We first met Cherise Tuttle last year
for our Women’s History Month feature. Her adventurous spirit, commitment to the outdoors, and beautiful photos were what first caught our attention. Cherise is someone who really represents what it is to live, breathe, and believe in nature. Amid the recent changes at Retrospec, we wanted to share Cherise’s feature again (with a few timely updates!), and draw attention to the importance of getting out there.
Without further ado, meet Cherise Tuttle: a paddleboarding, paragliding, voyaging badass whose zest for life knows no limits.
R: Have you always been an adventurer? Who or what sparked your interest in the outdoors?
CT: Growing up in Western Canada, I had constant access to the outdoors. My parents ran a kids camp for most of my childhood so canoeing and rock climbing were part of my earliest memories. Between my parents and my brother, I had all the encouragement I needed to get outside. As a young child I followed my brother wherever he went, whether it was building treehouses, biking, climbing – I wanted to be just like him. Throughout my teen years, my love for adventuring diminished as my passion for shopping and luxuries such as indoor plumbing increased.
In my early twenties, I moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA. My passion for the outdoors was aroused with the discovery of the immense playground surrounding me. The freedom of getting dirty, and at times bloody, going climbing in the Owen's River Gorge or bouldering in the Buttermilks was redemptive of the time lost. After getting married in 2010, my husband and I built out a Mercedes Sprinter van and moved into that for a few years. I think that’s when I truly fell in love with constantly being outside. It became my new normal - nature literally became my backyard every single day. The last few years we have also spent a lot of our time in Nepal which has opened up a whole different side to adventuring outside. Everything changes when you’re traveling in a developing country and visiting remote mountain villages with few of our ‘creature comforts’. It has opened up my eyes to seeing nature again in its raw form - without selfie sticks and notifications ‘dinging’ every few moments. There’s no phone service and no one in those regions care about your latest post. That’s when you can take a deep breath and fully be present in the world around you. This is similar to my favorite places in the backcountry back home in the Eastern Sierras, phone service hasn’t made its way into all the mountain ranges yet. My husband, Cody, has definitely inspired me to pursue the outdoors even more. He was one of my first climbing partners when I moved to California and we’ve adventured together ever since.
R: Do you think there is an accurate representation of women outdoors in the media? Why or why not?
CT: In the last few years, there seems to be a movement of outdoor women that have burst into the media scene and really inspired others to pursue adventures outside. I think this is a really loaded question because while there is always room for improvement and often inaccurate representations of anyone in media, women are becoming more and more recognized for their achievements, which then inspires other women to push for more.
R: We can't help noticing your furry companion on your Weekender. Tell us a little about him! What is it like to have him on your paddleboard adventures?
CT: Astro is by far one of my favorite adventure companions. As a wolf hybrid, he was made for the outdoors. He loves backcountry skiing, swimming, paddling, trail running, hiking, backpacking – anything that we’re doing, he’s a part of. When I got a paddleboard, he wasn’t sure about sitting on it and would swim beside me. Over the last couple of years, he has gotten used to riding with me and is often on the paddleboard before I am ready to push off! A lot of our lakes are glacier fed so they are quite cold. Astro can swim for a while, but typically gets cold and opts to ride on the board instead.
R: What's the one thing you can't travel without?
CT: Dr. Bronner's soap.
R: Where can we find you when you're not exploring the world?
CT: My husband and I live in a small community between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, CA nestled up to the Wheeler Crest with instant backcountry access. It’s the perfect rest place and base for exploration! The last few years we have been traveling a lot, so finding a home base that we are just as excited to be as the places we travel, is really important for us. The Eastern Sierras have endless exploration with its incredible mountains and gorgeous backcountry lakes giving us the only issue of what adventure sports we want to pursue. I’m currently really excited about backcountry paddling, backpacking, and paragliding.
R: Do you have any trips planned this year?
CT: We are heading to Nepal next week for a month and then back to California for the remainder of the year. Next year has a number of different options from Mexico to France, to Western Canada. Most of our traveling is for work which is often dependent on many variables including environmental conditions. We often don’t plan more than a month out.
R: What would you tell young girls who want to get involved in the outdoors but don't know how or where to start?
CT: Say yes to the adventure. By that I mean, don’t be scared when people invite you to go paddling, hiking, climbing, etc. I used to allow fear dictate my decisions, but one day, I decided to start saying yes. (It might have been shortly after the movie, Yes, Man came out! Haha!) I was always scared of not being good at something instead of excited to try something new. I didn’t want to embarrass myself if I looked silly in front of people or wasn’t awesome at something right away. It turns out that the outdoor community is really encouraging and celebrates you when you conquer your own personal goals. Also, now more than ever, it’s really easy to find other people who are adventuring through social media outlets and other online sources. These are great tools to connect, find groups who are getting out` and learn more about what you want to do outside. Someone once told me if you want to become good at something, surround yourself with people you look up to in that area. When I started climbing, I went with people who were climbing harder than me so I could learn from what they had already accomplished.
This last year I finished my paragliding course and immediately started to fly with accomplished pilots that I really looked up to. There is a fair amount of vulnerability to step out and try new things, but when it comes to the outdoors, it will always be worth it. If you can’t find people to adventure with, don’t be afraid to go by yourself. My favorite moments are being alone on a lake on my paddleboard with a picnic for one waiting for me on the shore (two if you include Astro!)
R: Is there anything else you think we should know about you?
CT: I would encourage people to put down their electronic devices and get outside. The one thing I love about paddling is that I don’t bring my phone with me. Getting outside has a way of cleansing the busyness of life and allowing yourself to refill. I’m thankful there isn’t phone service in many of the mountain ranges I adventure in. I don’t need that distraction. Exploring nature’s playground has allowed me to discover who I am and what really matters in life. For example, it took being stuck in the Himalayas during Nepal’s largest earthquake in almost a century to propel me into humanitarian work which is something I’ve always been passionate about, but never knew how to get out of my ‘Western comforts’ to act on it. Since then I have been back to Nepal a number of times in the past few years using my passion for the outdoors to draw me to a people group deep in the mountains. These people that I come to help, have taught me more about myself than any class or book. It’s the experience of being present and real, just like being outside, that changes your whole being.
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