In August I attended the first REI Outessa Summit in Kirkwood, California. PrAna, one of my favorite brands provided me with two tickets to the retreat and I was so stoked to check out their first event! I wanted to make an adventure out of the event and decided to road trip from Los Angeles to Kirkwood, CA. On this six-and-a-half-hour drive that quickly turned into eight hours, we stopped along the way to take photos of the ever changing scenery. As soon as you pass Jackson, the landscape gets so beautiful you can’t help but pull over and take a moment.
When we finally arrived at the Kirkwood Lodge we settled into our room and went to grab a bite to eat at a local restaurant and headed to bed early. We had a big day ahead of us and we wanted to be rested. My friend and I woke up the next day to go register and to our lovely surprise, we were given so many goodies, it was almost too much to carry. Osprey backpacks, mugs, water bottles, LifeStraw, all the nutritional bars you can think of and so much more. It was literally an outdoor fanatic’s Christmas come early. Once we got our schedules figured out we set our gifts upstairs and proceeded to our first class, the PrAna led morning yoga. I was so excited to be representing PrAna as they were truly so involved in the retreat. My favorite part was giving away donation tokens that attendees could donate toward a favorite charity. They are always so socially conscientious and that’s why I am such a fan of the brand.
The whole weekend was phenomenal. It was jam packed with more activities than you could handle. It was literally like a sleep away camp for adult women. You could do activities you loved already or try doing something you’ve always wanted to try. For me that was rock climbing and kayaking. The nights were filled with fireside chats, delicious food and s’mores. Lots and lots of s’mores. I even got to listen to one of my favorite photographers, Chris Burkard speak which was truly one of the highlights of the trip.
The people at the event were wonderful as well. Patient and knowledgeable about the products and brands they were representing. However, the event couldn’t have been what it was without the women that attended. Every type of woman you could think of attended. Moms, businesswomen, outdoor athletes, yogis and everyone one else. All of them brought together by their love of nature and frankly I was grateful to be part of the pack. You could tell everyone there was open to making friends and sharing in the experience and that in my opinion is rare these days.
Speaking from the standpoint of a 28-year-old woman living in a large city on the west coast, it’s very rare to come across such a “Kumbaya” moment between a large group of women these days. I tend to see a lot of cattiness, backstabbing, and name calling among women and it makes me sad. We all have our moments and everyone is far from perfect, but where I think men have the upper hand in life is when they stick together. They could be mad, they could have just physically fought but for some reason, everything usually gets put aside at the end of the day and “guy code” takes over. Why can’t women act like that? I’m not saying that none of us act right but in a world were a large part of the women demographic love shows like The Housewives of whatever city, where grown adult women fight like they are in high school, it makes me wonder about what the entertainment value of that is.
So in a world run by social media, fast technology and competition between women, I think retreats like the REI Outessa Women’s Retreat is just what we need. A little time out, where we are forced to put our phone down and take part in fun group activities that challenge and make us grow at the same time. I know Giana and I left the retreat that Sunday morning feeling very grateful we were able to attend. I look forward to next year and would greatly encourage other women to try it out for themselves.
Photos were taken by me and countless other beautiful women that took part in the retreat 🙂