Our Ambassadors are catalyzing next-level adventures and personal challenges into community fundraising campaigns that support our grants program. As she gets ready to set out on a bikepacking exploration of the Minnesota’s North Shore, we caught up with Ambassador Lindsay Kocka to learn more about her upcoming trip and how she cultivated her love of outdoor adventure.
Tell us about yourself! What’s your life grounded in these days, and why did you apply to become an Ambassador for The Cairn Project?
Life has been shifting and evolving at a pretty considerable rate these days! I recently made a career change, moving from being a full-time Yoga instructor for the past several years, to taking on the role of Yoga & Fitness Manager for Vertical Endeavors Twin Cities Bouldering. This has been such a wild challenge to take on! I’ve gotten to learn a whole lot about how to help create a strong and supportive collective, not only for our members, but for our team of instructors. While I’ve never considered myself to be incredibly outgoing or extroverted in nature, I’ve found that those qualities have very little to do with ones ability to be a leader. This new transformation into the role of “leader” feels really great, and surprisingly organic. I feel incredibly lucky that everyday I get to work together with a crew of super talented people and collaborate with tons of likeminded small local businesses, offering space for others to grow, evolve, adapt, and explore their own human potential.
When I’m not concentrating on my new career, I’m spending as much time as possible in the outdoors. I began fly fishing a few years ago, and spending quality time exploring brook trout’s terrain has become one of my most treasured past times. Shredding single track, hiking, camping, backpacking, and paddling are all activities that I regularly implement into my everyday lifestyle. Plus, ya know, yoga, lifting heavy things, and food. I’m super into food. Any food. All food. Gimme the food.
Your upcoming adventure fundraiser is a bikepacking expedition – have you ever done bikepacking before? What have been the most fun and most challenging aspects of preparing for this trip?
I’m not an experienced bikepacker at all! While I’ve participated in some longer distance gravel races, and have done my fair share of camping and a bit of backpacking, I’ve never actually adjoined the two! I did spend an entire decade without owning a motorized vehicle, and definitely got accustomed to carrying some weight on the bike day in and day out (I have very little self-control in the grocery store, cause ya know, that whole food thing). I didn’t typically carry a sleeping bag, tent, and cooking supplies with me while commuting to and from work in the city though, so I have a feeling this might be a wee bit more challenging!
In terms of the more challenging aspects of my preparation for this trip, I think the greatest hurdle that I’ve had to traverse so far, has been my work in cultivating confidence and courage to do this thing solo. I’m fairly proficient in camping and backpacking basics, along with simple bicycle maintenance, but I’ve also always had others with me to reply upon if need be. While I think that our cultural expectations and gender roles are beginning to change for the better (with the help of super rad organizations like The Cairn Project!), I’ve personally always felt the weight of needing to have men do all of the “heavy lifting” for me.
I can’t tell you how good it feels to realize that I’m completely capable of doing whatever I want to do. I’ll never discount how powerful it is to work within a team dynamic, but there’s a whole lot of magic in the making of your own self-supported adventure from scratch. With all of that said, I’ve had a ton of support from friends, family, colleagues, and even complete strangers while organizing this expedition. From my incredible sponsors (holler Angry Catfish Bicycle; Coffee, Surly Bikes, and Revelate Designs), to the Mom and sister, who are going to be dropping me at my start point and picking me up at the conclusion of my ride, there’s no way that I’d be able to pull this thing off without the thoughtful generosity of so many people.
As an Ambassador to The Cairn Project, you’re joining a team of women who are catalyzing their outdoor passion into a force that passes this opportunity on to the next generation. How and when did your connection to the outdoors blossom, and who were the people in your life who helped to make that happen?
I’ve been an outdoor type kid from the very beginning, though my ambition and connection to nature has continued to grow pretty exponentially over the past decade or so. Social anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and getting out into the wide spaciousness of nature has always been a place of reprieve for me. Whether I’m on a mountain range, sitting ocean side, or even just in a small city park, outside is where I feel most grounded and supported. It’s slow, it’s quiet, it’s wild, and it’s always felt like home.
Whether I’m on a mountain range, sitting ocean side, or even just in a small city park, outside is where I feel most grounded and supported. It’s slow, it’s quiet, it’s wild, and it’s always felt like home.
I’ve been really lucky to grow up in a family that prioritized exploring the outdoors. Me and my two siblings are pretty similar, in that we all live in or near the city, but we definitely require a very frequent dose of time in nature in order to stay well aligned and clear. I’m always working on forging new friendships with folks who share common values, and a passion for the outdoors. I’ve had a great couple of mentors along the way, and hope to be the same for others as I move forward!
Why is getting outside a priority to you? What does time in nature add to your life?
Outside is where I most feel myself. Being a person who has always been captivated by flora and fauna, I’m strongly of the belief that the human organism is meant to commune in nature, alongside many landscapes and species. While I certainly reap the benefits of our industrialized society in many ways, sky scrapers have never offered me the deep emotional impact that places of the wild do. There’s something about pristine and relatively untouched places on this planet that offer so much insight into the depth of the human experience.\
I think it’s really important to acknowledge that our short time here on this earth is meant to be a whole lot more than simply working our lives away, staring at our cell phones non-stop, and living in a constant state of distraction. The outdoors is where I get to tap in, connect, be still, and really listen. It’s the purest form of holistic medicine that I’ve yet to find. Plus it’s filled with adventure, and I really like that, too.
Lindsay is a yoga instructor, mountain biker, and fly angler living in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. She is passionate about the role of female mentors in empowering women of all ages in the outdoors. See her ambassador page.