This Big Wild World is happy to kickoff the “Find Your Adventure” series by introducing you to Allison, the founder and primary voice behind She Dreams of Alpine. Allison started her blog in 2014 as a place to share her adventures with friends and family as she made the move from Texas to California. With this transition, she found herself venturing into and connecting with the outdoors for the first time.
Fast forward to today, and her blog has transformed. It’s now a place where she and her boyfriend share all kinds of adventures and tips for outdoor-minded explorers. They write about hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, and adventure travel tips as well as advice for digital nomads and van life. But, her blog is more than just itineraries and tips, it’s about empowering readers to find their adventure. In her own words,
She Dreams of Alpine is really meant to break stereotypes and help people, and in particular women, be empowered to be as adventurous and daring as they dream of.”
Read on to hear about Allison’s journey to connect with her sense of adventure and how that connection has impacted her life.
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Find Your Adventure with She Dreams of Alpine
I used to be 0% outdoorsy, and now it’s my life. I really found myself when I moved to California and experienced what the mountains had to teach me. I want to pay that forward, and help make being adventurous less mysterious and more accessible to anyone who wants to give it a shot.
Honestly, it’s all about getting over those mental hurdles of “I could never do that”, or “I will never be good at that.” Once you start to embrace a mentality of “I’m going to give it a shot and do my best to push myself outside my comfort zone” so many doors open up, and you’ll learn so much about who you can really become.
What does adventure mean to you?
There’s no one-size-fits-all definition for adventure. Adventure, for some people, is spending a weekend camping. For others, it’s hiking in a new area or pushing yourself to hike faster and break a personal record. Solo world travel is adventurous too.
Anytime you push yourself out of your comfort zone or try something new you are being adventurous.”
It’s not good to compare your sense of adventure to others. There will always be people out there who seem to be “adventuring harder” than you are. Don’t miss the point of adventure by comparing yourself to what others are doing. Adventure is a means to self-exploration. Allow yourself to go at your own pace, get inspired by others, and grow.
Tell us about your first adventure! Where did you go and what did you do?
This wasn’t my first adventure, but it’s one of the first adventures that kickstarted me into what has now become my life’s passion of being outdoors.
I had just moved from Texas to California for a new job and was also recently going through a breakup. I didn’t have many friends yet, but happened to talk with a coworker one day who invited me on a backpacking trip to hike Half Dome in Yosemite.
I was tired of being a cautious and shy person so I decided to say yes, even though I hadn’t ever been on a backpacking trip before. With the packing list he gave me, I went to REI and spent almost my whole paycheck that month on getting gear for the trip. I was determined to find something in life that made me happy and that I could feel a part of. I guess I was all-in even before I knew if I would like backpacking or not.
Anyways, that trip changed the course of my life. I discovered I had a love for being outside, a love for backpacking, and I had finally found my “tribe.” From that point forward, I’ve spent nearly every weekend outdoors. I made friends at the local rock climbing gym, more hiking friends, was introduced to mountaineering and took my first solo trip to Thailand. It’s amazing what one invitation can do to someone’s life.
Is there any adventure that’s intimidating or off limits to you?
I try to be open to all types of adventures, even if I am intimidated by it, because being open to scary and unfamiliar activities is what has made me the person I am today. That being said, I do shy away from a few things.
I probably will never be a scuba diver or surfer. I’ve always had issues with my ears as a child and the ocean sort of intimidates me. Sailing is the one thing that has helped me bridge the gap with my fear of the ocean.
I also get a bit claustrophobic in caves. I prefer adventures that take me out into the open air and up into the vertical realm. However, when we went to New Zealand, we went on a 7-hour caving trip to the Glow Worm Caves in Waitomo. That’s an experience I will never forget.
I’m just more comfortable hanging from rope than I am squeezing in tight dark spaces.
What has connecting with your sense of adventure taught you?
Literally everything. I love this quote by Steve House, a famous alpinist and mountain guide. He says:
“Today, climbing has shown me a courageous strong side of myself, a beautiful bravery. Other days I’ve seen pitiful weakness. I’ve watched myself crawl, belly-flat, across a mountainous landscape of fear. Climbing has shown me that I am all of these things: strong and weak, brave and cowardly, both immune to and at the mercy of the fear of death, all at the same time. Risk is the fee to learn these lessons. The cost is not negotiable. It is a price that, for now, I pay gladly.” – Steve House
This quote rings home so well to me. There have been times when I’ve been out in the mountains, terrified for my life, wondering why the hell I’m even out there only to get back home after that trip and discover that experience has shaped me in an enormous capacity. That’s not to say that I seek danger when I go outdoors, but just that it’s going to be unavoidable sometimes and it has the capacity to massively impact who you are.
Adventure forces you to dig deep when you’re tired. It forces you to find bravery that you never knew existed. When you get back from the mountains or an adventure you’ll find yourself new. When you start to think “something is hard” you’ll think back to your time in the mountains and know that you’ve done more challenging things, and if you’re like me… it will make you smile.
Before I started being an active person outdoors, I used to think I wasn’t very brave or strong. Now I think about the times I’ve hiked for 26 hours without rest or been at the summit of some beautiful 14,000’ peaks here in California and I know how wrong I was. Adventure has helped me overcome those mind-barriers. I am brave and strong, and so are you. We all are.
What’s on your must-have gear list?
Oh man, depends on what you’re talking about. I have a blog post that goes into depth about the gear that I think is essential for hiking, but if I had to nerd-out here a bit I would say my favorite piece of gear is my Garmin GPS! Maybe it’s my engineering background, but I love data! I love to load up map files, plan my routes, export my routes and share them with others. I love being on a long backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada and at the end of the day understanding how much elevation and mileage we conquered.
I’m also a big fan of my Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Poles, my MSR Reactor Stove System, and my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad!
Do you have a favorite kind of adventure?
It’s very hard to pick just one. I like to call myself a multi-passionate adventurer because I don’t really consider myself “just a climber” or “just a backpacker.” Each season of the year I tend to do more or less of different activities.
In the winter in California, I focus on bouldering because we live close to Bishop, California where there is some world-class climbing. In the summer, I ramp up my hiking and backpacking because the snow is melting, the mountains are more accessible, and the weather is amazing. I pretty much hike and climb year-round though. If I was forced to only pick one, I’d probably pick rock climbing, I love rock climbing and bouldering.
What’s your dream adventure and why?
My dream adventure is to break free of the 9-5 desk job life and be a full-time location independent traveler! I want to climb in more places, hike to new summits, and see more of the world. So being a full-time adventurer is my ultimate dream adventure.
This is a big reason we’ve been focusing on building our blog this past year. We’re trying to find a way to turn our passion into a full-time gig. We haven’t quite figured it out yet, but we are working hard on that dream.
Other dream adventures of mine include hiking the Everest Base Camp Trek to the base of Mount Everest, exploring Iceland and Norway, going to Machu Picchu, hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail, rock climbing in Greece, ski-touring in Switzerland, going back to New Zealand to explore the South Island, seeing the world via sailboat… the list is endless! I guess you could call me a big dreamer.
What is one piece of advice you would share with a fellow adventurer?
Don’t wait for other people to start planning your life and future adventures. I see a lot of people not pursuing hikes, climbs, or dreams because they can’t find someone to go with them. Plan your weekend, start doing some solo travel and solo hiking, and get comfortable exploring on your own. More often than not you can find people to join you once you’ve planned a trip out.
In January I always make sure I think about my goals including the hikes I want to do and the climbs I want to try. From that, I make a rough plan for my year. I’ll often have a lot of hiking permits reserved by the time February rolls around, and have no idea who I will go with, but I’m usually able to find people or I go solo. That’s not to say you can’t change your plans and be spontaneous, but if you think someone is going to do the planning for you and help you realize your goals, you’re wrong. Better to have a plan and change it than to never make any plans. You have to be accountable for yourself.
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People sometimes ask me how they can get into rock climbing. I completely understand how limiting it can feel to try to learn by yourself, but it’s really not. Join a rock climbing gym, meet some people there and start hanging out with them.
Yes, it will be uncomfortable at first and you might feel silly and like you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s because you don’t! We’ve all been there! Every single climber at the climbing gym or outdoors started out not knowing anything about climbing. Rock climbers are the nicest people (in my biased opinion) and love to teach others. Sign up for some lessons with certified guides who can take you outside. Once you get your foot in the door, you’ll find more opportunities to go climbing.
Lastly, especially if you are new to exploring and getting outdoors, be open to saying yes to things that scare you and that you’ve never done before. You never know what will become your favorite pastime.