Brazen Backpacker – Moth StorySlam

One project I gave myself this year was to get better at public speaking. It’s a skill that I find so important, and yet I never took the time to practice. So, I obsessively went to The Moth for a few months and tried to hone my stories as much as possible. It was humbling and terrifying and overall, a great learning experience.

Here’s my first ever performance at The Moth’s StorySlam in Los Angeles, on a night themed “Surrender.”

Autumn Update!

Hello friends and co-conspirators!

I figured it was about due time I wrote you all a letter to tell you why I’ve been so sparse this spring and summer. Well, dear ones, the world of Brazen Backpacker is expanding to bigger things than I could have imagined even a year ago, and I’ve been hard at work on a series of essays and articles for places you know and love like Outside, Backpacker, Modern Hiker, Adventure Journal, and Territory Supply. Continue reading

The Ultimate List of the Most Extreme Amazing Adventure Books

You’ve probably seen a lot of listicles roaming around on the Internet, right? They claim to be the biggest and the best resource for finding your next ultra-cringeworthy adventure novel to dive into beside the campfire this weekend. Well, I’ve compiled my own reading list for trail, crag, and mountain lovers alike. Some might say it’s the ultimate, most extreme book list on the planet. Read on, if you think you can hang.

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PCT Class of 2019 Portraits

This year, I had the absolute pleasure of trekking high up into the San Gabriel Mountains near Los Angeles to bring 12 lbs. of fresh fruit and veggies up to thru-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. These brave souls amble their way up and down a narrow strip of trail from Mexico to Canada, hiking over 2,650 miles in the process. They give each other wild trail names like Sherlock, Pinkman, and Crush and harbor a Lost Boys-style camaraderie. I embarked on this portrait project to showcase the beautiful abandon written all over each one of their faces. Their stories made me tremble and smile and remember to carpe the hell out of every last diem.

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Dirtbag Mom – The Moth – Mama Rules

Guys, I know I’ve been off the radar lately, but I’ve been working on a ton of upcoming writing projects that are making my heart soar and my head spin. One of my biggest goals for myself this year is to start getting involved with live storytelling events like The Moth, which terrifies and excites me all at once. The piece below is a story I developed for their mom-themed show, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally share it with you all.

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There’s Always a “but” in Nature

The delicate purr of a hummingbird crosses your vision as you gaze out over the mirror-stillness of an alpine lake. It’s evening, and the low-hanging sun has turned the entire valley to coral flame. You crack a beer, flip open your camp chair, and settle in to watch the show in perfect solitude. Just then, you hear a high-pitched buzzing noise and start frantically looking around, darting your head from body part to body part. It lands on your right arm, and you thunderously SMACK your left hand against the skin, squashing the attacker to bits. You heave a sigh of frustration and shake your fist at the sky.

Mosquitoes have invaded your once-perfect evening.

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The Failure Resume

My first-ever anxiety attack was on the north side of Red Mountain Creek. I slumped into a pile of dead leaves while sobbing manically and trying to shove a string cheese into my mouth. I was fed up. A week full of fears and self-doubt culminated in a ten-mile slog into avalanche terrain with a climbing partner who was as inexperienced as I was and somehow immune to worry. I was rattled to my core before we strapped on a single crampon, finally asserting that I would not be climbing Split Mountain after all. My nerves felt bruised against his youthful bravado, but at least I was learning. Beneath my panic and my trembling fingertips, I was learning how to say no.

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In Defense of the Void

“Fuck you. You’re a wimp. You’re a hack alpinist.”

I feel like a sadistic acupuncturist is driving 10-inch needles into my thighs with a wooden mallet as I ascend the steep, north slope of Mt. Dana, ragged breaths punctuating my movements like a death cough. I take a gulp of the crystalline air, and suddenly my organs rebel; I am lost in spasm, propped up on hands and knees and retching the last of my peanut butter along with a teaspoon of phlegm onto the carpet of white snow.

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