Women on the Road Podcast Interview

About a month ago I was interviewed by the Women on the Road podcast. We talked about my accident, river surfing, and my road to recovery. I really enjoyed listening to it and was pleasantly surprised to see they sneaked in an interview with Natali Zollinger, my business partner and friend. She was the only one that was there when it all went down. Even though I had heard her perspective before it was nice to hear it again. It certainly made me emotional.

I believe I will be telling this story for a long time. I don’t mind talking about it, it’s a gentle reminder of how lucky I am. It can be so easy to fall victim to the whole “woe is me, life is so hard”. It’s great to have a something to bring you back to Earth and give you perspective on how good you have it.

If you’d like to listen hit the play button below or visit this link https://she-explores.com/women-on-the-road/episode-41-letting-go-surfing-rivers/

Where the Mountains Meet the Sea


There’s something different about the mountains. There’s a type of people that exists there that doesn’t or can’t exist anywhere else. Every time I find myself away from them for an extended period of time I realize how special they really are. I can spend months on the coast and no matter how hard I try I’m pulled back to the rugged wilderness. I need gentle reminders of this from time to time. My overall lust for life and adventure pulls me in so many directions it can become overwhelming and I start to veer off course.

There is a huge part of me that wants to dedicate a good amount of time to being on the coast, dialing in my surfing skills and getting to know the sea. On the other hand there is a part of me that really wants to become a woman of the mountains. Learning how to navigate the wilderness, how to climb mountains and rock walls, and how to explore some of the most remote and wild places on this Earth. 

This is why I find myself drawn to Oregon. It’s where heavily forested mountains come to meet the sea. I don’t need the bikini weather to enjoy the ocean. It’s easy and care free to jump in warm water. But I’ve always been drawn to suffer fests. I’ll agree to things that I know I’ll find misery in because I like to see how far I can push myself. I’ll admit, I’m kind of addicted to the high I ride once I come out the other side. Holding my purple hands in front of a car heater with a perma grin and a sense of contentment. 


It’s in these places that I’d really like to up my surfing skills and learn about the ocean. Out there in those cold harsh conditions are my kind of people. Something about being out in those kind of conditions levels the playing field and everyone out there are equals. Could I be romanticizing it? Possibly. There are assholes everywhere….but there’s a reason these places aren’t as crowded as their tropical counterparts and it’s not because of the quality of the waves. 

 White Salmon river

White Salmon river

I want to live in a place where I can catch morning sets and afternoon class III’s. And so, once I get back all my ducks in a row I’ll be making my way out West this Winter. To see if Oregon is really the place for me…I have a good feeling about it. 


 Photo: Zach Mahone

Photo: Zach Mahone

I just got back to Rifle from Moab last night. And I feel like a new person. Staying with Grandma in Rifle for my recovery has been great and I am so lucky to have her in my life. But I didn’t realize how much of a funk I had sunken into. I thought all the fatigue and depression was due to my brain injury. So I wouldn’t push it. I’d stay in most of the time being careful not to make my symptoms worse. Normally (pre brain injury), when I’m in a funk I push myself to go out and do something active, but knowing that could only make things worse I aired on the side of caution. 

Then I got to Moab. And I started feeling the pulse of the town and the people that inhabit it. I was breathing in so much life, it felt like it was now coursing through my veins. I spent my first night sitting with my friend Heidi eating delicious food and sharing stories at the 98 Center restaurant. I felt like I was home. I could really feel the healing effects of a sense of community. 

Mornings would begin with coffee, conversations, hot tubs, and cold plunges. I attended Natali’s Primal Yoga class. She ended it with a Whim Hoff breathing session. At first, I was worried how this kind of breathing would effect my brain. But after the first round it felt like my brain had been cleared of all the heavy shit and I felt lighter than I had felt in months. That, coupled with the cold water therapy, was so incredibly healing I felt like I could do anything! 

The depression had gone pretty deep before I had left for Moab. And I wasn’t doing anything very active aside from my daily walk. But while in Moab I was motivated and pushed to go out of my comfort zone. I went on a six mile hike through Devils Garden in Arches National Park. Got lost and walked on the ridges of huge rock fins. The beauty would constantly stop me in my tracks. I worked on a writing assignment in my van while watching my friends climb a tower. Was then taken up in a friend’s plane to get a birds eye view of the canyons and rock formations. 

 Photo: Zach Mahone

Photo: Zach Mahone

This was all over a span of two days. And I felt great! Even when I didn’t and was tired or unmotivated I went anyways and by the end was on cloud nine. There were a couple days in there where my symptoms caught up to me but all it took was a little nap. 

Natali and I worked on our business RVR 2 RVR which also fired me up. We’ve got some really awesome stuff coming for 2019. We’ll be offering more services that cater to each of our individual strengths and passions. RVR 2 RVR 2.0 is going to blow you away! 

I made a new friend while I was there. And he took me out for my first repel. We scrambled up some rocks to the top of an arch. He walked me through what to do, clipped the rope to my harness, and sent me over the edge. I’m not super comfortable with heights and this was freaking terrifying. I felt like I was going to puke I was so nervous. It seems mental to put your life in the hands of a rope and a couple of carabiners but it looked like that’s what I was about to do. 

I slowly fed the rope through my device and began lowering. Once my feet left the rock and I was free hanging in the middle of the arch I was in awe. The vast expanse of desert laid out before me as I sat there suspended was so inspiring. I couldn’t stop giggling between the “Holy shits” and “oh my gods”. We ended the evening with a repel off of a 100 foot wall. This was a little bit scarier but I was able to push through my fears and do it.


This new (to me) way of exploring and navigating nature opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. I thought of true watermen/women of the sea and how they learn as much as they can about the sea. I love how they’re capable of experiencing the ocean in so many different ways. I want to be a true mountain woman. One who can navigate rivers and mountains in a way that’s mindful and almost limitless. I had visions of repelling into canyons with my surf board surfing waves that would normally only be accessible by river. Whether or not this is a pipe dream and such thing even exists is another story…but it sounds awesome! And if that opportunity arises I want to be able to seize it! 


I realized how much I am in love with mountain and wilderness culture. I’ve been trying for years to slip into coastal life. But something was always missing. I haven’t found on the coast what I know lives in the mountains. Maybe that is why I love river surfing so much. I always thought I was river surfing to satisfy this urge I had to surf in the ocean. But maybe it’s more straight forward than that. Maybe I was river surfing simply so I wouldn’t have to leave the mountains to do it. 

This trip to Moab was huge for me. It showed me that I’m capable of much more than I thought. That community is an essential piece of my mental well being. That stoking my fire for adventure will heal me faster than anything else. Surrounding myself with like-minded people adds fuel to the fire. I’m feeling more motivated than ever to make the transition back to my nomadic lifestyle.