WHEN HEATHER BALOGH ROCHFORT TELLS PEOPLE SHE'S 34, they’re often surprised, and it’s not just her girl-next-door looks. It’s how she lives her life. In any given calendar month, she might be packrafting in Gates of the Arctic National Park, scooting off on a last-minute ski huts tour in the Rockies, or chasing the Northern Lights in Iceland.
Nothing about it seems unusual to her, and 34 is hardly an age to slow down - especially these days and particularly in her hometown of Boulder, Colo. But people often think Rochfort lives the life of a 20-something. And that’s just fine by her.
Her popular blog,Just A Colorado Gal, started out as a diary for Rochfort’s family in 2005 when she graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a journalism degree. She started traveling after school because she “decided she didn’t want to be a grown up,” and start her career just yet.
Even though she has a full-time job these days, working for her family’s boutique landscaping company in Boulder, Rochfort doesn’t let that get in the way of being a full-time adventurer, too. She freelances on the side, coordinates some gear testing for Backpacker Magazine, and she’s an ambassador for #TrashTag, a campaign started by outdoor company UCO to eliminate litter on the trail. Instead of shaking her head at tossed cans and crushed water bottles and moving on, Balogh picks them up and packs them out. She #TrashTags pictures of the litter to her 6,000 followers on Instagram to inspire them to do their part, too.
Rochfort gets questions from readers all the time about how she makes these trips happen, and she invests time in responding to her fans. Scroll through some old posts and you’ll see long threads of comments, where she weighs in on the conversation and gives advice to help people get out.
She never intended for her personal blog to appeal to a general audience, but in 2012 she realized she was onto something when Columbia asked her to be an ambassador, and she took a press trip to Havasu Falls, a village within the Grand Canyon on Native American land. Since then, her following has continued to grow. She has 4,000 followers on Facebook, nearly 6,000 on Instagram, and her blog has been ranked among the top 10 outdoor blogs by USA Today.
Rochfort has lots of readers who long to travel as much as she does, and who want to start their own blogs in hopes of getting noticed. But so many people use “I don’t have the time” as an excuse for why they can’t be adventurous.
“I think that a lot of think people are forgetting that it doesn’t have to be extreme,” Rochfort said. She grew up as a dancer, studying ballet, and said she could have barely hiked a few miles before she left to travel the world after college. “You don’t have to take a bush plane up to Alaska to live with grizzly bears. You don’t have to run a half marathon. You can run around the block. I'm not a sponsored athlete and I have a regular day job like most of the country. Hell, I'm not even good at any of the sports I enjoy! But the bottom line is that I enjoy them, through all this mishaps and blunders." Rochfort says that if she can do all this stuff, absolutely anyone can, and her hope is that someone, somewhere, uses one of her adventures as a springboard for their own outdoor journey.
Want more followers?
Rochfort’s readers often ask for advice on building their Instagram following. The most important thing, she said, is to simply stay true to your own passions and not try to copy something you really like.
“Don’t try to play other people’s games,” Rochfort said. “Don’t try to mimic someone else’s account. I see a lot of people who see someone that’s successful, so they just try to copy it. That’s not (how to do it). People like you because of who you are and what you’re showing, like your true self. I’ve just always kind of subscribed to the idea that I’m going to share pictures or whatever it is that’s something I enjoy and something that entertains me.”