I’ve got [sunscreen] on a cloudy day

As hard as I try not to embody gender-based stereotypes, I am perpetually Team Mom. I can’t help it. If we’re camping, I will follow you around picking up after you and organizing all our gear into neat piles. I want to make sure you’ve gotten enough to eat. Please let me pack you a lunch.

These qualities are generally considered endearing—who doesn’t want a smorgasboard laid out on the picnic table and a cold beer waiting when you finish pitching your tent? But I do have this one habit that drives people bonkers. Continue reading “I’ve got [sunscreen] on a cloudy day”

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How I climbed a mountain without making it entirely about myself

A little over a year ago, I headed to Mexico with a group of women who are, in one way or another, associated with Big City Mountaineers. I’ve written a fair amount about BCM before, since I’ve worked as an instructor and as a volunteer, but basically: BCM is a nonprofit that teaches critical life skills to under-resourced kids during the course of weeklong wilderness backpacking and canoe trips. One of their primary fundraising tools is a program called Summit For Someone, in which participants do cool stuff like climb mountains or embark on their own wilderness trips while fundraising for BCM. Continue reading “How I climbed a mountain without making it entirely about myself”

It’s nice to have gear that fits you

I’ll never forget a monthlong glacier trip I did in my early twenties with a backpack I borrowed from the guy I was dating at the time. He was bigger and broader than me, and so was his pack. A week into the trip, the skin on my hips was raw, and I spent another 20 days miserably adjusting and readjusting and padding and un-padding and generally wishing I had a way to carry 85 pounds that actually fit me. By the time I got home, I was ready to burn it, and not just because our subsequent breakup wasn’t exactly amicable.  Continue reading “It’s nice to have gear that fits you”

When 10-year-olds have the answers

A chorus of little voices greets me enthusiastically as I shove my backpack into a cubby at the crowded climbing gym on a windy Friday afternoon.

“Emma!” one kid bounds up to me, “High-five!” At the last second, she pulls her hand away with a grin, exposing the same giant braces I had at her age. “Too slow,” she smirks. It’s fine. I’ll get her back later. Continue reading “When 10-year-olds have the answers”