Your first backpacking trip is always full of expectations, unknowns, and a lot of trial and error. While a day hike or car camping may be nothing new to you, combining aspects of both together to create the backpacking trip of your dreams can take some practice!
DNK Presents led an overnight trip to Shades State Park for beginner backpackers. The backpacking trail at Shades was a great place to start as it is about a 2.5-3 mile hike in to the campsites. A trail this length provides a good taste of what carrying a pack for a longer distance would be like without jumping in too deep at first.
The ladies on this trip provided some feedback on their experience trying out a new outdoor adventure. Overall, the women found that backpacking is a bit tougher than expected! The miles backpacking do not equal the miles hiking like they thought. That extra weight on their back added quite a challenge to the hike. Below are some more thoughts on ways to prepare for your first backpacking trip!
Play around with your pack. Pack and unpack several times throughout the trip until you find the method that feels the best to you. It’s helpful to loosen all straps every time you put the pack on so that you can adjust as needed each time. This will also help you learn which straps do what in order to find your perfect fit.
Camp chairs are worth the investment. Specifically the Crazy Creek style camp chairs that fold up and can be strapped on the front of your pack. They’re great for sitting around the fire, taking a break on the trail, or cushioning a picnic bench if you’re lucky enough to have one at your campsite.
Hammock camping can be a nice alternative to tent camping if you don’t own a backpacking tent or are backpacking solo and don’t want to carry the whole tent yourself. There are a few things you can do to make hammock camping more comfortable. Depending on the season, you may or may not want a sleeping pad. In the warmer seasons, you really just need a lightweight sleeping bag or blanket. A bug net and rain tarp aren’t essential, but can make the experience much more enjoyable. Closing the hammock by flipping the weighted pocket over the side creates a cocoon and can keep bugs out, but it’s a bit suffocating in warmer weather. The bug net and rain tarp keep air circulating while protecting you from insects and the elements. It’s also helpful to keep shoes close, put your essentials in the pocket, and to put your rain cover on your backpack as a preventative measure.
A good number of backpacks include a “brain” (top portion of your pack that fits on top of the rest of the pack) that can transform into a day pack. These are super handy if you want to leave camp and check out some shorter trails near your site. Even if your pack doesn’t have this feature, it’s not a bad idea to bring along your own packable day pack to store water, snacks, map, and other essentials.
Dehydrated meals are an easy and delicious way to get meals taken care of on backpacking trips. They’re lightweight, fold down, and bulk up to a good amount of food. All they require is boiling water and time to rehydrate. In the beginning, dehydrated meals remove the potential overwhelm of meal planning so that you can better focus on the rest of your trip. If prepared meals aren’t your thing, they provide some great meal inspiration.
A common anxiety on the trip was having enough food and snacks to last the weekend. Food is a very personal aspect of backpacking and everyone has different needs. Even if food is being planned for your group, it’s helpful to have bars, trail mix, and other easy to grab snacks that you know you can eat whenever desired. Bulk up your oatmeal in the morning with some of your trail mix! Don’t forget to bring some comforts from home with you like your favorite candy, instant coffee, or tea.
Feeling safe while backpacking is a vital part of enjoying your time in nature. Whether adventuring solo or with a group, it’s important to know what will make you feel the most comfortable. Wander around the campsites so you have an idea of the layout, chat with other campers so that they are aware you’re there, and most importantly, trust in the community. While it’s essential to be cautious and mindful, it’s also important to remember that the majority of people out in nature are there for the same reasons you are.
Backpacking may seem daunting at first, but with a few trips under your belt, it becomes a great escape even for a quick one night sleep under the stars. Experiment with different gear, meals, ways of packing your pack and you’ll be well on your way to dialing in on what you need to make your trip as rejuvenating as possible. Let us know what tips and tricks you’ve learned along the way!
In a world where we consume media almost constantly, make sure some of that media is nourishing and inspiring. Lucky for us outdoor lovers, there are plenty of podcasts to tune into that will feed that wanderlust and leave us ready to pack our bags and explore.
Here are 6 of our favorite outdoor related podcasts that keep us wanting more!
“What if… You could sail to French Polynesia, run from San Francisco to New York, skateboard down the busiest freeway in California, quit your job and ski around the world, start a business, move to Costa Rica, surf every day, get in the best shape of your life, fall in love, and GET WILD?”
“Interviews, narrative stories, and listener submissions make up a tapestry of over 100 episodes covering themes such as solo hiking and camping; entrepreneurship; aging; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); conservation; motherhood; chronic illness; and feminism as they intersect with outdoor experiences. Hosted by Gale Straub.”
“Honest experiences of life on the road, told from the perspective of women who’ve lived them firsthand. Whatever you drive, and for however long, this is a podcast for those drawn to road travel. Interviews, in-the-field recordings, and listener voice submissions range in topic from helpful tips to get started to the inspirational experiences that get and keep us out there. Hosted by Laura Hughes.”
“Are you yearning for a change? Could a grand adventure help you find what’s missing? Could doing something selfish for once be just the thing your relationship needs? Let Out There be your calm oasis, your quiet walk in the woods, the rainy window you gaze out of when all is gray outside. Hosted by Willow Belden, the award-winning podcast captures the understanding, the strength, the inspiration, the healing that humans draw from spending time outside, to help you navigate life’s big questions and ease the anxieties of adulting today.”
“This is adventure. Climbing. Skiing. Hiking. Biking. Travel. Whatever your passion, we are all dirtbags. Outdoor writer Fitz Cahall and his team presents stories about the dreamers, athletes and wanderers.”
“Outside’s longstanding literary storytelling tradition comes to life in audio with features that will entertain, inspire, and inform listeners.”
Now are you ready for your next adventure? Check out what we have coming up on our Adventures page! Contact us if you don’t see something that fits with your schedule we organize and guide custom and private adventures too!
By Ashley Iyer
I just returned from traveling to Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Monument Valley Navajo Travel Park, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. My travel companions were my husband and two-year-old daughter. I have always loved road trips, specifically West of the Mississippi. There is something cozy about being packed in a small SUV together with half eaten snacks on the ground and luggage and coolers packed to the brim of the trunk. We explored the pink and red sandstone cliffs in Zion, outlandish hoodoos in Bryce, the majestic Mittens Buttes in Monument Valley and endless curves and warm hues of Antelope Canyon.
Traveling allows me to see my husband and daughter in a different light. I enjoy my daughter’s unexpected leg hugs and the faint smell of marinara from last night’s dinner in her hair. I love nestling my daughter’s little Disney toothpaste and toothbrush next to my big toothpaste and toothbrush in my toiletry bag. I am always impressed with my husband’s ability to problem solve and the amount of Dad jokes he can spew out when traveling. We were surprised at her insistence on saying hi to literally every person that passed us as on day hikes. She was insistent on being outside and loudly shouted “doggy doggy” every time a dog passed. Nothing beats the simple joy of a child.
I have included some travel tips for traveling with toddlers our family has found helpful below:
- If you can honor your toddler’s sleep and meal routine or make slight modifications everyone will be happier for it. For example, when we were in Arches National Park we decided to get up very very early to avoid the heat and complete the hike to Delicate Arch and come back to our Airbnb in Moab Utah and take a nap. Later in the evening we returned to the Arches National Park to look at the rock features during the sunset. Also, we tried to do most of the driving between parks during her nap time.
- Our favorite baby carrier brand was Deuter. It provided a visor that we could temporarily put up during sunny hikes, there was also a place to put a water bladder. She even learned to drink from a Camelback during the trip! My husband and I took turns carrying.
- Book an Airbnb with a wash machine every 4 days or so to be able to pack less clothes.
- I let my Mommy guilt go about increasing my daughter’s screen time during long car and plane rides. It was important that we downloaded her favorite shows before going on the trip because we were in many areas without service.
- During the plane ride I packed 6 new books and toys from the dollar store and a couple old ones to keep my daughter occupied. I also made sure to have lots of grab and go snacks. If kids cry on the plane and you are making an effort to entertain your kid people can get over it.
- Of course, the best toys I brought were not meant to be toys at all. She loved collecting zip lock bags full of rocks and sand.
- We packed two big suitcases. One stayed in the car during all those hotel changes, we brought one up with us.
- We bought a couple of disposable coolers first things when we landed. We bought grab and go lunch and breakfast food for everyone. Mostly we just ate out for dinner.
- Call ahead to see if the hotel will provide a pack and play, so you do not have to pack one.
- Some things My husband and I decided we would do the next trip include: Getting a portable highchair, bring small almost Bento like boxes to separate her food. We decided we would stop to eat meals more often rather than in the car. Happy trails!
By Bridget Sealy Roberts
The DNK Presents Women’s Adventure Giveaway . . . what an extraordinary opportunity that has been created for women thanks to Danielle and Kate, and the support of many other inspirational women, wonderful people and companies. I first learned about this giveaway at a mountain bike clinic that I attended. I watched the film from one of DNK’s past adventure giveaways called “Live Adventurously” at the clinic, and I dare to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. To see how the experiences transformed these already amazing women was something that felt personal, even though none of us knew any of these women. It was so impactful, even as a movie.
From the time I found out I had been nominated, until that momentous call when I found out I was one of the winners, it was a whirlwind of both excitement and disbelief. I was both honored to be nominated, and humbled to be selected. Having the opportunity to spend time with such a wonderful group of women in the outdoors could only lead to epic adventures.
To the Backcountry
Of all the emotions I experienced leading up to the adventure, none of them could compare to what I actually experienced during the time I spent adventuring with the three other winners (Hannah, Chelsea, Kristen), Kate, Danielle, Noel and all of the other wonderful women who were helping support us during our time together. Each and every one of us were pushed outside of our comfort zones, but supported each other in a way that made it feel like we could accomplish absolutely anything. The environment that this experience provides allows you to have those “don’t hold back” moments that are opportunities unlike anything you would normally ever have a chance to do. I found myself so emotionally overwhelmed at the end of the day by how much I was able to do, and how incredible it all was. It truly was all life altering. And all this happens while you are surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery that nature has to offer. This adventure is the chance to reconnect with Mother Nature and remember how revitalizing and healing it can be.
The entire experience in so transformative, and you feel such accomplishment with each adventure together. And, you do all this while bonding with some of the most amazing women you will ever meet. The bonds that you make over the weekend are so strong that you leave feeling like there aren’t enough hugs, and there is a piece of your heart being torn out as you drive away. The time spent together definitely etches a mark in each person’s heart before departure.
My weekend ended with my “I’ll never” list being a little shorter and my “family” list being a lot longer. If you’re considering nominating someone next year for the Women’s Adventure Giveaway, don’t hesitate; it will change their life, and seeing that impact will change your life too. I can’t thank my nominators Noel and Alex enough for thinking of me and for DNK for creating such an amazing opportunity for women everywhere. My heart is so full and all I want to do is share it with everyone.
By Hannah Kelling
Our Getaway Weekend was the gift that kept on giving. Whether we felt ready to admit it or not, each one of us participants (and maybe our guides, too?) needed a break from the onslaught of the daily grind. Mothering, schooling, moving, and bounding over the hurdles of life in a seemingly endless routine had worn each of us down to a point where we didn’t really recognize ourselves anymore. That began to change when we arrived at the Lula Lake Land Trust on Thursday evening. Like it or not, we had to let go of that routine which was both demanding and comforting, tiring and reliable. We were blown away by a wonderful set of gear and then promptly set out for destinations unknown. Arriving at the overlook where (unbelievably) we would spend our first night, the demands of the “real world” started to fall away. We had no responsibilities beyond setting up our hammocks and being present for each other. We were asked only to listen, to laugh, to reflect, and to engage mindfully with the beautiful scenery and extraordinary company we’d been gifted. One by one, little by little… We let go. We allowed ourselves to be surprised. We lost control, and found adventure.
The weekend continued in a series of grand and little surprises. An incredible salmon dinner. A couple four leaf clovers. A rafting adventure on the Ocoee. A chance to read our nomination letters. You would just catch your breath, and then it would be taken away again by another incredible gift. We told each other stories, tales which seemed to illustrate exactly why we needed to be there. Stories of challenges and survival, sacrifice and generosity, loss and discovery. I grew to really genuinely love everyone. Chelsea for her good listening and kindness, Bridget for her vivaciousness and strength, Kristen for her generosity and gentleness. And our guides and hosts… How could we ever thank you enough? How could we ever put to words how much that meant to us?
Driving back home, I didn’t THINK much. My mind wasn’t occupied with trying to plan/control my future or ruminating on the mistakes of the past. For once, I was just wrapped up in a feeling. Something like contentment, but spiced up with real joy and playfulness. The feeling that I really was the luckiest person on Earth.
Welcome to the world Asher!
Welcome to the world Asher Philip Nolan! We were so blessed that Asher came into this world with us at 6:07am on April 9th weighing in at 9 lbs. 2 oz. and 21 inches long! Both mommas are doing great and we are falling more in love with our little man everyday.
Just celebrating being one month young Asher has already been to his first Women’s Mountain Bike Festival in Brevard, North Carolina. Momma Kate guided rides for ROAM – the only women’s mountain bike festival in the country. She along with guides Tiffany “Hutch” Hutchens and Meagan Shelter took so many rad women out on the trails over the weekend. We heard things like, “This was the best ride of the weekend”, “I’d ride with you anywhere”, “I did some things I never thought I could do today and I’m so proud”!
Momma Danielle stayed on the festival grounds and “womaned” the booth with the other vendors. Baby Asher definitely stole the show, making his rounds to the booths and getting to meet all the awesome people part of this amazing event. One of them being the co-author of the children’s book “B is for Bicycles“, Jannine Fitzgerald! She and her 11 year-old son were so awesome and we got our own book signed by her for Asher! #heartmelt
We were both lucky to be part of the event for its inception year last year and we look forward to being part of future ROAM experiences! Momma Danielle is recovery well from a natural delivery and is looking forward to getting out on the bike again soon. Momma Kate is going at full speed this spring and heading into summer. Our next big event will be guiding the Women’s Adventure Giveaway weekend, we can’t wait to take these women on an epic backcountry adventure next week!
Don’t forget we will be back in Brevard, North Carolina June 28-30th for the Campside Sessions Women’s Mountain Bike Camp. Get signed up today and use the code Shred25 for $25 off of registration – only good for Mother’s Day weekend only! See you on the trails!
Turns out being pregnant is an adventure all of it’s own, check out what adventures I was able to withstand during my pregnancy.
Baby Nolan is coming in less than a month and I wanted to take time to reflect and share my experience being pregnant while continuing to guide trips, run a business and live adventurously!
This is our first child so everything is new as Kate and I start to grow our family, and that starts from the very beginning. We chose to get our donor from a sperm bank and worked with the Midwest Fertility Specialists in Carmel, IN. I think I learned more about sperm, my vagina, and the women’s body in general more in those months than I ever have, it was a bit overwhelming but also so fascinating! The fact that we can grow a human in our bodies is something so incredibly amazing and Kate and I are so grateful to be able to experience this process together.
I broke down my pregnancy experience based on some of the adventures and trips I guided below. I hope if you’re a mom or want to start a family it can give you some insight on how to start or continue to live adventurously while pregnant. Of course every woman, every pregnancy, every day is different, I would love to know your thoughts in the comments about your pregnancy journey!
Recreating in the First Trimester
Looking back I think mine was pretty typical compared to other stories I’ve read. My energy levels were pretty low, I had nausea, I had to wake up to pee EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. During this time though I was teaching about 6 yoga classes a week, one was heated at 6am, luckily I never hurled during that class but it was close… I continued to ride my mountain bike, lead rides, coached clinics and led some backpacking trips as well.
One day Kate was driving and I thought I was going to throw up, she pulled into a CVS and got me these wrist bands for people who are traveling and have motion sickness. It looked like I was ready to do an 80’s work out video but it DID work! I felt better! This was probably around end of July or beginning of August so I probably looked a little ridiculous with my sweat wrist bands but totally worth it!
I led a private backpack trip for a group of friends that wanted to try it out. I was also training a new guide on this trip, it was August and the weather was hot and humid. It was still early in the pregnancy so we weren’t telling anyone yet even though I really wanted to tell these women, they were all high achieving ladies in the Indianapolis area, and most were moms.
We set up camp in the backcountry area, hiked to a beautiful lake, took a wonderful swim and made our way back. Two of the women were about to go on big adventures of their own and it was awesome to be together with them before the next big transition in their life, and little did they know I was embarking on one of my own.
I remember on this trip I knew I was dehydrated because I didn’t have to wake up and pee in the night. You have to drink way more water while your pregnant and since we hiked all day, it was hot, etc. I didn’t have enough, so I do remember thinking when recreating to make sure I’m drinking plenty of water, and of course it’s always good to drink plenty of water in general.
More Adventures in the Second Trimester
For me this started in September and went into December. Probably about week 15 for me I noticed I felt better, I didn’t have to eat saltine crackers and preggie pop drops to soothe my stomach. I did get some energy back but this was also a big transition time for Kate and I so I feel like I was still a little tired. We sold our house in Broad Ripple, moved into a rental in Brown County and had most of our stuff in a storage unit there. We also had a sold-out women’s mountain bike camp with our sister company Campside Sessions in Brown County in September and another in October in Virginia so we did not slow down to say the least.
I felt good but I was definitely being more cautious as a rider, Kate many times thought I was not being cautious enough! I listened to my body and when I felt good and confident I went for it.
One event we did was at the Brown County EPIC, a huge mountain bike festival at Brown County State Park, Kate and I teach a free mini clinic for those wanting to ride Hobbs Hollow, the first downhill flow trail in the park. The next day we did a long ride out to Crooked Creek and back. It’s a long ride in general and they open up more trails in the park and in Hoosier National Forest during this event and I remember being so tired, I had to drink SO much water again. I finished but I could tell that the baby was taking up some of my energy for sure!
We had another sold-out Campside Sessions mountain bike camp at the middle/end of October. I was definitely more cautious on my rides at this time, getting to coach while pregnant was super fun though. This camp was in Stokesville, VA which was so beautiful, it has some great rocky, rooty terrain with some steep inclines and really awesome descents. I did get tired more quickly on the ride with the coaches but still had some fun and even let myself get a little bit of air when I was super comfortable. We had a great time and I think it was inspiring for the women to see me out there getting after it too!
Right after this was about the time I needed to start unbuttoning my bike shorts as my rides would go longer! Since I mountain bike I almost always wear a shammy with baggy mountain bike shorts on top. I heard that bibs would be more comfortable for me but I ended up buying some cheap bigger padded shorts that were on sale and was able to ride through with most of my regular shorts through trimester two.
After October I then got to lead with my wife and another one of our guides, Candice Baggett an amazing women’s backpacking trip in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area in November. It was pretty cool since over the summer the last time Candice and I did the trip to scope it out I had just gotten inseminated, but it was too early to know if it had worked. Here I was now 20 weeks into pregnancy on the same trail with a bunch of rad women, it was awesome! I felt great and at that time if you didn’t know me it might have just looked like I had too much ice cream LOL! Although I was starting to realize the extreme lack of pregnancy or maternity clothes for hiking, backpacking, or outdoor adventurous women in general! I could have worn my other pants with snaps but over time the belly bands would get annoying to me and almost all my pants I really liked had snaps so I couldn’t use the maternity waste bands that go into buttons.
Over all the second trimester was great, I can see why it’s usually considered the “favorite”. After feeling nauseous, tired, waking up to pee in the night, and extremely painful breasts and nipples, the second trimester was a breath of fresh air!
Living Adventurously throughout the Third Trimester
For me this started at the end of December, what a ride it had been so far! Kate and I closed on our new home in Nashville, IN the weekend before Christmas. We were officially Brown County residents, the same place we had gotten married just 3 ½ years ago and about to expect our newest addition to the family. After our last big trip of 2018 backpacking it was nice to have some family time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, this also gave us some time to move in and get settled. Although I think we’ll be settling in for a while, seems like there is always something to work on with a new house!
Our Indiana winter was not that forgiving this year. We as well as most of the rest of the country experienced the polar vortex with the extreme negative temps. The one thing I had going for me was that my body temperature was higher so that was been nice to be able to walk outside and feel good even with the colder temperatures!
I definitely started taking it a little easier in the winter months, naturally as our bodies should. DNK Presents always lead free monthly hikes and bike rides in and around Central Indiana, this program is also growing with our Ambassadors expanding throughout the U.S. and Canada. Kate led a New Year’s bike ride in Brown County State Park and it was great. We had the perfect snow weather for riding, we did the ride over the weekend so it was during the day and we all loved it. I was unsure how I would feel about riding in the snow – it can be very slippery but when I got out there I felt confident and comfortable so I just kept going.
We led our first Wild Women’s Hike of the year at the Stone Head Conservancy, and we had an awesome turn out. We focused the hike on new goals and aspirations for the year and many people had really inspiring goals to share, one woman had been diagnosed with cancer 6 months prior and opted to get outdoors instead of taking treatment and was doing great, another woman had lost 80 lbs. after suddenly losing her brother the year before, the exercise she started doing was hiking. I shared that my goal was to have a healthy, happy baby.
As far as my body since the weather was colder I was not doing as much longer outdoor activities so I still felt really good as my belly was growing and growing. The peeing in the night started up again and my breasts we sore again but it seemed not as bad as the first trimester maybe because I was used to it more now?
Usually this time of year Kate and I get to play out West or like last year I was in Guatemala leading a yoga retreat so this year I knew I wasn’t going to get a taste of any warm weather since I was in the “no fly” zone now. With our move it also didn’t work that we take a trip before I went into my third trimester too. Kate did head out West to Sedona, AZ for our annual women’s mountain bike camp and then stayed the following weekend to coach for Ryan Leech at the Sedona Mountain Bike Festival. Since I had had a healthy pregnancy and after discussing it with our Midwife we were all comfortable with her leaving for almost 2 weeks as I was in the 35-37 weeks of pregnancy!
The weekend she got back we had our baby shower which was super fun. At 37 weeks and 5 days I went on Kate’s women’s bike ride in Brown County State Park, I wasn’t sure again how I would feel but again I started riding and felt really good with my knees hitting my basketball sized belly as we went up and down the hills of Brown! We rode the North Gate Connector and North Tower, most of the other trails were closed due to rain and mud. We went on about a 6.5 miles and had an absolute blast, we were all tired but felt good taking a nice ride after a long winter! Now I will say during the ride I felt good, the next day I was teaching a yoga class and giving a Thai massage and I was sore! My sacroiliac (SI Joint) was really sore but after a day of stretching it and exercises I felt much better. I may have slightly over done it but it was worth it, you can’t beat getting out early spring when the weather was nearly 70!
During the third trimester of bike riding I will say at this point I had to move on to my GORE WEAR bike shorts, they were the only pair I had with an elastic waste with build in shorts that I loved! I wore a belly band on this ride because the shirt I wore wasn’t quite long enough for the the big baby belly. It also kept me warmer but I will say half way through the ride I took it off!
I’m officially over 38 weeks now so I have a full term baby inside me, we had a final ultrasound to confirm head was down, fluids, placenta, etc. and yes all systems are go! The ultra sound tech said she estimated about 7 lbs. 4oz. this could be off by 7 oz. either way but yes that’s a nice sized baby in there!
We had another 70 degree day and Kate and I got out to hike a beautiful trail where our March Wild Women’s Hike is located, Browning Mountain, it’s at 928 ft. which is pretty mountainous for Indiana! It’s a steep incline, you go up about 400 ft. of elevation in less than a mile but the view and scenery is totally worth it.
The Next Big Adventure – Preparing to Meet Our Baby!
These final weeks we’ve been preparing for our home birth! We’ve got packets of birth kits for our Midwife and her assistance, the Aqua Doula is set up close to our laundry room, we’ve got just about everything we need for our new baby bundle to arrive so soon!
You can tell from reading this that I mention my wife Kate a lot. I can’t imagine going through this without her or having someone to help with the hard days. I am SO lucky to have such a great partner in my life, we are so excited and ready for this next big adventure in our lives.
This week I’ll be at 39 weeks so I’m wrapping up my adventures for this blog now in case baby arrives, but I will update afterwards for sure. I wanted to wait as long as possible so I could share my entire adventure experience while being pregnant. I really have enjoyed carrying a child, I’m so grateful Kate and I get to bring in a new wonderful life into this world and share our love of adventure and the outdoors with them.
Meet our 2019 summer Adventure Guide Intern Abbie Downes! Read below to learn how outdoor challenges and adventures has impacted and changed her life. We are so excited to have Abbie join the DNK Presents team this year!
What is your name, where do you live. What do you do for a living?
My name is Abbie and I currently live in Bloomington, Indiana! I grew up in Indianapolis, so my whole life has been spent in Indiana discovering what the Midwest has to offer.
Currently, I spend my days as a student at Indiana University studying Outdoor Recreation, Parks, and Human Ecology. I left IUPUI in 2017 to move my life an hour away so that I could study the outdoors and how to encourage people to reap the benefits of the natural world. I hope to use my degree in outdoor recreation and passion for lifestyle wellness to expose people to a simpler, more meaningful life.
How has the outdoors impacted your life? Why do you believe it can do the same for others?
The outdoors has given me a space to center, reset, and gain perspective. Looking to the metaphors supplied by taking a closer look at nature has always made me feel a little more grounded and optimistic. For example, understanding that we are creatures of the earth and work in cycles just like the plants that thrive in summer and are dormant in the winter. Nature has taught me to be more gentle with myself as we go through our own seasons too. I want to share this with others because I believe we all have that innate connection to nature that needs to be nurtured. A brief step outside can alter the entire course of your day as it restores attention and gives the space to find perspective.
Could you share a story about the outdoors that has taught you something about yourself?
I was involved in a program called CORE (Conservation Outdoor Recreation Education) at IU in the spring of 2018. It was an intense program that I did not feel prepared for at all that focused on all types of outdoor recreation and leadership training. I was the girl that enjoyed sitting outside and observing my surroundings, not the adrenaline junkie ready for anything. However, it felt like a challenge I needed to face.
One of the learning components was focused on rappelling and climbing. I was definitely most fearful about this trip and imagined myself becoming paralyzed in fear at the top. We travelled to Southern Illinois to Giant City State Park and prepared to rappel the next day. To my surprise, I volunteered to be one of the first groups to go down. Once at the edge, my instructor guided my movements and I put all of my trust in him, myself, and my gear. I slowly started moving my feet down the rock and figured out the coordination involved with the ropes and how to position myself. My mind was so focused on the technique that I wasn’t even thinking about where my body was in space. My feet made it to the ground and my heart was racing.
That night I kept thinking about how I didn’t give myself the time to overthink and allowed my body to perform. I later realized how many things that I have told myself to be afraid of, ultimately giving into the fear and overthinking. Who knows how long it would have taken me to come to this conclusion if it weren’t for this opportunity to learn it on the side of a rock wall. About a year later, I still think about that and try to intervene in those thought patterns when they come up and question whether they serve me or not.
What is your first significant memory of the outdoors or nature in some way?
When I think back to my childhood, I don’t remember having a substantial passion for the outdoors until I was in high school. This was the time that I began daydreaming about mountains, traveling, and how the Pacific Northwest was obviously the only place that I would be happy (spoiler: wherever you go, there you are). Once I graduated high school, I took a trip to Bozeman, Montana to visit a friend. While we didn’t get up to anything too adventurous, I experienced altitude for the first time and cried when I saw Bridger Bowl from the window of the passenger seat. It felt like I was home and that was my signal to keep pushing on with my interest in the outdoors, wherever that led me.
Why do you feel it is important in today’s society to get outdoors and disconnect from technology?
From what I have gathered from friends, strangers, and everyone in-between, technology has a hold on us that we aren’t necessarily comfortable with. However, it has become so engrained and second nature that it can feel almost impossible to distance ourselves from it. It’s a great tool, if we use it correctly and aren’t slaves to it. The outdoors is the perfect place to leave it behind, spend time looking up at the world around us, and connect with our deeper selves or the people joining us. Technology has given us a mindless, constant distraction we can retreat to any time we don’t want to be alone with our thoughts. Finding peace, being mindful, and working through our issues is so much easier when we create the space for our inner wisdom to shine through. We hold our truth and the outdoors assists those truths with coming to the surface when we are getting back to the natural connection we all have with the earth.
What is your favorite outdoor gear?
One of my biggest comforts during CORE was my pair of down booties. A few people had these in the beginning and I thought they were incredibly silly and a waste of space. I accept that I was wrong. By the time expedition came around, I grabbed a pair and never looked back. Everyone knows the joy of putting on those fresh socks at the bottom of your sleeping bag at bedtime, but it’s worth experiencing the added delight of slipping into down booties. Treat your feet, they’ve gotten you everywhere you’ve been.
Does unisex or women’s specific gear make a difference for you?
I don’t have too much of a preference, although I usually like men’s gear color options more than women’s. A lot of reviews I’ve read mention how women’s gear color choices are always bright pink, purple, etc. and many women would prefer gender neutral colors like green, blue, and orange. I typically stick with women’s gear, assuming that it is built better for my body. There are times that I look into other options when the women’s gear isn’t fitting my needs.
Why do you feel it’s important to get more women specifically outdoors?
The beauty of the outdoors is that it can benefit anyone that takes the time to set foot in it. The outdoor industry is heavily comprised of male athletes, guides, and adventurers. Women absolutely have a place in the outdoors as well, but may feel intimidated to try new activities that are typically dominated by males. We feel like we belong when we see people we identify with doing those things. This goes for race, gender, economic standing, and more. By creating spaces where women are celebrated and events are made for them, we take away just one more barrier that may keep them inside. It is vital that as people in the outdoor industry, we make an effort to be as inclusive as possible so that we can share the gifts of the natural world with all. The outdoors won’t turn anyone away and we shouldn’t either.
Don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting outdoors.
Since our company is based in Indiana many times people ask us what we do in the winter, “we don’t stop!”, we say with a smile. The winter season is one of our favorite times to recreate! Your outdoor activities don’t have to end when the weather gets cold, here are some reasons to keep your outdoor activity going all year long.
1. Fewer people
Enjoy going to some of the most beautiful places in the winter when the crowds are lower, you can see a whole new side of the trail with the winter snow or ice and by enjoying some solitude with fewer people there.
2. No bugs
Leave the bug spray at home, you won’t need it this time of year! In the Midwest we know our summers can get pretty muggy, and it’s only a matter of time until we get that first bug bite or see other creepy crawlers like spiders and ticks. Enjoy this time of year when the bugs are gone!
3. New winter sports
There are so many fun outdoor sports to try in the winter like cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, ice skating. If you’re not into trying out a new winter sport you can always go sledding down your favorite hill and of course you can hike and mountain bike all year round too!
4. Feel the burn
In many cases you actually burn more calories in the colder winter weather rather than in warm or hot weather. Our bodies are working harder to keep warm increasing the metabolic rate and if there’s snow on the ground that acts as more resistance whether your hiking, trail running or mountain biking. So get out there and feel the burn! Don’t forgot to hydrate just as much if not more in the winter and if you’ve been sweating get indoors quickly after working out to avoid hypothermia.
5. The snow is fun
From snowball fights to making snowmen or snowladies, what’s not to love about playing with the white stuff! The picture below is us with our homemade snowman and snow bike while we took a break on our last winter mountain bike ride in Brown County State Park.
We hope you enjoyed our list of why we love winter recreating, you can check out what winter events we have coming up on our website here: https://dnkpresents.com/events/.
Now we would love to hear from you! Why do you love getting outdoors in the winter months? Let us know in the comments and share where your next winter adventure is headed!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Danielle Wolter Nolan
DNK Presents’ 4th Annual Women’s Adventure Giveaway
Do you know a woman who is deserving of an empowering wilderness adventure?
Outdoor adventure company DNK Presents has opened nominations for the 4th annual, Women’s Adventure Giveaway taking place in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. DNK Presents will select four women to win a free, 4-day, custom adventure. Owners, Danielle and Kate Nolan will guide the trip, taking place the weekend of May 16-19, 2019.
The four selected winners will disconnect from technology, experience a variety of new activities, and empower themselves through the great outdoors. Each winner also receives a prize package of exclusive outdoor gear from national and local sponsors. In addition, a select team of inspiring, leading women will join the adventure trip as special guest activity facilitators.
“We are so excited to be expanding the Women’s Adventure Giveaway to Chattanooga, this area has so much to offer in terms of outdoor recreation and we can’t wait to take the winners on an exhilarating life changing adventure,” says Kate Nolan.
DNK Presents is actively seeking nominations for this unique experience through February 28, 2019. A woman must be nominated on the DNK Presents’ website to be considered for the Women’s Adventure Giveaway. Nomination submission details and information about the event are available on the DNK Presents website.
If you are interested in sponsoring or involvement with the DNK Presents’ Women’s Adventure Giveaway contact Danielle@DNKPresents.com for details.
DNK Presents organizes and guides empowering adventure experiences for individuals, groups and businesses. They focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, try something for the first time and in turn gain confidence through experiential learning.