Check out our interview with Sasha Cox in the Winter 2015 print issue!
Sasha Cox is the founder of Trail Mavens, a San Francisco-based business dedicated to drop-kicking the primary barriers to entry that keep women from adventuring outdoors. Trail Mavens organizes weekend-long, skill-based camping and backpacking adventures for groups of women, and provides everything you might need: food, gear, and a posse of badasses to explore with.
Where were you when you thought of the idea for Trail Mavens?
Unsurprisingly, I was on a backpacking trip (all my best ideas coalesce when I’m outdoors). My husband and I were on the second day of a trek that descends from the mountains outside La Paz down towards the Bolivian Amazon, and as I cooked breakfast that morning, I realized that Inever shared the outdoors with my best girl friends – only with significant others. I decided I’d take the two women I was thinking of out on a backpacking trip as soon as I got to California, and about eight seconds later, I realized that I shouldn’t stop with them.
How do you define ‘maven’?
A maven is an expert in a given area who seeks to pass along her knowledge to others. Trail Mavens isn’t just about creating confident outdoorswomen; it’s about creating outdoorswomen who can then go on to teach their friends/families how to best set up a tent or use an MRS Whisperlite stove. I started Trail Mavens because I found women rarely adventured outdoors together,and because more often than not, when women learn outdoor skills – if they’re taught them at all – they learn them from their fathers, husbands, and boyfriends. I’m looking to upend that paradigm, and create a miniature army of women who’ll be the outdoor leaders in their own communities.
What have you learned about business, the outdoors, and people since then?
Business: It’s hard (for me, anyway). But as with anything you’re scared of, you have to put one foot in front of the other and do something every day if you want to get anywhere. See: 20 Mile March.
People: I’ll stick to women on this one. This wasn’t a learning so much as an affirmation, but you can put just about any eight women of different ages and backgrounds, and they will create community.
The Outdoors: Nothing’s more restorative.
What is one image or moment from a Trail Mavens trip that’s stuck with you?
In August 2014, we tackled a 15-mile hike in Yosemite that included 6,000 feet of elevation gain. One of the women on that adventure has early onset rheumatoid arthritis—she’s 28—which primarily impacts her knees. We were all exhausted at the end of the day, but her even more so. As we drove back to our campsite, she turned to me and said, “I have to thank you, Sasha, because there’s no way I ever would have taken on a hike like this on my own, and I am so fucking proud of myself right now.” Still gives me goosebumps to remember it.
What is the best hike in California?
This is terribly subjective, but I like my hikes challenging with plenty of views, water, and spots to take a swim or jump off a rock. The hike that fits this bill best? Going up the Canyon Creek Trail in the Trinity Alps. The trail parallels a perfect blue-green stream that opens up every so often into a waterfall and pool, and ends at an insanely blue lake that’s perfect to jump into on a hot day. I’m a huge baby about cold water, so if I say it’s swimmable, anyone can get in there.
What do you want women to come away with on Trail Mavens trips?
A lot, actually! The first and most straightforward? Hard outdoors skills. Every woman who comes on a trip walks away prepared to adventure on her own afterwards, which is pretty badass. Second, the opportunity to be both a student and a teacher. Women of all experience levels join our adventures, from newbies to former wilderness guides. We want everyone to be a teacher and a learner at some point, whether the topic is hanging bear bags, negotiating salary raises, or awesome books. Third, we want women to come away from Trail Mavens feeling like they’re part of a community where it’s totally safe to be goofy, make mistakes, and be vulnerable, knowing that community will endure long after the trip ends. Finally, women most often come away feeling inspired, invigorated, and refreshed.
What do you do when you lose the trail? (metaphorically or literally)
Breathe. Reflect. Consider where I’ve come from, and where I want to go. Reorient myself towards my destination. (Literally and metaphorically work equally well!)
For more info, check out trailmavens.com and use the discount code MISADVENTURES25 for $25 off the cost of a trip.