Where the forest grows: Lauren

For this week’s feature, I chose a woman and good friend named Lauren. She’s raw. She’s authentic and she makes you want to be a little more of those things. She’s never satisfied with small talk. Her laugh comes easy and sweet and I hope you enjoy her just as much as I do.

Bio: Dreamer, counter cultural, Wife, mom to a three year old son who loves trucks and playing in the dirt more than Disneyland itself, doula, non-profit initiator, bold, a breath of fresh air.

(She dreams of one day starting a non-profit. She says she sees that everyone wants to help others, but sometimes we just don’t know how. Her goal is to find those who locally need help in her own community, and connect those who can help to provide whatever these people may need, whether it’s food, job access, housing through websites that tell their story to the world. She dreams of being the network, not just her, that can change people’s lives for them.)

1. What is your favorite adventure story you love to share when swapping stories with friends over a cup of coffee?

A few years ago, my husband, my brother, his wife and I did 5 days on the Pacific Crest Trail. We went from the Mexico-California border to Laguna. I remember after day one we were so exhausted and the sun was beginning to set, so we decided to set up camp for the night. Being so prepared, we rented tents for this trip and never practiced setting it up like everyone recommends that you do. Why would you need that? We’d soon find out.

As we began to set up, we realized that the main pole that holds the tent together was broken and there was no way that the tent could without it. As the boys worked to solve this problem, we began to walk around the campsite so we wouldn’t continue to freak out a about our lack of tent. As we are walking around, I noticed something buried in the dirt beneath our feet. I kicked around the dust to investigate what was catching my eye. I had found a tent pole, exactly the same size and shape as our broken rod back at camp! How does that even happen in the middle of nowhere on the PCT?

 I came back into camp with this rod slung over my shoulder, so proud to show them what I had found! We slid that bad boy in to finish the tent, ate my favorite trail food, ramen and tuna, and that pole travelled our entire journey those next 4 days saving the day.

I carried that pole each day in my pack, proudly sticking out the top! Actually, I have it today on display in our house, and surprisingly, no one ever asks about it. I just love that story because it’s just too good to be true.

 2. Why is getting outside important to you?

Most places, I get outside to get away from the crowds and the busyness we so easily have in the city. I go outside and travel to most places because I want to keep pushing myself into situations I can’t control. I don’t want time to go by and I look back and see that I was stagnant and nothing ever changed.

But then, there is Yosemite.

You see, Yosemite has always been somewhere completely different for me.

The first time we went was after our first year of marriage.

This was the first time I had moved out of my parents house and we had moved into a whole different city where I had no community. It was a tough year full of so many changes at once for me.

When we arrived at Yosemite, this place where El Cap towers before you, it was the first time I felt like I had a breath of fresh air that year. Growing up in a small town, you can easily feel like a big deal in the world, but being in Yosemite with misty waterfalls spraying in your face, I was awestruck at how tiny I felt in this majestic place that surprises you at every turn.

Every time I come here, it puts me back in my place gently, and reminds me of how much bigger the world is than just me. It makes me see beyond this small town bubble that feels so safe and puts in a craving and vision for the whole world.

Other times, we’ve come to Yosemite and the land is completely different than the last visit or the visit before. I remember going during a record snow year where the landscape was different than I had expected or ever seen there before. But this time instead of feeling small like I had every other time, I felt big and as though I completely mattered in this large place. I felt it was everything I needed in that season and I could feel that these snow packed views were for me. You see, this place is constantly changing, maybe a little bit like I want to be. It seems as though every time I make the drive through those towering trees, whatever I was lacking meets me there, right exactly where I am.

Really I go outside and I want to relax, I want to breathe, I want to put my feet up and drink a good beer. Don’t you?

3. What is your favorite thing that being outside hiking, camping, exploring, traveling, or whatever you love to do, brings out in you?

When I am outdoors I feel like a different person. I feel braver. I feel like I can be anything that I want to be. When I am outside my normal day to day routine and I am camping under the stars with my favorite people, I feel like my normal self is gone. I am free to assume the person that I ultimately want to be one day.

I remember first getting married and being in that city where I knew no one. I remember going out by myself and asking, “Who do I want to be today?” I think being outside is like that. It’s the place where I can test out that person I desire to be without that pressures of what that could be. Maybe that’s why it feels like I am breathing fresh air when I am out there.

4. What is your number one “you must visit this place” recommendation?

Yosemite. I am sure you could guess that. I have this friend who I threaten constantly that if she moves back to Jersey without ever going to Yosemite, I will be mad at her. Just go. It’s not about a certain trail, waterfall, or even just the camping. Its about being there in such majesty of the place.

5. Anything else you want to share with women in the outdoors or who are thinking of going outside?

Just go. Give it a try to get outside. You may not think it’s you or that you’ll enjoy it, but I promise you that almost everyone finds something that connects to who they are and whatever season they may be walking through. Remember, the trees, the stars, this beautiful world seems to just meet you exactly where you are, so go give it a try.

Isn’t she great? She makes me realize all those moments that being outside met me exactly where I was. Whether I needed a quiet meadow that forced me to be still, or powerful waves that pushed me to be braver than I ever thought I could be.

Thank you Lauren for your stories. From our stories, our honesty, our words, this is WHERE THE FOREST GROWS…

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