The outdoor industry can be a hard place. My Instagram feed is full of #influencers with perfect hair/abs and cool tattoos and maybe a dog, #vanlife-ing it up all up and down some sort of picturesque coastline. All my mega outdoor books have introductions that read “Ten years ago when I wrote this book about summiting 14ers entirely by handstand and unicycle, I had no idea that a wife and children were in my future.” It can be disheartening, especially when you came to the outdoor life AFTER you had kids and wasted your twenties on totally square stuff.

So when I met Gretchen, I thought “YAY! She is very cool and she is willing to hang out with me, I will enjoy being adjacent to her coolness.” And then I discovered, that in addition to being painfully cool, she is also a yoga teacher who can lead a powerful session, talk about her sons, and have a radically open and authentic conversation. Her warm and open heart is apparent within a few minutes of meeting her, as exemplified by her co-founding our Galvanize group, for female outdoor entrepreneurs in the Midwest. (Know someone who should join us? Want to join us yourself? Shoot me an email via the contact form.) Our first outing was hilarious – we all met up in the steady light rain and kind of eyed each other, thinking “I don’t mind, but will they mind?” No one minded, in the end, and we enjoyed a gorgeous damp wonderful smelling hike, and then Gretchen led us in a yoga session in the gazebo with chirping birds and falling raindrops all around.

When I asked Gretchen for a brief bio/summary, she said: Akron-based Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 200®, completed her 200-hour teacher training with Marni Task in 2012 & teaches Jivamukti-inspired vinyasa classes meant to challenge both body & mind, to deepen connections, & tap into our ability to create from a place of fearless authenticity….and sometimes she swears a little. I can vouch – this is all accurate!

Advice in her own words from Gretchen’s first climbing trip: I went on my very first climbing trip to the New River Gorge just last summer & so vividly remember at one point in the trip, sitting on the top of a rock we had just climbed, feeling so incredibly content, connected, small, & happy. Looking out over a sea of green tree tops below us & big, billowy clouds above us, life suddenly felt like it slowed down & came perfectly into perspective. Being out in the woods for a weekend with friends, living off of what’s on your back, challenging yourself, facing your fears, & working your way through them (100 ft off the ground!) is such a humbling, healing, happy experience. You quickly realize that there’s so little that we really need to survive & even the things we need to thrive in life are very basic. At that moment, I was the happiest I had been in a very, very long time.

Find more Gretchen at: www.dogoodakron.com