People often ask me where I get my ideas from or what fuels my endless enthusiasm for the outdoors. The truth is, I stand on the shoulders of giants. In the information age, we are so fortunate to have countless images of the best mountains and trails the world has to offer at the tips of our fingers. Here are a few of the women I admire who make my heartbeat quicken on the days I feel despondent.
- Noël Russell – @noel_russ
First of all, I am absolutely in love with this woman. A self-proclaimed “hope slanger” and “fun hogger,” Noël Russell is the ultimate weekend warrior. She and her husband meander all over the Sierra Nevada mountain range in their converted van with two misfit pups in tow. Perhaps even more striking than the drool-worthy images of wildflowers and alpine lakes that pepper her feed are the short stories Noël writes to accompany each one. They are warm and heartbreaking and wonderfully insightful all at once.
- Johnie Gall – @dirtbagdarling
Johnie Gall is the ultimate dirtbag activist. A talented writer and “defender of fun,” Gall is one of the OG darlings of the now overpopulated #vanlife movement. What I love most about her feed is the sheer diversity of its content. One moment, she’s hiking up the side of a mountain, the next, she’s surfing and advocating for beach clean up and reef-safe sunscreen. She gives honest, practical advice for us all to do a better job protecting the wild spaces we love.
- Alexis Greene – @northlore_creative
When I first stumbled upon Alexis and her Northlore Creative feed, I was blown away and absolutely shocked that more people hadn’t heard of her. Her images are dreamy fuzzballs straight out of Middle Earth, and the writing she calls forth to accompany them is honest and real as fuck. Her images always make me see the outdoors in a slightly new way. A daydreamy way. A way that’s on the tip of my tongue, but I can’t quite find the words because the colors of the sunset are burning their imprint into my mind in a preverbal euphoria.
- Heather McCoy – @mermaidlovesmountains
I feel so grateful to have climbed with this woman, because she is a grade-A badass. When she’s not scrambling up high altitude peaks in the Sierra Nevadas, Heather (aka Mermaid) is crushing long days on trail with a huge pack. She’s also the only quote collector I know who can rival my feed! If you want weeks worth of trail porn and California adventure ideas, her Instagram is a great place to start.
- Kirsten Alexis – @kirstenalexisadventures
I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman so effervescent and full of life! The list of adventure sports this lady does on a regular basis is insane – from hiking to skydiving to paddle-boarding and even peak bagging, Kirsten is a 24/7 adventurer that I respect the hell out of. She’s also hard at work creating a network of adventure addicts via her website and sister IG feed @thisadventurelife, which features loads of photos and blog posts by some seriously inspiring souls (and yours truly)!
- Victoria Valchev – @alpinewithv
Victoria’s feed makes me want to kick my climbing fears in the nuts and just get after it already. She’s a legitimate alpinist with a growing number of notable ascents under her belt, mostly in Canada, where she lives and plays. So many of her images have made my breath stop short as I watch her traverse a knife’s edge ridge in hot pink leggings and an orange windshell with a huge grin on her face. I love seeing rad women prove that alpinism is not just a man’s world.
- Melissa Arnot – @melissaarnot
Melissa Arnot Reid is the first American woman to climb Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen. She’s also a new mom who runs a guiding company in Washington state, and I find her life endlessly inspiring. Not only is her feed full of incredible mountain vistas, Melissa also helps run a non-profit called The Juniper Fund that gives money to Nepali families when tragedy strikes in the mountains and their primary income source is destroyed. I am in awe of her strength, attitude, and grace.
- Gale Straub – @she_explores
Gale Straub is the founder and host of the popular She Explores Podcast, and the feed she curates on Instagram is the most brilliant assortment of interviewed guests and fellow female adventurers. One day might feature a painter-activist, while the next is focused on women who dress up and serenade hikers with a keyboard and violin on mountaintops. Recently, Gale managed to nab an interview with Cheryl Strayed to feature on the show, where she talked about radical empathy. The page is compelling and powerful and inspires you to get out and explore all the best that the natural world has to offer, and isn’t that what it’s really all about?
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