I’ve been a faithful follower of Heidi Owens at @the_wild_trout for a couple of years now. I flip through her feed with awe and admiration as she takes adventures head-on with her son, August on her back. From fly fishing to skiing to backpacking, hiking and tending their chickens and sheep, not to mention working as a dual language first grade teacher, I can always look forward to the inspiration she shared on Instagram.
A while back, I reached out to Heidi to see if she would be willing to be featured in this How She Does It series. To my shock and delight, she replied and with the kindest compliments on my blog. I was freaking out, dancing-around-the-kitchen-style-excited because I think the world of this lady and I know you will, too.
Name: Heidi Owens
Occupation: 1st Grade Dual Immersion Spanish Teacher
Family life: Mother of one firecracker 3-year-old boy, 1 precious angora bunny, 14 chickens, a few Royal White sheep, and 1 energetic black dog, and partner to one amazing man (Ty).
Location: Jackson, Wyoming
Won’t leave home without: Whiskey, Donuts, Hot Wheels
Power song: Vivir mi vida- Marc Anthony
Most worthwhile splurge: Costa 580G Polarized Fishing Sunglasses
Happy place: Fishing on a quiet river, or hiking in the alpine
Please give us a little background on who you are and where you’re from.
I was born in small town Idaho. I was raised there and in the mountains in the backyard of my parents’ cabin in Jackson, Wyoming (where we now live). I spent part my teenage years living on 48 foot racing sailboat in Mexico which inspired my love of adventure, travel, and foreign language.
For a long time (or so it seemed on IG – please correct me if I’m wrong!) you’ve been a single parent to August and quite literally carrying the load solo. What’s it like to blaze these trails on your own?
You’re absolutely right. I became a single mom at 23. I was single for the first (nearly) 3 years of August’s life, including my pregnancy. It has been a blur. For a while, I truly thought that was how it was what I was destined for. In those three years, I learned everything about myself and who I needed to become in order to be the parent Augie needed. It was a struggle, but nothing unordinary, as a I feel that every new mom has their own set of struggles. I was fortunate that I had my support from my family and friends, which meant the world to me. I learned to support myself and August which was truly the best lesson to learn at 23 and to realize that I was totally capable of single parenting. When Ty came along it such a shock and super added bonus to get share the joy and adventure of sharing parenting with someone.
Did I see that you were building a tiny house? (SO COOL!) What’s the story there? Is that where you are living now?
Yeah, well I wish I could take credit but it’s all my dad’s handiwork! Oh man, I wish I could give you a virtual tour. It is so incredible. My dad is a talented carpenter/design genius and built this awesome “escape pod” aka the Tiny House. My plan was to live in it with Augie, and then Ty, who is 6’4’’, came into the plan and he can’t quite stand up straight in the Tiny, so we have adjusted our plans.
What does adventure parenting mean to you? What are some common misconceptions?
In the early weeks right after August was born, I found myself contemplating all sorts of things (I blame the postpartum hormones). The biggest reflection I had was finding ways to instill in him the important values and inspirations that my parents had instilled in me. Love of adventure immediately came to mind. At 2 weeks old, Augie and I started hiking together, primarily because I was terrified about what had happened to my body through pregnancy, but secondarily because there’s only so many activities you can realistically do with a 2 week old. It sort of spiraled out of control (in the best way possible, if you ask me) into a lifestyle that inspires adventure parenting as a norm for our family. Some common misconceptions… I feel like some people think #adventureparenting requires lots of money/time/resources. I have definitely had people ask me if adventuring with a baby/toddler is even worth it because August won’t remember any of it. ABSOLUTELY! Everything you experience, no matter the age, shapes who you are becoming.
Let’s talk practicality of backpacking with a toddler… Diapers. Mosquitos. Tantrums. How do you manage?
Ok so let me be real and tell you that our first backpacking trip was brutal. I meticulously planned every aspect, down to the anticipated number of baby wipes (I allotted 4 per day). Every ounce counts! Luckily I had my best friend Becca as my trail partner and she was more than willing to help divy up the weight. I packed out diapers, and since we were hiking in serious grizzly country I brought two pairs of clothes, one for eating and hiking, and another for sleeping. We brought unlimited sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, and patience. Every trip since has become easier because I know that it is possible and I know our limits. I was so determined to get through it that the blisters and tantrums really didn’t faze me.
Tell us about your most favorite trip. What made it so memorable?
I have to say, that first backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail was my favorite. I remember months prior dreaming about the trip but thinking it was totally unrealistic. I mean, can you really backpack with a 14 month old for 40 miles? That sweet moment when we hit the finish line and jumped in Jenny Lake is one I will never forget.
How do you stay motivated to get out every weekend? How much planning and prep work do you do beforehand?
I can tell you, it’s difficult and takes a lot of dedication. Ty and I both work 50+ hour weeks and by the time Friday night rolls around, we are beat. But we have a shared desire to be outside any free moment we have and we motivate each other to divide and conquer so that we can make it happen. Usually that means getting backpacks/boats/bikes/camping gear ready the night before and leaving right after work Friday or leaving first thing Saturday morning and coming back late Sunday night. It is so worth all the exhaustion because we are in our element, loving each other so much more and feeling accomplished and relaxed. We tend to get on each other’s nerves when left indoors. 🙂
As parents (and I’m guessing as a teacher, too) kids are more often teaching us. In this vein, what lessons have you picked up from August?
“… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) The biggest of those being PATIENCE!
I’ve had so much fun following your feed over the last couple of years. How do you document these amazing moments and trips and moments so beautifully?
Thanks!! I just use a GoPro Hero 4 Session that I randomly got for free in an Instagram giveaway photo contest. I love GoPro because they can go under water and on helmets! Augie even has a mount for his snowboard helmet. Other than that, I only have experience shooting with an old Nikon on film, and occasionally on my best friend Becca’s digital camera. GoPros cameras have a really neat feature that you can pull stills from videos. So as a family, we take tons of video footage from every adventure and I sort through after to find our favorite moments.
What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
This is my first full year teaching so I am looking forward to figuring out the balance of work, family, and adventure. So far so good!!
Thank you so much Heidi. Cheers to the adventures ahead!
[All photos used with permission from @the_wild_trout]