Womxn of the PNW: Sara Pedrosa

Sara is an esthetician, cosmetic tattooer, salon owner, and endurance runner currently based in Ogden, UT, where she moved to from Portland, OR after 15 years to be closer to the mountains.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail right outside my door!!

What brought you to the PNW?

I was 24 and living in Baltimore, MD. I didn’t have much direction really. I was working, had a boyfriend. Life was FINE. But I knew I wanted more. I visited a friend in Portland in 2005 and loved it. It was so DIFFERENT from the east coast. I came home to Baltimore, packed up my stuff and moved.

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

My parents! Both of my parents were (still are!) very active and loved all things outdoors. We camped, hiked, boated, and swam in rivers. Both my parents were runners as well. When we were kids we would hike up the trails and jog down.

Maroon Bells, 28-mile loop

Where is your favorite place to adventure in the PNW?

I LOVE the Columbia River Gorge. There is nothing quite like it it. Every trail has it’s own special personality and depth of challenges. It’s supplied me with endless good (and bad haha) times and it’s been great training for bigger mountain races. My absolute favorites are: Table Mountain, Coyote Wall, & of course, Tunnel Falls.

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

Oh jeez I have SO. MANY. With so many awesome people. I’m going to name two, quickly:

The finish of my first 50 miler was pretty special. It was in Moab and the last 8 miles were SO LONG. I have never been more proud of myself/happy to be done with something in my life.

My first 14er was with my friend, Michele Dillon (@missshellshock). I told her I wanted something with a lot of miles and hard in prep for an upcoming race in Peru. OH BOY did she deliver. It was Longs Peak, which is definitely the longest and one of the harder 14ers. A lot more exposure than I had expected. Like, A LOT MORE. She talked me though a lot of anxiety and tears to get me to the top. It’s one of my favorite days in the mountains and I can’t wait to go back and do it again and not cry haha.

Running the Sierra Andina 50k in Peru at 15k!!
Table Mountain

As someone who works in the beauty/cosmetic industry, what are your thoughts on the prevalent stereotyping of womxn and the idea that certain identities and characteristics are mutually exclusive (i.e. you can’t be considered “outdoorsy” if you enjoy make-up and manicures)?

This is so hard to answer! I want to be like, some people care about their appearance and some don’t, but I don’t think that’s true. I think there are levels of what and how much you care. Like, I get botox in my forehead because that is something that bothered me BUT I will seriously live my whole day in disgusting muddy, wet running clothes and be like, “deal with it world” haha. I guess at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. Never make excuses for why you may want (or not want) to wear mascara when you run (I do this, then quickly regret it because then it’s everywhere but like oh well), get botox/filler, get your hair done, get a manicure, or whatever. You do you, and never apologize for it.

Running the Clackamas River trail with my friend Theresa 😉 

Trail running and ultra/endurance running appears to be your absolute favorite outdoor activity. How did you get started? What have been the most rewarding aspects of this sport? Any advice for those interested in getting started?

I was always in sports as a kid. Mainly a competitive swimmer from ages 6 – 17. I love competing and challenging myself. I ran my first half marathon (road) in 2010 through the Columbia River Gorge (Bridge of the Gods half) and LOVED IT. I ran on roads for about a year until I thought to myself ‘man I love hiking and running, maybe I can do both like, at the same time’. I signed up for Hagg Lake 25k and then Mount Hood 50k for that next year. I ran Wildwood E2E solo to train. It was scary and I felt like a newb, but who cares. I just wanted to get out there. And now it’s become my drug. I am obsessed. Totally. It has helped me beyond what I can even explain. It’s helped me to get over some terrible anxiety and depression issues, and helped me overcome a lot of issues with food.  Has it cured me of all these things? No. BUT it has given me the mental and physical strength to push through whatever life throws at me.

I would say the community of people that I have met, run with and inevitably become great friends with has been one of the most rewarding things. It’s so positive and supportive. My suggestion for people who want to get out is to JUST DO IT. But, like, actually. Grab a friend, go alone. Walk, jog, run if you can. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Women always say to me “Well I ran, but just a 5k” or “I ran 8 miles today, but that’s nothing”. NO! No more negative self talk guys! Come on! Anything you can do is awesome. Just be out there to BE OUT THERE. I really enjoy adventuring alone and I feel like I’m generally prepared for what life throws at me, but if you are scared go with a friend. Or go somewhere local and less remote. Forest Park! Or wherever you may live. There is a lot to see and I plan on hiking/running/death marching to see as much as I can before my time is up.

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

I’m running Never Summer 100K put on by @gnar_runners in July. I just want to finish and like not be totally miserable. Sub 20. And on a personal note, to just keep growing and letting go. I’m a very VERY Type A person. I’m trying to learn to balance my type A-ness while giving others room to like LIVE around me haha! I’m still learning patience. It’s been a long road with that one, but its slowly settling in.

(Edit: Due to an ongoing pelvic injury, Sara will be running Tushars Mountain Marathon instead of Never Summer. She is, unsurprisingly, still kicking serious ass despite her battle with this injury 🙂 )

Finishing Backcountry Rise 50K

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

I love to cook and bake. I was a pastry chef before getting into the beauty industry. I cook pretty much every single meal I eat from scratch. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I love it, but it does take some planning. Once a week I order pizza though because like, come on!

Hamilton Mountain

You can follow Sara’s adventures on Instagram: @earth_crosser

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/.