Member Portrait: Force of Nature Meghan Young

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REI Member since 2003.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Washington state. My parents loved the Pacific Northwest woods and encouraged my sister and me to run wild. Now, as an adult, I still spend as much time as possible outdoors with people I love.

2. Why is “outside” important?

For physical health, there’s no better place to work up a sweat and burn some calories than on the trail or at the crag. Emotionally, time outdoors renews my spirit and energy. I find beautiful, still moments. For example, when working through a problem on the rocks, I’m able to let go of extraneous thoughts and just be. And, I’ve forged lifelong friendships outdoors.

3. How did your love for the outdoors blossom?

I’d say it first bloomed on the slopes of Silver Star Mountain, in British Columbia, when my parents finally let my sister and me ski on our own. I remember flying down the mountain on a bluebird day, whooping with joy. That feeling was the closest I have ever come to flying (aside from skydiving, another story) and I felt unbelievably free. I am forever grateful to my parents for fostering in me that sense of adventure.

Meghan Young draws

4. Who inspires you to get outside?

While I’m incredibly inspired by my adventure buddies, it’s more “what” that gets me outside. I’m motivated by light, the way it dances across mountains, sets distant peaks on fire and dapples alpine lakes. I’m thrilled by discovering a new place for the first time. I’m gratified by solving the puzzle of getting from point A to point B. No matter how tired I am at the end of a trip, I’m already planning the next one.

5. In whom are you fostering a love for the outdoors?

In everyone, especially other women. Two years ago, two of my best friends and I started a support group for outdoor women based in the Northwest. We’ve shared advice and led trips and workshops. It’s been truly amazing to witness women exploring the outdoors and ultimately themselves. The group is one of my proudest accomplishments.

6. What is your favorite piece of gear and what’s the story behind it?

I have this comically large (but legal) fixed-blade knife. When I was young, my dad and uncles would go on a yearly camping trip. When I turned 11, they finally allowed me and two female cousins to go along. Our Uncle Jack bought each of us girls a knife, which we proudly carried everywhere. Now, whenever I take out that knife, I think of our uncle and his great, booming laugh and the care with which he introduced us to camping.

Meghan Young looks up

7. What does being an REI Co-op member mean to you?

It means I’m part of something larger than just buying gear. I’m part of a community of outdoor enthusiasts and stewards. It means spending my money with a company that in turn supports causes I care about: empowering women and protecting our wild spaces.

8. What adventures are on your bucket list?

This year my boyfriend and I hope to tick off Glacier Peak; last year we got shut down just shy of the summit in a freak storm. We also plan to climb Mount Shuksan, complete the Ptarmigan Traverse, and climb up in the Bugaboos, as well as at Smith Rock and Squamish. I can’t wait to get some quality time on the sharp end, pushing myself and hopefully overcoming my fear of pulling through big roofs!

9. What does being a #ForceOfNature mean to you?

When I think of women as a collective, I’m struck by our resilience and tenacity. I have a tattoo that reads “alis grave nil”; roughly translated, it means “no burden is too heavy for a woman with wings.” We are like mountains and their wild streams. We are strong, wonderful and fierce, and beautiful to behold together.

Meghan Young looks at lake

10. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yes. I recognize that getting outside is a privilege. There are so many barriers to entry that prevent people from doing what I do; from exposure to finances to gear to knowledge and beyond. Mentorship is a huge part of outdoor culture and I encourage people to offer their time and experience to those who need a leg up. In so doing, let’s teach and observe strong environmental ethics to minimize our trace, so wild places will stay wild for generations to come.

 

Looking for more inspiration? Read other REI Member Portraits here.

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