Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hills and Trails: Emily Vulcano

Emily’s eagerness to challenge herself outdoors is contagious. She makes the most of each season, tackling hikes she’s not sure she’s capable of, and planning downhill skiing trips. From an early age she was passionate about being outdoors. Her spirit may just refresh your belief in your own abilities. This is who she is. We’d like you to meet her.

Meet Emily

Go-to outdoor activity:
Camping and hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter

Rainy day back-up plan:
If it’s too bad to go outside; stay in, make chili and play games or watch movies

Favorite snack:
Red grapes

Favorite piece of gear:
My Oboz - best hiking boots EVER

Favorite camping food:

Jackfruit quesadilla and breakfast burritos

What you never travel without:

My camera (Canon 6d)

Always on your road trip playlist:


The Interview

Many people enjoy being outdoors in a variety of ways. What are you into?
I spend my free time during the summers camping as much as possible and I do my best not to camp at the same place twice. Even if that means driving six hours overnight to go to the Badlands for two days - carpe diem! When the snow starts to fall, it’s all about skiing! But, I’m not a back country girl, I like the trails and keep to the blacks and blues. Wooded ones are my favorite.

What inspires you?
Honestly, so much. Scrolling my Instagram feed and seeing incredible photos of beautiful places. Hearing my dad tell stories about the places he went and the things he did when he was my age. The US National Parks map hanging on my wall. Another wall that is filled with pictures I’ve taken on different adventures. Books that I read, music that I listen to…seeing the mountains in the distance on my drive home from work every night doesn’t hurt.

Tell us about some of your Dad’s stories that stuck with you.
Probably my favorite is when, about a month before he was supposed to go to graduate school at Syracuse, he got a call from a friend saying he and some of their buddies were going to drive from Syracuse to California, and my dad thought that sounded awesome so he withdrew from school before classes even started and went with them! Along the way he stopped at multiple National Parks - one of which resulted in a bear charging into their campground at Yellowstone, taking my dad’s backpack and ripping it open to get the tiny pack of raisins that was at the bottom while my dad and his friends watched from a rock in the river they jumped onto for safety.

They didn’t have much money but they wanted to see the country so they slept in laundry mats and parking lots and camped, and at one point one, of their friends said they could stop by his aunt's house close to California, thinking she would of course let them stay and feed them. Well, when they pulled up, his friend’s aunt was in the middle of moving out of her house so instead of a place to crash and a meal, they became movers and hauled out all her furniture! He’s driven across the country a handful of times and I’ve been hearing these stories since I was just a kid, so I’ve always dreamed of going on adventures like his. I definitely don’t think I’d have this sense of adventure that I do now had I not had these stories dancing around in my head from a young age.

What is your outlet for inspiration?
I bring my camera with me everywhere - or the GoPro when it’s skiing. It’s so awesome capturing a moment or a landscape just right. It’s like a rush! Something that I’ll be able to keep forever, and show my kids one day to inspire them to get outside and explore as much as possible.

When did you realize a lifestyle outdoors was your passion?
Wow, I’m not sure I could pinpoint one specific moment. Travel has been a big part of my life since I was very young, and I’m so grateful to my parents for that. But, my passion for the outdoors came a bit later - not that I ever didn’t like it - but it was different. I think when I finally made the move to Colorado it all came rushing in - it’s so gorgeous here, how could you not want to soak it all in? Feel the dirt underneath your feet, mountainsides on your hands...soak in the views, breathe in the air at 14,000 ft.

What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your adventures?
This is a tough question. What is challenging can be so subjective. But, I think the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome (and I’m still working on it, honestly) is my own self-doubts. Constantly feeling like I’m not capable, or good enough, strong enough, smart enough...just not enough. And that goes for many aspects in my life.  I think learning to change this thought process went hand in hand with my growing relationship with the outdoors. Secretly freaking out over a 10-mile hike only to find I’m totally capable of it and feeling like a total badass. Or the 3-mile that’s got 1,200 ft in elevation gain and totally intimidating and hard, but doing it anyway and being so excited at the top that I want to bang on my chest and scream like Tarzan. It’s doubting that I can and doing it anyway to discover I’m totally capable. Now, I want to do crazier, harder hikes (and more ‘real life’ things like applying to graduate school) because I know I can and I know how good it’ll feel when I reach those goals.

What adventures are you looking forward to?
Ski season is happening right now! My boyfriend and I have a goal for this winter to ski at Banff in Canada. Then come summer we wanna hit Yosemite to hike Half Dome, do as many of the Arizona parks we can, and (fingers crossed) get to Havasu Falls!

What advice can you offer someone looking into trying something new?
JUST DO IT.  It might be scary or intimidating at first but you’ll feel amazing for pushing yourself and believe me, you can do A LOT more than you think you can. Just don’t give up. And if you’re alone in this, there are so many local groups you can join where they do hikes, take ski trips, go snowshoeing, or rock climbing.

To see where Emily’s adventures take her, follow her on Instagram @emily.vulcano and check out her photography and blog at

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