Pitch Me, Please!
Plus, the pandemic baby boom means a stronger local community
Last weekend, I attended a local race that a friend of mine puts on the weekend after the ski hill closes every year. This one marked the eighth iteration of it. It’s a sort of choose-your-own-adventure style, where racers run or bike up to the ski hill parking lot (16+ miles!) and then skin up another couple thousand feet to a peak (don’t worry! there’s a margarita stand at the top!), and ski back down to cross the finish line. Folks get minutes knocked off of their final time for carrying up their skis themselves, instead of relying on the ski shuttle. Only bikers have opted for this part as far as I know, but hey, there’s always next year. And every once in a while, a participant chooses a completely different route up the mountains.
I’ve helped with the parking lot picnic at Plaza2Peak sporadically for many years, and I showed up with some coffee and donuts at this one. But it wasn’t the wildly impressive times or the amazing amount of vert that struck me this year; it was the number of kids I saw there. I think someone tallied up 10 under one or two at one point—and this is to cheer for a race with fewer than 50 participants. The race director even pulled off this year’s event as the new mom of a seven-week-old. She gets the 2023 gold if you ask me.
Seeing so many young faces weaving around camping chairs and coolers in Ski Santa Fe’s parking lot, and even more nodding off in baby carriers and strollers, confirmed what I already knew: There’s a serious baby boom happening right now. We’re still in the midst of it, so hard numbers are tough to find, but one theory is that we have COVID to thank for this surge in kids.
Regardless of why we got here, as the mom of a 14-month-old, I’m delighted to be in good company. I find that nothing grows a new friendship faster, or makes an old one stronger, than having kids around the same time. I’ve got friends with older toddlers, who pass on wisdom about bedtime routines and daycare (and hand-me-down clothes and toys that I greedily scoop up). And then I’ve got friends with newborns, who remind me of how I felt—tired and happy and often overwhelmed—just a few months ago.
Toward the end, the race director and I were chatting about the rise of babies in our small town, and she mentioned how cool she thought it’d be to provide child care at the next race to make it easier for the moms and dads to sign up. The fact that this tiny local event might do more to support parents than what most folks see at major races, let alone big corporate jobs, gives me all the feels. I’m even thinking about signing up as a participant for the first time next year.
What I’m reading
This week, the two final pieces I edited for Outside went live, and they’re two of my favorites of all time. In the first one, Stephanie Vermillion sets out to summit Kilimanjaro as a tribute to her recently deceased father. It’s heartbreaking, and I ugly cried on literally every round of edits, but it’s also a story of hope and bettering one’s self.
“Dad, look, it’s Kili!” I squeal upon spotting the pages dedicated to the snowcapped stratovolcano. I thought these photos would remind him of our upcoming trip, of all that he had to fight for. His face goes blank; he dodges my gaze. Then I spot it: a lone tear skating down his cheek.
He knows it. Now I know it. It’s time to say goodbye.
That July morning in 2018 was the last time my dad was truly my dad. He took his final breath less than a week later.
When he died, at age 69, on July 27, my world crashed down. The only scrap of solace I could find was knowing Dad had loved well and lived wildly—climbing mountains, traveling, seeking adventure, and staying true to himself.
He left earth with no regrets. It was time I did the same.
Read “After My Father Died, I Found Him Again on Kilimanjaro” here.
The second piece is a fun roundup of the best hikes in the world by Grayson Haver Currin. It originally appeared in the March/April issue of Outside but is now accessible online.
It’s true that I love walking long distances, whether that means going from Mexico to Canada via the Pacific Crest Trail or traversing entire states like Florida and Arizona a month at a time. But for me, hiking is a means to an end, never the end itself. I don’t want to walk the longest continual path so much as the most impactful ones, the ones that show me nature and beauty, myself and others, the present and especially the past from some surprising vantage.
Read “The 10 Most Beautiful Hikes in the World” here.
On a completely different note, the 19th published a story on the ongoing bias against moms in the workforce. The takeaways will surprise no working mother, but they will infuriate you.
For as long as women have been in the workforce, they have faced some element of bias at work. It’s what’s helped keep the pay gap stagnant for 20 years. It’s what stops women from reaching leadership positions. And it’s what, at times, has pushed primarily moms from the workforce. It’s called the motherhood penalty.
More often than not, it manifests in subtle ways. But increasingly, it’s much more overt. At the federal level, pregnancy discrimination lawsuits have been rising steadily since 2016, according to a 2021 analysis by Bloomberg Law.
Read “The ‘Open Secret’ in Most Workplaces: Discrimination Against Moms Is Still Rampant” here.
The good stuff
Tulip Cupcake Liners ($13): You know when you’re baking muffins or cupcakes and you go to transfer them to the cooling rack, but keep burning your fingers on the pan? Or you try to get them out of the wrappers after they’ve cooled, but they stick and you keep ripping the liners? Problem solved. These oversized liners are a complete game-changer.
Most Sundays, I bake a bunch of blueberry or carrot or banana muffins to stand in for quick-grab snacks to feed my always-hungry toddler, so I go through a lot of these liners. Now that I’ve tried the tulip ones, I’ll never go back.
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Let’s work together
As I wrote about in Sticks and Stones a few weeks ago, I have a new job as the Director of Content and Audience at Inside the Magic, a Disney fan and news site. Yes, it’s a total change, and no, it doesn’t have much to do with the outdoors, but I’ve been floored by the number of folks who have come forward as massive Disney fans when I’ve shared the news of my new gig. (ITM also reports on Marvel, Star Wars, ABC, and tons of entertainment.)
For the most part, much of what we publish is fast-paced news, but I’m interested in experimenting with some different story types. So I’m doing a call out for essay and long reads pitches on any topic under our wide umbrella of coverage.
Essays: Essays for Inside the Magic are usually assigned at around 1,200 words, and explore a timely topic through your personal experience. Maybe you have a pitch about what you learned about parenting from Frozen or what you discovered about your identity while working at Disneyland or how the Mandalorian helped you grieve your deceased parent.
Long Reads: Our long reads are typically at least 2,000 words with a narrative structure, characters, and a timely hook. In these pitches, it’s important to highlight what the narrative arc will be and to bring color to any characters you plan to include. A long read could be anything from the untold story of Disney’s most popular voice actor to a first-person account of visiting Disney’s most-haunted landmarks.
Have an idea that doesn’t fit into these categories? Send it anyways! We’d love to consider it.
Read more about how to pitch me here.