In the Narrows with Backcountry.com

And then there was Zion.  Zion National Park is amazing.  There’s nothing else you need to say.  It is a gorgeous landscape offering so many ways to enjoy its beauty.  Naturally, we like to enjoy it from within as opposed to from the bus or the paved trails…but to each their own.  And for the small requirement that my boyfriend Kyle and I take our time hiking the Narrows to be photographed by Re Wikstrom and Grant Gunderson…we actually got PAID to hike the Narrows!  Not that I’m bragging or anything.  Sometimes I’m just happy to be me:)  Cheers to Backcountry.com, Outdoor Research, Re for inviting us and Brenda for organizing!

Hiking up the Narrows

Online Steepandcheap.com Photo!

What kind of gentleman doesn't offer me his rain jacket???

I forgot to share this photo after it was used this past Spring.  It was a pretty funny photo shoot where I had to be the person lacking something that’s really needed in the outdoors.  It was April showers season so they were selling rain jackets, and let me tell you, it was a very cold day to be all wet!  There was actually some fresh snow on the ground that we had to kick around to make it disappear!  It was fun and entertaining though!  Yesterday my boyfriend Kyle and I did another shoot with Re Wikstrom for backcountry.com where the missing gear was a backpack!  I’ll share it once its out, but keep you eye out for us on backcountry.com!

Women in the Wind Rivers

There is something about being far enough out into the wilderness that you see very few signs of humans, even from the mountain tops.  Something that comforts me at the same time that it frightens me.   This feeling reminds me how lucky I am to be alive and to enjoy the simple miracles, like a bee sipping nectar from a delicate wildflower despite the gale force winds above 11,000 feet.  It also reminds me that like the flower and the bee, we and Mother Nature are both delicate and powerful.

I was given this awesome opportunity to enjoy the outdoors by my friend Crystal Wright, who did all the organizing for this second annual women’s trip into the Wind River Range of Wyoming.   Crystal was a child of the Wind Rivers, spending her summers living, working, and exploring around the Big Sandy Ranch, and spending her winters in Jackson.  You can barely imagine what a tough, amazing woman this life made her into!   She managed to pull together 9 women who were spread between Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah, pack our food (and box wine) onto two of the ranch pack horses, and lead us more than 10 miles into the Wind River mountains.  Not to mention that she left for a ski trip to South America the day after we returned!

Half of these ladies I had never met.  Its so fun to mix it up on girls trips and meet more amazing women who share your love for the outdoors.  We ended up having two Hannah’s and three Ashley’s along with Crystal, Autumn, Sydney, and Bridgid!  Most of us arrived at the Big Sandy Ranch around mid-day on Thursday August 19th, and helped Crystal pack the panniers for our two pack horses.  You have to distribute the weight evenly for the horses, which isn’t the easiest thing to do when you have everything from eggs to aluminum frying pans!  We still hiked with backpacks, but lucky for us we were only carrying our clothes and maybe sleeping bags…not so lucky for the horses!  The horses were the only males on our trip…but we won’t hold it against them!  Even Tip, one of the Wright’s hard working dogs, was a lady.  And probably the most well behaved lady on the trip!

The hike to our camp was a little longer than some of us were anticipating, and being rained on was an added challenge.  However when we found our camping spot we were greeted by the most gorgeous rainbow that ended right in the pool!  The Wolf’s Head peaks were in the background and I knew that this spot was so much more valuable than a pot of gold!   We ate like queens the entire trip thanks to our horse companions!  Fajitas, berry pancakes, eggs and bacon, juevos rancheros, and scrambled brownies to name a few!

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Over the next 3 days we hiked, rode horses bareback, swam (very briefly!), and relaxed.  One of my favorites was scrambling up a huge scree field and being rewarded at the top by views of Pingora and the other peaks of the Cirque of the Towers!  In the evenings we walked 10 minutes from camp to enjoy the serenity of shadow lake and each other’s company.  We watched the sun set and the moon rise and we laughed and talked.  We certainly had some challenges on this trip between the gusting wind and challenging some of our fears of heights, but overall it was such a treat to get away into these untamed mountains.  I’m thankful to each of these women for being so much fun!  I hope we have one hundred more of these adventures!!!

SheJumps Into the Backcountry: Intro to Winter Camping 2010!

The SheJumps Winter Camping Crew. Photo by Katie Bedigian

There is really nothing quite like getting a great group of women together to enjoy the beauty and challenges of the great outdoors!  And that goal is what the non-profit SheJumps is all about.  Its exciting to have the opportunity to share your strengths and passions with other females, and to learn from them as well.  Since I learned about this great organization a couple years ago I’ve been a part of a number of different activities like the Passionately Pink Tour for the Cure, for which a group of women did an overnight tour to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  Another one was (S)heJumps  Into the Canyon, where we taught kids from a few Utah Boys and Girls Clubs how to ski at Alta Ski Area.  Teaching kids to ski was new for me, but winter camping wasn’t.  I’ve actually done quite a bit of winter camping, which is why I wanted to organize this event.  The last time we got a big group of women winter camping for the Backcountry Tour for the Cure a couple years ago, we bit off a bit more than we could chew.  This was a way to help us learn more.  Before the Tour for the Cure, I was on Western State Mountain Rescue back at Western State College of Colorado where we did a good amount of winter camping.  and in highschool I had my first winter camping experiences with an outdoor group called YETI (Youth Expeditions To Ignite).  I figured if we want to get in the habit of organizing bigger backcountry expeditions, we better work on the basics!

I scoped our camping spot up Willow Heights in Big Cottonwood Canyon the day before we went, and knew we’d have a blast.  Even though we were just under a mile off the road, we still had to pack our huge backpacks with food, water, cookware, tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, clothing, and all the little amenities!  So we were loaded down…and learning to correctly and comfortably pack a huge pack is a challenge in and of itself!  Add to that being clipped in to skis on slushy snow, someone was bound to fall over.  Thanks for taking one for the team Liz!  We headed up in two groups, and by the time the second crew got there we had a bunch of tent platforms dug out, and Tess and Jae were killing it with our community fire pit seating area!  

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 Everyone got their tents set up and we had quinoa cooking in a flash.  Everyone was making hot drinks to keep warm, sitting by the fire, sharing stories, and laughing all the while.  Not everyone knew one another to start, but by the next day we were all friends looking forward to the next adventure.  Claire was good enough to prepare most of our food for the trip and we were all more than satisfied with our dinner of quinoa with kale, spices and yummy bratwurst!  We also enjoyed some celebratory champagne in fancy plastic cups.  We ladies know how to do it in style, but we also know that on a more serious expedition we’d have to leave the champagne behind.  To top off our wonderful evening, our lone snowboarder Laura skinned into camp in a t-shirt at midnight pulling her belongings behind her on a bright orange saucer!  She had more firewood so some of us just stayed up until it was almost gone.  Claire and Laura took the challenge of sleeping under the stars which can be so beautiful and fun…but I guarantee they weren’t as toasty warm as I was!

For many of the ladies, this was their first winter camping experience.  This trip was very focused on fun, but was good for learning as well.  Katie learned to bring toe warmers for sleeping, and similarly Angeli learned that if you boil water, put it in your nalgene before bed and keep it by your femoral artery (between your thighs), it will keep your circulation moving (essentially keep you warm).  I found I could use the hot nalgene for another purpose.  If water freezes in the tube of my camelback I can wrap the tube around a Nalgene of hot water and it will thaw!  Tess learned how to build a sweet fire ring amphitheater that perfectly fits 12 ladies, a kitchen, and raging fire.  We all appreciated that!

When everyone woke up the next morning we enjoyed some tea and oatmeal, took some runs with Laura’s saucer, packed up our belongings, and  filled in the areas we had dug out.  We even packed out the firewood that hadn’t completely burned.  Leave No Trace!  What do you think is harder than skinning uphill with an enormous backpack?  Trying to ski down in an aspen grove!  Luckily we all made it back to our cars in one piece, excited for the next adventure.  I hope next time we do this trip we’ll have even more fun ladies come along.  If you’re interested, please get in touch with me!  Ciao and happy camping!

Blizzard and Tecnica Photoshoot in Kirkwood California!

I am horrible at posting regularly…but I’m going to work on getting better!  I want to back track a minute to March 22nd to the 26th when I was lucky enough to join the Blizzard Tecnica Freeride Team in Kirkwood, California to shoot photos and video for next year’s websites and catalogues.  I met Ben Drummond in the Reno airport where it took way too long to get our van…someone else snagged the mustang convertible we asked for…wtf?  We were the first to get down south of the gorgeous Lake Tahoe and promptly drove around looking for our “blue” condo building in Kirkwood after checking in.  Really dude?  The guys at the desk said the building was blue…more like grey with green trim, but nice try!  Dana hooked us up with a massive Costco order, including not enough beer and waaaayyy too many pretzels.  Gotta give you crap Dana, it was like a 50 pound bag!  Anyway, moving on.

Our photographer extraordinaire is Frank Shine, and he knows how to get it done even when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate!  You can check out the work we did last year in Aspen on the Blizzard website.  Coop hooked it up down there at Kirkwood with some awesome condos, early loads with RSN, and even Cat skiing in the three days we were there!  Did I need a King bed to myself?  No.  But it was still awesome!  We athletes (me, Robin, Kiffor, Arne, Pat, Chris, and Rob) got to ski around Kirkwood’s sweet terrain on Blizzards awesome line of skis, and then sit down and let the money makers get it done on camera!  By money makers I mean our pretty little faces, enormous personalities, and SKILLS…duh.  All the while our BlizzTec crew (Ben, Jed, Dana, Bart, and Clem who “knows all those guys”) was holding it together and also shredding their gear up and down Kirkwood Mountain Resort.  Our whole crew wasn’t able to make it this year due to a couple bundles of joy, a killer Canadian extravaganza, and a few other things.  We missed you all!  You know it Tats…mostly we’re just jealous of you, you Ultimate Ski Bum!!!  We did have an additional treat of being joined by Stefano Mantegazza who brought some fun things for us to check out for the future of Blizzard and Tecnica.

The BlizzTec Crew at Kirkwood

To wrap things up I got to ski around at Squaw on Friday the 26th with the California crew and it was a fun gorgeous day!  The Palisades were skiing the best on the mountain.  I never knew Shane McConkey, but its easy to see why such an inspirational person as him would make Squaw his home.  RIP In Peace Shane.  I got back to Salt Lake City just in time to join my sister Emma and our friends for her 23rd birthday dinner.  Happy Birthday Emmers!  This was the beginning of our birthday weekend spectacular because I turned 26 on the 28th.  Saturday the 27th was Earth Hour so we  had our party with the lights out…fasten your seatbelts!!!  I have to give so many thanks to Blizzard, Tecnica, and Kirkwood for letting me be involved and represent what they have to offer!  Ciao!

Get Ready for Day One of the 2010 Subaru Freeskiing World Championships!

Tomorrow morning I’ll be taking my first competition run since January in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada.  I’m nervous as always, but the good thing is that I’m excited too.  The plan is to go out there and have fun.  Ski with friends, watch the antics, and enjoy the beautiful day!  Check us all out live at http://freeskiingworldtour.com

Day One Venue Under the Tram: Silver Fox!

where they’ll be streaming video Saturday AND Sunday.  I’m running last for the women, which is a first for me!

(S)heJumps Into the Canyon

Maria and Samantha LOVE the Alta rope tow!

Sunday March 14th 2010 was a powder day at Alta Ski Area.  For the kids of some local Boys and Girls Clubs, and their SheJumps coaches it was a stormy adventure!  On each Sunday this month athletes like myself are volunteering to teach these kids to ski.  Some of them were involved with the first annual event last year, and many of them are brand new to skiing.  It is truly inspirational to see these kids who come from incredibly diverse and difficult backgrounds meet and overcome the challenges of this cold, foreign landscape.  And honestly, it was freezing cold even for those of us who come out skiing almost every day!  I mostly skied with Maria, a total firecracker who isn’t afraid to ski fast and says she wants to be a boxer like her big brother who lives in Florida.  Her friend Samantha joined us as well and we skied groomers, powder, and even hit jumps all around the  Sunnyside Lift at Alta!  Some of the other coaches were my friends Pip Hunt, Vanessa Pierce, and Lindsey Van among others!  Both Pip and Lindsey are going to be competing with me in the Subaru Freeskiing World Championships at Snowbird this weekend.  Weather has already been presenting some challenges through the qualifiers the past few days, but the weekend is looking like spring break warmth!  We’ll have day one on Saturday and finals on Sunday.  Check out www.freeskiingworldtour.com for live footage this weekend!