Meet Wild Keeper, Alyssa Aaron! Alyssa has been a Wild Keeper for two terms now and is based in Colorado.
The outdoors has always been a big part of her life, growing up in a small town in Missouri. She was constantly playing in creeks or ponds and now has a huge playground to explore in Colorado! She says, "from camping in the aspen trees to hiking 14ers, there are endless possibilities to explore and get into the outdoors." Alyssa says her favorite ways to get outside are by camping and hiking. She reflected that, "I find this break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life ignites my souls fire. It feels so wonderful to 'disconnect' and reconnect with the wild."
When we asked Alyssa if she has faced any adversity when it comes to outdoor spaces, she shared, "Yes. I believe all those who identify as women have been programmed and trained to think we aren't fast enough, strong enough or fearless enough to hang with the men. I have found myself saying before that, "I don't want to hold anyone back." I think it's important to address this narrative and integrate women more equally in the outdoor arena."
Keep Nature Wild: What is your most memorable experience outdoors so far?
Alyssa: My most memorable experience outdoors so far was hiking Grays and Torrey's peak, a popular trail to bag two 14-ers in a day in Colorado. My first attempt to hike both peaks was unsuccessful. I made it up Grays but had a bad headache and the beginning symptoms of altitude sickness so I turned around. This was my very first 14er and despite feeling like crud, I couldn't wait to hike more 14-ers and tackle Torreys once and for all. For my second attempt, I was determined to summit both peaks. It felt so amazing to accomplish that goal! I even enjoyed a celebratory beer at the top of Torreys. It was such an epic moment!
KNW: What would you prefer: mountains, desert or forests?
KNW: What three things would you take with you if you were going to be stranded in the forest?
A: 1.)My husband! He's an eagle scout and pretty much a camping/survivalist pro. 2.) This sounds so old school but a crank/solar powered radio. This way we could check the weather conditions and listen to some funky tunes. 3.) A hammock, I live for hammock-ing in the woods.
KNW: What is your preferred sleeping accommodations for the outdoors? Tent, hotel, car camping (or something else!)
A: Tent for sure! As an avid camper, I spend most of my weekends from late spring to early fall (a bit cramped) in a three person tent with my husband and two dogs
KNW: What is your favorite thing about being a Wild Keeper?
A: The ripple effect!! I have had people approach me in my neighborhood asking what I was doing while picking up litter. This always leads to a beautiful conversation and them wanting to join in on their next walk. After sharing photos on Instagram I have had friends send me pictures of them picking up trash as well! This makes me so happy and so stoked that people are willing to step up for the outdoors and thus continues this amazing ripple effect!
KNW: What has picking up trash outdoors done for you?
A: For one, I think it helps to create more mindful moments in nature, it's almost like an Easter egg hunt of sorts. You're in the moment, outdoors, focusing on contributing to Mother Earth and that's truly an incredible feeling. Secondly, being a Wild Keeper has really opened my eyes to how much single use plastic we as humans go through. The one item I find on almost every single litter pickup is plastic water bottles. While there are endless ways we can do better, or greener, if we are all contributing imperfectly, we can make such a big difference for our wonderful home.
KNW: Roughly how many pounds do you think you've picked up since you became a Wild Keeper?
KNW: What goals do you have for this year? (or beyond?)
A: I absolutely love being a Wild Keeper and my goal is to continue to make an impact each month by picking up at least ten pounds. I am also constantly working on lessening my carbon footprint- anywhere from reducing my shower time and using only cold water to wash my clothes to consuming local and seasonal produce and cutting out beef and dairy.