Outdoor moms are just as adventurous as the characters featured in “First Ascent” documentaries, but we don’t often see them featured.
I have watched film after film over the years at the Banff Film Fest and other outdoor film festivals about adventurous men and a few women who travel the world doing first ascents, amazing bike adventures and ski tours, yet I haven’t seen any films specifically about outdoor mothers and the challenges they face getting back to the wild-- and that is what I hope to bring to the film world with my new documentary. Like me, outdoor moms are out there, it's just that no one is telling our story.
I was inspired to make this film due to my own journey. I have been drawn to the outdoors all my life. When I was a child growing up in Northern Maine, thanks to my parents, I had lots of adventures. My favorite trips were our yearly Allagash River canoe trips and travels along the eastern seaboard crammed into our family station wagon with three other siblings. My love of the outdoors led me to Montana. When I got around to having babies in my thirties it seemed I was traveling in a wild and unfamiliar place without a map or compass. Although I enjoyed the special experience of those first weeks after my first baby was born I felt something in me was missing. I felt my running shoes had been nailed to the ground unable to move forward…captive in four walls and temporarily reduced to the life of a milking cow, and up all hours of the day and night I found it difficult to find out where and who I was anymore. A couple weeks after my daughter was born I went outside and carried her up my favorite local mountain. It was that outing I realized I needed both of these things to survive….and to thrive. The Mountains hand-in-hand with Motherhood.
When women who have a passion for the outdoors and wilderness make that leap to become a parent, life changes dramatically. In some cases women have worked their way up in male-dominated outdoor fields and are at the pinnacle of levels of their fitness and performance when they become mothers and must find a way to keep the jobs they love while their bodies and lives change. Starting a family for these women is a life-altering decision.
In the nine months of pregnancy we can see how our outdoor life begins to change. We are becoming mothers. We are nurturing the new life inside us. We deal with the physical challenges of pregnancy. When our children are born, we are connected to them in a different way than our male counterparts. Each mother incorporates children into her life differently. We lug kids to mountaintops in Ergos and frame packs, we run/hike them in Chariots into the wilderness to camp out under the stars. We take them with us in our canoes/kayaks, and strap them to us during all sorts of outdoor activities just to get some semblance of the life in nature we can’t live without. We run and bike with other mothers at fringe hours of the day before the sun rises so we can be home to pack a school lunches for our children or after bedtimes so we don’t miss out on any of the daily family rituals. We are dedicated. In the process of doing these things we are also instilling in our children a love of nature and adventure through the things we love so deeply.
My journey through this documentary will further prove that outdoor moms are just as (if not more) inspiring, captivating and determined to get back into these wild places that are such a part of our identity. I hope the film will be humorous, and touching, and bring a new perspective to light.
Me with baby Astrid (13 days old)...Mount Sentinel, Missoula, Montana. The day I realized I was still in there somewhere... I just needed to go to the mountain to figure it out. I needed the mountains along with motherhood to survive and thrive. Photo credit Kathy Brauer.