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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Do You Need to Do Scarier, Riskier Things Outside?

Navigating Personal Growth & Social Validation in Outdoor Recreation

Venturing into the world of outdoor recreation is an absolute thrill! There's something incredibly exciting about the process of learning and growing along the way. As we dive deeper into our favorite outdoor sports and become more connected with the outdoor-rec community, it's pretty common to feel the weight of social expectations creeping in.

Sometimes, we can't help but feel the urge to fit in and be embraced by our outdoorsy friends. We might feel the need to up our climbing game, tackle those intimidating double black ski runs, or plan bigger, badder, riskier adventures to earn our place. And it’s totally normal to feel that pressure! We’re social creatures, and fitting in with the group has real safety implications, especially for folks with marginalized identities. 

It's really helpful to be mindful of how all these pressures can affect us when we're having fun outside. We want to enjoy...

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What I Learned about Body Liberation from Chrissy King

A couple of years back, we invited Chrissy King for a conversation with our cohort of Ski Babes. Chrissy is a fitness trainer, author, and thought leader, and she had so many amazing insights to share.

Chrissy’s work centers around body liberation: she literally wrote the book on it

This summer, we’re having Chrissy back to lead us in a book club on her new book! Summer Strong members will get the chance to read the book and share reflections in community, and then we’ll have Chrissy join us for a live session to debrief all we’ve learned. 

 

If the term Body Liberation is new to you, body liberation means that we are inherently worthy because we exist. It seeks to liberate us from the time, energy, and harm that comes from trying to “fix” our bodies, when in fact we are not broken at all. It recognizes that our bodies aren’t the entirety of who we are, but our bodies are what enable us to have this human experience.

Body...

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Float & Hike: 10 Day Trip on the Tatsenshini, Alsek, and Yakutat Coast

A Fast and Fantastic Trip on the Tatshenshini & Alsek Rivers

The Tatshenshini–or “Tat” for short–is an epic journey starting in Canada’s Yukon. From there, you float and paddle downstream on the Tat through the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park, merging into the Alsek River, and ultimately ending up in Alaska’s Glacier Bay area.

Along the way, the river carves through pristine wilderness. Getting permits for this long, international trip is one of the most competitive permits to land, and it’s not hard to see why! In fact, this is the only float trip in Alaska popular enough to even require permits. Between the towering mountain ranges on either side of the river, the many glaciers alongside, and the icebergs floating through the river, the scenery is unforgettable.

We were lucky that some very motivated friends of ours navigated the permitting process and the itinerary logistics, meaning we could just tag along. Taking turns with the...

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Podcast: Mindset, Perfectionism, and Resilience in the Outdoors

Replacing Self-Doubt and Perfectionism in the Outdoors with Compassion and Inclusion

I recently joined Jacalyn Gross on the Women Empower Active podcast to chat about our outdoor stories and mindset reflections. The podcast is a production of UR Sportswear, a running apparel brand for women. Jacalyn and I had an open and honest conversation that we hope will normalize the messiness of each of our outdoor journeys.

Jacalyn and I focus on different outdoor activities in very different environments–she’s primarily a trail runner in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m a skier, backpacker, and nordic skater in Alaska. We had a great time chatting about the themes that are common to both of us, and we bet you’ll relate to our stories, too.

We focused a lot of our chat on how mindset matters in the outdoors, and what a difference it can make for our experiences. We talked about the power of community and our hopes for inclusivity and acceptance in outdoor spaces. Plus,...

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How to Prepare for the Backcountry: Strength and Mindset Training Tips

Tuning up our bodies & minds for the season

Winter is here and many of us are spending as much time as we can playing in the snow and the mountains! As we move through this winter season, let’s talk about how to tune up our bodies and minds for the season, too. Taking good care of yourself isn’t just something to practice in everyday life. We can bring self-care into the mountains too.

Taking time for cross-training both before and during the season can make your days on the mountain so much more enjoyable! Training helps us prevent injuries, keep up with our friends, and have more fun outside. But it can be hard to know how to adequately prepare for winter sports - especially for the backcountry. In this post, we’ll walk you through some simple exercises and mindset tips to practice.

We hope you use these moves and concepts to build your mind & body strength for this winter season! 

Training for Strong Winter Bodies

Let’s start with some simple...

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Titration in Practice: A Backpacking Trip in the Baird Mountains

Alaska’s Baird Mountains

For the last several summers, my husband Luc and I have been taking three-week long outdoor backpacking trips through the wild parts of Alaska. We look forward to this time as a way to both restore our spirits from our busy lives and connect with each other. These trips are a foundational piece of our relationship and a time we both cherish.

This past June, our big backpacking trip took us through Alaska’s Baird Mountains where we did some hiking and paddling. We had some magical moments plus some big learnings.

Planning Our Trip

Right off the bat, we knew this trip would look a little different from our past summer trips. As we’ve been navigating fertility challenges, I wasn’t sure how my body would feel when the trip came around. We knew we needed to build a lot of flexibility into our trip plan.

To stay adaptable, we designed a basecamp-style trip. This way, we could flex the total mileage and intensity of our trip depending on how...

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Podcast: Having Fun and Managing Stress in Winter Sports

Why Outside Challenges Like Harsh Weather Can Feel Bad and What to Do About It

Amy Bushatz and I love to talk about cold weather! A couple of months ago, I joined Amy on her podcast, Humans Outside, to talk about cold weather layering. If you missed it, here’s what we talked about last time and where to listen.

We wanted to continue our conversation on cold weather with another episode! This time, we took a different angle, focusing specifically on the emotions of cold weather. Have you ever noticed how stressful outdoor adventures can feel in the winter? Amy and I sure have. 

Learning to have fun outside in the cold weather is a practice, but there are a few tools and tricks we’ve found over the years. Through this conversation, we hope to spark some ideas for your own time in winter wonderland.

Like me, Amy also lives in Alaska. She started the Humans Outside Challenge, which creates structure to help folks spend at least 20 minutes outside for one full year. Amy...

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How to Practice Self Care: Winter Wilderness Adventures

Self Care for the Winter Season

Taking good care of your body and mind is important in both everyday life and our outdoor lifestyles. Self care is an especially important concept for winter, when sometimes our mood and energy level can drop. So what does that look like? Here are four tools for wilderness lovers to practice self care this winter.

Tool #1: Using Titration to Grow without Overwhelm

Titration is one of our most important nervous system concepts here at Mind & Mountain. It’s originally a term from chemistry, but when applied to the nervous system it means adding challenge slowly, in small, and manageable doses. Picture adding liquid one drop at a time into a beaker: that’s titration.

Like a chemical reaction overheating or bubbling over, doing too much too fast can flood our nervous systems. When our brain gets flooded, it literally changes how it functions: the rational part of our brains shut down while our fear and survival zones kick into high...

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