What the tales of the 'Mountain Mama' can teach us about ignoring hesitation.

Today, Amelia Mayer is known by many as the "Mountain Mama," but when it came to adventures with her own mama growing up, she wasn't into it.

When she was just 1 year old, Amelia's parents took her hiking up the glaciers and mountains surrounding her home in Alaska.

She may have been in the great outdoors often, but young Amelia had to be bribed with strawberries and pieces of chocolate.


All images via Amelia Mayer, used with permission.

Everything changed when she was around 7 years old — the same age her eldest son is now. For the first time, Amelia realized what made the outdoors so magical. She was hiking up "Lazy Pete" — a mountain you have to be anything but lazy to conquer.

"I clearly remember running to the end of it," she says, "and feeling that sense of accomplishment."

That sense of accomplishment went from being afraid and hesitant to a woman who discovered her calling.

As she got older, Amelia's love for the great outdoors only grew stronger — she even hiked and camped after her high school prom.

She'd take any excuse to be outdoors. In college, it became an even bigger part of her life. "I had a quarter where I had classes only two days a week, so I would literally go up to Mount Baker and go snow-shooting three days a week."

Once she started a family with her husband Bill, her passion for the outdoors went to a level she never thought possible.

Bill is a wildland firefighter and, believe it or not, was much more skilled than Amelia when it came to conquering the outdoors. "My husband really challenged me," she says. "To go beyond what I had known before and to get my past my mental limitations."

It's the same mentality they knew they wanted to instill in their kids — Jack (8), Peter (6), Liza (3), and Mara (1). "I want them to be able to feel comfortable enough to surpass even our knowledge," says Amelia. "Seek out something and be able to pass it on to the next generation."

Not many mothers would take on the task of looking after four kids while also keeping an eye out for elk, moose, and bears.

For Amelia, though, it's more like a typical Tuesday afternoon. The full-time mom, who lives in Yellowstone National Park, runs the popular "Tales of a Mountain Mama" blog and spends her days taking her children on epic adventures and offering practical advice for other parents on how to keep family adventures exciting and safe through her online program, "Outdoor Mom Academy."

The coolest part? Amelia's kids are learning the kind of skills that would intimidate most adults.

Whether that's rafting down a river, going cross-country skiing, or in some cases, dealing with wild animals.

In fact, those skills were put to the test when a bear unknowingly entered their campsite on one particular hike. "I turned around and I looked at the tent and literally right by the tent," Amelia explains, "the bear was standing there and my daughter was in the tent."

Immediately, Amelia grabbed her daughter while the family cleared the campsite of any food that might attract more bears and slowly made their way to safety inside their car.

It was an eye-opening moment, but one that Amelia knew her family had the strength and resolve to deal with.

Why? Whether it's a full-day river float or a 12-hour hike, these adventures serve as both confidence boosters and unparalleled family bonding experiences.

There's just something special about the bond created when you take your family off the grid and out of the comfort zone.

"Obviously, the outdoors provides a lot of unexpected challenges," says Amelia. "That's the beauty of it. We're learning those challenges as a family."

The great outdoors will always hit you with challenge after challenge. But when you push past your hesitation, more often than not, you'll surprise yourself.

Tackling tremendous feats in nature has helped her children build confidence at an early age, she says. "Pushing them just enough that they can see their strengths and the things that they can do."

The family continues to grow — it was on a backpacking trip along the Indian Creek Trail that Amelia announced she was pregnant with her fourth child.

Now, she has a fifth on the way, and it hasn't slowed her down.

"With getting outside, a lot of the limitations people put on themselves is the fear of the unknown," she says. "And I think once you get past that … we can really find great freedom in what we can do."

"There's a great strength in saying yes to adventures."

Heroes
True
Nature Valley

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

You think you know someone pretty well when you spend years with them, but, as we've seen time and again, that's not always the case. And though many relationships don't get to a point where the producers of "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" start calling every day just to chat, the reality is that sometimes partners will reveal shocking things even after you thought you'd been all shocked out.

That's the case for one woman whose Reddit thread has recently gone viral. The 25-year-old, who's been with her boyfriend for five years, took to a forum for relationship advice to ask if it was normal that her seemingly cool and loving boyfriend recently revealed women shouldn't have a fundamental right. (And no, it's not abortion — although there are a lot of "otherwise best ever boyfriends" out there who want to deny women the rights to bodily autonomy, too.)

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended


Women around the world are constantly bombarded by traditional and outdated societal expectations when it comes to how they live their lives: meet a man, get married, buy a home, have kids.

Many of these pressures often come from within their own families and friend circles, which can be a source of tension and disconnect in their lives.

Global skincare brand SK-II created a new campaign exploring these expectations from the perspective of four women in four different countries whose timelines vary dramatically from what their mothers, grandmothers, or close friends envision for them.

SK-II had Katie Couric meet with these women and their loved ones to discuss the evolving and controversial topic of marriage pressure and societal expectations.

SK-II

"What happens when dreams clash with expectations? We're all supposed to hit certain milestones: a degree, marriage, a family," Couric said before diving into conversation with the "young women who are defining their own lives while navigating the expectations of the ones who love them most."

Maluca, a musician in New York, explains that she comes from an immigrant family, which comes with the expectation that she should live the "American Dream."

"You come here, go to school, you get married, buy a house, have kids," she said.

Her mother, who herself achieved the "American Dream" with hard work and dedication when she came to the United States, wants to see her daughter living a stable life.

"I'd love for her to be married and I'd love her to have a big wedding," she said.

Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress who's outspoken about empowering other young women in China, said people question her marital status regularly.

"I'm always asked, 'Don't you want to get married? Don't you want to start a family and have kids like you should at your age?' But the truth is I really don't want to at this point. I am not ready yet," she said.

In South Korea, Nara, a queer-identifying artist, believes her generation should have a choice in everything they do, but her mother has a different plan in mind.

SK-II

"I just thought she would have a job and meet a man to get married in her early 30s," Nara's mom said.

But Nara hopes she can one day marry her girlfriend, even though it's currently illegal in her country.

Her mother, however, still envisions a different life for her daughter. "Deep in my heart, I hope she will change her mind one day," she said.

Maina, a 27-year-old Japanese woman, explains that in her home country, those who aren't married by the time they're 25 to 30, are often referred to as "unsold goods."

Her mom is worried about her daughter not being able to find a boyfriend because she isn't "conventional."

"I really want her to find the right man and get married, to be seen as marriage material," she said.

After interviewing the women and their families, Couric helped them explore a visual representation of their timelines, which showcased the paths each woman sees her life going in contrast with what her relatives envision.

SK-II

"For each young woman, two timelines were created. One represents the expectations. The other, their aspirations," Couric explained. "There's often a disconnect between dreams and expectations. But could seeing the difference lead to greater understanding?"

The women all explored their timelines, which included milestones like having "cute babies," going back to school, not being limited by age, and pursuing dreams.

By seeing their differences side-by-side, the women and their families were able to partake in more open dialogue regarding the expectations they each held.

One of the women's mom's realized her daughter was lucky to be born during a time when she has the freedom to make non-traditional choices.

SK-II

"It looks like she was born in the right time to be free and confident in what she wants to do," she said.

"There's a new generation of women writing their own rules, saying, 'we want to do things our way,' and that can be hard," Couric explained.

The video ends with the tagline: "Forge your own path and choose the life you want; Draw your own timeline."

SK-II
True
SK-II