Outdoor Women's Voices: MEG ATTEBERY

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Breaking boundaries.

In the outdoors, the adventures we take are limitless.  Meg exemplifies that notion.  Meg has moved over 21 times to date.  She hikes, travels and has lived in other parts of the world.  Doing so entails breaking down boundaries, physically and mentally.  But Meg has so many decades in her life to continue building upon this journey so she's just getting started, so to speak.  I'm very thrilled to share with you Meg's story with nature and traveling and by doing so I hope it ignites that voice within you to explore, be it grand or as a start.  

When and how did you discover hiking? 

Hiking is a relatively recent passion of mine. Although I did quite a bit in high school, I never considered myself a “good” hiker. I had a bad experience where my friends and boyfriend at the time left me at the bottom of Gunnison Canyon about 7 years ago. Don’t worry, that guy and I are no longer together. The experience caused me to take a break from hiking up until 3 years ago. Ever since then I’ve been hitting it pretty hard. I hike, snowshoe, mountaineer, snowboard the backcountry, or backpack nearly every weekend for 3 solid years.

Hiking originally started out as an outlet for me to satisfy my insatiable need to explore. Since travel isn’t always possible I started traveling locally. I am passionate about nature and a good physical challenge so it didn’t take long for me to discover that I would love hiking.

Who or what inspires you to trek?

 Challenging myself and connecting with nature. That feeling of working hard to be surrounded by something beautiful is all I need to motivate me.

Where do you normally hike/trek?

In my home state of Colorado. My job usually keeps me from constantly being out exploring, but I make the most of my time off. I’ve often been called the ultimate weekend warrior. My tactic is to visit as many different areas as possible, right now I’m currently an aspiring mountaineer. I’ve really enjoyed climbing the 13,000 (13er) and 14,000 (14er) foot peaks around Colorado.

My favorite false summit of all time was this on on Mt Guyot, CO (13,376’)

My favorite false summit of all time was this on on Mt Guyot, CO (13,376’)

What do you like the most about hiking or the outdoors?

Two words, early morning. The air is still cool. Birds chirp all around you as the sun filters through the trees. Just you and the trail. I live for it.

I love to watch the giant shadow of the mountain you’re standing on shrink as the sun rises. Summit of Torreys Peak (14,275’)

I love to watch the giant shadow of the mountain you’re standing on shrink as the sun rises. Summit of Torreys Peak (14,275’)

When not on mountain trails, what hobbies or other interests do you have?

I also like to rock climb and snowboard. If I could do it all the time, I’d travel. I have a fascination with the world and I just can’t stop exploring it. When I was 15 my mom wanted to send me to France to “get some culture.” The funny thing is I didn’t want to go. I protested - saying that I wouldn’t like the food. Little did I know it would be the start of a passion I’d chase forever.

Tell us about your most memorable trek thus far? 

At the impressionable age of 10 I read John Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Ever since then I had been fascinated by the Himalayas. It took me quite a while, but for my 30th birthday I booked myself a trek to Nepal. I chose Gokyo Ri. I’ve got a thing for summiting mountains at sunrise. Gokyo boasts the best panorama view in the entirety of the Everest region so it was the obvious choice. It’s an 11 day trek gaining over 10,000’ to it’s highest point, Gokyo Ri. It’s unclear how tall Gokyo actually is, but most sources say around 17,775’

What did you wish to get out of this journey?  

This trek transformed me. Shook me to the core. From the minute I arrived in Kathmandu I felt a deep sense of home. It blew me away to be quite honest. I still haven’t truly been able to wrap my head around it. This place resonated in my mind for so long a part of me was concerned that I would be disappointed. However that was not the case. I laughed as the taxi bumped, beeped, and squeezed its way through the impossibly crowded streets of Kathmandu. Here I was on the other side of the globe in a chaotic city that would frighten the pants off of most westerners. I felt completely at home as if I needed to be right where I was. 

At that point any goals fell completely by the wayside. I savored every moment and enjoyed being present. Never focusing on what was ahead or behind me.

What were the highlights of this journey for you?

There were a few moments that stood out to me. One was our last night of trekking. We had made it all the way back to Lukla, well known for it’s nerve-racking airport situation. Krishna, our guide, introduced us to the owner of the lodge we were staying at and they were long time friends. He was younger and had inherited the lodge, as well as arranging helicopter charter flights and rescues from his dad. Evening came and it was just the owner, his friend, our guide, my boyfriend and I. Somehow whiskey and guitars came out. Soon after small bites of chicken and popcorn.

We sat, noshed, and chatted about life in our countries around the warmth of the communal stove. There is an unspoken connection between mountain people. It doesn’t matter where you come from you just get it. Respect, patience, courage, perseverance are all things anyone who spends time in the mountains understands. Moments like these were evident of it. We got hugs for not using a single plastic bottle of water during our entire trek. The more I travel the more I realize that everyone just wants the same thing. Moments like these make not just travel, but life, truly special.

What lessons did you learn from this trek?

You can do anything.

If you were to do this trek again, how would you do it differently, if at all?

Wouldn’t change a single moment. Although I probably would have liked to have one extra pair of silk sock liners. I wore them every day, they were STINKY after 11 days in the mountains.

Meg shares with us her favorite moments in Nepal.

During our time in Namche it snowed 18” in a day. I never thought I’d be able to say I was caught in a Himalayan snowstorm!

During our time in Namche it snowed 18” in a day. I never thought I’d be able to say I was caught in a Himalayan snowstorm!

After the storm I finally got to lay eyes on Mt Everest, fulfilling a childhood dream. Left to right: Everest, Lotse, and Abadablam

After the storm I finally got to lay eyes on Mt Everest, fulfilling a childhood dream. Left to right: Everest, Lotse, and Abadablam

Thanks to the intense sun, the snow mostly melted on the way up, but we still had to trudge through drifts of slush.

Thanks to the intense sun, the snow mostly melted on the way up, but we still had to trudge through drifts of slush.

This is one high bridge. We were coming down at this point, on the way up I couldn’t capture any photos. We braved this bad boy with 40mph gusts and blowing snow!

This is one high bridge. We were coming down at this point, on the way up I couldn’t capture any photos. We braved this bad boy with 40mph gusts and blowing snow!

We watched the sun rise over Mt Everest about 300 vertical feet from the top. The snow had covered the trail, so we took a yak path up the mountain. The grueling climb rewarded us with spectacular views.

We watched the sun rise over Mt Everest about 300 vertical feet from the top. The snow had covered the trail, so we took a yak path up the mountain. The grueling climb rewarded us with spectacular views.

The Himalaya are so steep and breath taking. I could spend a lifetime exploring here.

The Himalaya are so steep and breath taking. I could spend a lifetime exploring here.

What other treks do you have on your bucket list?

I would love to do the Peaks of the Balkans Trail, Snowman Trek in Bhutan, The Great Himalayan Trail in Nepal, complete what I have left of the Colorado Trail and the John Muir Trail in California. As far as peaks go - I have my eyes on Mera (21,247’), which of course means another trip to Nepal. I also would love to give Rainier in Washington a try as well.

Lincoln Democrat Bross: Enjoying walking among the giants

Lincoln Democrat Bross: Enjoying walking among the giants

On a more local level, I plan on exploring the world of Class III and Class IV climbs in the Gore Range of Colorado. I’m ambitious, but you can’t deny a love, so I take advantage of every minute I get to be in the mountains.

What is your favorite hiking gear and why?

I really can’t get enough of my Nano Air Hoody by Patagonia. I rave about the thing on my blog. That thing keeps me SO warm and weighs so little. I’ve lovingly nick-named it my decent jacket because it’s often too warm to wear on the uphill grind.

What piece of advise would you give a female who is new to hiking?

Don’t get in your own head. I hear so many women say that they couldn’t do what I do. That’s simply not true. You can do whatever you set out to do with the right attitude and motivation. It sounds corny, but it’s so true. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Meg goes on to share the toughest trek she's ever done.

Aside from Gokyo Ri, the toughest one I’ve done was my first winter ascent of Atlantic Peak. Winter amps up the difficulty level by about a factor of 10. It wasn’t anything too long, only about 6 miles round trip. The route rides a corniced ridge for 2 of those miles. I ended up post-holing on the way down for far too long. Anyone who’s had experience with walking in snow up to your knees know how utterly exhausting it is. I stopped to take a break and told my mountaineering partner, in a half-joking tone, that I wanted to take a nap.

Obviously a nap is not an option in winter conditions so I schlepped my butt back down the thing to the car. I believe what made it so challenging is that in the summer, that mountain wouldn’t have been a huge deal, but winter always reminds me of nature’s power.

Standing on a knife edge on the final push to the summit of Atlantic Peak (13,841’) near the 10 Mile Range in Colorado.

Standing on a knife edge on the final push to the summit of Atlantic Peak (13,841’) near the 10 Mile Range in Colorado.

And as a female, what are some of the challenges in the hiking world?

Finding other female hikers! Most of my lady friends are afraid to hike with me. They feel inadequate, when I don’t see why. We don’t have to go do the baddest, craziest thing to get out. Sure I like that stuff, and I do find it quite difficult to find other females willing to go with me. I don’t really get it because I’m just like them. I’m not doing anything fantastic or crazy that others can’t do. I’m just out there pushing myself. I stopped worrying about failing, and just started trying. I feel like females are encouraged to compare themselves to others a little too much.

Last fall I went on a mission: find those badass ladies. After some trial and error I’ve found quite a few. We are out there if you know where to look. So if you’re looking to get into the outdoors, just let go of the ego and go for it. I promise, Mother Nature doesn’t care if you turn around or look like a dork.

How has the meaning of hiking in your life evolve for you over the years?

Hiking used to be an activity that I “was bad at.” It’s now an integral part of who I am. I’ve gained confidence through hiking. It has allowed me to explore my own backyard in ways I never thought capable of. Adventure pulses through my veins, hiking and mountaineering are a big part of that.

Meg's favorite quote:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

- Steve Jobs

Meg runs a blog called Adventuers of Fox in the Forest.  Here's what it's about.

Adventures of Fox in the Forest is a resource for honest and real advice about adventure travel and the outdoors. I really enjoy story telling so I often pepper in vivid accounts from my experiences with honest information about a place, trail, or activity. It’s constantly evolving as I emerge from the shell of my last life into being honest with myself and what I want out of life.  Through my stories I hope I can motivate someone like me to make a change. Take risk, go for what you want. Step outside of your comfort zone and see what stares back at you. Too many people live life in a cloud of “I can’t” or “I wish.” You can. Don’t wish. Do.

What led you to start this website?

Change. Change and fear of the unknown are catalysts to great things in life. I have been on a 3 year path to change my life to get what I want out of it, instead of letting people dictate what my life should be. I want to explore and I have a story to tell.

Meg has traveled to 31 countries across 5 continents.  Meg's favorites include Nepal, Malaysian Borneo, Indonesia, Peru, and New Zealand.

What lessons have you learned from traveling overseas?

We all want the same things: a roof over our head, a good meal, and wonderful company to enjoy it all with.

What were some of the challenges as a female traveler?

There are all of these intense things I’d love to do - but feel like as a female it’s a bit more challenging. For example I read this amazing book by Levinson Wood called Walking the Himalaya where he walked from Afghanistan to Bhutan. I’d love to do something like that, with an all-woman team (if you’re interested let me know!). I feel there are extra precautions you have to take as a female. In some places it’s more difficult to be heard or taken seriously. I’ve been asked MANY times in various places “Where is your husband?” It makes traveling to remote areas unaccustomed to solo female travelers a bit more difficult. The way I see it? Challenge accepted!

I lived out of a van for 2 weeks in New Zealand. There’s a life I could get used to!

I lived out of a van for 2 weeks in New Zealand. There’s a life I could get used to!

I’ve met some amazing people through the Couchsurfing network. I have couchsurfed my way through South East Asia. This is me wandering around the kampung (village) with my host outside of Jogjakarta.

I’ve met some amazing people through the Couchsurfing network. I have couchsurfed my way through South East Asia. This is me wandering around the kampung (village) with my host outside of Jogjakarta.

Me on my motorbike cruising the Hai Vai Van Pass in Vietnam

Me on my motorbike cruising the Hai Vai Van Pass in Vietnam

Share with us some of your best travel tips.

Open your mind and heart. Be flexible, and believe in the better sides of the human spirit when you travel. If you close yourself off and are afraid of everything, you won’t get to see how truly magical this world really is.

You lived in other countries as well.  How did you end up doing this?  

I spent a summer in the UK in high school, studied abroad in Denmark as well as lived and worked in Malaysia while in grad school. I came across the gig in Malaysia from one of my professors.

What were some of the challenges of moving overseas?

The greatest challenge is learning how to adapt to a local culture. I found that letting go of my American norms in favor of the norms of where I lived got me a lot further. Embrace local customs and you're more apt to have more genuine connections.

How would you differentiate life on the road on travels versus moving and living in another country?

When you live somewhere you have so much more to figure out. How to make friends, how to find a good grocery store, how to behave at work, the list goes on. There were definitely times where I was frustrated at a place, and it’s easy to shut down and close yourself off when that happens. But if you do that, you’ll be miserable. You have to force yourself out of your shell and deal with your reality a lot more than when you travel. The country’s problems become your problems because you deal with it on a regular basis.

What is your advise for someone who is thinking of moving overseas?

Do it.

To wrap it up, Meg responds to our rapid fire questions:

How many countries have you been to? 31

Do you prefer solo or group travel?  Solo or with 1 other person. I get to discover more about myself.

What do you miss the most on the road? My dog Nina. She’s my best friend and adventure pal. I love her to death!

Nina and I: She’s my 9 year old rescue mutt who I take with me everywhere. She’s become quite the summit queen, having topped out on 3 peaks last summer!

Nina and I: She’s my 9 year old rescue mutt who I take with me everywhere. She’s become quite the summit queen, having topped out on 3 peaks last summer!

In one word describe the word, TRAVEL.

Life.

What is your favorite travel gear and why? My Jansport 80L backpack. I’ve had it since I was 18 and it’s been to all but 2 countries with me and joined me for all of my backpacking endeavors.

Any other projects on the horizon?

I'm writing a book! My co-author and I are writing a guide to help women gain confidence in their outdoor skills. We are covering everything from how to start a fire in the rain to what to do about your period on a backpacking trip. It's raw, it's real and filled with real-world experiences. For exclusive snippets and more information regarding the book, you can subscribe to my newsletter here.

Where can we find and follow your adventures?

Facebook, Twitter Pinterest, Instagram & Google

Thanks Meg for sharing with us your journey. 

If you're ready to expand your travels, trek with us via Peak Explorations to join other solo trekkers who share your passion for the outdoors.  You don't need to do it alone!

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