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Navigation Revelation 

Stay Wild

An Off-Road Rally

Story by Brooke Jackson // @wanderingtrailsmedia

Photos by  Tim Sutton, Richard Giordano, and Nicole Dreon


Exhaustion hangs in the air, more frigid than the desert night outside. Eighty-four women are huddled inside a large event tent erected in mere hours to provide a base camp for a single night, anxiously anticipating to hear the day’s results. Former professional off-road racer and current race director Emily Miller takes the stage to address the room of competitors as they bustle around, shoving down dinner and discussing the points from today’s course. “Congratulations, ladies. You’ve completed day four, which means you’re halfway there.” With roughly 800 miles driven so far, the women have another 800 ahead of them. This is no ordinary road trip. This is the Rebelle Rally. 

Founded in 2016 by Emily Miller, the Rebelle Rally is the longest competitive off-road rally in the lower 48 states. Miller likes to say it’s a world-class event that just so happens to be for women only. Showing up to the event at the halfway point as a first-time off-roader, I had a few things to learn. Most importantly, the difference between a rally and a race.


“The Rebelle is not a race. Never use that word,” said course director and former off-road pro motorcycle racer Jimmy Lewis: “This is a Rally.” What I came to learn is that a rally is not about winning, but instead about the experience. Miller encourages the contestants by saying, “Don’t focus on the prize. Focus on the journey and reaching the finish line.” 

However, since the event is world-class, there is, of course, a scoring system in place. Teams are awarded points by finding various checkpoints hidden throughout the course. Some days have the same start and end location but more checkpoints, while others are a point-to-point route with a few scatterings along the way. Beginning in Lake Tahoe, the course travels down to San Diego and covers a total of 1,600 miles, 12 counties, and two states.


By the way, did I mention that no electronics are allowed during the competition? Yeah, there’s that. The competitors must navigate every day using only a map and compass. The Rebelle is an endurance challenge, and some days the women are at it for up to 10 hours or longer. Mornings began with a 5 a.m. wake-up call followed by teams being given the geographical maps for the day and a list of checkpoint coordinates. 

Once the maps are handed out and start times are assigned, things really kick into gear. Teammates hustle to plot as many of the checkpoint coordinates on their maps before they have to be at the start line. Green checkpoints are marked with large flags and are the easiest to find, blue will either have a flag or only a blue painted stick in the ground, and black checkpoints have no marker at all. For the blacks, teams must be within 50 meters of the provided coordinates to receive the points. 

My partner for two days was Olympian and big-mountain skier Wendy Fischer. Fischer competed in the Gazelle Rally in Africa with Miller back in 2006 and is no stranger to overcoming an intimidating challenge. As her temporary teammate, I was exposed to only two days of the rollercoaster ride the women experience for eight. 

Celebrations of highs from finding checkpoints are starkly contrasted by the lows of being lost and frustrated by having no idea how you messed up. However, that’s the point of the rally. The women do not need to be professional drivers or navigators to compete. The event is structured so that participants can make mistakes to learn from in a safe and supportive environment. During my two days on course, I witnessed teams helping each other out. Whether it was co-navigating to checkpoints or digging vehicles out of sand pits, the atmosphere was one of comradery.  


The philosophy behind the Rebelle is no mistake; Miller has a goal for the participants and that is to come out stronger by the end of it. Having coached over 4,000 people to drive off-road, Miller structures each day with lessons in mind. Trained by one of the most winning off-road racers with the longest string of unbroken race wins, Rod Hall, it’s easy to say that she knows what she’s doing. Miller and her team took the Rebelles on an unforgettable journey, working with five BLM field offices, two BLM state offices, two National Parks, and the U.S. Forest Service. The participants were provided a course which took a year-long permitting process and traveled from extremes like the high alpine of the Sierra Nevadas to the desert sand dunes of Glamis. 

If the physical journey wasn’t enough, Miller guides participants on an emotional and spiritual level as well. Realistically, she could start her own line of inspirational postcards if she so desired. After the end of this disappointing day on course, where the exhausted women were huddled in their freezing desert basecamp, Miller captivated her Rebelles: “How do you know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are?” 

The Rebelle Rally helped these women answer that question not only in the literal sense of navigation but also in their lives. Pushing the participants mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually was not a mistake, but rather the unprompted goal of the rally. As Miller once said, “You can only know your limit once you find your edge and dare to push past it.” The participants who completed the 2018 Rebelle Rally gained the navigational revelation that in life, their limits no longer exist. 


More info // rebellerally.com

Listen To The Eyes

Stay Wild

A road trip from Washington to Whistler

Story by Vans global snow team rider Mary Rand // @bigairmare

Photos by Suzie Gotiz // @suziegotis

We were going to the final showing of our Vans’ Listen To The Eyes movie. It is a 16 mm film by Jake Price about backcountry snowboarding featuring Hana Beaman, Leanne Pelosi, and myself.  

My fur child Otis greeted photographer Suzie Gotis with hackles up, in full guard mode. Suzie walked up the muddy driveway with a friendly smile on. Thankfully she loves dogs and isn’t afraid of getting her shoes dirty. After Derrek Lever, my fiancé, and I introduced ourselves, we asked Otis to stop jumping on her. It wasn’t long before the three of us started philosophizing about the current state of the world. Realizing that these fireside chats may never end, we loaded up my truck, said goodbye to the boys, and hit the road.  


Our first stop was Bellingham to meet up with Hana. On the way out of town, we stopped to grab breakfast at Mount Bakery, home to arguably the best benedict in Washington. This kicked off our tour the right way as we indulged on benedicts, chocolate crepes, and coffee while talking about the Olympics, women in sports, and traveling. From there it was time to head to Vancouver. 

With an easy border crossing at Peace Arch, we made it to the city in no time. Our only agenda in Vancouver was to get a shop tee from Antisocial Skateboard Shop for my friend Cierra at Vans. Across from Antisocial is a hip, New York-style corner coffee shop called Gene. There were music show posters covering the walls. The ceiling-to-floor windows were drenched in sweaty condensation from the wet day outside. From there, we hopped to Whistler for the night. 

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The next morning, we leisurely left the hotel around 8:45 a.m. to get coffees and breakfast from Mount Currie Coffee in the village. There we ran into Jon Martin—Whistler’s snowboarding and skateboarding mascot, long time employee at The Circle snowboard shop, and one of the nicest guys around. After bullshitting with Jon and buying a few Christmas presents at the shop, we headed 30 minutes north to Pemberton for a little hike.  

The sun hadn’t yet hit the valley floor, so we could see fresh, snow-covered mountaintops while driving in and out of fog. We stopped at One Mile Lake and walked around a bit. It was looking very moody socked in with fog. Next, we parked in front of the Pemberton General Store to go on our hike and figured we ought to have a look inside for some local color. The store is a labyrinth with countless amounts of Canadian-made moccasins, leather pieces, Carhartt, Dickies, howling wolf T-shirts, wool socks, vintage Levi jeans, work boots, and pretty much anything else quintessentially Canadian packed in amongst opened boxes full of more stuff. A grumpy older man working there answered, “What do you think?” when I asked him how he was doing. I think he warmed up to us gals a little bit after we made a purchase and said our goodbyes.  


The sun started to break and we headed up onto the unmarked Pemberton Creek waterfall hike. I had done this hike once before with Leanne and her fiancé on one of our down days while filming Listen to the Eyes. We ran into the same black-and-white border collie I had seen before lying outside of a house by the trailhead. This time he ended up joining us for the whole hike. 

About 45 minutes in, Hana, who has the best sense of direction of the three of us, stated blankly that we were hiking away from the waterfall. We backtracked, got on the right trail, and eventually made it to the falls, which are absolutely stunning. Mike, our dog for the day, waited above patiently as we peered over the edge and felt the cold misty wind of the falls hit our faces. After trekking back down to the trailhead, we said goodbye to Mike, made sure he took the correct turn back to his house, parted ways, and reflected on how that was the best dog experience ever. He was such a good boy!

We went back to the hotel for a siesta before the movie premiere. At Sushi Village, we sat down with Bridget (the Vans Canada Head Bitch In Charge) and friends. It was a feeding frenzy with sake served every which way—hot, cold, and in a blended margarita. The premiere was held right below Sushi Village at Showcase, another Whistler skate and snowboard shop. They had a mini ramp, a silent auction with work from photographer Oli Gagnon with proceeds going to the Dillon Ojo Lifeline Foundation, and bottomless Coors Light cans, aka cold Colorado piss. The film screening was a success with a great turnout and tons of good vibes. A few whiskey sours later at Earl’s, and next thing you know it’s 1:30 a.m. and time to hit the sheets. Phew! 

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This story was made with help from our friends at VANS @vanssnow // vans.com

Blackrock Bound

Stay Wild

In Search of Thermal Warmth

Story & Photos by Randy P. Martin // @randypmartin


Northern Nevada 

It’s late autumn and it’s getting cold out. The garden is brown and crispy, my backyard chickens have stopped laying for the year, and all of the trees are nearly bare. Weeks ago, we found out our truck would need a new engine, the estimate twice the price of the vehicle itself, but we push on. 

After a road trip out to Sacramento, we’re driving home in our newly-purchased 1990 Bronco II. It’s a stubby little SUV that’s built for the mountains and rutted dirt roads, a machine to get you off the highway and out to all the best hidden parts of the outdoors. We’re Black Rock bound, Feather River bound—in search of thermal warmth by way of bubbling, steaming hot springs. 

The Black Rock Desert is only a two-hour drive north from home in Reno. Three months ago if we’d gone, we’d have found 80,000 desert dwellers in the middle of the insanity that is Burning Man. But in mid-November, we’ve got a pretty good chance of having the place to ourselves. The truck is loaded up with all the essentials, including BB guns, a 30-rack of beer, and all of the wood for burning and blankets for layering that we can find. It’s going to be a cold one tonight. Fourteen degrees cold. Time to soak our bones and see how the new rig does out on the open playa. This should be fun.

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We filled up our empty PBR cans with water so you could really see when you got a good hit. Turned them into little tin toothpicks after just a couple of minutes.


Bev’s Miner’s Club has been open since the mid 1930s at the southern base of the Black Rock.


Some good folks showed up with a wakeboard and a little Suzuki Samurai. Never seen anybody surf through a hot spring before, but Trego is pretty unique in that it runs for a few hundred feet from the main pool down a pretty wide channel until it ends in a big field of horsetail grass. 


More soaks! This time a half day’s drive away in Northeastern California in the Feather River Canyon. Two different options for your soaking pleasure in these perfectly steamy springs directly on the Feather River: Right side sulfur. Left side Lithium. 


The Fly Ranch Geyser is a geothermal spring covered in multi-colored algae and sprays water every which way all over the desert around it. You can’t get in it or anything but pretty fun to watch it spit everywhere for a while.


The Sundlaug Road

Stay Wild

Getting Closer with Mom in Iceland 

Story & Photos by Alexandra Lev // @luckyalexandra


It didn’t take long for the busy winding roads to become empty as we left the south of Iceland. I found myself getting irritated with her comments about my driving and wanting space but not knowing how to get it. I was five days into a road trip of touring the Ring Road with my mom. The first four days blessed us with the warmth of the sun, but the sun was gone now and dark clouds loomed over us.


We hadn’t spent this much time alone together since I was a kid. Now we were in a campervan for eight days together. The two of us didn’t get along in my younger years—I’m not entirely sure why. When I moved away from home, it got better. And with age, we have tried to understand each other more, but we still fight at times. Taking the trip together was a chance to connect and, as cliche as it sounded, spend some quality mother-daughter time together while seeing a new part of the world. 

I had read that Iceland is rated as one of the happiest countries on earth. People in every village or town gather in the communal hot pools, or sundlaugs as they call them, and share stories and laughter with their neighbors, friends, and family. These steaming hot pools have brought the people of Iceland together for centuries, raising the question: Would Iceland bring my mom and I together?

Our first few days were perfect and felt effortless. On our first night, we explored the cobblestone streets of downtown Reykjavík, ending up at a bustling local dive bar with live jazz music. My mom has always enjoyed a good cocktail or two, and we seem to easily bond as if we were old girlfriends over booze. Towards the end of the night the band announced that the northern lights were making an appearance, so we rushed to the deck and looked up at the sky in awe. Streaks of light green danced across the dark Nordic sky as my mom grabbed my hand and said excitedly, “Can you believe we are seeing this on our first night here?” We walked home to our hotel that night arm in arm, the warmth of alcohol inside of us keeping the air from feeling freezing. 


From Reykjavík we drove south, counterclockwise around the country. The south of Iceland is touristy for a reason: It’s packed with incredible things to do and see. I’d easily call it the highlight of the trip. We visited a never-ending amount of cascading waterfalls, enjoyed champagne in the oldest natural hot pool in Iceland, and we even went ice climbing on the Sólheimajökull outlet glacier. A few little bickering moments here and there, but nothing worth remembering. 

As we drove north, it got colder and darker, and there seemed to be more moments of tension between the two of us. The rain and wind pounded on the car as I brought up questions about my childhood that had lingered in the back of my head off and on for years. Questions about my parents’ divorce, questions about the years that I lived with my dad during my mom’s two battles with breast cancer, questions about all the different schools they had put me in. Tears streamed down my face as I gripped the steering wheel. I had so many questions but she didn’t have all the answers and I knew it. 


Looking out the windows felt like looking out at another planet that was completely barren and unforgiving with no vegetation in sight. Every hour the landscape seemed to morph into a new country full of curious corners and random geological sightings. We both said aloud multiple times how strange the volcanic scenery was as if we’d run out of other things to say. She said she was sorry that it was so hard for me as a kid and I told her it was fine. As I said it I reminded myself how much I dislike it when people use the word “fine” to describe how they’re feeling because fine is not an emotion. Fine is just a way to end a conversation, and at that point, I was ready to end it. 

We made a stop at another hot spring in the north that was developed and had hot showers. I think we were both eager for a rest and a break from driving in less-than-ideal weather conditions. The air outside was frigid as we tiptoed our way over to the pool. As we slowly lowered our shivering bodies into the warm water, each of us took a deep breath and smiled at one another. I waved down an outdoor attendant and ordered us some sparkling wine. We deserved it. We sat quietly in the water together taking slow sips of bubbles while watching the pink sun descend into the valley below. 


Three more days of rain, wind, and Mountain House freeze-dried entrees for dinner, and we had reached the eastern peninsula of Iceland. It was less bleak than the north, but still not as lush and green as the south. Volcanic lava fields covered much of the landscape leading up to the palagonite tuff hills, and beyond the hills rose the Snæfellsjökull glacier. Those last three nights were the coldest yet. We huddled up in the van talking about our relationships with our partners and other places in the world we hoped to see one day. The sound of the rain drizzling on the windshield slowly put us to sleep as we were curled up in the fetal position in our sleeping bags. 

On our last day, I searched the map for another hot spring to stop at. I felt a sudden rush that we had to stop at one more. When mom noted the time and said we had to be back to drop off the van, I asked myself why—why did I feel the need to make it to one more sundlaug? Would one more make a difference in the trip? I realized that I didn’t need hot springs to bring myself closer to my mom, I already was closer. Through singalongs in the car to old ‘80s classics, through the mysterious labyrinth that is Iceland to disagreements and a few tears, I did become closer with her. We are interconnected, and when I look at my mom I am reminded that the woman who taught me how to ski and bake cookies is still teaching me about the world.