Kasey Austin in Montana’s Beartooth Mountains. (Photo by Andy Austin)
Vice president of operations for adventure-travel tour company Austin Adventures and Outside magazine’s 2014 Family Guide of the Year, Kasey Austin is an exuberant champion of outdoor recreation in general, but especially of its ability to inspire and empower women. Spurred into action by increasing demand, the 28-year-old will introduce the company’s first women-only itineraries this year: 12-person adventures (led by her) in Costa Rica, Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, and Glacier National Park.
If you were a merit badge, which one would you be? Happy camper: Life is good.
Favorite memory from your Costa Rica travels: Getting almost too close to caimans on a kayaking adventure through Tortuguero National Park. So cool.
Activity that gets you out of your comfort zone: Any form of rock climbing or rappelling, but I love the thrill.
If you could take people on only one trail, it would be: Angels Landing in Zion. It’s five miles round-trip, and its exposure and drop-offs are sure to challenge anyone’s version of normal. There are sections with chains secured in the rock where you pull yourself up the mountain. Freaky, but fun – and totally doable with an on-trail support network.
Favorite U.S. national park: Yellowstone. It’s my local playground, and I know it like the back of my hand. I love to hike the backcountry and look for wildlife away from the crowds.
Hard-won life lesson from the river: Go with the flow. There’s no fighting a river – or life’s direction – so just roll with the current.
Chocolate or chocolate Luna Bar? Chocolate everything!
A luxury we’ll always find in your daypack: My swimsuit. It’s lightweight and good for a polar bear plunge, no matter the time of year.
The one book every woman adventurer should read: Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Favorite guiding party trick: I know an almost irritating number of riddles … “Give me food and I will live. Give me water and I will die. What am I?” Fire.
Wilderness skill everyone should know: How to build a fire.
At sunset, you’ll find me with: A G&T and buttered popcorn, my two weaknesses.
Place you’d most like to explore this year: Iceland or somewhere in Southeast Asia.
Women-only itineraries: Nine-day Costa Rica journey departs March 17, from $3,498; six-day Zion and Bryce Canyon adventure departs May 20, from $2,798; six-day Glacier National Park trip departs July 1, from $3,198.