Author Kristin Lodge has done it all: She’s an Ironman, triathlete and hiker. But the East Coast girl who has become a western woman said her favorite is hiking in her adopted home.
So much so that the longtime athlete recently published a memoir on the subject titled "Continental Quotient." Lodge recently chatted with SNEWS about her memoir, what inspired her to write it and her advice for getting people involved in the outdoors.
What inspired you to write this memoir?
I’ve been writing these stories ever since I moved to my first ski town in 1999. I lived on a lake near Bethel, Maine with a mountain in the distance and it was the perfect place to start writing about this rural town I fell in love with. I had been hiking the 4,000-footers in New Hampshire since 1988 and I was finally living in the mountains instead of driving two hours to get to them. When I moved to Bethel I was hiking or skiing almost every day – I was living the dream.
So what made you want to become a westerner?
I wanted to be a westerner since I started viewing the western landscape painters in museums and books. I began to read Wallace Stegner and Edward Abbey. I wanted to live in those wide-open spaces they wrote about. I wanted to ski in western powder. I was too scared to move out west by myself without a job, but in 2004 my job allowed me to move to Steamboat Springs so I did. Steamboat was my first western ski town and I instantly fell in love with the Yampa Valley and the ski mountain. I learned how to layer for skiing since the sun kept me warm; so different from the east.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I hope readers will be inspired to live their dreams to live in a rural community or a ski town, even if it’s just for a year. I moved to places where I knew no one and I found like-minded athletes and outdoor adventurerers. It was scary but I found my people in the small mountain communities I lived in.
What got you into the outdoors in the first place?
I’ve always been an athlete. I grew up in a household of athletes from my dad playing basketball and running, my mom playing softball and coaching soccer. My siblings were amazing athletes playing football and soccer. I played organized sports up until my boyfriend took me hiking for the first time right before I graduated from high school. We hiked Mount Lafayette in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I was instantly hooked. I started hiking almost every weekend and backpacking by myself. I always considered myself a hiker until I moved to Steamboat and started running and biking.
What's your advice to getting people interested in the outdoors?
Sign up for a race. Have a goal to hike all the 14’ers in Colorado or 4,000 footers in New England. When I first got into triathlon, I talked to everyone and read every book about training. When I decided I wanted to finish an Ironman I read blogs and bought every book about training. Now, there are Facebook Groups and MeetUps that make it so much easier to find your people. I recommend learning about all the gear and reading reviews. Good gear will make you so much happier on long distance pursuits such as Ironman and ultra running. I remember my Pearl Izumi jacket that saved me from hypothermia during a shortened bike leg of Ironman Boise 70.3 on a very cold June day in 2012. You don’t have to buy the best, most expensive gear but you do have to buy gear you trust. That means training in it, and talking to everyone, to find that gear.
Of all the towns you lived in what was your favorite and why?
My favorite ski town was Steamboat Springs. I made some great friends and skied the best powered in the world there. I became a better skier of bumps and trees from three seasons living in Steamboat. But I also became a triathlete there. I bought a bike there and ran some amazing trails all over town. Two of my favorite stories in the book take place in ‘Steamboat: Stories from Steamboat and How I Got This Way.’
All the towns I lived in have shaped me into the person I’ve become. My stories tell about mountains surrounding the places I’ve lived and the people I’ve met. I met the best people in mountain towns and miss them terribly. People and Place – they are central to my stories and my life.
What was the best part of writing this book?
The best part of writing this book was getting to re-live the stories. I had to remember so many details of the people I met and the trails I hiked and ran. I’ve kept a journal since high school and I had to refer back to many of my journals to complete the stories. I was asked once, ‘Where else do you want to live?’ My answer: ‘I want to go back to all these places and find my friends and hike these trails all over again.’