The Pursuit of Self: A BA Ambassador Story

The Pursuit of Self: A BA Ambassador Story

Cherise Tuttle is a Big Agnes Ambassador and avid adventurer who has spent the better part of her life living in the mountains with her wolf dog, Astro. From paragliding to rock climbing Cherise loves to get outside.

You will never regret getting outside. Go on that adventure no matter how big or small it is!

When I let my brother, Chris, know that I was heading up to Canada for a short visit, we immediately started scheming what kind of adventures we could get out on. I was bringing my skis, paddleboard, warm camping gear and my dog, Astro. While most people think paddleboarding in the winter is crazy, I think the idea of an ice-cold lake in the middle of the snow-covered mountains where no other soul is, enticing. That calm and peace is something unmatched. As the water gently ripples in the wake of the board, the world stands still for a moment.

So, we set out to a place where silence reigned, and crowds dissipated. However, my gleeful, ‘whoop whoop’s’ broke through the air as we drove down the snowy dirt road, windows down and heat cranked. I’m a simple person. All I need is backroads, my dog, an adventure buddy, and the mountains to play in. After driving for a while, we found a spot to pull off and hike down to the lake. As soon as we got everything down to the shore, I started to pump up my paddleboard. Inflation complete, I slipped on my insulated water booties, slid the board onto the water, Astro hopped on, and we pushed off. The views were breathtaking, and the water was glass smooth. Breathe in, breathe out. The busyness and stress of life melted away as my paddle sliced through the water and I looked up to the mountains surrounding me. This is what it’s all about.

So often I get caught up with life and the stresses that come with it. Over the last few years, I’ve experienced burnout, career shifts, big moves, and tragedy. It can be difficult to keep your head above water at times especially when you live in a world that you can constantly compare yourself to others behind a screen. While I felt like I was losing myself and redefining myself repeatedly, I would see people having a great time outside and finding success in their fields. Social media often feels like a façade of carefully curated moments, and I was hopping on board with my own. Coming from the adventure media background, it’s difficult not to want to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ of the outdoor world. Eventually though, my reaction turned reclusive; hiding away and occupying a space where I no longer pursued my outdoor outlets the way I had. The result was depressing to say the least. And this trip was the beginning of making changes! I wanted to get back to the basics of the things that I loved and why I loved them!

(Cherise enjoying a paddle with her dog Astro in her BA Luna Jacket/ Photo Credit: Chris Harder)

Our agenda was simple: get outside. Everything else seemed to come naturally from the cold beers shared on the shoreline, taking photos for the heck of it, and paddling on a frigidly cold lake. The views were incredible, company was great, and the experience was one for the books. I felt alive again with a fresh sense of creativity and thirst for adventure. And that, was exactly what I was looking for.

I don’t think mental health is talked about enough – in general but I see it prevalently in the outdoor industry. Athletes, influencers, brands, and the general public are constantly pursuing that mountaintop photo so they can feel the affirmation of doing something rad from their peers and strangers behind a screen. I’ve seen people feel overwhelmed with trying to brand themselves a certain way and the pressure of keeping up that image can be crushing.

While some seem to easily rise to the top, others who are just as good in their field, don’t see the same results. It’s a slippery slope and one that I’ve certainly felt the pressure of. We live in a world with everything at our fingertips – we can go on grand adventures from the comfort of our couches and be inspired by those posting beautiful photos of faraway places. And while I love that we can share our fun moments with the world with a click of the button, I have to wonder what long-term effects we will have in this age of technology. It seems every day there are new studies coming out and mental health is top on the list of side effects. While technology isn’t going away nor is social media, I think awareness and resources is key to the process.

(Cuddling up in the tent with Astro + outfitted with BA gear)

Check in with yourself and ask why you’re doing what you’re doing. I personally have put together boundaries for myself that works for me – everyone is different and who knows, I might be the only one who struggles with this! My intention is to pursue the things I love outside because it fills me up and gives me a larger perspective of the world. The approach of creating experiences and living in the moment is crucial to me.

What’s your ‘why’ and how do you pursue it?