CANADA'S NATIONAL PARKS: ALBERTA & BRITISH COLUMBIA - FIRST SOLO BACKPACKING TRIP
RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
CYCLE-PACKING COASTAL MAINE
ALASKA AND THE YUKON
This awe-inspiring, spectacularly wild state had been showing up on my vision boards for a few years. I had no idea how I'd ever be able to get out there, but I chose to stay open, trusting that somehow, some way, a door would open.
I could never have anticipated this, but the opportunity to say YES presented itself when I was forced to re-route or lose my plane ticket to Colorado. I moved quickly.
What happened in the coming months eventually led to the birth of my Kickstarter project, which I realized was just as, if not more important, than the original, far-stretched dream of visiting Alaska.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
My second visit to this spectacular National Park with great friends during the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower. Abundant with hiking, swimming, art-making, and laughter, our weekend retreat culminated with us waking up at 3:33 in the morning to catch the meteor shower from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Cadillac is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place to view sunrise in the United States from October 7 through March 6.
NORTH CASCADES AND SAN JUAN ISLANDS
My second big adventure.
I danced and explored my heart out in Portland, OR for a few days and then drank in the coastal views on the Amtrak up to Seattle.
When my home base of Winthrop, WA got evacuated due to wildfires, I found myself with brand new friends in a little Bavarian town a few hours south in Leavenworth. After cooking dinner together and bonding, we devised a spontaneous plan on the back of a napkin, setting out the following morning for a 14-hour thru-hike on the most magnificent and strenuous route I'd ever encountered: straight into the heart of The Enchantments. Our adventure included my first mountain goat and porcupine sightings!
After bidding goodbye to my new friends the next morning, I took my aching legs back to the coast for a multi-day exploration of the San Juan Islands via sea kayak camping.
I connected with a lot of local islanders on this trip, who all shared something along the lines of the idea that the San Juans have an inexplicable pull on people. I felt it. Time dissolved. I spent hours roaming the islands, marveling at the untouched nature, painting and creating art pieces with found materials.
Sitting in my kayak as a pod of orca whales charged across the horizon was the moment I realized the depth of my connection to the ocean, and particularly to the Pacific Northwest. I've made it a point to head west every year since.
MY FIRST ADVENTURE: NATIONAL PARKS SOLO ROAD TRIP
My first solo adventure - a trip that changed everything.
For 3.5 weeks, I travelled on a little green bus with 35 people from all over the world.
We crawled up the Pacific Crest, headed east through the Rockies, and then down to the desert lands of the Southwest.
Before this trip, I'd never hiked a mountain, let alone set up a tent. And suddenly there I was - backpacking through seven national parks, getting my hair wet in over a dozen bodies of water, galloping horseback through the desert, even befriending my claustrophobia exploring underground lava tubes in Oregon.
This epic exploration culminated with a transformative solo day hike to the basin of the Grand Canyon and back in 110+ degree heat.
About a month after I returned, the Phoenix painting was born, and I've been returning to nature ever since as my wellspring for inspiration.