You Need a Reintegration Protocol: Adjusting after Wilderness Trips

Returning From the Wilderness Can Be a Big Adjustment

Sometimes, the hardest part of wilderness trips or vacations isn’t the challenge of hiking or long plane rides, it’s getting back home and adjusting back to regular life afterwards. 

Each summer, I take at least one long trip into the Alaskan wilderness. After about three weeks in nature, coming back home to the city often feels jarring. For many years, I struggled with reintegration from the wilderness back to my regular life. The first few days always felt awkward, sometimes even frustrating. More recently I’ve been noticing this after other intense experiences, like a week of nervous system training. Can you relate?

Whether you’ve been on a long wilderness trip, a retreat, or a vacation, it’s totally normal to feel a mix of emotions in the first few days of your return back home. It’s also totally normal not to feel able to jump right back into your routine at full speed.

This...

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Backpacking, Packrafting, and Swarming Mosquitoes in Denali National Park

Denali Backpacking: Mosquitoes and Memories

Every summer, usually in June, I take a two- or three-week wilderness trip with my husband, Luc. It’s one of our favorite traditions and always gives us quality time and good stories.

In June 2023, we set our sights on the northern part of the Alaska Range in Denali National Park. This was a multi-sport, point-to-point trip including backpacking and packrafting. We planned an epic trip with three different phases, each with their own beauty and challenges.

We started out with a treat: walking down Denali Park Road.

A Rare Window: Backpacking Denali Park Road

In summertime, Denali Park Road is usually hopping with buses. Park visitors board buses to travel the mostly unpaved 92-mile road through the interior of the park. It’s an incredibly scenic route and often rich with wildlife–it’s popular for a reason! For the last couple of years, the second half of the road has been closed due to a landslide. For backpackers...

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Podcast: Cross-Training for Skiers and Aging Gracefully

Cross-Training for Skiing, Channeling Healthy Aggression, and Women-Centered Spaces Outdoors

I recently sat down with Jen Gurecki of Coalition Snow for a juicy chat (hah!) on the Juicy Bits podcast for an episode we called Wisdom & Wellness. We covered so much ground, from learning to ski as an adult, to aging gracefully, to cross-training for winter sports, and lots more.

Jen is a winter superfan and the CEO of Coalition Snow. Over at Coalition Snow, they sell winter sports gear and other merch, plus lead group outdoor trips. Jen and her team have created a fantastic niche in the skiing and snowboarding community, and I’m happy to have an ongoing relationship with them. Jen has even joined us for Ski Babes workouts!

One of the topics we loved most is unpacking the norm and pressure in skier culture for skiers to go as hard as possible and constantly push themselves physically. We poked at why we don’t subscribe to that mentality, and the importance of joy and mental...

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DEI for Small Business: How Affinity Groups Create Community

Affinity Groups at Mind & Mountain

One of the core values in running our small business is belonging and inclusion in our community spaces. We want every single Mind & Mountain client to feel welcomed, seen, and able to bring their full selves into their experience.

We exist in a world that values some identities over others. For example: male, European heritage, able-bodied, and wealthy identities will be prioritized and thus have more power and control in our society. These are the foundations with which our society was built, and the business, fitness, and outdoor rec worlds are no exception. Understanding and acknowledging these power imbalances enables us to identify what safe spaces are missing and how we can empower more people. 

At Mind & Mountain we use Affinity Groups for our clients to connect with others who share aspects of their identities. While we’re always learning and improving, we’ve seen a ton of success to date with this approach...

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Preventing Knee Injuries: Checking Your Risk for ACL Injury

Overcome ACL Risks and Boost Outdoor Resilience

As outdoor enthusiasts, injury is one of the hardest things we deal with. Being sidelined and missing out on a season of your favorite activity is heartbreaking! We would know: as a teenager, I tore both ACLs within a couple of months of each other! Those injuries were devastating at the time, and took a lot of work to come back from. 

Among skiers, ACL tears are the most common knee injury. And they are especially common among women.  

The good news is we have tools we can use to understand how likely we are to injure our knees. Armed with that knowledge, we can make smart decisions about how to train to reduce our risk. Of course, there's no way to guarantee remaining injury-free. Life happens! But we can stack the deck in our favor, and that’s powerful.

What follows is an assessment of your personal ACL injury risk. Knowing what your weak points are can be scary, but with that information, we’ll be able...

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How to Shift Seasons Gracefully: Coming Down from a Busy Summer

From High-Energy Summer to Cozy Fall

Up here in the northern hemisphere, summer alread passed us by and fall and winter are moving in fast! Especially in northern latitudes like Alaska, temperatures and daylight hours are dropping quickly… we even have frozen lakes and ice skating season underway!

We’ve talked before on the blog about the concept of “wintering,” including how the colder, darker season has inherently different energy and emotions compared to summer. But sometimes it can be hard to let go and flow with the seasons.

Summer is a very high-intensity season, which means it can be fun for a while, but isn’t sustainable. 

Especially in the high north like Alaska & Canada, the long daylight hours and short summer season lends itself to a fast pace & pressure to make the most of the light. Fall sometimes feels like that feeling of stepping off of a moving walkway and onto regular ground — a bit jarring and hard to prepare...

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Embracing Diversity in the Mountains Through Art

Discovering Mountain Sports

This is a guest blog by Mind & Mountain friend Mayhsa Deol. Mayhsa is a second-generation Indian immigrant who is passionate about outdoor sports and inclusitivioty in the outdoors. 

Read on for more of her story:

Coming from a non-outdoorsy, Indian family, getting involved in mountain sports has been a steep uphill learning curve. I got involved in mountain sports my senior year of high school. I had played soccer competitively for much of my life, but chose to not play in college, and was eager to find a new sport to devote my attention to. Through friends I tagged along with, I began dabbling in a myriad of outdoor sports ranging from climbing to trail running to mountain biking. I still remember my first experience mountain biking fondly. A friend from my soccer team offered to take me on a ride on our local mountain’s beginner xc mountain bike trails, and I eagerly agreed. Despite how hard it was, I knew I had found...

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Journey Above the Clouds: A Kilimanjaro Adventure

Embracing Adventure & Scaling New Heights

This is a guest blog by Mind & Mountain friend & team member Vanessa Chavarriaga. Vanessa is a Colombian, mountain athlete, environmental sociologist & outdoor advocate.

Read on for more of her story:

As a child, I'd gaze out of airplane windows and dream of slipping among the clouds, imagining them as perfect mattresses or trampolines. The wonder of those shifting clouds gradually faded as I grew older, but it wasn’t until I began going on outdoor adventures and backpacking trips in my 20s that I allowed myself to dream again.

This past summer, I spent on an extraordinary eight-day expedition living above a sea of clouds. Together with Phil Henderson, an industry leader with nearly three decades of outdoor experience, we organized a challenging climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, choosing the Lemosho Route. In May 2022, Henderson made history by guiding the first all-Black team to the summit of Mount Everest.

My connection...

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Bikepacking and Personal Growth: Building Strength One Ride at a Time

Embracing Strength through Bikepacking

This is a guest blog by Mind & Mountain friend Oliviah Franke. Oliviah (they/she) is a biracial Cáhita person who is living on Dena'ina lands and works in Community Education for Native Movement. They are a cyclist, cat mom, gardener, and are very passionate about racial equity and community building. 

Read on for more of their story:Strength is a concept that is not entirely foreign to me, but physical strength specifically is something I never assumed to have. I have known that I have emotional fortitude; a stubbornness to persevere and thrive despite all odds. As a child in the foster care system for the first 6 years of my life, my mental and emotional strength was tested and strengthened time and time again, and even as I grew older and found security and love through adoption; life still demanded a certain strength of me. But it definitely wasn’t physical strength that I focused on building. Because of...

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Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Be: The Art of Goal Setting

Redefining Goal Setting in Outdoor Recreation

This is a guest blog by Mind & Mountain friend & team member Vanessa Chavarriaga. Vanessa is a Colombian, mountain athlete, environmental sociologist & outdoor advocate. 

Read on for more of her story:

I am a relatively new mountain athlete -- my childhood consisted of indoor activities and being teased for being the slowest one to run the mile in gym class. Read more about my childhood in the Vamos Afuera: Everyone Belongs on the Trails blog. The learning curve for skiing, ultra running, and climbing has been steeper than the trails themselves. The only remedy I have found for this is finding the support of a community of mentors who genuinely want to uplift my potential and help me grow.

I was fortunate enough to find mentorship, inspiration, and sisterhood in my dear friend, Dani Reyes-Acosta. Through our many climbs and runs I have learned that no one is capable of existing in this space alone, and we have...

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