my alarm went off I felt mentally and emotionally lethargic and drained. Normally I would have stayed in bed, but something got me up and going. I felt really conspicuous walking around the observatory in the super dim light before dawn but finally found a spot I would wait for sunrise from. I fiddled with some timelapse settings while I waited for the conditions I wanted, and as I was waiting I heard what I thought was another photographer coming down the path. I felt SUPER self-conscious and looked around as I sat on my jacket in the middle of the trail over my tripod. No one was there, and when I looked forward there was a deer popping over the hill in front of me. My camera settings were all wrong for a moving subject and I fired off a ton of shots hoping to get a good one. That picture ended up being my favorite one I’ve ever taken. I was so excited about it that after I sent it over to my phone to give a quick edit I was showing everyone I met. On the other side of the mountain that night, a woman from the Mt St. Helens Institute asked if I was climbing the next morning and offered for me to join them. She had no idea but I was absolutely shocked – she asked me so matter-of-fact as if she had no idea that was something that I couldn’t do. I knew I couldn’t climb a volcano!

A couple of months later I did something else completely out of character and went to a Facebook group’s first meetup, though I didn’t know it was the first. I drove 3 hours up to Olallie State Park in Washington and I shook slightly as I got out of the car and fiddled with stuff in the back to calm my hands down. Soon after actually joining everyone I felt right at home, and I hated to leave. Since then most of those people have become close as family to me and the memories I make with them every month or so are so dear to me! Since then, I have done all sorts of crazy things like be on the podcasts of people I’ve admired for years, talk about a “Cluster-Bleep” of a first solo backpacking trip in front of a couple hundred people during a LIVE podcast event in downtown Portland, and gone to many meetups and met and hiked with tons of new people. As a (mostly former) introvert I hardly recognize my life anymore!

(Side note: The photo Stacey refers to in the above response can be seen below)

The picture and morning that changed my life

You mentioned that Mount St. Helens is “personal” for you. Would you be comfortable elaborating on this?

Like I mentioned about one of my favorite outdoor memories – I was asked to join a group heading up the next morning on a climb, and the woman thought nothing of asking me, like it was a given that I could – or would even be interested in – climbing Mt. St. Helens.  I’d never even thought of it before, and I made my excuses about not having a permit, as well as recovering a toe from a car accident. I wrote her asking me off at the time, but later on when I saw a post from the Mt. St. Helens Institute announcing when permit sales would be, something poked me in the brain and I found myself sitting on a pallet in the stockroom at work furiously trying for permits during the Great 2018 Permit Sale Catastrophe. I promised my employee I’d give up as many breaks in the coming days or weeks as it took for me to get permits. I miraculously ended up getting 4 of them for 1 year to the day from the day I took the picture that ended up changing my life. I started training my out-of-shape self for the climb, and convinced a co-worker to climb with me.  A couple of other friends were going to go, but had to bail, and it ended up being just the two of us. I gave Heather, my co-worker turned climbing partner, her trail name – Belch while we climbed up. The night before we climbed we were good girls and went to bed early. It poured so hard we couldn’t sleep part of the night. Heather is a sleep-flailer and I was on the receiving end of a couple of flying elbows and a spooning leg, to which I informed her I was not her husband and to kindly get off me, lol. Then at one point when I woke up it was an hour later than when my alarm was supposed to go off and we scrambled to get out of camp as soon as possible.

We finally started hiking up, and once we got to the boulder field I pulled the gloves I’d bought the previous day and stuffed in my pack. I had two left gloves! It was awkward but it worked. The snow obscured the first few poles showing the way, and we ended up scrambling up a very ashy/slidy area that made me super nervous having not been on a scramble like this before. Once we gained the ridge it was a little better, but I continued to feel slightly panicky, and it only got worse as we climbed up. I wasn’t eating properly on the way up because the foods I normally enjoyed were grossing me out! 2/3 of the way up I began to have a very quiet meltdown with silent, very pathetic looking tears. I’d looked ahead and everyone was scaling this wall of stone that went from about 30 degrees to what appeared to be 60 degrees, and I just could not see myself getting up it safely, let alone down!  I found myself irrationally irritated at the chipmunks cavorting around me showing absolutely no fear at the height they were at. Over the course of the next half hour I inched up further, before finally giving up. I was so damned embarrassed telling everyone coming up that we hadn’t made it when they asked how the top had been. I was embarrassed ahead of time to tell friends, family, and coworkers that I’d failed to due an anxiety attack doing something I loved.

Later that week I wrote about the failure as a way to get closure. I thought it was something I’d never try to do again – the idea was terrifying and I just knew I couldn’t do it. Then I got a  message from a woman who had read my story. I’d never met her, and never interacted with her online before. But my story resonated with her – she’d also had a screwy first ascent, and she had an opening in a group that she wanted me to have – one month after my failed attempt. Her group ended up cancelling, but she gave me two permits so I  could find someone to go with. This meant telling someone I was going to go, which I wasn’t going to do until the day of. I reached out to a couple of friends, but they couldn’t make it, so I posted in Toward the Mountaintop and a woman named Cat Eckrode said she would go. I ended up meeting her at the trailhead and realized I’d been interacting with her in a coaching group Anastasia Allison was hosting weekly. Cat had climbed it two weeks prior to my second attempt, and lead me up. When we got to the “Wall” as I thought of it – the part I’d freaked on the month before I saw zigzags of dust on the rock that had been washed off in the rain the month before. Switchbacks! You don’t have to go straight up the mountain! I laughed hard, and we kept climbing. At one point when we stopped for an hourly snack I got this beautiful, clear feeling and knew I would make it to the top that day. Once we got to the ash field I began to panic again but at that point there was no effing way I was going to turn around, even if I had to crawl the rest of the way up. And at times I did crawl, feeling like I would tip right off the mountain. One other climber asked if I was ok at one point, flat to the mountain. I told her I thought Helens and I both needed a hug.

When I got to the top, I laughed, and choked, and cried all at the same time. I had made it.

Now I dream of climbing all the Northwest volcanoes, and I am going to do it.

You eventually became an ambassador for the Facebook group you mentioned in one of your previous responses! What inspired you to become an ambassador for Toward the Mountaintop Inch by Inch? What do you do as an ambassador for TTMTIBI? How has this group influenced you? 

Many of the core people in the group are like family, and have allowed me to change and grow in ways that I never, ever would have guessed would happen to me. Instead of feeling like a dud because no one wanted to hang out with me, especially outdoors, I now have the opposite problem and end up wringing my hands trying to figure out how to make more time to spend with these wonderful people. I have become so much more than I was before I met them, and I thought it would be a great way to show them my gratitude and my love. As an ambassador to the group I reach out to members that have questions, lead hikes and meetups, and try to let new people feel the same incredibly warm hug of a welcome that I got during that first meetup just before my 30th birthday.

The first group of strangers I felt totally comfortable around that have become my community and family. First ever meetup for Toward the Mountaintop Inch by Inch

You’ve described yourself as an “aspiring Adventurepreneur.” For those who are unfamiliar, can you provide your personal definition of an adventurepreneur and describe your aspirations?

I take my definition of Adventureprenuer from Anastasia Allison. She has made a living doing outdoor-inspired things that most people would (and often do) say are nuts to think you’d be able to make money doing! My own brand of this is a company called Inclined to Adventure. I spent so much time when I was a kid climbing trees and walking the dry creek bed and all sorts of outdoor things that as an adult when I realized I was more and more depressed if I didn’t spend time outdoors. I currently work retail and have a super limited adventure budget. I want to be able to lead guided trips, photography classes, foraging classes, geology classes, orienteering, and a ton more on a sliding scale for those that need an extra boost to be able to get out there. I realize that the way my brain works to collect info that is interesting to me and not be overwhelmed by it is kind of unusual by the posts I see on PNWOW, WHC and other forums and I want to be able to make information more accessible to folks that don’t have what I do. I eventually even want to have a goat/llama/alpaca rental service on a sliding scale for those that have mobility issues. I already teach 1-on-1 photo classes now, and I have a plan in place to free up more time to go further down the Adventureprenuer path!

What are some goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

My adventure list!

    • Climb Helens in the snow
    • Climb a 2nd volcano – Adams likely
    • Circumnavigate 2 volcanoes
    • Walk/run the entire ~30 mile Wildwood Trail in one day
    • Swim in Colchuk Lake (in Allison Tapert’s wetsuit that she will be hucking up and down to said lake. This is her hairbrained way of getting me over my fear of swimming in open water)
    • Learn to surf (also Allison’s hairbrain!)
    • Start learning to climb
    • Run/Walk a 5k (and maybe a 10k?)
    • Go on a 5-night backpacking trip
    • Finally visit the Wallowas!
    • Spend at least 15 nights in a tent this year
    • Hike 300+ miles
    • Sell my house and…..? The 2nd half is a secret for now! But it will be very, very cool!
Snowshoeing at Packwood Lake with Kellie Dawson (February 2018)

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, Stacey! Is there anything else we should know about you? Fun facts, trivia, etc.?

I used to be afraid of garbage trucks! I’ve built birthing tubs with my dad for maternity wards. I rebuilt and drove a 1970 Ford Falcon when I was 14-16, and then I drove it for 13 years. I still have it, and I’m hoping to be able to fix the issue currently keeping it in storage soon! That little car was a beast on logging roads heading to trailheads! I’m obsessed with finding and identifying mushrooms, wildflowers, and wild edibles, and I am an info-holic!

Snow backpacking with Anastasia Allison, Allison Tapert, and Brenda Ullinski at Mt. Rainier (March 2019)

You can learn more about Stacey and follow her adventures on Instagram, Facebook, and at www.inclinedtoadventure.com.