After much buildup and planning, Bobby and I finally sent it to the Dwan Light Sanctuary in Montezuma, New Mexico (just outside Las Vegas , New Mexico). Bobby had heard about this magical place from a friend, and I agreed to hop in the car without too much questioning or information. We sent the short 4 hour drive to New Mexico and found ourselves amongst a beautiful campus in the mountains, whipping around the bends, with my head hanging out the window, floating freely amongst the desert trees.
We finally found ourselves at the doorstep of a simple round white house covered in large scale prisms. We opened the door to an echoey empty chamber of light. Covered in massive rainbows as the sun rays shone through the incredible glass artwork. The chamber served a perfect expression of artistic perspective, as we rolled around bathing in rainbows on the floor, taking endless photographs to document the magic. We spent nearly two hours marveling at this incredible beauty, with the entire sanctuary only to ourselves. As we began to pack up our camera equipment, the door opened and an elderly couple walked in. We greeted them hello, and before saying anything else, the old woman walks to the center of the room, stops, looks up, and says “ is this IT?!”.
We held back chuckles as we marveled over the contrasting perspectives of the experience. We’re going to chalk this one up as a point for the millennials in terms of appreciation of beauty for the day. The couple walked back out before we had even finished packing up. We spent the rest of the day exploring the mountains and enjoying the beauty New Mexico has to offer.
Hope you enjoy these memories we captured - both Bobby + Halle in front and behind the lenses.
When I found out Zendo Edibles was a locally based all-natural, vegan, edible company... I was sold. We discussed color scheme and creative direction to fit the Zendo brand and I was so excited about the variety of images we created to fit their visual marketing strategy. Hailey , Brandi , and I had so much fun creating content for them, and snacking on some granola with Zendo peanut butter + apples, and Zendo cocoa honey almonds. Can't wait to watch the cannabis scene continue to transition to more raw, plant based options thanks to brands like these leading the way.
After incredible inspiration from Brené Brown, I set out to define the creative journey, and identify my story within the parameters of accepting creativity through not just embracing the wilderness, but BECOMING it.
"We lose ourselves when we try to belong in the wrong places." Trapped by others views and lack of love, living a life of fear and scarcity, transforms and warps your soul, distorting even the most positive intentions. But a striving soul cannot be ignored even in the darkest pits, when it knows it is meant for greatness. The out of body observations signify misdirection, missing the path of passion. For the first time, passion is sparked, a light is visible, and success and greatness show themselves on the path that seems so far away.
Once fear is diagnosed, creativity is re-birthed, sparking the passion to step out into the wilderness. For the first time CHOOSING to belong to yourself and the wilderness FIRST. Choosing the wilderness, taking the first steps towards the destined path of intention. Transitioning from taking in the attacks of the world from the outside... to finding power in standing alone. Until your heart is marked by the wild, belonging in and to the wilderness and yourself in a completely different way. Each time after this crucial shift... if you choosing fitting in, vs. belonging to yourself, it is painful. Signifying straying from the dreamt upon path. When you decide to be a creative and share your perspective of the world with us, you sign up for the wilderness. You cannot be courageous without being vulnerable, and cannot be creative without courage. The path has made itself known, and wilderness is intentionally and inevitably embraced in choosing greatness.
After discovery of self and purpose, after being beaten down by the wild, there is no choice but REBIRTH. Creativity shines itself in a new way after CHOOSING the wilderness, and your heart has no place choosing the wills of society. In choosing your greatness, your heart is marked by the wild.
There is vulnerability in re-learning life and the world from a new perspective. Through every trial and lesson, we find that belonging , and confidence in belonging, is something we carry in our HEARTS. Finding strength in this, is the vitality we grasp to succeed.
With each lesson of life, a growth mindset is developed. Finding freedom, light, and love through becoming the wilderness, empowered by your own story. Transitioning to a life of flowing WITH the wilderness, becoming it, and becoming LOVE. Sharing your newly discovered light with the world.
Standing alone is what we're called to do. If you carry belonging in your heart, it's not negotiated externally with the world. Your heart is marked by the wild. Discovering the power of creativity, mindfulness, passion, self love, brings peace and positivity to a newly discovered life.
And at last, finding peace in the journey. Embracing the process, and finding contentment with where you’re at. Thriving from confidence in a growth mindset and the abundance of the universe. Success is inevitable, because the wilderness is IN her, and she is it.
Model: Samarah Elizabeth
Lighting: Cassandra Baca
Connor and I were honored to work with Toyota USA again this month as they partnered with Santa’s Elves to teach kids the power of giving this holiday season. Toyota sponsored a number of Denver families, whom they blessed with an abundance of personalized gifts and love at the event this Saturday. The event itself has been occurring for the past 8 years, occurring at all times of the year, to teach kids the power of generosity and giving and how good it feels to be kind. The day was filled with joy, music, dancing, gifts, face paint and LOVE. With a special appearance by Bronco, Bill Turner , face painting, and puppies, fun was being had all around. Attendees left with a smile on their face, joy in their hearts, and a sense of the true holiday spirit of giving. Here is Connor Tieulie’s recap of the day.
Wade Holland, Host Personality, and Connor Tieulie, Videographer, teamed up to develop this creative concept for the Juul Vape Pen. The Vape pen needed a product review, which Wade was happy to provide, albeit EXTREME STYLE. We set up in the studio ready to film, and Randy, from Party Safari, brought his whole cast of reptiles and critters to help Wade out with the product review. Special credit to Azul the Iguana for giving us a stellar review of the Juul, and Montucky Cold snacks and Pit Viper for the product sponsorships.
After working together on an editorial shoot about women empowerment, I KNEW I had to get creative with Samarah again. With that hair, and a badass personality to boot, I called her up with the White Whale Room in mind, having seen the magical shadows cast inside the space during the golden hours of the morning. We met up and fit several outfit changes into one shoot, with the desire to convey the fire felt when set out to create from a place of LOVE.
"The biggest mark of a life of strength, direction, and happiness, is to go from WANTING love, to BECOMING love"
Our team of 4 creatives packed our things in a van to travel up and down the West Coast in 7 days. To make the trip possible, we had the pleasure of bringing Denon Official sound technology with us! We jammed out on the beach with noise-cancelling headphones, and had happy dance parties on Mount Rainier with their powerful Envaya Speaker. The technology was not only a stylish adventure accessory, but durable and weatherproof to survive many adventures to come.
Getting to bring Noosa along on our West Coast Adventure was a dream come true. My fave Noosa adventure snack was by far the lemon (with granola and raspberries of course), Lex's was the coconut. Luckily, our van had a cooler in our kitchen unit in the back so we were able to enjoy Noosa the whole week in every single location! It was amazing having plentiful amounts of snacks to energize us throughout our hiking adventures. I've never eaten more yogurt in scenic locations in my life!
When Lex hit me up for a road trip back to her home town of Seattle, all I asked was "when do we leave?". I had been lusting after the PNW for as long as I can remember, and got so excited once I found out it would be an epic road trip through California and Oregon. We gathered up Katie and Juneau and set our itinerary - fitting as much of the west coast into 7 days as possible. We hooked ourselves up with a sweet camper van + rooftop camper to adventure in, and fit ourselves, our things, Tuna the adventure cat, and as many snacks into it as possible. We set off on our adventure with the mission to make it to Tahoe overnight.
I ended up staying up with Lex, and then took the overnight driving shift getting us into Tahoe as the sun was rising. It's safe to say I was completely delusional at that point, but I have photos to prove that the incredible views we saw were completely real! Was so blown away by the beauty of Tahoe, and the universe graced us with the most incredible rainbow over the road as the sun was rising. We sent a couple short hikes in Tahoe, and hit the road again shortly afterwards (not before scarfing down as much Denny's as possible on the way), trying to make it as far up the coast as possible with the remainder of the day.
We made it up to Northern California into the most GORGEOUS cloud layers in the mountains. We found an adventurous little hike to get views of Mount Shasta, that may or may not have included trespassing... As soon as our clothing was completely soaked and we had hit ourselves in the face with as many branches as possible, we found the most beautiful clearing to enjoy views of the moody day.
We camped in the Redwood forest that night, waking up in the morning to the most incredible views. I took a walk down the road from the campsite in the morning and was completely blown away by the COLOR of the mossy forests (unlike anything in Colorado). The sun beams shone through the trees for Golden hour and lit up the dew on the moss in the most beautiful way. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast, then hit the road again, stopping to enjoy as many of the mossy forests as possible along the way. We hit the coast for the first time all trip, and stopped at so many different location along the ocean as we crossed into Oregon. One of my favorite pull-off's was at Samuel H. Boardman State Park, I had always wanted to go, and we found an awesome little trail to wind us down to the shoreline. I'll definitely be back for this one, I've always wanted to see the arch at dawn.
Lex and I ended up staying up much later than planned, entertaining ourselves with sleep deprived conversations, before finally finding a suitable spot to park our van for the night. Got a restful nights' sleep and hit the road early the next morning, stopping at an AMAZING little breakfast burrito hub on the side of the road in Tillamook - thanks to Maria for hooking us up with the breakfast burritos and horchata! We made it up to Portland to run some errands, and made it to Snoqualmie falls by dusk!
You may notice I don't have any photos of Snoqualmie falls. FUNNY STORY. We were racing to get to the waterfall before we lost the sun, running down the path with all our gear. I was SO stoked for this waterfall, I brought a tripod along to get a long exposure of these falls I had always wanted to see. Now, when we arrived, the view wasn't what we expected, and we may or may not have had to do some finagling to get ourselves to the spot we wanted... we climbed over as many obstacles as possible, finally getting ourselves onto the chaotic wet rocks beneath the falls. I learned my lessons the hard way as the spray got the best of us. Within 5 minutes of getting there, I went to open up my tripod, and the arm simply snapped off... Long exposure opportunities lost, I shrugged and got out my camera to snap some pics. We encountered some technical difficulties to say the least, I think a few water droplets got into my sensor, rendering my camera useless in this particular scenario. Lex's camera screen cracked too during this excursion, but luckily Juneau came out with some sweet shots! Getting back up the path was a whole other excursion in itself - the gates close at dusk and the sun was disappearing faster and faster. We boosted each other up over the barriers , knocking ourselves up pretty hard along the way and finally made it back through the gate before close! SUCCESS! Thanks GOODNESS we were only 5 minutes away from Lex's mom's house where we had warm showers, food and beer waiting for us (for the first time all trip!).
We got to relax on the last half of the trip, bathing in the luxury of access to showers and food in the warmth of the house, but not without adventure. We maximized our time in Washington, hitting as many spots in Mount Rainier National Park and along the coast as we possibly could. We even picked up a new friend in our van along the way! Charlie showed us around the best spots in Washington all weekend, hitting islands, overlooks, and coastal scenes as hard as we could.
We had to stop at Palouse Falls on our way out of the state, and then sent it back to Denver overnight without stopping again, to complete our entire trip in just 7 days! This was an incredibly adventurous road trip that I will never forget. We definitely maximized our time and got to see so much of the beauty the West Coast has to offer. I can't wait to go back to all these places again to fit in more excursions!
HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS:
When I started 2018, I was in a place of rebuilding and reorganizing my path. I set the strong intention to start prioritizing adventure again, after spending some time realizing the track I was on wasn't fitting right. I dropped everything I was doing to set myself back on the right path, knowing that I had been avoiding the one thing that nurtured my soul most - nature. My goals and intentions for the year included a master list of all the adventures I'm trying to go on (as of 4/18/18 I've done about 30% of them!!), with returning to Moab at the top of that list.
Moab has become increasingly popular over the years, but has held a special place in my heart from the beginning. Going several times for backpacking excursions, and then for a very special week of Geological Engineering Field Session (spending a week in the middle of the desert mapping the incredible structures), I KNEW I had to return with my camera now that I had reset. True to all my adventures, I posted on my Instagram looking for excursion buddies, and Brandi immediately replied, the most serious of all the inquiries - asking simply when we should leave. :)
We set a date and sent it hard, generating so much creativity and happiness out in the desert. Moab truly makes my heart sing every time I'm there, the energy is incredible, and I love being tied so deeply to the structures and incredible geology of the place. This is probably some of the most exposed rock history anywhere, and pairing that with my passion for beautiful photography, I was truly in heaven. Until next time, Moab.
I had been determined to visit this hot springs for so long and finally found the perfect model and perfect day to go. The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and the hot spring was warmer. We had to bring beer of course, thanks to Upslope, we enjoyed a perfect golden hour sunset as beautiful steam rose off the spring. The spring is a small little natural hot spring in Colorado, and I've returned several times since this initial day, to find it in more and more worse condition each time.
Most recently I visited, a few months after this photoshoot, there was trash everywhere along the side of the road where the pull-off is. I filled an entire trash bag while I was there but the amounts of disgusting plastic and cans and other assorted human garbage were astounding. Luckily the area immediately around the spring (located at a higher elevation than this trash pit at the trailhead) was kept clean and natural and the water was still perfect and untouched. However, while we were soaking a few months later, we noticed a truck pull up and put new signs up. As we were leaving we checked the signs, and they said the city is planning on commercializing this pool (bringing in concrete, making people pay to use it). This would be tragic given it's one of the few natural pools left in Colorado, and never highly trafficked... If you want to voice your opinion about the commercialization of this precious hot spring - you can call 970-945-1377 to speak to members of Garfield County Council.
Model: Celeste Maloney
Beer: Upslope Brewing
Beauty Inside Out, is a movement created by Event Planner and Photographer Halle Madeleine, Fashion Stylist and Designer LilFreshSam, and Makeup and Hair Artist Erica Baca to empower women entrepeneurs of all stages and ages to embrace your passions and create your own success, while supporting, loving, and inspiring one another. "Beauty Inside Out" or the BIOmovement, was born out of love to encourage women to express their ideas and believe in themselves. We as women have so much value to offer the world, but often times self sabotage ourselves with doubt or self criticism. We're here to bring together women in the most supportive way, encouraging one another to share our powerful voices and ideas with the world while looking and feeling our best!
The event (hosted on January 11, 2018) began with a panel of inspiring woman-preneurs of all ages, sharing their stories of starting up, struggles, confidence, and passion. The session included instructional sessions for tips from a digital media expert on using social media to your advantage.
Makeup Artist Erica Baca, and Fashion Stylist LilFreshSam provided instruction to help you feel and look your best, before professional headshots of each woman were taken by Photographer Halle Madeleine. Denver based boutiques, June Ruby and Seventy West were there working with LilFreshSam to help you look your best.
Bringing together the most powerful women entrepreneurs and creatives in Denver, and giving you the tools to push your passion forward through networking, inspiration, and love.
Was thrilled to collaborate with Kuju Coffee for a few recent adventures! Their pocket pour-overs were incredibly convenient and easy to use. I was hesitant at first unsure of what the coffee would taste like, but it was INCREDIBLE. Straight black coffee right out of the cup was the perfect wake up call whether watching a sunrise in the mountains, or waking up on a dewy morning in the Redwood Forest. I'll for sure be including these handy little packets on all of my future adventures! Who wants to coffee and camp with me next??
It’s hard to beat a good road trip. Good jams in the car, flying down the open highway, wind in our hair, catching the sun in our hands out the window… We recently took our crew to New Mexico to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful desert scenery. New Mexico is a seriously underrated state! We had so much fun exploring Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and everything in between.
However exciting road trips can be though, it’s sometimes tough to stay on top of our health and energy. The long drives, and hikes in the intense sun, definitely required us to replenish our bodies. Luckily we had plenty of Koia packed along with us to energize us daily with plant based protein. My personal favorite is always the cocoa bean - it’s like magical, healthy chocolate milk that gives you energy!
All of us like our lifestyles to be as sustainable as possible, so finding a plant based protein option for our adventures has been so fulfilling. Koia is the perfect edition to a long-winded road trip, giving us the energy and strength we needed to explore all that New Mexico has to offer!
Viscata’s in New Mexico
No one ever said backpacking was easy… but they sure do talk about how hard it is all the time! While Cassie and I took to the trails this weekend alone with our 40 lb. backpacks, we received an endless stream of “WOW how heavy are your bags??” , “Wow i’m so impressed by you guys, I could never do that”, or “you guys amaze me”. While it was nice to make connections with some hikers along the way, we found it comical how shocked and awed people were by this crazy activity called backpacking. After all, it’s just hiking… but with a bigger pack!
To me it’s so much more than that though. When you backpack into the wilderness, you gain this crazy degree of separation from society knowing you’re not going back anytime soon. You gain a more fulfilling and rewarding experience, knowing you’ve earned your views every day. You gain simplicity and unique views, being able to wake up and enjoy the sunrise from your tent - no hike needed to enjoy the sunrise views, because you’re already there! You gain an early start on the trail since you’re already camping along the way. You gain solitude, and a whole heck of a lot of perspective. Cassie and I were awed by how many different perspectives we saw this valley from! Starting from the bottom and looking up at the waterfalls and mountains above us, to climbing 3,000+ feet in elevation to the very glacial lakes and tops of the mountains that the waterfalls are flowing from. Moving from mountain ridge to mountain ridge, circling the area from all viewpoints and perspectives. Going from filling our water bottles at the base of the lake, to viewing it from a birds eye perspective at the ridge hiking out.
Physical perspectives aren’t the only thing changing, your mental perspective does some good healthy shifting while backpacking as well. It forces you to appreciate the little things like not having to work for your water or bathroom breaks, and enjoying REAL food that isn’t just snacks and pb+j (which we all know will always reign as the #1 hiking food). Luckily we didn’t have to sacrifice our health habits too much on this particular trip, because we brought in just enough Modern Oats to enjoy for breakfast! It was too much weight to backpack in a camping stove this time around, but luckily we were able to prepare our oats overnight! We used our pumps to pour some fresh water from the glacial lake we were camping at into our Modern Oats containers, and left them sitting outside our tent overnight so they would be ready for breakfast in the morning. After enduring crazy hail (essentially ice sheets falling from the sky), lightning and thunder echoing throughout the basin for several hours, we somehow dozed off to sleep and woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunrise. We enjoyed our breakfast with breathtaking views, thankful to be alive after the previous night’s chaos. We may have taken the “refrigerate overnight” instructions a bit too seriously, because our oats stayed chilled in some hail piles outside our tent - safe to say it was fresh! It was awesome starting our day with such a healthy breakfast that not only tasted amazing, but gave us the energy and nutrients we needed to make our hike up to the final glacial lake at just under 13,000 feet.
The views were epic, the snacks were great, and the company was even greater. A truly great adventure has both epic memories, and questionable moments, and Cassie and I have been through them all together at this point. From the endless streams of “is this beauty actually real??” , to hiking through the most beautiful mountain peaks, lakes, and waterfalls… to the shoulder pains, hip bruises, weathering the chaos, endless laughter, and simplicity that you find in every moment when you’re alone in the wilderness. Through it all, the memories are made to last a lifetime, and escaping into the seclusion of nature remains my most favorite way to gain unique inspiration and clarity in life. While it was hailing Cassie claimed she’s “never coming on one of my adventures again”, but I know she’ll be back for more fun the next time around :)
Our favorite oats:
To get your own oats, use “HALLEMADELEINE” for 10% an order of Modern Oats! (not paid for this code, simply for you guys to use if you have the interest)
Costa Rica was a dream come true. Filled with beautiful beaches, majestic jungles, and everything in between. I was so excited to travel Costa Rica, that I forgot I was human, and couldn’t see the entire country in 10 days. Costa Rica was the last country on my one-way ticket to Central America escapade, a trip that was built off of going with the flow, making plans, and changing them frequently based on intuition. In the case of Costa Rica, this strategy treated me well, as I very quickly realized how run down my body was from traveling.
I’m no stranger to self care back home in Colorado, but solo-traveling with just myself and my (I don’t even want to know how heavy it was) backpack, started to cause some wear and tear on my body and mind. I had initially planned to travel up to the Monteverde jungle in Northern Costa Rica, then explore around Arenal (a beautiful volcano in the area), and then head down to the upper Nicoya Peninsula to Santa Teresa for surfing and beach life, before meeting my friend Connor in Manuel Antonio for waterfalls and cliff diving. However, when I was returning from Panama, all of the constant on-the-go, taking so many different forms of transportation to get from place to place, lugging my backpack around was starting to wear on me.
Travel is amazing and incredible and I’m so grateful for all of the amazing experiences I’ve had this summer. Travel changes you in obvious ways, brings lots of love and light, but also changes you in painful but necessary ways. This time around, I was being taught the lesson of rest.
In this day and age with the fast pace and constant connectedness of society, I’ve found I have to really intentionally make time for rest and self care, otherwise it very easily falls to the wayside. I love the idea of improving and “leveling up”, especially when it comes to my passions. I have to be careful not to get too caught up in my drive or passions and work myself to the ground, so one way I’ve found that works for me personally, is to intentionally schedule in blocks of time for self care. I think self care expands beyond the basic ideas of chocolate and bubble baths, though I’m not doubting the power those things have to wind down. I think self care is an all inclusive package of focusing mindfulness around physical and mental well being. To me this means making sure I’m filling my life with things that make me happy, and helping me grow. It means having fun doing activities that make me strong, eating clean foods, and keeping my body and skin clean. At home in Denver, this often looks like a block of time in the morning, or at night before bed, where I just play my favorite music, maybe drink some tea, flow around and have a dance party, do some yoga, stretch my body, and release any tension I’ve been carrying around. Sometimes I like to take baths, sometimes do a creative activity like play music or paint. But almost always, it includes using a Redmond clay facemask. I don’t have a complex beauty routine, and rarely wear makeup, so I love that their clay masks are just two ingredients: Bentonite Clay + water. I want to feel confident that my self care routine isn’t laced with any chemicals or parabens, and there are so many benefits to using Bentonite Clay. My favorite part is every time I use the clay masks, it’s an excuse to make time for self care. Even if I’m running short on time, I know I can always count on the time it takes for my clay mask to dry, to fit in an activity for self care. I like to change it up, so below are 5 different activities I like to do while I’m waiting for my Redmond Clay facemask to dry:
1. Stretch, yoga flow
3. Read a chapter of a book
4. Journal about my goals or things I’m grateful for
5. Have a dance party
I’ve found all these activities have helped me personally to recenter and find clarity in my everyday life.
I arrived in San Jose after a very long and tiring travel day from Panama. For the first time in the month that I had been traveling so far, I completely broke down, my body was in pain, I was exhausted, and actually felt like going home. I knew my body and mind were telling me I needed to get some serious rest.
I had originally planned on heading up to Monteverde, Arenal, and then heading to Santa Teresa all before meeting Connor in Manuel Antonio in 7 days. At this point, I knew that plan was not at all an option. I already felt like I had tried to fit too much in on that trip. So I found a comfortable looking hostel hidden in the mountainous jungle of Monteverde, and decided I would stay there until I felt recovered. I am so grateful for the beautiful haven of a rest place that I discovered. The hostel was called the “Chillout House”, and was a beautiful cozy mountain house nestled in a magical cloud forest. The first day I was there, the owner greeted me with a juice and showed me my room. I took a hot shower and released everything that I had built up on the trip so far. Traveling alone can be really hard, and honestly, sometimes you just need to let it all out. That night I made dinner and cuddled up on the couch to watch a Disney movie with a clay facemask and some tea. At one point the clouds from outside actually floated inside the house and swirled above my head in the living room, it felt so magical.
My one plan I needed to commit to that week was meeting a friend of a friend of a friend in the Monteverde Cloud Forest to explore and do some Photography and Videography in the jungle. The Monteverde Cloud Forest is an incredible Costa Rican Landmark that includes miles and miles of trails through an incredibly lush green jungle, with many different species of unique plants and animals. We saw some incredible waterfalls, and had fun taking photos on the suspension bridge.
After the exception of that one adventure though, it was time to seriously hunker down and give my mind and body time to rest and unwind. It was a healthy week filled with lots of healing with food, time to sleep, meditate, do yoga, and finally take a break from everything. It was such a necessary and healthy week, and I’m so grateful to Chillout House for providing the ideal space to rest.
With a happy ending, I was able to recover myself completely in the week I was there, with enough strength to get to Manuel Antonio in time for some real fun. We had an absolutely incredible time, and ended up meeting some amazing locals who befriended us and showed us some amazing local waterfalls, caves, rope swings, beaches, and took us on the ultimate adventure tour of Costa Rica. All the crazy excursions were exactly what I needed to feel myself again, and I will treasure those memories from that week forever. All that jungle exploring unfortunately left us wrecked with bug bites, but clay to the rescue again! I was able to put hydrated clay on my bug bites at night to reduce the swelling and itching.
Bug bites cured, rest taken, and normality restored, I was so grateful for all that Costa Rica taught me. I was able to experience healing like never before, and felt completely restored and reset after my entire Costa Rica experience. I’m so grateful for each and every place, and human, that offered me kindness, love, and joy along the way. Everything happens for a reason, and I learned some really valuable lessons that were painful but necessary. I learned about myself in a deeper way than ever before, and most importantly, I learned how to give myself permission to rest. I think Anthony Bourdain sums it up better than I ever could:
"Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind."
Photography by Halle Madeleine and Connor Tieulie
In my everyday life at home in Colorado, I put a lot of attention on my health. I am not completely vegan, but about a year and a half ago, after discovering the impact that my diet has on my body and mind, I drastically cut back on meat and dairy, and increased my plant intake. Since this shift, I’ve felt a lot more energy, and started having a lot of fun getting creative in my kitchen, playing around with recreating recipes from my favorite plant based restaurants, or creating my own.
So when I made the (honestly kind of spontaneous) decision in May to buy a one-way ticket to Central America, I was interested to see the shifts I would have to make in this new lifestyle. I knew there was no way I could keep up with the elaborate recipes I prepared for myself at home, but I was determined to make my travels as cost-effective and health-conscious as I could.
I could never have prepared myself for how much this experience would teach me. I have a whole other blog post that describes the many personal transformations I experienced, and lessons I learned on my solo traveling journey, but I was very pleasantly surprised with how much my eyes were opened regarding humans relationships and connection with each other, with food, and the land.
I packed only the essentials with me, and arrived with just me and my backpack in El Tunco, a small surfing town in El Salvador, at the beginning of June. Upon landing I was almost immediately greeted with fresh coconut water from the side of the road - the sweetest most natural refreshment after my long day of traveling, and this was just the beginning. I was in awe driving down the roads seeing coconut stand after coconut stand, stationed in between fields of banana trees, soccer fields, jungles, and volcanos. I quickly learned that the people of El Salvador are incredibly loving, they know how to have a good time, and have incredible food. I was fortunate enough to be connected to an amazing hostel owner in the center of town, and quickly was introduced to many people by friends, making connections easily in this friendly town.
I also quickly found the best places in town to go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks, and late night snacks. El Salvador cuisine is heavy in fruit, vegetables, meat, beans, cheese, tortillas, bold flavors, and lots and lots of salt. When traveling to any country other than your own, it’s important to take cautions against any water or food preparation that you might not be used to. For me, since I knew I hadn’t eaten meat more than a handful of times over the past year and a half, I knew a new country probably wasn’t the place to expose myself to meat again. Despite my plant-based leanings, I still think it’s important to preserve a curiosity and open-mindedness for experiencing the food of a new culture. My reasons for plant based leanings are primarily for health and environmental reasons, but also have to do with disagreements for certain approaches to food alteration, growing, or preparation that has become corrupted in America. SO, when traveling to Central America, I kept myself open to trying new types of food, ended up eating dairy, and fish while I was down there, and placed only the limit of meat on myself to prevent my stomach from getting completely angry.
The most classic El Salvadorian snack is called a “Pupusa” , a thick corn tortilla stuffed with typically cheese and meat based filling. There were Pupuseria’s on every corner, open at pretty much any hour of the day. I knew I had to preserve my health while traveling as much as I could, so I actually only indulged in one (bean and cheese based) Pupusa while I was down there. This is probably a disgrace to El Salvador cuisine honestly, because I made many friends who indulged in Pupusa snacks on the daily. Best part? They’re usually only about 50 cents to $1 , one of the best options for eating on a budget. Most of the food in El Salvador was inexpensive. El Salvador was actually the least expensive country I traveled to in Central America overall. One of my favorite spots in town was a small cafe called Day Well Being. It was first introduced to me because they have the BEST brownies, not only in El Tunco, but maybe the best brownies I’ve ever had in my life… Despite having to resist the urge to eat a brownie every single day, I posted up with my laptop in Day Cafe often, indulging in their amazing, superfood packed smoothies and salads.
On a typical day in El Salvador, I would usually eat a large breakfast, maybe some mid day snacks, and a larger afternoon meal. I definitely ate less, and more consciously while I was traveling, partially due to budget. Most days, I would start off my day by adding some Real Salt to my water*. The 60+ clean minerals and electrolytes in Redmond Salt not only helped jump start my energy for the day, but most importantly, saltwater helped me with my digestion and flushing out toxins while I was out of my normal routine. The amazing hostel I was staying at would provide breakfast - “el típico”. El desayuno típico , or “the typical breakfast” in El Salvador typically consists of eggs, rice, meat, beans, cheese, fruit, and veggies. The chef at our hostel prepared breakfast for me every morning - a veggie omelet, with cheese, avocado, beans, toast, a huge bowl of fruit, and of course coffee. It was amazing being surrounded by so much fruit all the time - there were Papaya and Coconut trees in the yard of the hostel I was staying in, Mango trees at the yoga studio I went to, and enough fruit every day to keep me so so happy. On one of my most memorable days in El Tunco, I remember spending an amazing morning learning how to surf, and came back to Day Cafe, to indulge in an amazing Plantain salad, and Papaya + Avocado + Ginger smoothie. The veggies and fruits were so satisfying and I followed up lunch with an amazing massage, without even having to leave the building!
Sometimes while eating lunch or dinner, I would sprinkle some garlic real salt on my veggies, but most of the time when I was eating out at local restaurants, the food in El Salvador is already salted plenty enough. They really love their salt there! In fact, I shared some of my Real Salt with my hostel owner, and new friend, Pedro, and he might have become a bigger fan than me! One night we were getting beers and French fries (“papas”) at a local bar, and I went to sprinkle some Real Salt on for a photo, only to be interrupted by Pedro saying I needed to “shake it like I mean it”. He proceeded to take the Real Salt from me and show me how it was really done. He was such a big fan of the salt that after I left I sent him a message saying I wish I would’ve remembered to leave some Real Salt with him, and I’ll have to bring some back next time I visit. He simply responded - “I already have 3”.
More importantly than how good everything in El Salvador tasted, I think my time taught me how powerful humans connection is to food, to each other, and to the land. One of my most memorable adventures was up in the jungles in a beautiful volcanic region just outside El Tunco. Pedro took us on an incredible drive up to a secluded small organic coffee farm, where our wonderful guide, Javi, showed us the plant nursery, and told us all about how the organic coffee plants are grown. Javi and the rest of their team, place a tremendous amount of focus, love, and attention to detail on these plants. I learned that coffee plants can have a lifespan of over 100 years, and don’t start producing coffee beans at full maturity until around year 6! Javi explained to us that they are careful to match the coffee plants with compatible plants in the ecosystem, specific types of fruit trees or plants that help the coffee plants thrive and fight off disease or invasive species. He also described the natural processes they use to create a thriving environment for the plants, but explained that corporate companies such as Starbucks, are creating hostile environments not only for their own plants, but it’s beginning to affect the surrounding farms. They use chemicals and genetic modification to accelerate the growth of their coffee plants, so that they start producing beans sooner. This also means their plants die off sooner, and cause wear and tear on the land they are growing on. This has caused Starbucks to expand and take over much of the land, and some of their chemical usage has started to invade surrounding farms. Javi ensured us that their Lechuza coffee farm would stay standing, transparent, thriving, and organic for as long as they can. His passion for his craft was clear as he took us from the nursery and growing portion of the farm, to the best part - the brewing and cupping. He described he carefully timed and beautiful process of roasting the beans. He then crafted many different coffee creations for us to sample, showing us what a perfectly ripe bean looked like, the proper techniques to brew a perfect cup, and what each type of espresso drink should taste like on our palette. He concluded his masterful presentation by brewing us a new experiment of his - “coffee tea”. He learned that the floral part of the coffee plant has it’s own unique taste palette, without containing any caffeine, and proceeded to brew us the smoothest, most wonderful cup of ‘coffee tea’, that I apparently cannot get anywhere else! Javi’s incredible passion for his art, and for the land, influenced me strongly to pay closer attention to true quality and craft when it comes to my food and common coffee indulgences. If any of you are ever in El Salvador, I highly recommend visiting Lechuza Cafe and feeling the power of Javi’s passion yourself.
On my very last day in El Salvador, I surfed, I walked the town, I took my camera down to the beach and celebrated in the waves with my new friends. Pedro and his family did such a good job of making me feel at home, and for my last night, we hosted “The Great Makoi Dip-Off” at Pedro’s Hostel and Home - Casa Makoi. A fellow traveler and I competed with his spicy mango salsa, and my legendary jalapeño guacamole. Both the Onion Salt and Garlic Salt from Real Salt were key players in this competition. However, in the end, both dips were too good to decide, and we decided to call it a tasty tie. Pedro cooked an incredible fish dinner for our group of 10 people that now felt like family to me. We ate vegetables, an incredible fish dinner, and all left completely full and happy by the end. I laughed so hard, I practiced my Spanish more than ever before, and I met some really phenomenal humans that I know I will be back to visit. Something as simple as a really good dinner, with really good people, was enough to remind me what life is really about. It’s not about the competition, it’s not about rules, it’s not about success. It’s about the little moments, and connections you make with unexpected humans, finding more love and light than ever before along the way. Pedro told me one day that his house, Casa Makoi, means “house of love”, and whether this directly translates to anything or not, I not only believe that I was staying in the house of love, but I truly felt the magic of how much love was in that house and the family living in it.
My time in El Salvador taught me how much I love Papayas and Coconuts. It taught me how to surf, it taught me how drastically beautiful the differences in cuisine, culture, and landscapes can be. It taught me that the most joy can be found in simple moments, simple food, and simple conversations. But most importantly, it taught me how to keep an open mind, how to create genuine deep connections with different humans, and how to live and love completely in the magic of each moment, every day.
I took Real Salt throughout the rest of my travels during the remainder of the summer. When I desperately relied on food to heal me in Costa Rica, I was able to save money, and get the rest I needed, by cooking simple meals in a hostel in the middle of the jungle, with just potatoes, vegetables, and the only seasoning I needed. The power of food brought me back to life during my lowest point of my travels, so I continued to rely on the mineral power of including Real Salt in my routine throughout Central America, Canada, and finally, now back in Colorado.
Since being back home, I now make more Papaya + Avocado + Ginger smoothies than ever before, I value fresh fruit and sustainably grown coffee, I put Real Lemon + Pepper Salt on my avocado toast every day now that I’m back in my own kitchen, and I make a point to enjoy more dinners with friends. It’s in the sharing of food, and stories, and connection, that truly brings people together, no matter where you are in the world.
*Not recommended for anyone who has a salt, mineral and vitamin imbalance, or who is hypertensive.
This June I got the opportunity to travel to the Bocas Del Toro region of Panama. We took a bus down to the Costa Rica / Panama border, and proceeded to have the longest, sweatiest border crossing of my life thus far… The bus stopped, we loaded our bags off the bus, waited in a long line for a long time with all our luggage. We got asked some basic questions at the border, paid the border crossing fee, and proceeded to the next stop, to fill out some forms, and answer some more questions, and at the very last stop, was when I learned you can’t cross the Costa Rica / Panama border without a ticket home…
I frantically bribed the bus driver to give me a hot spot on his phone (# traveling Verizon customer without wifi problems), and proceeded to buy a return ticket home to Colorado from San Jose, Costa Rica, in the middle of the blistering heat, at the Panama border, with an entire bus full of other tourists (who had already crossed), waiting on me, to get my ticket… Needless to say it was a very rushed and hasty moment. I eventually crossed the border and then proceeded to ride on the center console of the front seat of a packed van, driving the streets of Panama. An Australian surfer suddenly fell asleep on my shoulder in the front seat, and the driver native to Panama proceeded to belt out 90’s American rock ballads in my ear with a very thick and passionate accent. It was the best sweaty van ride of my life!
The best part? Three days later, a friend I was traveling with had the hindsight to ask me why my plane ticket home from San Jose was so cheap. Turns out, I had hastily bought myself a nice $90 flight from San Jose California, to Denver Colorado…. I couldn’t do anything but laugh at the chaos at the time. Luckily I was able to finesse my way into a refund and got my return flight home squared away just fine.
I guess my point is you never know what’s going to happen, especially when traveling. This trip taught me more than anything that you can’t control your circumstances, you can only choose to flow with them. Going with the flow and understanding that everything serves a purpose, was what kept me sane on this trip, and is my best chance of staying sane most of the time.
I’m never able to predict the chaos I will encounter while traveling, but I always like to keep a few things with me no matter where I go, to remind me of home, and keep me feeling centered. For me, while I’m traveling it’s important to stay as clean and healthy as possible, especially while encountering new terrains, cultures, food, and creatures. My “me-kit” while traveling always includes the following things:
1. Earthpaste! Hands down, my favorite Earthpaste to use while traveling has been the Peppermint with Activated Charcoal. I learned to love #BrushingWithMud very quickly once I learned how harmful the chemicals in normal toothpastes are for my body. I soon after fell in love with the cleansing properties of activated charcoal. I’m convinced brushing with my charcoal earth paste has saved my stomach on my past trips - my tummy actually stayed healthy the entire time I was in Central America!
2. Jasmine Essential Oil - jasmine is hands down my favorite essential oil to use. I use it so frequently at home and otherwise that it has become associated with some of my favorite feelings, and always helps center me almost immediately when I use it while traveling. It’s also my favorite assistant for yoga and meditation sessions :)
3. Aloe lotion! I have an aloe lotion that has some CBD in it, that is a complete saving grace for every sunburn I’ve had in the last year (cures the burn by literally the next day). I also use it twice a day under my eyes and on my t-zone to keep me moisturized, and protect my skin from all the wear and tear of traveling. It always helps me feel fresh and clean after washing my face, plus, the moisture helps reduce eye puffiness first thing in the morning!
I always make sure to bring those things in my bag, even if just a small reminder of home, and myself.
We finally arrived in the port to Bocas Del Toro, and got on a small water taxi to head to the particular island we were staying on. I was elated speeding across the water, feeling the spray of saltwater on my hand, watching the beautiful layers of lush green islands and mountains wizz past me… I was smiling from ear to ear like a dork the entire time. I turned to my friend and asked her why no one else was hanging out the boat like a dingus in awe of the beauty. She responded that the locals probably don’t get too excited because they’re just going to the grocery store. Haha. Man, what a life, bopping around from island to island every day.
We arrived at the most beautiful home I stayed at all trip. The multi-level beach bungalow had more hammocks than I could count, and three different wraparound balconies leading to private hammock houses overlooking the ocean. The entire house hung out over the sea, supported by huge beams and palm trees everywhere, overlooking the vast ocean. The aqua water was more clear than any water I had ever seen in my life, with a clear view straight down into the depths of the beautiful coral reefs. The islands dipped in and out of the shoreline, beautiful waves crashing everywhere, surfers dotting the waves in locations where they were big enough. We ran down the path to the beach beneath us and were greeted by the most vibrantly white / yellow sand meeting the sea in the most perfect beauty. We decided then and there to scrap all of our plans and enjoy what our island had to offer.
We ate local food, drank local beer, went for (actual) long walks on the beach… We woke up with dawn watching the sun rise over the vast ocean horizon between the palm trees, drinking hot coffee from our balcony view. I even #BrushedWithMud in a hammock with just a beautiful view and my Earthpaste most mornings. We watched sloths climb in the trees above us, we ate the most amazing home cooked meals by the incredible hostel owners. I spent most days journaling, reading, or having dance parties on the dock, while enjoying the rest, comfort, peace, and stillness that this beautiful house was providing us.
We took one day to explore the other islands, and spent the entire day kayaking the crystal clear waters of Bocas Del Toro. It cost us $10 to rent a Kayak, but the afternoon of bliss was priceless. We kayaked ashore at our leisure, discovering different beaches, and encountering new beauty with every corner of the island that we rounded. We kayaked for what felt like a blissful forever, even stopping in the middle of the ocean at one point to look straight down through the crystal clear water to a beautiful starfish hanging out on the ocean floor between the reefs.
Panama had a lot to show us in just a week, but regardless of the chaos, or the peace, it provided, I was grateful to have the time and stillness to be able to center myself. Whether it’s having my jasmine, and trusty activated charcoal Earthpaste on me, or simply having gratitude for the peace that a change in scenery can provide, I’m always so grateful for the peace of mind that travel can bring. The simple things like connecting to nature, and yourself, through mindfulness and self care, can truly become the most magical while traveling. Whether it’s dealing with unexpected chaos, or relaxing on the beach, the best experiences in travel are made by simply going with the flow.
The California Cliff Cruise 2018 is officially a wrap! The cliff cruise is an annual event created by @travissims that I’ve been lucky enough to help out with for the past two years. The cliff cruise not only hosts the only Freestyle Cliff Diving Competition , but a cliff trash clean up event, hiking, climbing, camping, and 60+ of the best Professional Cliff Divers, Action Sports Athletes, Videographers, Photographers, and rad humans. We cleaned up over 1,000 pounds of trash, sent tricks off too many cliffs to count, camped in countless beautiful locations in Northern California. It’s hard not to have too much fun when you’re hanging with this rad crew.
There’s so much more to cliff diving than epic shots and extreme tricks. Though we all gather to see these feats of epic proportions, the truest memories of the trip are made while we were camping in dirt piles, getting lost on trails, stumbling upon swimming holes, going on long drives, showering in waterfalls, sharing stories, and really just all experiencing life together. We used water for everything - showering, waking up, keeping our beer cold, and staying hydrated. We backpacked and hiked into most spots, so instead of taking heavy amounts of water with us, we conveniently packed our Sawyer mini filters to get water at every stop. Whether it was scavenging for water together, getting lost on mountain roads, or staying up till the wee hours of the night having good conversations, the Cliff Cruise always brings the best memories.
The cliff diving community is rad not only because of the revolutionary sport of cliff diving, but because of the incredible level of support and love that each member of this massive family has for one another. This week was a dream. It was so hard saying goodbye to some of my favorite people, but I know we’ll all be back together soon enough to once again unite around this crazy sport we love.
Huge thank you to Sawyer Products for being our official Cliff Cruise 2018 Partner!
Backpacking, camping, and hiking throughout Colorado with C2O Coconut Water
Email to book Portrait or Lifestyle Sessions. Options to go on an adventure, or stay in the city.
When rad humans find rad humans and fall in love. Available worldwide. Email to book for 2019.
This August, Connor and I brought Otterbox with us up to Canada to experience cliff diving, hiking, rain, smoke from forest fires, and all types of Type II Fun. Type II Fun is not your average adventure blog, smiling in flowing dresses and relaxing in hot springs. No… Type II Fun is the type of fun you have while struggling in the cold, or the mud with your friends. It’s a special type of fun you can only access with the right attitude. The type of fun you have smiling and laughing your a*ses off while caught in the middle of some weather. The type of memories that will last a lifetime.
As we reflected we realized that though the big moments are epic, and it’s always nice to get a “banger” shot of nature - the fondest moments are most often the simplest. The moments unfiltered, without any pressure, no rules. So we were incredibly inspired by Otterbox’s brand manifesto as follows:
“ An Open Letter to the Outdoor Industry: Outside is Not a Club
It has no members only door, no secret handshake, no self-appointed board of directors.
Outside is everyone’s. The newbs, the weekend warriors, the pros, and literally everyone in between. Outside doesn't care if you top-roped or sent it, if you tied your own fly or took it on bait, if you’re a him or a her.
But lately it seems like there’s a right and a wrong way to be outside, as if the only way to pursue a passion is the way someone else pursues theirs. We’re all guilty of it, chasing trophies both real and digital, consumed with tagging the biggest, being the fastest, outdoorsing the best.
We’re territorial about public places and cliquish within our own communities, as if you can’t go outside unless you know the code to the gate.
Ours isn't the job of defining the outdoor experience, but the privilege of enabling it. Maybe your slice of heaven is an off-width stretch of 5.13 sandstone. Maybe it’s a predawn paddle in 6mm of neoprene. And maybe, just maybe, it’s a lawn chair and something hoppy. Whatever it is, it doesn't need more rules. Because however you have fun, you should have FUN doing it.
~ Otterbox ”
Inspired by the rawness, Connor and I decided to create our own manifesto of sorts. How we unrule the outdoors. A dedication to our experiences and belief in nature:
Welcome to the outdoors.
It’s not just our job to photograph and document within nature, but our passion.
So we venture out, finding pieces of ourselves, and answers we didn’t know were there.
Because it’s never been about getting the perfect shot, but experiencing the moment, and capturing those feelings along the way.
It’s about the imperfections in the little moments.
Sure, the perfect shot is out there somewhere, but it’s always been more exciting to embrace the chaos that the outdoors is so good at providing.
The chaos is freeing. The unpredictability, our inspiration.
We might be here to create, but the beauty has already been created around us.
Nature doesn’t care who has climbed the biggest mountain, or swam the biggest river.
Because in the end, aren’t we all here to pursue our passion for nature while having fun?
Where the best memories are made while embracing the chaos with a smile on your face.
It’s not about who showed up the most prepared, or most experienced.
Nature doesn’t care if you sent it the hardest, but if you sent it at all.
Try all we want, but it isn’t us that shapes the adventure, it’s always been the adventure that shapes us.
So welcome to the outdoors: where all are welcome, there are no rules, and there’s no such thing as the perfect shot.
In partnership with Otterbox
Photography + Creative Direction by Halle Madeleine
Photography + Videography by Connor Tieulie
Simplicity, stillness, and slowness. Three things that are pretty hard to tap into when you’re participating in the stream of everyday society.
Growing up, and getting my college education at Engineering School, the environment I was in placed an emphasis on hard work, achievement, and success. The more hurried, busy, and stressed you were, meant you were more important and successful, right?
Some part of me has never been able to thrive according to typical societal standards. After deciding I wanted to take control of my reality, I finally dove deep into my passions for all things creative. After launching my own creative business, and experiencing the real world outside of Engineering School, I’ve been able to observe some characteristics in people that I admire. They have inspired me to change my way of thinking and open up my mind. I’ve spend the past two years un-training my mind from the rigid close minded opinions and habits I developed in Engineering School.
I’ve learned the benefits of including simplicity, stillness, and slowness into my life. While traveling Central America last spring, I finally understood stillness for the first time. Plopped in the middle of a foreign country, solo-backpacking as a female, gave me the space and time to reflect on the things that truly matter. I found that by placing more energy into loving myself and those around me, by pouring more energy into relationships, experiences, and moments… what truly matters had simply been around me all along.
I returned to Denver from my travels with a new approach to my daily routine and a fresh perspective on how I was living my life. I’ve learned it’s so much about balance. Balancing connections in the city, with connection to the mountains. It’s just as much about hustle, as it is slowing down to appreciate all the hard work you’ve done. I restructured my business to focus on quality over quantity. I started restructuring my schedule to prioritize more of the things that matter to me, making time for simplicity, stillness, and slowness. I still continue to travel, balancing my time out in the world, with my time resting at home.
This is why I couldn’t have been more thrilled to discover Matter Prints. In the new direction I was heading with my business, I was incredibly inspired by Matter’s similar philosophy on investing in deeper, more meaningful connections, emphasizing quality over quantity. They authentically invest into healthy artisan collaborations, and thrive in the slow fashion industry, with mindfulness about how their product and brand are impacting the world around them, and the people they work with.
Their clothes are almost as inspiring as their brand mission. I love how simple all of their styles are. Whether I’m adventuring in the mountains, or tackling meetings in the city, it’s amazing having stylish looks that fit any activity I’m doing. Casual enough to dress down while being fashionable enough to dress up, I love finding clothes that I don’t have to match anything to, because they’re all one piece!
So I have brought more intention to my fashion choices as I shift in mindfulness towards life and business. I hope to continue this journey of bringing more simplicity, stillness, and slowness into my life… so here’s to a little less stress, and a little more mindfulness. I hope we can all uncover more balance, because I guess when it really comes down to it, we’re not here to stress, we’re here to live. To live in our experiences, our relationships, and in the present moment. That’s what really matters to me.
(links NOT affiliated with Matter)
Plans changed, so I took advantage of the opportunity to finally go on a camping trip alone. Excitement building in the weeks to come, balanced with slivers of doubt as I embarked alone on my mission.
I think we so often expect something profound from solitude, but it’s really just the simple things. Cooking a thanksgiving dinner, taking long drives into sunsets of painted skies, all in the most immense gratitude for my own company. Finding joy in building a fire, dancing to stay warm, cooking another thanksgiving dinner. Waking up alone with the sunrise, watching the moon slowly fade away as the sun begins casting her first glow along the tips of these cliffs.
I prepare breakfast slowly, do everything at my own pace. Spontaneously take a 12 mile hike , with only myself to take care of. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the company of humans, I love connecting with people, but I also love connecting with nature. The simple joy that comes from living out of a car, camping, and doing everything with only your own judgement - is both incredibly intimidating and beautifully liberating at the same time.
I think solitude can easily be romanticized, but it takes resilience, awareness, enthusiasm, and true passion for whatever mission you are embarking upon. I’m convinced I had it easy, trekking back to familiar territory. Each time I return to Moab, it’s for a different goal, but always embracing the feeling of home it has begun to provide.
I’m convinced there is no free-er feeling than being alone in nature. Wandering so many miles deep through canyon walls, these rocks tell stories of millions of years of time. Each wall holds layers so much grander than your own. It’s humbling, and peaceful, surrendering to whatever nature has in store for you. Flowing to the beat of your own footsteps, the rhythm of your breath. Feeling the sun wash away the cold on my skin. Leaving any worries or tensions, back at the trailhead.
I find multiplied gratitude when friends join me at the end of my journey. We find space for our souls, here in the desert. Surrendering to nature, setting ourselves free. The joy of human connection, both old, and new.
In an instant, I can transport myself back.
Through that one verse in my song,
I am there.
Flying through the winding desert,
Feeling the warmth of sunrise,
I am free.
Video experience from the trip linked here
Very special thanks to all of the following:
The Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) Tribe homeland that I am so grateful to have access to. The Ute’s are also the oldest residents of Colorado (my home). The website (and app!) Native Land is a fantastic tool for determining whose land you are on. Considering our past, and in the light of friction around native and public lands right now, it is important as ever to support the indigenous people of our country. Two of my favorite organizations to support and donate to, are Native Womens Wilderness , and Native American Rights Fund.
Huge thanks to Turo , for the supporting me with an amazing car rental that made this whole trip possible.