Interview With Sasha Cox Of Trail Mavens

Trail Mavens is a company providing outdoor adventures for urban women in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founder Sasha Cox knows that women want to camp, hike, and learn wilderness skills but it can be hard to get started.  Trail Mavens is for all levels of experience.  Need gear and transportation?  Sasha has you covered.

Photo above (C) 2015 Kara Brodgesell



Learn More, Straight From Sasha.

What’s a Trail Maven? Why did you start a company to bring women together in the outdoors?

A Trail Maven is committed to teaching, learning, and connecting in the outdoors with other women. She knows how to build a fire and read a trail map; believes strongly in the restorative powers of a sun-dappled trail, a warm fire, a glass of wine, excellent conversation, and s’mores; and isn’t afraid of getting dirty, sleeping outdoors, or Type II fun.

Why start Trail Mavens? A couple years ago, while backpacking in the Bolivian Andes with my fiancé, I realized I never adventured in nature with my best girl friends; it was always something I did with male significant others, that trip included. I thought it was outrageous that I’d never combined my favorite people with one of my favorite activities, and I decided I’d take these friends on a trip ASAP and teach them everything they needed to know.

Cue realization #2: everything I knew about the outdoors I learned from men. But wouldn’t it be great if there were a place women could come together to teach and learn from each other to become outdoor ninjas, without needing a guy there to get weird and macho about his fire-starting abilities? Yes, ma’am.

Photo (C) 2015 Abby Stewart. Sasha is in light blue on the right.
Photo (C) 2015 Abby Stewart. Sasha is in light blue on the right.

Two years after that original realization, the reasons have multiplied. I’ve noticed that women relate to nature in a fundamentally different way than men do: for many men, nature is something to be conquered, while a woman’s relationship is marked by a sort of symbiotic gratitude. (“It’s you and me, nature, and we’re in this together.”)

Moreover, women relate to each other differently when they’re outdoors together. You know the instant intimacy you feel when you make a friend traveling internationally? It turns out that being in nature has the same bonding effect that being far from home does. That brings me to my final, selfish kickback from starting Trail Mavens: I have met countless women who inspire me daily.

What do you think is the biggest hurdle (if any) for women who want to start camping and hiking? (Gear, knowledge, safety, etc)  

Before starting Trail Mavens, I held a bunch of potluck dinners/focus groups asking women that exact question, and the answer was a little different for everyone present. For some, it was strictly logistical: not owning gear, not having the art of California State Park reservations down pat, or not owning a car to get out of the city. For others, there was a lack of knowledge combined with the fear of being ‘dead weight’ when on a trip with friends, not wanting to be the slowest hiker or the only person who didn’t know how to light a camp stove. Across the board, women felt like they didn’t have enough like-minded friends to adventure with.

The other constant? Every single woman wanted to spend more time outdoors, and to feel more competent doing it.

Photo (C) 2015 Kara Brodgesell
Photo (C) 2015 Kara Brodgesell

Can you describe a moment where you felt that “this is why I’m doing what I’m doing?”

Photo (C) 2015 Trail Mavens - Half Dome photo bomb.
Photo (C) 2015 Trail Mavens – Half Dome photo bomb.

Last August, we tackled a 15 mile hike in Yosemite that included 6,000 ft. of elevation gain. One of the women on that adventure has early onset rheumatoid arthritis – she’s 28 – which primarily impacts her knees. We were all exhausted at the end of the day, but her even more so. As we drove back to our campsite, she turned to me and said, “I have to thank you, Sasha, because there’s no way I ever would have taken on a hike like this on my own, and I am so fucking proud of myself right now.” Still gives me goosebumps to remember it. [Editor note: Me too!]

What’s the most beautiful sight you’ve seen on your travels thus far?

Ooh, this is a tough one. I’m a sucker for views that include water, so it’s between Tenaya Lake, which I’m going to go out on a limb to say is the loveliest lake in Yosemite, or bioluminescence sparkling off my fingertips in Tomales Bay. On personal, non-Trail Mavens adventures, I’m utterly in love with the lakes and waterfalls in the Trinity Alps, and it’s tough to beat Glacier National Park.

Name three words to describe how you feel after a weekend leading a Trail Mavens excursion.

Exhausted (physically), refreshed (mentally), satisfied (deeply).