Surviving Addiction and Living Boldly (Kate Arnold)

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When neither addiction nor a suicide attempt ended her life, Kate Arnold found the strength to not just change everything, but to live boldly, fiercely and as an outdoor-focused inspiration to every single person she meets.

Now she’s a runner, athlete and fitness coach in Palmer, Alaska, soaking in creation and living each moment boldly and loudly because she can. In a world of Instagram fame, “influencers,” and self-promotion, it can be hard to find the folks who are out there just humbly doing incredible things while no one is watching.

Kate is that person and she has a deeply felt reason for doing it. In this week’s podcast she shares what drives her and her no-big-deal (except that it is) view on what it’s like to be a total outdoor badass like Kate, where she draws her strength and how she’s taking others out to explore Alaska, too.

Some of the good stuff:

[1:49] Kate’s favorite outdoor space.
[3:48] Kate’s outdoor story
[4:42] Kate’s addiction battle
[7:39] How Kate moved away from addiction
[9:15] Kate’s faith story
[13:45] The Susitna 100 race report
[15:25] Kate and backcountry snowboarding
[17:15] How Kate saved Amy on Lazy Mountain
[18:43] Why Kate does hard things
[21:12] How to be mentally tough
[24:40] All about the Aktive Soles AK Ultra Running camp
[30:45] How to train for Kate’s ultra running camp
[34:05] Why do a running camp instead of just visiting Alaska
[39:16] Kate’s favorite outdoor gear
[40:19] Kate’s most essential outdoor gear
[41:03] Kate’s favorite outdoor moment

Connect with this episode:

Mentioned in the show:
The Butte, Alaska
Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Alaska
Susitna 100
12 step programs
“Higher power”
Iditasport 100k
Lazy Mountain
Dave Johnston 
Christy Marvin
Pioneer Peak
Run Like a Girl running adventures
Costa Rica
Reindeer Farm
Musk Ox Farm 
Palmer, Alaska 
W Trek, Patagonia park 

Favorite outdoor gear:
Montbell down pants

Most essential outdoor gear:

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Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

AB: There are two types of adventure lovers in the world. There’s the ones you hear about. They are loud and proud about the cool stuff they do, the incredible things they overcome, and the physical feats they accomplish. They do such cool stuff that you think anyone who did that stuff would surely talk about it too. But one of the things I’ve learned since moving to Alaska is that there’s a whole world of people who do awesome stuff very, very quietly. They do it just for themselves, to help themselves heal or to make themselves stronger. And if you are lucky enough, knowing them is an inspiration. And if you’re really lucky, they are your personal friends and you can trick them into being on your podcast. 

Kate Arnold is a fitness and running coach, ironwoman, mountain runner, ultra runner, snowboarder, mountaineer, and the brains behind Alaska’s Active Adventures AK Ultra Running Camp. She also happens to be one of my closest friends and a part of the group of people I lovingly refer to as my running wives. Kate, welcome to the Humans Outside Podcast.

KA: Thanks for having me, Amy. This is great.

AB: So we start all of these podcasts by imagining ourselves in our guest’s favorite outdoor space, chatting it up over a cup of coffee, or maybe on an adventure. So where are we with you today?

KA: Well, it’s no surprise, Amy, that I’m going to tell you that my favorite place is the butte, which is an 806 foot tiny, little mountain right in the middle of our town. It’s just a steep straight shot up to the top and it has 360 degree views of our whole valley. And it is special. I love that place. 

AB: You go like every day.

KA: Yeah, well, you know, I used to go up every day. I had a little personal challenge to try and go up to that mountain every day. And since I moved away, it’s a little bit harder, but I try.

AB: By moving away, we mean like five miles. But I want to describe it a little bit more for people because it’s like this little nubbin in the middle of this valley that’s also surrounded by huge mountains. 800 feet may seem like quite the climb to most people, but in context, it is nothing. It is a nubbin in this valley, but it does get you a little bit higher up and give you, like you said, just this fantastic view of the valley, of those mountains. And oh, hey, there’s a glacier right there. That kind of thing. It’s an incredible view. So I totally get why you love it. 

So you are such a huge part of my own Alaska adventure story, which is why I’m so excited to share you with our listeners. You’re not from Alaska, but you have this great story. And you’re, I think, probably the most adventurous person I know. I was gonna say one of but I mean, you’re definitely very close to, if not the top of the list. Your story is one of moving forward in life, learning to become a whole, healthy person. So if you’re cool, tell us a little bit about that. How did you end up in Alaska and why?

KA: I started climbing bigger mountains and going on adventures when I moved out of Wisconsin and lived in Hawaii for a while around 2010. I’ve always been an outdoor kid, you know. Living in Wisconsin and northern Wisconsin, we had a lot of amazing lakes and woods and I had a lot of freedom, as far as recreation back then, fishing and hunting and all of those good things. And then moving to Colorado and Hawaii, I just saw that the mountains were a lot bigger, and there were more adventures to be had. And so, you know, it really opened my mind to what I could do as an athlete, as a person. And it took me a really roundabout way to get there. Unfortunately, I ran into problems with addiction along the way. And so you know, it was a long road, but I finally made it to the great land of Alaska and it has been just an incredible journey just to be here. 

To kind of touch base on my past a little bit, I was born and raised in Medford, Wisconsin, which is a little tiny town. I think we had about 300 people in my area when I was born. Well, you know, my parents were not really always around very much. I had parents that were alcoholics. And so it was a challenging upbringing. And my parents got divorced when I was two and they moved to completely separate parts of the state. So I ended up moving to the city when I was really, really young, and you know, just getting taken away from the outdoors in that sense was kind of challenging. Being with alcoholic parents, you tend to start to go down that same road with people around you, especially in the city. Getting taken out of this peaceful environment in the woods and getting taken down to the city was a little bit of a challenge for our family and for myself. Going through those years, it was just a challenge to be with alcoholic parents and my sister and I really struggled. Really just finding friends and finding help there. And so the court system ended up you know, separating us and that was mostly because I was getting a lot of travel back then. I ended up living with my dad up in northern Wisconsin, and then my sister was living down in southern Wisconsin. We had to deal with the separation of each other and the separation of divorced and alcoholic parents. And so it was a little bit of a challenge.

AB: So you ended up becoming an addict yourself and struggling with that. And, you know, that’s a long road to walk. But you’ve told me before about a moment, you know, literally in the hospital where you decided that you were going to change what you were doing and how you were doing it. You want to tell us a little bit about that sort of moment of decision?

KA: Yeah, you know, I’ve had quite a few of those kind of wake up moments when both of my parents passed away. And then also, when I started to go down that road of addiction, I could see myself in them and following that same path of life. And really, also myself, just that I had gone into so many dark places and you know, most likely as a child for attention trying to, you know, take my own life as far as taking too many drugs or drinking too much alcohol until it became a serious problem. And I was, you know, actually attempting to commit suicide. And I ended up in the hospital. And unfortunately, my parents didn’t get to live through that. And I did. So, you know, that was a really defining moment for me as far as needing to take a new path in life and just live for them and not for me.

AB: So you end up first moving, you were in Colorado, you moved to Hawaii, and then you ended up up here, just sort of defying those odds, defying the grasp of addiction, defying all of the things, defying the length someone can run. We’ll get to that in a second – and just really, really changing your life, which is incredible. 

KA: I really didn’t do any of that on my own. I think you know, I can get into that later, but I just have to say honestly that it’s because of God that I was, you know, really taken out of that situation. It was no miracle of my own, that’s for sure, definitely a miracle, but nothing that I did on my own at all and so I just want to make sure you know that we really touch base on that. Because seeing a 180-turn in my life is absolutely a miracle and I don’t really think that anyone could come from a place that I did without some sort of trauma or you know, something like that, but, but it’s been okay because we’ve had, you know, God in our life. So it’s been great.

AB: So talk to me a little bit about that faith because one of the things that I know you love about being on these mountaintops and spending all this time inside outside rather is seeing that just creation, right and just magnificence around us that we – it’s just like this undeniable, like, amazing, you know, landscape where you just got to wonder like — Who am I and where am I? And what’s going on here? It’s hard to put into words unless you’re experiencing it, right? But standing on literal mountain tops having that feeling. So talk to me a little bit about the nexus of those two things, you know, like, where that faith is, and those moments where you feel that?

KA: I wasn’t really allowed to grow up with a faith and to believe in God. It wasn’t very well accepted in our family. And so I did have another side of my family that had opened my eyes up to the Bible and appreciation of life. You know, I remember them sharing with me a scripture – it was in Romans 20. And it says, basically, that — for His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made. Even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable. And I thought — yeah, like the sunrise, the mountains, all the things that we get to do every day like snowboard, ice climb, just even, I mean really everything, just the rain. Everything that we see is a visible quality of God and to appreciate that was like a wake up call. Like — Oh wow, I have a reason to live. Like I have someone to thank for all of this. And at that time, I had moved to Hawaii and got involved with a canoe racing club there and fell deeply in love with the ocean and the power of the ocean.It was like a hand in hand moment. Like, you can’t deny it. That movement was just a huge change in my life and being surrounded by people that really, you know, finding a community that really believes and has a faith you know, helped draw me out of the darkest places that I’ve ever been. 

AB: I love that because, two things. First, when you do these like 12 step recovery programs they talk about a higher power, which is really, to you and I, what we root our faith in, right? We know that higher power as God. That’s what we call that. But the reality for many people is that they can still see creation, right? And have that connection to that higher power. And we can all appreciate it, regardless of our faith backgrounds. And it’s just something that sort of binds us with all the people around us. It’s just so cool. And one of the things I just love about Alaska is that appreciation is largely just sort of cultural here. And one of just who we are as people that we have that bond around, just loving the Butte and the 360 degree view that you get up there. 

Just to give people a window into some of the cool things you’ve done, I mentioned them earlier. But let’s start with the Susitna 100, which is a 100 mile winter race in Alaska, where you have to pull a sled as you run, and it was around what, negative 20 while you were doing that?

KA: Yeah, variations of negative 20 to probably negative 30 with the wind chill.

AB: Yeah, very cold. And how many people finished that this year?

KA: Oh, gosh, that’s a great question because there are bikers and runners.

AB: Runners?

KA: There has to be like 50.

AB:How long did it take you?

KA: It took me, I believe, 36 hours

AB: And one second, right?

KA: And one second.

AB: So, my point is, that’s a long time to run outside in the very, very cold. Only 50 people did that successfully this year. So that’s just incredible. And a few weeks before that was the Iditasport which is a 100k race, so about 60 miles. You also did that with a sled?

KA: Mm hmm. That was brutal.

AB: And you’re very cold. Everyone can follow Kate on Instagram, by the way – we’ll put up her Instagram handle in our podcast notes – to like sort of watch from afar all of these things. Despite being here in Alaska, I am also watching from afar because Kate is a level of intense and just dedicated to this that I cannot – I’m not there yet. You also winter and summer run in the mountains, gaining thousands of vertical feet. You also backcountry snowboard which means what? How is that different than regular snowboarding?

KA: So the main difference is that the snowboard splits in half and turns into skis. And you can switch your bindings from sideways to straight and they go right on to the skis. And then you basically put these things on called skins. They’re kind of like carpets and they stick to your skis on the bottom so that you can walk uphill, and then when you get up to the top of the hill, you can take the skins off, take your bindings off, put your snowboard together, put your bindings back on and ride down the mountain.

AB: So you are snowboarding where there’s no groomed trail, you’re hiking up -I think you’re not giving yourself enough credit by the way. You’re literally mountain hiking in deep snow on skis that then turn into a snowboard. And then you are snowboarding down said mountain, not on a groom trail of any kind, just through powder. Which I am not a snowboarder, but I gather that’s the most compelling greatest part. And you’re doing this repeatedly over the course of the day. There’s no lift. There is no hot chocolate in the lodge. There’s just you, the mountain, and all the things that I enjoy about skiing which feature the lift and the hot chocolate are not present.

KA: That’s correct. Although there are some beverages waiting for you in the car.

AB: But not hot, right?

KA: Yeah, exactly. If you want to go I could bring you some hot chocolate.

AB: One of the first times I ever did Lazy Mountain, which I’ve now done many times and you can see pictures up on my Instagram page, Kate was with me. aKate did haul up hot chocolate in a backpack, like she backpacked up a whole pack of stuff, including boozy hot chocolate and an extra jacket because she knew Amy would probably be out and be cold at the top but unprepared is that not true?

KA: Well, you know, I am a guide and so I have some experience with people not being 100% prepared, especially when I want to stop and you know, enjoy the view and drink some hot toddy. So, you know I always bring the extra clothes just in case.

AB: I have learned my lesson. Can you confirm? 

KA: Yes, yes, you have. You have been a spectacular student.

AB: Thank you very much. I will take the compliment. I want to talk about the Active Adventures Ultra Running Camp here in a bit. But first, I want to talk about your why just a little bit more and then about your mental fortitude, because the things we just talked about just take incredible mental fortitude. So you mentioned your faith. You mentioned just being able to see this just spectacular, if you will, glory. Why does that compel you to go out and run 100 miles in this snow in negative 30? Why?

KA: You know, as I mentioned earlier, I think really just the struggle that I had been through and watching my parents, you know, lose their lives and just really making that effort to try and live and find my human potential – like what am I really capable of? Because, you know, my parents aren’t able to find that potential. And I almost lost that privilege to find that potential. And so, you know, it’s like we could keep living every day not knowing what we’re capable of, or we could just try. And really, I am so inspired by all the people here in Alaska and, and really around the world that I’ve met, that are doing absolutely incredible things with the human body. And so, you know, to me, superheroes like Dave Johnston, and you know, Christy Marvin, that whole crew of incredible super athletes, it just opens your mind to what you could be capable of. And really, when I’m running, I think maybe I told you this before, depending on the miles, I try to pick, you know, 30 people or think of or 50 people to think of and I will just try to at each mile think of that person that supports me, and just keep pushing. And that really helps me out, you know, just when I’m at mile 89, and it’s 60 below or whatever it is, and the windchill is ripping, and my sled is super heavy, I’m thinking about you, and I’m thinking about Claire, and Rachel and Christy and all of you guys who have supported me through, you know, facing challenges and that just helps me keep going. And it’s like, you know, I have no other reason to just keep going. 

AB: That’s incredible. I’m wondering too, like, okay, so you find this mental space where you’re able to make yourself do this kind of thing. But that’s not something that you learn how to do overnight. So I’m wondering, how do you practice being able to find – is it just doing it over and over again, until you overcome? How do you find the mental space to know how to go there, to be able to run that 100 miles in the winter to be able to do this stuff?

KA: Um, yeah, it’s mostly just practice. Since I stopped, you know, getting into trouble and, and drinking and doing drugs, I really had to start channeling that energy into something else. And I think of, you know, all the things that I have done throughout my life, like paddling in Hawaii was a big catalyst to just being able to do extreme sports. Being introduced to, you know, Hawaiian outrigger paddle racing, and being in the ocean for hours on end and, you know, not not being afraid and trying to be as strong as Hawaiian people. You know, that really kind of changed a journey for me as far as what I’m capable of. And so I usually think back to, okay, the first time that, you know, I climbed a mountain or when I climbed up the north face of Pioneer peak, or just, you know, things that I’ve done that are harder than what I’m doing right now. Like the Iron Man or, you know, just just really challenging things that I’ve been through losing my parents or, you know, getting through a terrible situation, like a terrible relationship. Like all those things are so much harder than pulling a sled through a flat land in Alaska. Just trying to use my experiences through life, I think that has really helped open up that mental space to just like. It’s okay, like, you know, you just do a check over and check back in mentally — am I doing okay? And then you just keep going and like you said, you do practice that little by little and just pushing to see what you’re capable of. But definitely where I came from, I’m just like, if I can get through that, if I can live through that I could probably do anything. So, you know, it’s really just just coming to those terms and also seeing other people do it. I mean … there’s people who are running across the entire United States, like, people are running 1000 miles from Wasilla to Nome. And so it’s like, and, you know, if they can do it, surely we can attempt to do it. And so, usually that’s kind of my motivation.

AB: I want to talk about the ultra running camp, Active Adventures AK, which I’m hoping to join you for. So just give us the lowdown. When is it and where is it and what is it?

KA: Yeah, so it’s super exciting that we were able to create an ultra running camp here in Alaska. I have been a part of an ultra running camp in different parts of the world, and so to bring it to Alaska was a dream of mine and also the owner of Active Souls and Active Body downtown gym. She has been a major support in building this camp. And so basically what it is is a seven day running tour in the backcountry of Alaska where we take you with guides out into the mountains, we hike and run the whole day. And then we come back to a beautiful location to homemade food and nice comfy beds and warm showers and then we get some rest and wake up, have a great breakfast, and do it all again. And everyone’s taken care of. And really the idea came from a company that I work for called Run Like a Girl. And they have been doing camps like this all over. And I participated in a few one in Iceland, one in Patagonia, a couple in Costa Rica. And I also went on a running tour like this in Italy and so I thought it was the greatest thing ever to go to another place and run in the backcountry and see the mountains and be guided by a local. And then you come back to a hot shower. And oh, by the way, we offer massages, and a beautiful space and just time with a group to get to know a group – when we could get to know groups before the coronavirus. 

But yeah, so I have experienced the most incredible times with people in the mountains that I did not know. And I just thought that there’s a lot of people in Alaska that come here and they do the same tours, you know, they go to Girdwood and to Alyeska or to Seward. And then they go to Denali, or you know, Homer and then they go to Fairbanks and that’s it. And they’re really missing out on Alaska. And so especially our valley, the highway ,goes right past Palmer. It goes from Anchorage to Villa to Denali and goes right past Palmer most people don’t even come into Palmer which is the most incredible place.

AB: They’re missing out. It’s the cutest little town you’ve ever seen.

KA: It’s true. And you can hike the butte and see all the mountains! I mean, we got the reindeer farm, the musk ox farm. 

So just the sense that people are missing out and that we could be a part of getting people out there just seemed like the greatest opportunity. When I first moved here and learned that people didn’t go out in the mountains or didn’t even know what the names of the mountains were, I was shocked and it has kind of been my mission since I got to Palmer to just encourage an outdoor community and really challenge people to get outside.

AB: So okay, so how many miles? When we say ultrarunning camp, what are we talking about? Talk about mileage, talk about vertical feet gains, because those are two different things.

KA: That’s correct. So the goal is 100 miles in the seven days, depending on weather and group dynamics and level of ability.

AB: You’re not going to force march anyone 100 miles. I want to make sure people aren’t thinking about this as like — my goal is to run 100 miles because that may not happen. Our goal is to do all of the mountains and all of these cool offbeat – not all of the mountains, but many mountains – and all these cool off the beaten path trails and a lot of vertical feet and see some stuff, it is not a mileage goal.

KA: Correct. And really selfishly, I have to be honest, that I really do pride myself in finding the best moments of the day. So I really tried to push the groups kind of out of their comfort zone, like let’s start on a trail at 5am so we can see the sunrise from this direction or waiting until the rain goes and we start a trail in the afternoon so that we can see an incredible rainbow sunset. It’s not just about crushing mountains and getting miles, it’s about enjoying these beautiful moments that we enjoy every day in Alaska, in the most scenic and incredible landscape. If you can reach the 100 mile goal in the end, that’s great. But if we don’t, at least we have that one time that you know this happened.

AB: How many vertical feet are we gaining?

KA: Oh gosh, it’s at least Everest twice.

AB: That’s not scary. That’s fine.

KA: Yeah, it’s completely fine. You know, because we break it up. We go slow sometimes. Our big big day is about 11,000 vertical feet of gain and descent and that’s one of our biggest.

AB: Because this is an ultra running camp and not for the untrained, you do have folks apply for this so you can screen them to make sure the group is compiled of people who are ready for this and kind of mesh pretty well and you also suggest some training. So what do you suggest to train? How do you suggest to train for it and tell me so that I don’t die when I do it with you?

KA: So, yeah, we do have people apply because we don’t have real trails here. As you know, in the lower 48, people have groomed trails and it’s not, you know, trail running is a completely different technique and sport up here. And so I like to just communicate with everyone about their experience and technicality. 

So, what I recommend is a lot of ankle strengthening exercises for people. And every trail here is extremely steep. And so um something that maybe we didn’t mention is that I also am trained as a running coach and so I do prescribe some exercises to the athletes that have applied unless they have their own coach. But I’m you know, doing lots of squats and, and lunges and deadlifts and carrying weight because we do carry a lot of water. I think that’s something that people really underestimate when they start to go uphill. They’ve been training to go uphill but they haven’t trained with weight and that’s usually what slows everyone down. And, and really just training to eat and hydrate is important, because that’s how we keep our energy in the trails. 

And so, I really do think that anybody could do it, it’s just that you have to have the mileage under your belt. You know, so, we do jump over a lot of rocks, there’s a lot of just kind of plyometrics that we do on the trails, right? Like we’re holding on to the side of this rock to get across this one section. So you want to have some forearm strength, you want to have the ability to, you know, get around these technical scenarios, and so that it doesn’t feel like you’re off balance and and you’re always tripping and falling. So I do recommend that people do a lot of box jumps and absorb, absorbing power, not just exerting power, if that makes sense. And so, um, yeah, just doing a lot more like high intensity stuff when we’re running downhill. We are going pretty fast and we’re going to a lot of technical terrain. You can watch some of our videos on YouTube and you’ll see the fastest downhill mountain runner and Alaska showing a little bit of what we can get ourselves into in that movie. It is technical and the trails are not not like any other trails around.

AB: So now that you’ve scared everybody and me some more by the way, I’m gonna end this podcast recording and sit down and give myself a little pep talk about how I should train and also try to drop some weight because it’s easier to run uphill when you’re not weighing a lot. So I’m gonna just give myself a pep talk about not eating extra cake and stuff like that. 

KA: Give me that pep talk, too.

AB: Why should people apply and register for something like this? Now that you’ve scared them, why should they do it?

KA: Um, so you know, you could you could come here and you could go on a cruise, you could come here and go on all the glacier boat tours and do all the things. But doing this camp is an accomplishment and it’s a big goal and so it is something to train for. It’s not like you’re going to Costa Rica and sitting on the beach and drinking margaritas. You’re coming here to work for the views of seeing what no one else will ever see in their whole lifetime. Somebody else will take that cruise, they will dock in Seward, they will go to that restaurant, they will eat at that ice cream shop, they will do all those things. And you could do that also. And it’s great and it’s a lot of fun. And I’m not going to say that I don’t do that. But you could also come to Alaska and experience something that no one else ever will. And every trip is so unique because of the weather. We changed the trails based on weather and safety of the group. And so every trip is going to be your own trip, and no one else will ever see those things. And so just that, I think is is a huge draw to come here and do this. And also to give yourself a goal. You know, we all sign up for marathons, we sign up for half marathons, you sign up for 5Ks, we sign up for all those things, and I’m going to train for them. You know, I’m a coach, I train people to run 5Ks. And so if you’re going to give yourself something to train for, why not train for, you know, to have the best experience of your life in Alaska? Like so, you know, I do think it is hard work and worth exerting the energy and I know if I can do it, I mean, considering if you listen back to the podcast of where I’ve come from, and and i’m not anything special.

So if I can do it, anybody, like honestly, I think anybody can do it if you really try and want it.

AB: You gotta work for it and you gotta want it. I think that’s one of the things that I’ve really learned over the last few years. You know, I don’t think most people know a lot about my own background, but I was not into fitness. I was not a runner. I was a fan of the doughnuts and eating. I was a fan of talking the talk, but not walking the walk, you know. I learned over time that one, if I want something, I can do it. I can. I just have to want it hard and work hard enough to get it. And that takes being smart. That takes asking for help. That takes listening to other people give advice. That takes trying new things and experimenting, but always remembering that consistency is key. And that no matter how much you want something, if you do not consistently work for it, you will not be able to have it. And so yes, that’s really been key to me and I am super stoked, so stoked to join you on this ultra camp later this year. I am not a guide but I am an enthusiast. I’m really really excited to jump in on this and let you show me these mountains. Yes, I did run some of it last year, but it was certainly not all of it. And it was not the most intense days. It was just sort of picking and choosing. I had to leave town. That’s my excuse. 

KA: That’s okay. You know, we have more time to train. 

AB: Thank the Lord. You’re gonna try to kill me, but it’s fine. 

KA: We are definitely trying to help people reach their limit. I think, you know, and I’ll just say that really quick, that like every retreat running camp that I’ve been on, people who have been challenged have made the biggest leaps and bounds in their lives, you know, just to knowing who they are. You know, I’ll never forget those experiences of those women getting to the tops of the mountains when they did not want to do it. They really didn’t. And they did. And with blood, sweat, and tears, and lots of mud, they saw the most incredible thing and experienced the most challenging thing that they’ve ever done. And then they went home and made significant changes in their lives. Just knowing that just being a part of that was like — how can anybody not want to try that? You know, and so it will be challenging, but I think that that’s the point.

AB: You know, I love it. So I could talk to you forever and I actually have forever literally hours and hours and hours as we run. At the end of the podcast, we talk about a few leftover things, and I’m really actually excited to ask you these things because I, despite our hours and hours and hours of talking, I don’t think I’ve ever asked you this. So tell me your favorite outdoor gear. 

KA: My favorite outdoor gear is actually a pair of down Montbell pants. I’m actually wearing them right now. But I wear these things all the time. I bring them with me everywhere. It’s mostly just in Alaska, and like Patagonia and Iceland, because you just pull them out and you put them on and you’re warm. Even if you’re just standing around just drinking water for a brief moment on the mountains or anywhere. You just slide them on, these zip. They have a full zip on both sides. And then you’re just warm. You just are hanging out and you’re warm. And so that’s my favorite, favorite piece of gear.

AB: And for people who’ve never seen down pants, these are essentially like a sleeping bag that is pants.

KA: Mmhmm. Exactly. 

AB: And you have offered to let me wear them before, so thank you. What is your most essential outdoor gear?

KA: My most essential would probably be a Buff. I sweat a lot and I snot a lot and so I bring with me a few different buffs to rotate through. They can come in handy in so many scenarios in wilderness: first aid, we use buffs to tie sticks on people’s legs to brace broken bones, and all the things. You can use it for many, many things and so it’s great.

AB: I love a buff. What is your most favorite outdoor time ever? If you close your eyes and picture yourself in just the best outdoor moment you’ve ever had, where are you and why? What are you doing?

KA: I am hiking the W trail in Patagonia park with a group of incredible humans. And we found an amazingly turquoise blue glacier lake and I forced them all to jump into it. It’s the greatest time ever. It’s a beautiful place. That park is amazing.

AB: Kate, thanks so much for being on the Humans Outside Podcast today.

KA: Thank you for having me, Amy.

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