My Outessa- REI Summit Experience

I am a very firm believer that whatever you put out into the universe will come back to you.

Call it positive thinking, karma, faith, optimism, whatever…..  BUT this was not always the case for me.   I was a girl that used to always see the glass half empty.  Now I always see it full, with a few spills here and there.

So early in the year, when I had heard and read about the first Outessa Summit, I just put it out there…..

“WOW, I would really LOVE to go.”

Financially, I knew it would not be a possibility unless a miracle happened.

And it did….exactly 3 days before the first summit being held in Kirkwood.

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Karla Amador, the founder of the #52hikechallenge , contacted me via Instagram.  She said she was sharing my story at the Kirkwood event and asked me if I wanted to go if she could get me a ticket.

What’s a girl to say??…..”YESSSSSSS” of course.    I told her, I would drop everything to be able to participate.

Within 12 hours, I was registered and choosing my courses for the 3 day event.

Because it was so last minute, plane fares were expensive, so I drove up by myself …… a 7 hour car drive.     I was happy for the time alone, as I had just lost my good friend and mentor, Jill Cohen,  to this dreaded disease I have.

The next 3 days were full of fun and adventure and even some challenges.

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REI and OUTESSA surely did out do themselves when it came to bringing together a wide variety of sponsors.  The swag was unbelievable from daypacks to yoga mats, there was so much goodness.

The Initial Swag from check in.
The Initial Swag from check in.

I roomed with three young women, I had never met in real life.  It was great getting to know them, and how passionate they were and are about the outdoors; Karla the co founder of the #52hikechallenge, Shanti, the founder of Hike It Baby and Stephanie, a young woman, who loves and lives where ever the wind blows her.

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Our schedules were full every day…. here is a sample of mine:

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I participated in  everything from early morning meditation,

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To wilderness survival.

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The shelter, my group had to make with materials given….a tarp and some rope.

I tried my hand at rock climbing.

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Getting pointers from my REI instructor

Which I was NOT good at, at all…..but I would do again.

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To hiking an alpine lake with other amazing women.

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Karla. She made this happen for me. So grateful.
Our hiking group to Emigrant Lake. So beautiful.
Our hiking group to Emigrant Lake. So beautiful.

All of the instructors were flown in from various REI’s around the U.S. and they were ALL amazing, awesome and encouraging.

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I came home, motivated to challenge myself more, and to become a bigger voice for middle aged women,   and also the metastatic cancer community on how much outdoor activity can help in one’s healing and thriving.

There were not very many women my age at Outessa.  And while I did take the beginners rock climbing class, 80% of the other beginners were already rockstars in other outdoor sports such as skiing, and mountain biking, trail running……  you know.   I could just not keep up with the already young physically athletic and disciplined, even though I wanted to so badly.   Plus time was a factor as well.  We did a 6 mile hike up to Emigrant Lake, at an altitude of over 7800-8600 in less than 3.5 hours at a pace that for me was “rough.”

The outdoor community has focused most of their marketing on the demographic that resembles the mid – 20’s to maybe early 40’s, if that, while generally  dismissing us middle aged women, who really are at the prime of our lives and should be enjoying the outdoors like never before. (maybe just slower and with a little more caution)

All in all, I had a great time and I would do it again for sure.  I am so very grateful for those who extended me the gift of attending.

And I am crossing my fingers that OUTESSA will be back next year and I will be packing up to attend again.

Love and Adventure,

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