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.
Kate and I founded DNK Presents because of the impacts the outdoors has had on our lives.
Arianna Huffington was the keynote speaker at the Indiana Conference for Women a couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of attending the conference and later getting her book, “Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life One Night At a Time” signed by her in person! That moment will stay with me forever but more importantly will the many nuggets of wisdom Arianna shared with our community that day.
“75% of healthcare diagnosis in this country is preventable,” Arianna preached to us.
She went on to break that powerful statement down. Only 25% of the reasons people in the U.S. go to the doctor today is because of a pre-existing condition, telling us that 75% of the reasons we see a health care provider are actually PREVENTABLE! This was a huge lightbulb moment for me.
According to WebMD the top five preventable health problems today are, in order, obesity, diabetes, tobacco, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. More information can be found from the article here: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20170424/the-top-5-conditions-that-shorten-americans-lives—-and-are-preventable
Kate and I founded DNK Presents because the outdoors has had an incredibly positive impact on our lives. Being out in nature, trying something new in the outdoors and unplugging was and still is something that helps us overcome the obstacles we face in our personal and professional lives today.It has also tremendously improved our overall physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. We felt that getting more people outside could help others and we wanted to build a business with that same mission.
Turns out it wasn’t just something Kate and I thought, it is also proven by science and backed by countless accredited studies and research, and now also reigns true by many DNK Presents’ adventurers! You can read about the impacts of the outdoors from one of our favorite authors, Florence Henderson from her book “The Nature Fix“.
Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, and while many of us shared posts, blogs, stories, etc. We feel that mental health isn’t just something we focus on for one day but every day, every moment of our lives. We have found that if it’s something we can focus on each day we can instill positive change in our lives and those around us.
At DNK Presents we know the importance of mental health and the impact it has had on us and our adventure participants. One of the ways we give back today is through outreach with great organizations like The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). We are extremely lucky to call our Indiana representative, Kelsey Steuer a great friend, fellow adventurer, and fun fact Kelsey was actually our 1st year Women’s Adventure Giveaway winner – see her shining light face on our website and on the Live Adventurously website here: https://www.liveadventurouslyfilm.com/
If you want to learn more about the AFSP please visit their website for a list of all their resources and services: https://afsp.org/
Make sure to speak with your trusted health care provider about your mental health and well-being. Whether it includes the outdoors or not we hope that you make mental health a priority for yourself not just today but every day and every moment of your amazing life. We wish you the very best this fall season and hope to see you on the trails!
“When we prioritize our well-being, everything else in our life gets better, including our products, including our performance at work, including our success.” – Arianna Huffington
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, call 911, or go to your nearest emergency room.
Get your hiking boots for this super chill backpacking adventure this summer! This is a beginner backpacking trip perfect for getting a taste for what backpacking is like or dusting off your hiking boots and getting back outdoors if you haven’t been in a while and of course meeting some amazing women! Lead guide Katy Williams will guide you along the Low Gap and Tecumseh trail to the backcountry area, you will set up camp, then hike to Bear Lake and learn about filtering water in the backcountry. You’ll hike back to the backcountry area, make dinner by the campfire that evening and learning more about taking your own backpacking adventure.
Total miles hiked during weekend about 10 miles along the Low Gap and Tecumseh trail.
Backpack food provided Saturday evening and breakfast Sunday morning. You will need to have had breakfast before arriving and pack a sandwich for Saturday afternoon!
DNK Presents can provide on a first come first serve basis:
Tent (shared 2 person)
Backpack 65 liters ***We are now out of backpacks for this trip
Cookware including fuel
Gear list and recommended clothing:
Tent or hammock
Extra batteries (for headlamp)
Camp stove, Jet Boil etc.
Pan or pot for cooking
Camp stove fuel
Matches or lighter
“Mess kit” i.e. plate, bowl, fork, spoon, knife
Instant coffee packets or tea if you need this
Snacks/Extra food (standard fruit i.e., apples, oranges are NOT recommended because they are heavy and there is waste, trial mix, granola bars, etc. are better)
Extra clothes, layers (dry fit, wool or technical – cotton is NOT recommended because once it gets wet it stays wet)
Swim Suit (suitable for lake i.e. not your brand new one!)
2 filled water bottles (64 oz. total) or water or hydration bladder filled (2 liters at least)
Gators (for shoes – optional)
Trekking poles (optional)
Bathroom “kit” another zip lock bag, or dark zip lock bag, wipes, hand sanitizer, trowels will be available
Baby wipes or face wipes
Zip lock bags for small items
Large Zip lock bags and/or plastic bags for carrying out your trash
Camp shoes (cheap pair of flip flops to wear when we get to the camp site area)
Hiking boots (highly recommended)
Rain Gear (jacket, poncho, rain pants)
Band-Aids’, other First Aide items you may need (DNK has First Aid Kit)
We ask that you carry any medications you may need. Please notify us of any known allergies, medications or medical conditions your guides should be aware of.
Danielle Wolter Nolan FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Outdoor adventure company, DNK Presents announces their 2018 Indiana Women’s Adventure Contest winners, Myra Ansley, Emily Faurote, Mindy Weaver-Flask, and Rose Tillison. These four women were selected from numerous nominations from across the state of Indiana to win a customized free four-day exclusive backcountry adventure. Founders of DNK Presents, Danielle and Kate Nolan will guide the adventure, taking place May 17-20, 2018 in Indiana. The four contest winners will disconnect from technology, live off the grid, and challenge themselves with new outdoor activities. In addition, a select team of inspiring, leading outdoor women will join the adventure trip as guest facilitators.
“We are beyond excited for our 4 contest winners this year and can’t wait to hit the trails with the ladies this May,” remarks Kate Nolan.
Danielle Wolter Nolan exclaims, “The Women’s Adventure Contest is one of our favorite events; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for women to be completely unplugged, try something new, meet other inspiring women, empower themselves, and build confidence through the great outdoors.”
The DNK Presents’ Women’s Adventure Contest is supported by national and local sponsors including, Rusted Moon Outfitters, KEEN, The Bike Line, Trek Bicycle, ENO Hammocks, Alps Mountaineering, Shredly, Bitchstix, Big Woods Brewery, Oakley, Skinny and Company, E.A.T., Central Restaurant Products, Enviro-Max, and more!
DNK Presents organizes and guides empowering adventure experiences for individuals, groups and businesses. They focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, trying something for the first time and gain confidence through experiential learning. Their adventures include mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing and yoga retreats in and outside of Indiana.
DNK Presents produced and directed the award-winning film, “Live Adventurously” (www.liveadventurouslyfilm.com
Hopefully you are all getting your hiking shoes broken in and muddied up so far this year! Join us for a fun hike in the beautiful Ft. Benjamin Harrison State Park on the east side of Indianapolis. We will hike and explore the awesome trails in the park, give you more information about hiking, camping, and backpacking while getting to know other outdoorsy women in our community. If you are signed up for one of our adventures this year this is a great way to get ready for your trip or learn more about what adventure experiences DNK Presents’ offers. We hope you can join us this April!
9am Meet inside Ft. Ben State Park (exact location given closer to event)
9:15am Hike begins
~11am-ish Hike ends at your vehicle
*There is an entrance fee to get into Ft. Ben State Park $5 for in state residents and $6 for out of state.
Hello adventure seekers! Come out to the Speak Easy in Broad Ripple for a casual evening to meet the amazing DNK Presents Guide Team! We will talk to you about some of our upcoming trips, give you a chance to personally meet your guides, and we will share some outdoor adventure secrets with you. Some former adventures will also come to share their experience on a DNK Presents trip. Come for a fun meet and greet night and leave feeling inspired to take on your next big adventure!
We have 4 main focuses of our adventures and they are listed below. We are working on incorporating more water activities on our adventures like canoeing, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding. We are also in our third year of the Women’s Adventure Contest which is a long weekend filled with multiple activities like backpacking, mountain biking, yoga, and other surprises. We will probably be offering another long weekend that is open to the public for people to sign up for called the Live Adventurously weekend. We hope to see you Thursday Feb. 8th and on an adventure this year!
The Venture Out Project
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.
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!)
Do your fears overcome you, or do you overcome your fears?
One of the reasons Kate and I started DNK Presents was because of our love of adventure, and we know there is a direct correlation with the challenges we have faced in the in outdoors and the success we have had in our professional careers.
Fear is the unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, or may cause pain to us. As humans we fear a lot of things in our lives, objects like spiders, snakes, heights, and non-object things such as, asking for a raise, public speaking, and failure. Some people may never overcome their fears, but many times in order to move forward with our life we MUST overcome these fears to be successful and reach our goals.
Signing up for your next adventure is one of the ways you can overcome your biggest fear, and transmit that into your personal and professional life. Check out the list we put together below and start living your next adventure!
Adventure is FUN!
While you’re busy worrying about your biggest fear at home or the office you could be out living your next adventure, whether that’s taking a hike in your favorite park or white water rafting the Pacuare River in Costa Rica. Sometimes you need to step away from what is haunting you in order to see it from a different perspective.
Reconnect with NATURE
According to Everyday Health, (http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression-resource-center/how-nature-helps-depression/) spending time outdoors is a key component in the evidence based treatment called, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which encourages the human body to accept things in life that make people fearful or uncomfortable. Being in nature instills more mindfulness, and makes you more at ease with your worries and fears. So get outside, take some deep breaths, and THEN think about a new career, and take a walk on the wild side.
Not relying on TECHNOLOGY
A recent study done by Kleiner Perkins Caufield, says the average phone user checks their device every 6 minutes or around 150 times a day. Image NOT checking your phone for a day, but rather using your well powered brain to figure out your next move by following trail blazes and reading maps. Psychologists from the University of Utah and the University of Kansas conducted a study and that showed individuals scored 50% better on a creative test after spending four days in nature. http://www.zmescience.com/other/outdoor-activity-problem-solving-14122012/
This proves that those who spend time in nature are better problem solvers because of the ability they have to make conscience decisions without relying on technology.
According to the Forbes article, “Take a Risk: The Odds are Better Than you Think” by Margie Warrell, expert motivational speaker and best selling author, we as humans are innately risk adverse, it’s much easier for us to stay in our comfort zones, not speak up, or going along with change.
But if no one took risks we wouldn’t have most things that have been vital to the advancement of our economy and human race. I’m not suggesting jumping off bridges or diving into something without weighing your options. You should definitely do your research before partaking in an offer or decision that is presented to you, but remember there is sometimes a greater risk in not taking one at all.
Fear what FEAR?
Taking on an outdoor adventure for at least 48 hours will make you realize your biggest fear isn’t so big after all. Overcoming challenges in the outdoors will prepare you to take on just about anything that comes your way. For example, taking a wrong turn on your mountain bike, leading you to the black diamond portion of the trail, it was scary and you may have felt worried and fearful at times, but guaranteed you’ll never forget the experience. These experiences change the way we approach situations that occur in our daily life.
Now, you have 5 reasons to take an adventure to overcome your fears! Hopefully it will let you see your fear with a new perspective, advise you to weigh the positive and negative risks, reconnect with yourself through nature, and most importantly have fun by living life adventurously!
How have your overcome a fear in the past? We’d love to know! Let us know in the comments below or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.