Archive by Category "Adventure travel"

winter recreating, dnk presents, live adventurously corporate retreats,

5 Reasons We Love Winter Recreating

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!

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dnk presents, outdoor wilderness guide, corporate retreats, adventure retreats, wild women, ambassador,

Welcome DNK Presents Adventure Ambassador Lauren Fields!

DNK Presents just launched the first Adventure Ambassador Program for people like you who are interested in building a community for more women, or gender neutral individuals to get outside and be empowered by the great outdoors. There is a vast gender gap of men vs. women but fortunately that gap is decreasing because of more organizations that are providing a safe space for women to feel comfortable and confidence outside. Ambassadors will build the outdoor community in their area by leading free open to the public hikes, bike rides, rock climbing, paddling, yoga or meditation experiences, and sharing events, and posts via social media. If you’re interested in building the outdoor movement in your area please contact us!

Welcome to the DNK Presents Ambassador Team Lauren Fields! Read on to learn about Lauren!

Who are you?

What is your name, where do you live. What do you do for a living?

My name is Lauren Fields and I live in northeast Indy. More specifically, it’s a plot of woods along Mud Creek between Castleton, Geist, and Fishers.

I work as a Content Marketer and do some light graphic design and photography. And I get to do it all from home, in the woods! I specifically work in the food industry, so most of my writing and photography are for recipes and cooking tips. I’m also freelancing to expand the types of projects I get to work on.

How has the outdoors impacted your life? Why do you believe it can do the same for others?

I’m my happiest self when I’m outside. Even more if I’ve just done something that makes me feel badass. I like to set adventure goals each year to keep adding to my experiences and expand what I’m comfortable with.

Being outside is like therapy for me. The fresh air helps me remember to breathe more deeply. It’s a reminder that I’m part of something bigger than myself, which helps pull me out of my head and evaluate my concerns more clearly. Being outside helps me remember that it’s just as important as an adult to allow freedom to play and daydream. I think a lot of my anxiety and stress comes at times that I’ve neglected my need to step away from to-do lists and just explore.

I think it’s common to feel overwhelmed with what is demanded of us every day. To spend time outside, especially with others, is a way of maintaining sense of self and direction among everything that’s going on.

dnk presents, corporate adventures, adventure retreats, live adventurously, wild women,

Could you share a story about the outdoors that has taught you something about yourself?

I’ve always wanted to do a solo backpacking trip, which I finally did this summer. I went to a place I’m familiar with – Red River Gorge – to ease my nerves of going alone. I had a terrible run-in with a forest officer on Courthouse Rock who saw my gear and thought I was camping there. I was only taking in the view before continuing on the trail to set up camp in the woods, at a legal camping spot. His verbal aggression and the fact that he wrote me a warning for something I wasn’t even doing really just had me frazzled. My solo backpacking was off to a terrible start. But I was encouraged by some friendly hikers who I made quick friends with, and their understanding helped me pull myself together.

By the time I was setting up camp it started raining. I was planning on trying my new wood burning stove, but I didn’t have any kind of fire starter and all the wood was wet. I was so hungry and my clothes were all wet, and all I wanted to do was give up and go to Miguel’s for some pizza. My irrational nighttime fears were setting in, and since I was having no luck with the fire, I walked back towards the trail to see what was making the noises I was hearing. I found some camp neighbors who were starting a fire, and when I asked what their secret was, they generously shared their fire starter with me. So I was able to cook my minute rice with shiitake mushrooms and had a warm meal after all.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of distant thunder around 5 am. I was planning to be back on the trail by 7 to beat the storm (which I was expecting thanks to the weather app), but it sounded like it was coming much sooner than expected. I didn’t like the thought of waiting it out in my tent, and I also didn’t like the though of it pouring down before I finished packing up. So I packed up camp faster and sloppier than ever. It was still dark and I was having a hard time finding my way back to the trail, but when I finally did, it felt like a major victory. But since it was still dark I was concerned about spooking a bear. It wasn’t until the sun started to rise over the gorge and the clouds had moved onward that I was able to shift my thoughts from fear of the unknown and instead to the excitement of starting a day this way.

I learned that my inner voice can be the most irrational when I feel unprepared. I may be quick to feel defeated, but to accept defeat means I would be missing out on the whole experience. Each moment where I felt defeated was followed by something up-lifting. I remember this story when I’m feeling defeated because it reminds me to shift my perspective and look for the encouragement.

dnk presents, live adventurously, wild women, corporate retreats, adventure retreats,

What is your first significant memory of the outdoors or nature in some way?

I grew up camping with my family and our friends, 5 families total. I remember being  young and playing in massive puddles on multiple camping trips. I didn’t recognize this importance until recently, but to me now, this represents not giving up on the adventure. Our parents could’ve probably scheduled a rain check each of those times. But maybe it’s more realistic to accept that conditions will only rarely be “perfect” and then we’ll make the most of it.

Why do you feel it is important in today’s society to get outdoors and disconnect from technology?

We live in a world where there is always something demanding our attention. And if we’re not deliberate about what receives our attention, we can easily be robbed of our time. I think this is why it’s so important to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. Because nothing is demanded of us outside.

If we open our attention to the way the moss grows on the rocks and the trees, or the way the birds are flying overhead – we are allowing ourselves to take part in the physical world around us.

dnk presents, live adventurously, wild women, corporate retreats, adventure retreats,

dnk presents, live adventurously, wild women, corporate retreats, adventure retreats,What is your favorite outdoor gear?

I mainly kayak, backpack, and I’m new with climbing. Buying specific gear for all 3 activities would cost more than I can spend. So my favorite gear is anything versatile that I can apply to different activities.

For instance, I use my backpacking pack to carry all of my climb gear to the crag. I really like the nice rope bags that are minimal and specific to climbing gear, but my pack is more than enough.

Also though, for one specific splurge, I really love Ice Mule coolers. I have the roll-top 15 Liter which floats behind my kayak or is carried by my significant other when we climb or hike (while I’m carrying the pack). Because I love to pack fresh food, and in the summer, a good trail cooler is where it’s at!

Does unisex or women’s specific gear make a difference for you?

I’m not sure if I have a preference. I think it depends on the item and availability. When I was trying on packs, I only tried on the ones built for women. If none of those had felt right, I would’ve tried a unisex pack. But with my sleeping bags, I bought unisex.

Why do you feels it’s important to get more women specifically outdoors?

I think it’s important for women to be among women. So we can help lift each other up and share our unique experiences together. Some of the burdens that we carry as women feel lighter when they are understood with no explanation. I mean, we have to worry about having enough menstrual products while climbing a mountain! If we have a group of women together, chances are one of us has an extra tampon. That alone is a benefit of getting more women together.

But deeper than that, I think there’s a certain level of empowerment when women are taking on something that has been male dominated for so long. It’s our way of saying We’re Here Too.

dnk presents, live adventurously, wild women, corporate retreats, adventure retreats,

 

Learn more about the Red River Gorge and things to do here: http://www.redrivergorge.com/

We are so excited to have Lauren as a DNK Presents Adventure Ambassador, we hope to see you on an adventure this year!

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dnk presents, period products, period, adventure retreats, corporate retreats, live adventurously,

A Woman’s Period Story from the Backcountry

Have your period with confidence on your next adventure and see what feminine hygiene products are best for you and your body.

It was my first real backpacking experience with my wonderful partner but not yet wife at the time Kate, we made plans to hike in Deam Wilderness, part of Hoosier National Forest in Central Indiana. The first night we drove down after work and car camped next to the trailhead so we could get an early start on the backcountry trail the next morning. We set up camp, had some veggie dogs over the fire and lay down under the star filled sky. Nestled in our tent we fell asleep easily.

The next morning we woke to the sounds of the birds chirping, gently waking us from a peaceful slumber in the forest. I quickly realized their was something else that was waking me up, I let out a sigh as I came to the realization that my period had decided it was real comfortable in the woods too– funny how it always seems so show up at those special moments in life! Luckily I had a stash of tampons in the car so I was prepared, until I wasn’t prepared. We started out on the hike and I ended up forgetting that tampon stash. Realizing this on our hike to the backcountry where there was no sign of any women’s hygiene products for miles and miles, what was I to do? Sit on a moss patch for the rest of the weekend?

That is when Kate said, “Why don’t you use the Diva Cup”?

Diva Cup? At first I thought she was referring to a Diana Ross megaphone. “What the hell is a Diva Cup?”

I was astonished at this product Kate was describing but had NEVER heard anything like it before, probably because women don’t talk about feminine hygiene products since it’s something still considered so taboo.

I ended up surviving my period in the woods and went home to our natural food store in town and bought my first Diva Cup and honestly my first few experiences were far from life-changing. We only have one bathroom in our Broad Ripple bungalow and Kate more than once had to run outside to pee in the backyard because I couldn’t get the damn thing out of my vagina. Feeling defeated I was leaning one foot on top of the toilet the other bending down trying to get a good angle; I had flashes of blood splattering across our white bathroom and shower curtain, or even worse, going to an urgent care and having a stranger digging the Cup out of me! Needless to say for me anyways there was definitely a learning curve. My advice; don’t be afraid to dig deep, the yogi squat position is your friend, and breathe. Also, there are different brands that are for different shapes because as we know ladies we are not all the same shape and size so please shop around when looking for your next moon cycle product. I’ve listed some more products below for you to check out.

 

dnk presents, period products, period, adventure retreats, corporate retreats, live adventurously,

 

One of the things I love about Diva cups or any type of period cup is how much waste I am now eliminating. According to the Diva Cup website the average woman uses 300-420 tampons/pads per year and spends $100-$225 on these items. Plus many tampons and pads contain harmful ingredients such as surfactants, adhesives and more, if this is harmful to the environment then why the hell are we putting these things inside our bodies?! Not to mention toxic shock syndrome.

Another super benefit I love is that now that I use the Cup my cycle is shorter, yes ladies it’s real and it happens to many women who switch from tampons to a Cup. Why? When we are shoving a condensed cotton tube into our vagina how exactly is that allowing our period to “flow”? Easy answer, it’s not, it is stopping the flow and not allowing our cycle to naturally release. When you use cups or other similar products your period literally flows out of you. I went from a 6-7 day period to a 3-4 day and many of my friends have also experienced this! Can we say life change?!

Despite the disruption that can happen when Aunt Flow decides to show up remember ladies having your period means we are healthy women, so let’s make the most of this time. Check out the links I have below on some of my favorite non-tampon moon cycle products that are more environmentally friendly, healthy, and safe. Let us know what your favorites are!

 

Diva Cup – http://divacup.com/

Me Luna – https://meluna-usa.com/

Ruby Cup – http://rubycup.com/

*There are several more, these are a few that me or my friends have used!

 

Other products we love:

THINX – https://www.shethinx.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIg4CugraG3QIVw8DACh0b0g4eEAAYASAAEgIPSPD_BwE

Go with the flow – https://animosa.co/go-with-your-flow-1/

 

What is your favorite period product? Why do you love it so much? Let us know so we can share with our outdoor women’s community!

 

Note: I am not an OBGYN nor do I play one on this blog. I am a wilderness guide, owner of an adventure company, DNK Presents, and avid outdoors-woman. I have tried a lot of period products in and outside the backcountry on many adventures near and far. I hope this article helps you whether you are taking your first outdoor adventure and have always wondered about what to do when your period comes or simply wanting to try and find other options for your feminine hygiene needs. #KeepBleeding #PeriodProducts

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Out There Adventures

Out There Adventures Interview With Elyse Rylander

I recently came across Out There Adventures and Elyse Rylander through the article published in Outside magazine a couple of weeks ago. I was so excited to learn that this company existed I contacted Elyse through the Out There Adventures website and asked if I could interview and share her story with our DNK Presents community. Being a lesbian owned adventure company in the midwest Kate and I love that Elyse’s business focuses on empowering LGBTQ youth through the great outdoors. Elyse also started the first LGBTQ Outdoor Adventure Summit, what is this you ask, you’ll have to read and find out! I hope you enjoy this interview and learning more about Elyse and her business.

  1. What benefits did the outdoors have on your life as you were growing up in the midwest and discovering your sexual identity?

The outdoors saved me. I was incredibly fortunate to have parents who placed emphasis on connecting with nature and spending time outside. From my first canoe trip down the Wisconsin River at four weeks old to family camping trips to weekends at the ski hill just north of our house, time outside instilled in me a deep connection to myself, my family and my place in the grander scheme of things.

This was furthered by my summers spent as a canoe and kayak instructor at Rutabaga Paddlesports Shop in Madison in high school and college. Rutabaga served as the launching point for my career in the outdoor industry, and also connected me to a number of women who have profoundly changed my life, including Mo Kappes who was my boss at Rutabaga and also at Adventure Learning Programs at the University of Wisconsin. I met Mo right as I began exploring my queer identity and she was the first openly gay woman I had the opportunity to regularly interact with. Mo became a mentor of mine (still is) and is the Chair of my Board of Directors.

As I have gotten older I return to wild places to find solace and to re-center myself. It is the one place in which I am able to be myself wholly and be freed of socialized constraints.

  1. What inspired you to take the big plunge to start your own outdoor LGBTQ business?

I always joke that I would up on this path as the result of a mix of youthful enthusiasm and ego, and if I’m honest a bit of naiveté of what it would actually entail to grow a non-profit…

But at its core I just wanted a place for other queer young people to be able to have access to the same opportunities to cultivate community and connection that I was given. I am not much of a believer in meritocracy and instead believe that privilege and opportunity are products of luck. We are lucky to be born of a particular race, class, region, etc. which breeds opportunity, and even down to our genetic makeup we are nothing but a roll of the die. From this perspective I believe deeply that when you are lucky enough to be given the tools to succeed it is imperative to take that luck and those privileges and create opportunities that share your luck and success with others.

So, my motivation has always been centered on the desire to create more opportunities for the next generation of queer individuals to connect with new experiences, create community and most importantly deepen their sense of self.

Out There Adventures

  1. What has been the biggest surprise as you have grown your business?

I am not a patient person, so those who know me would not be surprised to hear me say that the slow growth has been the biggest surprise, and also biggest frustration. I very much thought if we built it they would come in mass, but that has not at all been the case. I knew we’d experience certain outreach barriers, but seven years ago I did not fully understand the depth and breadth of these issues.

As a result, everything I have done since OTA’s inception has been an outreach mechanism. From the expansion of our programming regions to program partnerships to launching LGBTQ adult programs to organizing the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit, it has all been focused on trying to increase the number of conduits in to the industry and to these outdoor recreation and conservation opportunities for queer young people.

  1. Could you share a story of a participant of Out There Adventures and how the experience changed their life?

Over my years in the industry I have thus far amassed something like 100 field weeks and worked with thousands of people from an immense array of ages, backgrounds and abilities. So, after extensive research I have concluded that queer young people are the most fantastic demographic to work with. I have never seen with such consistency a group that is SO kind, compassionate, understanding and caring. It has been a privilege to work with every queer young person that has come through our program, and over the years I have had the ability to work closely with one of our program participants in particular.

Zander McRae came on OTA’s first ever expedition in 2015. We spent eight days sea kayaking and camping in the Central Salish Sea when Zander was 17. Because it was a small group we were able to do a lot of one-on-one connecting with the participants. After the trip he remained enthusiastically engaged in our programs and last summer we teamed up with NOLS to get Zander to Australia for a three week sea kayaking course (his first time traveling abroad as well).

The trip helped Zander find the confidence to re-route his life plan and he is now embarking on the path to become an outdoor educator and will be beginning a semester outdoor educator course with Outward Bound this fall.

Out There Adventures

  1. What is your favorite trip to guide and why?

I am a paddler through and through, so any trip on the water is preferred over land-based trips. My favorite OTA trips to instruct are our 5-8 day San Juan Islands sea kayaking trips. My favorite trips ever guided are multi-day sea kayaking trips in the Prince William Sound of AK.

  1. If you could go on your own adventure anywhere, where would it be?

New Zealand, hands down. I’ve heard the Milford Sound is very similar to the Price William Sound, and I figure I need to interrogate this notion for myself.

  1. What is next for Out There Adventures?

Oofta! That’s a big question! So much is next for OTA. We’re expanding our program operating areas and hope to be across the country by 2020. We’re growing our adult programs and our program partnerships to offer more and more ways to get OUT there, and eventually I’d love to be able to bring a seasonal offering to Alaska since a part of my heart will always be there.

  1. Tell us more about starting the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit.

Turns out that like starting a non-profit launching a conference is pretty darn exhausting, but also immensely exhilarating!

The idea for the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit came from attending and supporting other identity-specific events in 2017 such as the Women’s Outdoor Summit for Empowerment and PGM ONE. It made a lot of sense to offer a space focused on the issues more specific to queer identities as it relates to outdoor recreation and conservation.

The result wound up as nothing sort of astonishing. We would have been happy with 40 people and a few sponsors. Instead we had to firmly cut off registration at 140 and worked with over a dozen sponsors including The North Face, The Wilderness Society and the National Park Service.

Since the event it has been most exciting to hear about the connections and partnerships that have been made as a result. I’m very much looking forward to offering this space again this year, and also to be able to expand our offerings as we continue to strive to meet the diverse array of interests and needs of the queer community.

I’m also excited to see the ways in which it is helping to change the industry. It’s hard to ignore hundreds of folks coming together around this idea of queer outdoor equity, and we need to keep pushing the industry until they become far better at representation and engagement of this demographic.

  ###

Elyse (she/her) has worn many hats in the outdoor industry and education worlds. Since 2006 she has taken thousands of youth and adults on outdoor adventures all over North America, and during these adventures the interrogation of equity, access and privilege played a central role. In 2011 Elyse began her journey as founder of OUT There Adventures, a 501(c)3 dedicated to further bridging the gap between the LGBTQ community and the natural world. Along this path, Elyse has worked tirelessly to reduce outdoor access barriers for all members of the LGBTQ community. This has resulted in dozens of publications, presentations, interviews, trainings and program partnerships aimed at increasing queer visibility and further complicating the narrative of who goes outside and how. Elyse’s work has appeared in places such as the Rutledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies, in print and person at industry events such as Outdoor Retailer, and in March of 2018 Elyse was named a “Top Woman in Conservation and Environmental Justice” by ECODiversity Magazine. Elyse is also the co-organizer of the annual LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. Outside of her work, Elyse is known for her sense of humor best conveyed through perfectly timed message GIFs, and in her [rare] free time she can be found paddling through the central Salish Sea.

Elyse Rylander

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DNK Presents Mountain Bike Campside Sessions

A Letter From You, A Letter From Us

From A Campside Sessions Participant…

“I am generally an outdoorsy person; the military has exposed me to many things like rappelling, survival skills, navigating, etc, and I feel confident in my skills. Despite this, there has been one thing I’ve been wanting to do for a while that I haven’t quite gotten up the courage for yet: a solo backpacking trip. I’ve had plenty of hesitations about this idea for a long time now, but when I think about it, every single one of the excuses I come up with can be overcome easily. The main thing holding me back has been fear, and watching the film (Live Adventurously) you made about your first adventure weekend for the four women, I was truly motivated to conquer that and try this thing that I’ve never done before, for the first time. I just really felt that you needed to know about the impact you had on me, since you were talking about wanting to expand your impact outside of Indiana- you already have! Additionally, the film was beautifully done and really portrayed the magnificence of each of the women; I can’t wait to see what you guys do next.

DNK Presents, Mountain Bike, Campside Sessions

Working with the two of you (Danielle and Kate) Erin, Charlotte and Jenny was truly phenomenal. Each of you have such a presence. You are warm, encouraging, funny and solid leaders. Again, not only was I able to learn so much about mountain biking, but it was just so renewing to meet so many rad women doing really cool shit. Working with men all day, every day, can make you forget all of the powerful qualities that women bring to the table, and I am so endlessly grateful that I was able to witness all of them this weekend. Thank you so much for all you are doing.”

-Emily Wren Campside Sessions Mountain Bike Participant 

Mountain Bike Campside Sessions DNK Presents

DNK Presents Mountain Bike Campside Sessions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily’s words truly moved Kate and I and we wanted to share what she wrote to us with all of you. Kate and I love what we do and we are truly grateful for all the adventures we get to guide, people we get to meet, and the beautiful places we get to travel to. Being an entrepreneur is hard, being a woman LGBT owned business, and starting an adventure company in Indiana (something that’s never been done before) is even harder. 

I read an email from a fellow woman co-founder this week, Jen Gurecki of Coalition Snow, about her struggles as a woman founder. I completely related, and while I would love to stay it’s all fun and sunshine, it’s not, just like on an adventure some days things just don’t go right, the wind changes the weather picks up and it rains…hard and it doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to stop, you trudge through, carry on, and slowly the sun begins to peak through the trees. It’s on these trips or during these times of the week when things just don’t seem to work, we are tired, the to do list is never ending; but then the next day the sun comes out, we get an email from a participant saying that their experience with us changed their lives like the one from Emily above, we keep going, we keep moving, and we won’t ever stop. 

That is the only reason why DNK Presents is still here – because of YOU. We have fallen, we have made mistakes, we have had set backs but that is when we get stronger, we rise up and we will never ever ever give up. 

We hope you don’t either.

When you come on an adventure with us it will challenge you, it may be hard at times, it might even rain, but it also might just change your life. We hope that you leave feeling inspired, ignited and empowered to take on the world – however that looks for you.

Keep on adventuring,

Danielle & Kate

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The Venture Out Project

Interview with The Venture Out Project

The Venture Out Project 

Recently I found out about an amazing organization called The Venture Out Project. I was so inspired by what they do I asked if I could interview them to share their story with our readers here at DNK Presents and Live Adventurously. Being in the LGBTQ+ family and in the outdoor space, it has always been very important to Kate and I to provide an inclusive environment for our participants, especially when often times they are already in a vulnerable state being outdoors and trying something for the first time with people they are meeting for the first time. If you don’t feel like you can be comfortable about your sexual orientation that can make it even harder to want to try something new in the outdoors. Have you experienced this feeling in the outdoors or trying something new in another area of your life? We would love to hear YOUR story. I hope you enjoy the interview, keep on adventuring!
Venture Out Project
What is the number one way you feel The Venture Out Project (TVOP) is able to provide a safe space for the LGTBQ+ community?
Perry:  

The biggest surprise to me was how many folks have come on more than one trip.  When I founded Venture Out I thought it’d be the kind of thing where people came on one trip, learned some skills and then went to backpack on their own.  But what I found was that for so many folks, Venture Out was their only trans or queer community.  In many cases our participants may have had friends online, but many had never hung out with, or even met, another trans person.  People come back for a second, third, fourth or even fifth trip because they know that’ll it’ll be an opportunity not just to be outside, but to make friends and find community.

 
Travis:
Safety in numbers!  Being with other queer folks not only provides the collective safety container, but also, safety in our own bodies.  I know even for me, I feel safer and seen when around other queer & trans folks.
The Venture Out Project
 
What has been the biggest eye opener or surprise as TVOP has grown in what it is today?
Travis:
The biggest thing I’ve noticed is how many people have WANTED to learn how to backpack or break into outdoor activities, and just don’t know how to start or who to ask. And gear is often SO GENDERED.  Which is completely ridiculous.  We’ve heard so many stories at this point of our participants going to outdoor stores looking for boots or backpacks and being steered away from the “men’s section”, or the “women’s section” because of their perceived gender.  It literally makes no sense at all.
 
How did you become part of the TVOP family?
Travis:

I found out about TVOP in 2015 when a friend posted something about it on my Facebook wall.  Like “Hey look at what these queers in New England are doing”.  I’m originally from New England, but was/still am living in Portland, OR.  I immediately contacted Perry, the founder of TVOP, and asked I could lead a trip for him.  We agreed on a week long backpacking trip that summer on The Long Trail in Vermont.  There were three guides and two participants!

Six months later, he hired me on as his Office Manager and now I’m the Director of Operations.  We also now fill our trips to capacity (and even have wait lists!)

What is your favorite trip to guide and why?
 
Travis:
 
After every trip I lead, I declare “that was my favorite!”.  This is such a hard question – all of them are so emotionally powerful.
But I will say…this last summer Perry and I lead an experienced backpacking trip in Oregon.  It was originally supposed to be on the Loowit Trail around Mount St. Helen’s.  Due to Oregon having such an amazing snow winter last year (yay!), it was not clear of snow in time.  Instead we spent four days backpacking in the Colombia River Gorge – which is so incredibly beautiful.  The area we were in last July, is the same area that caught fire this fall and has since burned.  I’m so grateful we got to share this special area with folks.  The gorge will regrow, probably even more beautiful, but it will be some time.   On the last day of this trip, we crossed into Washington and summited Mount St. Helen’s – which is never NOT a profound experience.  This trip was an incredible one.
This upcoming summer, Perry and I are guiding a trip for those of trans experience in Maine – my home state.  We’ll be climbing Mount Katahdin, spending a few days in Baxter State Park, and then spending a few days in a small rustic cabin on a cove on a small Maine Island.    I have a feeling this will also raise to the top of my list of “favorite trips”.
Backcountry Venture Out Project
 
What have some of your participants gone on to do or said after a trip with TVOP?
 
Travis
This is such a great question.  Several of our past participates have actually gone on to become instructors for us!  Another one of our favorite participants lives in Texas and had never played in the snow before.  His first trip with us was a week-long Queer Winter Camp in Jackson Hole, WY.  He now regularly goes on skiing trips with his brother!
Perry:
 
My favorite story about a what a participant did after his trip still gives me chills.  This participants came on our queer ski trip in Wyoming.  He called me up a few weeks after the trip to tell me his story.  “When I came on this trip I was only out to four people in the world as trans.  I thought it was something I needed to keep secret. I felt scared and ashamed.  But on our trip, I met so many out and happy queer and trans folks.  It was really eye opening to me.  I saw the lightness with which you all walked through the world and contrasted that to the tension I felt from carrying this secret.  So after much thought I decided I was going to have a gender reveal party for myself.  I invited a bunch of friends over for a party and about an hour into the party I told them I was trans.  They were so welcoming, supportive and happy for me.  It feels so good to be relieved of this burden.  I could not have done this without TVOP.  Thank you for showing me what could be.”
Queer Youth Venture Out Project
What are you most proud of as an employee of TVOP? 
 
My proudest moments are spending time with Queer Youth.  This past summer, we put the youth fully in charge coming up with a plan to get everyone up the mountains.  Their care for each other was so pure.  To see them struggle, to see them negotiation and compromise, to encourage, and support each other.  It’s just incredible.  And then to hear them giggling at night is just the icing on the cake.  So proud to be an employee of TVOP and be able to create these experiences for queer & trans youth.
 
 
What is next for TVOP?
TVOP is growing!  We’re offering more trips, and as mentioned before, hiring past participants as guides.   This summer we’re offering our first “POC Centered” Classic Backpacking Trip lead with Mercy Shammah of Wild Diversity in the Pacific Northwest! We’re also expanding our ages on our Queer Youth Backpacking trips and have trips for both 12-14 and 15-19 year olds!  Another exciting new offering is a Nature Connection Retreat co-run by Tam Willey of Toadstool Walks taking place in Colombian River Gorge of Washington.
The Venture Out Project
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Winter camping

Guide to Winter Camping

Guide to winter camping

by: Scott Jackson

As the weather begins to turn and many peoples thoughts turn to Christmas and the warmth of an open hearth, for some people with a sense of adventure the worsening weather isn’t an excuse to forgo the outdoors. As the Scandinavians say “Ikke dårlige vær, bare dårlige klær”, which translates as “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. So don’t make the weather an excuse. With the correct preparations, skills, and gear you can have just as much fun camping during the winter.

Preparation

Planning to go camping in winter takes more skills and gear than your typical summer frolic in the woods. As such, your prep should be above and beyond to help ensure you have a safe and fun trip. It is a great idea to invite some companions, especially ones who have experience or specific cold weather skill sets, e.g., avalanche training, building snow shelters, etc.

Many preparation elements are similar to those you would do for a summer hike, such as route planning, leaving a trip plan with someone or checking the weather conditions. However, as the margins for error are so much smaller in more miserable weather, you should pay extra attention and go over your plans with your whole group two, three (or more) times to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Also, being able to recognize and avoid avalanche areas is a crucial skill, and we would highly recommend that your whole group receives training if you will be at or near any slopes greater than 20 degrees inclination. Indeed, taking a cold weather hiking or camping course may be beneficial in any event.

Winter hike
Hiker with snowshoes in winter

Gear

The first rule of winter hiking and camping is to stay dry and warm, so choose appropriate clothing that’ll insulate you, wicks moisture, dries quickly, is waterproof and breathable.

It is commonly acknowledged that you should be wearing three layers; base layer(s)* next to your skin that will keep you warm and wick sweat away from your body, middle layer which will act as insulation such a fleece shirt or jacket, and finally your outer layer which should be waterproof/windproof and breathable, so you should be thinking about a good jacket.

* in especially cold weather, consider wearing two base layers.

When considering your “big 4” items (Bag, Shelter, Sleeping Bag & Pad), you should look at whether your bag, pad, and tent are appropriate for the weather conditions and upgrade if necessary. You may also need to bring a larger bag than you usually would when you consider the extra gear you will need to bring.

A cold weather sleeping bag is more heavy duty than your summer one, and is often filled with down, has additional features like a hood and draught collars. You should select a bag that is rated for temperatures about 10 degrees F colder than what you expect on the trip. As most heat is lost to the ground when you sleep, be sure to bring two sleeping pads with high R-ratings (R-Ratings are how insulated the pad is). A common hack is to place a closed-cell foam pad on the ground and layer a self-inflating pad on top for maximum insulation

Look around for a sturdy 4-season tent – these are designed with sturdier poles that can support more weight (should you get a substantial dump of snow overnight), and are often double layered to provide extra insulation and reduce condensation.

At the camp

Choosing a site & Setting Up

As you reach your appointed campsite area, make sure you have set out early enough to get there with plenty of daylight left to set up. When choosing an exact campsite location remember the following:

  • do not set up on any ridges or other places exposed to high winds
  • do not set up directly under trees as branches can break
  • do not set up camp if there is a risk of avalanches

Once you have picked a spot, spend some time packing down the snow around your pitch areas. If you can, give it 30 mins or so to settle before beginning to pitch your tents. When pitching your tent make sure to set up the entrance, so it is at 90 degrees to any prevailing winds. Rather than using tent stakes, bring plastic shopping bags, loop the guys through the handles, fill with snow and bury them so only the tops of the handles are visible.

If it is going to be especially cold night, then build either a snow wall to protect your tent from the wind or pack up snow on your shelter from the base up – make sure you have someone on the inside pushing back against the snow, so it holds up. Once it has set this will provide extra insulation than just your tent alone.

Finally, dig out a pit under your porch (about 3 feet), so that you can sit down to comfortably take off your boots before entering the tent, plus it generates more space to hold the rest of your equipment.

Camp kitchen

If you are planning on camping in the same spot for several days or more, consider packing down and digging out trenches to create a table and benches set up to enjoy your meals. If you are just overnighting this probably isn’t worth it, but in either case, it is worthwhile bringing a smaller tent or tarp to give yourself some shelter to cook if the weather turns foul.

At cold temperatures, Liquid-Fuel stoves will perform better than canister stoves, and it is worth bringing a second stove as a contingency just in case the first one fails. Also, remember to bring extra fuel – cold weather reduces the efficiency of all stoves so you will go through more, faster.

One benefit of cold weather camping is the ability to bring boil in the bag meals which tend to be a bit more flavorful than your typical dehydrated meals. Thanks to cold weather these will be kept refrigerated (or frozen) during your trip.

Lastly, a few words when it comes to water on your trip. The first being, DO NOT eat snow! It takes a considerable amount of calories for your body to convert ice to water that it can use, and additionally snow and ice can be full of bacteria and microbes. Always, boil the snow first to kill off any bugs and to prevent yourself from expending energy.

When storing water, it is best to use wide-mouthed plastic containers so you can simply pour your hot (boiled) water into them, then flip them upside down and store them in insulated pockets. Flipping them upside down prevents the lid/drinking tube from freezing.

Bio

My Open Country is a 2 person campaign to try and get more people excited about the outdoors and wilderness. We believe life wasn’t meant to be lived behind a computer screen so we provide as much information as we can into one site, so you can spend less time planning and more time doing.

My Open Country

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Backcountry Women DNK Presents

The Wild Wild Wilderness

By: Anne McCarty

This October, 13 women and I decided we were going to heighten the bar of our limitations while doing something we love. Our adventure was in the ever beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest (http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4816.htm) just outside of Martinsville, Indiana and began in the Low Gap Trail Parking Lot and ended at the Fox Den Shelter at the end of the Tecumseh Trail. We set out on a trip that pushed us physically but relieved us mentally of our day-to-day stress.

Wilderness Women DNK Presents

Teamwork makes the Dream Work

Some of the group were veterans to backpacking while others, including myself, had not been on a trip this rigorous in a while or ever. Even so, everyone motivated and helped each other out when someone was struggling or couldn’t figure something out. At the beginning, most of us were strangers to each other coming from very different backgrounds and even different states, but by the end we were a dynamic and supportive (and also an exhausted) group of individuals ready to take on the world. This adventure was the epitome of having fun while learning especially since we were all wanting to learn for ourselves. For two days we learned about water filtration, leaving no trace behind, the basics of camping, trail reading, how to rehydrate/cook dehydrated food and most importantly about our mutual passion for the outdoors.

Backcountry Women DNK Presents

Disconnect to Reconnect

Going to the backcountry and not having cell service can be a bit daunting but we took every precaution by bringing first aid kits, having emergency contacts, letting the folks at DNR (MorganSF@dnr.IN.gov) know where we would be going and how many of us there were, and staying on the trail. Ultimately the benefits of not being able to check social media or email showed, in joking around, sharing advice to a fellow outdoorswoman, talking about goals and plans in life, the list goes on. Beyond that, you really tune into your mind and body which made conquering this 18-mile hike with 35 pounds on your back more than manageable.

Outdoor Women DNK Presents

Changed for the Better

A lot can happen in two days, and I think I can say for most of the ladies, their goals for going on this adventure with DNK Presents were met. I personally exceeded my own expectations having past injuries, and I couldn’t be prouder. I learned that you don’t need half of what you think you do; to bring a long flowy skirt and baggy shirt for the drive home; to be prepared for allergies you didn’t think you had to show up; always have some sort of measuring tool, to bring at least two large water bottles; that the word “bladder” is used frequently in the backpacking world and you can go further than you think you can.

Backpacking Women DNK Presents

We came. We learned. We conquered this adventure.

Check out the video summary of our wild wilderness adventure below, hope you can join us on adventures in 2018!

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DNK Presents Camping

Camping Hacks Series

By: Anne McCarty

Here at DNK Presents we are all about helping people discover themselves through adventure whether they are dogs trying new tricks or sticking to what they know. This blog series will be dedicated to bringing together campers far and wide to make sure they are safe and knowledgeable about camping!

Let it be light!

No lantern but need more light? No problem. Strap a headlamp to a water bottle or jug. If you don’t have a headlamp a phone’s flashlight set up under the bottle works just as well!

Light - Camping Hacks

Photo from Pinterest

Green with envy or red from Ivy?

It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with dangerous or irksome plants like Poison Ivy! Here is a helpful link for your convenience: https://www.thespruce.com/pictures-of-poisonous-plants-2132624

 

Sticks and Stones

Camping and other outdoor activities can be dangerous so being prepared with a mini first aid kit is the way to go!

First Aid - DNK Presents

Photo from Pinterest

 

Getting cold feet about camping?

A lot of times people worry about camping in cold weather so if this is something that worries you, have no fear! Something that is important is to take your shoes off when you get into your sleeping bag because it restricts the heat from your feet. Two options to keep your toes warm are bringing a heated water pack/bottle and if that’s not an option use what you have: your clothes! Stuffing your clothes by your feet will help keep your feet toasty!

 

Stay tuned for next week’s edition of Camping Hacks: Packing Hacks. Stay up to date on our trips coming up on our Adventures page. Don’t see something that fits with your schedule? Contact us for a private customized adventure for you and your friends.

Is there something you would like to see on our Camping Hacks series? Reply in the comments or email us at hello@dnkpresents.com, happy trails!

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Women's Backpacking DNK Presents

An Outdoor Weekend Adventure to Remember

By: Kati L Taylor
08/27/2017

 

In mid-August, a fun and diverse group went on the DNK Presents Wild Women’s Backpacking Overnight Adventure here in the beautiful Midwest. Several of the women had never been backpacking before. While some had been camping or “glamping”, most had not done an overnight trip for a while and it was a new experience for them to carry everything needed on their backs. Perhaps by the end of the trip some were questioning what they really need versus what provides comfort.

This weekend overnight trip gave women an opportunity to hike in the backcountry of both the beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Yellowwood Forest. The trip was structured and guided by some experienced women backpackers who want to share their love of nature with others. Meals, water filtration, and gear were provided, plus there was the security of knowing that the guides are trained to keep the group safe.

Being a women-only adventure makes these trips special.

Spending time outside, immersed in nature experiencing new things, brings out a different side to thoughts and how women connect with each other. Moreover, when you get a group of women together in the woods overnight, mentalities change, and conversation can be powerful and get intense!

There were two mother-daughter adventurers who got some quality time together. Two of the ladies were connected through a third friend but did not know each other. All three were young mothers. Another bold woman joined the trip solo, not knowing anyone prior to the trip. Regardless of their initial relationship, everyone worked together and became closer over the 24-hour adventure.

Wilderness trips prove to be great bonding opportunities, not only with each other, but ‘getting back to nature’ makes you more aware of yourself. After an energetic hike, several of the women realized an exceptional peacefulness in meditating by Bear Lake which set a more subdued mood for the hike back to the campsite.

No phone, but not alone.

Being in the backcountry means your phone basically does not work. With no reception a phone becomes only useful for the camera function and obviously there is nowhere to charge it. In fact, as the photo/video documentarian on this adventure, I may have been the only backpacker who intentionally left my phone back in the car.

While it’s comical now, at the time, everyone was concerned when the trip guide lost her phone. She was sure it had fallen out of her pocket at night near our campsite while gathering firewood. So the women teamed up to search through the darkness and find it. A persistent gal on the trip politely asked if she could search through the guide’s tent and backpack. Lo and behold, the phone was in her backpack the whole time. What a relief when it was found?!

This trivial happening, while it turned out well, was a great reminder that we need to disconnect. Having a great group of thoughtful, caring women on your team makes connecting easy even without a signal!

Leave no toothpaste… I mean leave no trace!

While trying to hang food in the tree overnight to avoid and racoons or other critters invading it, one of the ladies decided to use her toothpaste as a weight to get the rope over a tree limb. Long story short, it got stuck in the tree. With the intent of always leaving no trace on the trail, the group of women teamed up to get the toothpaste out of the tree. What an adventure it was! For more on this funny happening and to see what the women had to say about the trip overall, watch the video summary of the weekend’s adventures.

Mind the gap.

At the moment when this backpacking adventure had ended and the women were crossing the bridge to get back to their vehicles, a group from the Indiana Forrest Alliance was hiking in. These passionate folks were handing out brochures to raise support and awareness around an important issue in these exact forests where these women had just experienced so much.

Our state has plans to sell logging rights in this area where nearly 300 acres could be affected and thousands of trees could be logged if the deal goes through. This affects everyone and while the terms of the agreement may be vague, preserving our Indiana natural resources is for a greater good.

It’s important to preserve Indiana’s beautiful forests for the health of our planet, the wildlife that lives there, and for ourselves–let everyone forever enjoy the natural beauty! Please consider contacting Governor Holcomb and urge our state to stop logging the forests.

 

For those who have never been backpacking, or want to experience it again, consider a trip. Indiana has some beautiful outdoor spaces and amazing trails to experience. Disconnect, decompress, experience something new, and enjoy the natural beauty around you.

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