When it comes to weekend adventures, Sasha Cox of Trail Mavens is an expert in the field, offering skills-based overnight backpacking and camping trips for women around California! She also happens to be one of my personal role models.
A couple of years ago, while backpacking in the Bolivian Andes with her fiancé, Sasha realized that she never adventured in nature with her best girl friends. That’s when she decided to take those friends on a trip and teach them everything they needed to know. Soon after, Trail Mavens was born.
Read more about Sasha’s journey in the interview below, then head over to TrailMavens.com to register for the next trip, especially if you live in the Bay Area. Sorry guys, girls only!
Tell us a little about yourself!
Born in Honduras, bred in Washington, D.C., I discovered that I was a Californian at heart when I came to the Bay Area for college. Things that make me very happy: camping and backpacking, big international adventures, long distance running, improv, 90s hip hop, Alton Brown, and excellent novels (The Goldfinch comes to mind). I split my time between Trail Mavens and coaching rockin’ people to lead the most awesome version of their lives.
When did you first discover your love for the outdoors?
As much as I love spending time in nature now, I didn’t grow up camping and backpacking. My mom called the shots when it came to family leisure time when I was a kid, and since she wasn’t outdoorsy, we weren’t outdoorsy. It wasn’t until I started dating a mountain man type at the end of college that I went on my first real camping trip in Yosemite. The experience hooked me completely; this guy and I started a hike up to Nevada Falls and ended up summiting Half Dome, mostly because I just wanted to keep going (this was back in the days before the permit system on the chains).
We got to the top just as the sun dipped below the horizon, and watching that sunset on the top of Half Dome was magical. How we made it down from the top after dark without headlamps, food, or water is another story. Hey, this is the story of when I discovered my love for the outdoors, not when I got smart about the outdoors 🙂
What is Trail Mavens? What inspired you to create outdoor experiences just for women?
Trail Mavens empowers women to be the fire-starters, the tent-pitchers, and the map-readers, creating opportunities for adventure, leadership, and starry-night campfire conversation in the great outdoors. To do that, we bring together groups of dynamic women for skills-based overnight backpacking and camping trips around California.
Why do it, besides that fact that it’s incredibly fun? A couple years ago, while backpacking in the Bolivian Andes with my fiance, I realized I never adventured in nature with my best girl friends; it was always something I did with male significant others, that trip included. I thought it was outrageous that I’d never combined my favorite people with one of my favorite activities, and I decided I’d take these girl friends on a trip ASAP and teach them everything they needed to know.
Cue realization #2: everything I knew about the outdoors I learned from men. But wouldn’t it be great if there were a place women could come together to teach and learn from each other to become outdoor ninjas, without needing a guy there to get weird and macho about his fire-starting abilities? Yes, ma’am.
What do you hope women will gain from your trips?
Trail Mavens is built around connecting women with three things: nature, themselves, and each other.
No matter what else happens, ladies will have an amazing weekend in a naturally beautiful setting. On top of that, women will walk away more connected to their own abilities, feeling like badasses who can go forward and share their camping/backpacking skills with others. Lastly, the quality of conversation and connection fostered by sharing s’mores and a camp mug of Pinot Noir around a campfire is pretty much unbeatable. Stuff gets very real and very hilarious very, very fast.
What if I’ve never been camping and I don’t have a tent? Can I still be a Trail Maven?
Of course! Trail Mavens aims to eliminate all the barriers keeping women from adventuring outdoors:
Don’t have any gear? We provide it all.
No car? We arrange carpools.
Not sure how to set up a tent/build a fire/read a map/operate a Whisperlite? You will after a trip.
Haven’t yet mastered the highly competitive CA State Park reservation system? We woke up early six months ago to book that prime campsite.
Don’t know any other awesome outdoorsy women to go with? We do, and you’re going with them.
What are 3 Trail Maven essentials on the trail?
My top three are actually this top ten. Safety first!
If you could take Trail Mavens on a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Undoubtedly Banff + Yoho National Parks. I’ve never been, and a Trail Mavens trip would be an excellent excuse to visit. If you need convincing, click here.
The perfect s’more:
We’ve become partial to a little something we call Banana Pockets of Love. Take an unpeeled banana, slice it lengthwise, stuff the slit with chocolate chips, marshmallows, caramel sauce, etc., and then wrap the whole shebang in tin foil and stick it in your embers for a couple minutes. If s’mores and Bananas Foster had an illicit love child, this would be it.
Where to next?
We’ve got a spate of amazing trips coming up this summer. The first weekend of April, we’ll be cycling from SF to Napa, sampling some of the valley’s finest wines and hiking in gorgeous Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. A couple weeks later, we’re kayaking across Tomales Bay to our private campsite on the beach. We timed the trip with the new moon, so the bioluminescence in the water will be extra spectacular. The whole calendar is available here.
Photos © 2015 Trail Mavens