So, you’ve grown up pounding pavement but, for whatever reason, recently you’ve heard the call of the wild and it’s time to get out and about. Perhaps you’ve moved to an outdoorsy community like Boulder, Colorado or Portland, Oregon. Perhaps, you’ve noticed how sexy outdoorsmen can be and you wanna get a closer look. Whatever your motivation, going from a city gal to a wilderness badass is no piece of cake, but this list will get you on your way in style.
From Gucci to Gear
If you’re serious about becoming a wilderness woman then you’re gonna have to invest in some serious gear. Last time we checked, Gucci and Louis Vuitton don’t make mountaineering tents or climbing harnesses, so you’re gonna have to trade these brands in for big names like Petzel, Marmot, Arcteryx, Moosejaw, Spyder, and Asolo. Don’t worry, you can still look good in the outdoors and, if you’re a sucker for status symbols, some gear will make you look like more of an outdoor diva than others.
Be a Bookworm
Read up on your outdoor activity of choice and become familiar with the basic lingo, gear, and the culture surrounding the sport. For example, if you’re gonna start rock climbing and mountaineering, you could pick up a copy of Freedom of the Hills. If you’re a backpacker and wanna learn about basic survival, 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive is where it’s at. Most importantly, read outdoor blogs (like this one…shameless endorsement).
Build Your Friend Network
When I moved from Indiana to Colorado 2 years ago, I had never touched a climbing rope, summited a mountain, or been on a ski slope. Now, thanks to the amazing network of knowledgeable and outdoorsy friends that I’ve met, I’m pleased to say that I’m now a proficient climber, avid hiker, and I’m tackling the ski slopes this year. Outdoorsy friends are invaluable: They’ll not only motivate your ass, but they’ll save your ass too, even if they still jokingly call you a “flatlander” or make fun of you when you don’t know the difference between ski bindings and snow board bindings.
Have Some Class
Classes are an awesome way to get into outdoor culture, meet people, and hone your skills. You can pay for them or try free workshops from retail stores such as REI or non-profits like the Sierra Club.
Clubs and Pubs
When drinking, I typically choose Pubs over Clubs any day of the week. However, when building my Wilderness Woman persona, I opt for both Pubs and Clubs. Pubs for drinking and socializing with fellow outdoorsmen and women. Clubs (outdoor clubs and Meetups, that is) for meeting new, outdoorsy, folks and going on adventures. The more you put yourself out there and into the outdoor culture, the more you’ll learn and the more wild you’ll become.
Make Time for Movie Night
Last year, I conquered the mountains of Colorado and the canyons of Utah by hiking fourteeners, learning basic survival skills, cutting my teeth in the Canyonlands for a canyoneering adventure, and taking up sport climbing. But, this winter, I’m dedicating my time and money to all that is skiing. As such, my dirt bag ski buddies set up a movie night. Apparently, before I’m allowed to even look at a ski lift (which they are confident I will fall off of) I have to watch this film: Warren Miller’s Ticket2Ride.
Watching movies about the outdoor sport you’re gonna tackle is not only inspiring but it also gives a glimpse of what you’re getting yourself into.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
If you’re gonna become a Wilderness Woman, you’re going to have to spend some money. Pure, plain, and simple. But, never fear, you can build your gear collection slowly and be sure to read this article on how to build it for cheap. Not sure where to start? Every good Wilderness Woman needs a durable knife, firestarter, backpack, hiking boots, and water bottle or reservoir.
Build Your Community
Along the same lines as finding outdoorsy friends but taking it a step further, building a community of outdoorsy folks means that you introduce your ski friends to your climber buddies. You invite your hiking friends along for your mountaineering trip and you immerse yourself in the culture and community of the wild. Go to climbing competitions, plan epic trips, set up a Facebook Group to organize outdoor gatherings. Having a community gives you the benefit of always having some trusted buddies to party on with in the outdoors.
Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect…But it Sure Does Help
When I decided to take up rock climbing, I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me: My upper-body strength was laughable and “graceful” is a word you will never hear my friends use when describing my outdoor skill. However, I was willing to invest my time and sweat. I started out in the gym, trained for 4 months, and then (finally) climbed outside. It was quite the personal accomplishment. That being said, if you want to be a Wilderness Woman bad enough, you’ll put in the practice and the time. Plain and simple. Keep in mind, no matter how hard you train, blunders still happen; so always observe safety precautions and it might not be a bad idea to invest in health insurance. Seriously.
Never Give Up
I’m not the fastest or most daring hiker. I’m not the most graceful or skilled climber. And I have a feeling I’m gonna singlehandedly make “falling” a sport on the ski slopes this season, but if there’s one thing I will say for myself it’s that I don’t give up. The first time I went mountain biking, I fell three times (once on a cactus). The first time I went canyoneering, I took a very scary fall and got my hand caught in a belay device (that shit hurts). But you best believe I’m going back for more. When it comes to the outdoors, the old adage or “nothing ventured, nothing gained” rings true. And I can promise you one thing, the first time you summit a mountain, climb a 100 foot rock wall, or descend into a mighty canyon you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and strength you never knew existed.
So be relentless, be fearless, be adventurous, and, above all, be wild.