Tidings of Christmas Joy

Friends, family and internet strangers —  
2018 was a BIG. FREAKING. YEAR. Looking back, we pretty much did every big thing we could have this year. New job? Check. New school? Check. Moved? Check. Domestic travel? International travel? Got married? Check. Check. Check.
Despite being so busy that at one point we had a date three weeks out circled on our calendars because it was the next time we could sleep in, it was an exceptionally good year.
Mikaela: One of my biggest new year’s resolutions for 2018 was to find a job I truly loved. I had spent 2017 honing in on what I loved to do and I set an intention in 2018 to buckle down and find something that made me look forward to getting up and turning my computer on every morning.
I’m so happy to say that I have absolutely found that. In April I started at National Park Trips Media as a Sales and Client Services Coordinator. We publish magazines and digital resources to help consumers plan national park vacations as well as provide advertising opportunities for businesses and towns near the parks. Since April I have branched into doing a little bit of everything on our five person team.
My favorite parts of my job are planning and running our photography workshops in national parks (which brought me to Utah, Yosemite and Saguaro this year in addition to Colorado parks) and writing. I had my first print story run in our Yosemite magazine this year and it felt so good to see my name in print!

November photography workshop in Saguaro

Our parent company owns Ski, Backpacker and Climbing magazines along with Warren Miller Films so getting to spend my days in our Boulder office surrounded by passionate outdoor enthusiasts has been so fun.
In addition to my day job, I also kept myself busy freelance blogging for Copper Mountain and Keep it Wild this year.
Topher: This year I had the pleasure of dislocating my knee cap skiing. We were skiing up in Copper, Mikaela Vince and I, in one of the back bowls when I went to drop in off a ridge that I had successfully dropped before. However, if you know anything about my ability to ski that ability is a little slapdash. I’m not great in powder and I’m a little floppy. Well, right after the drop the powder came up to my knees, I got my feet tangled up and crossed my skis. On near vertical terrain. They didn’t release and I was in excruciating pain. Ski patrol had to evacuate me, and here almost a year later, it still gives me grief and Dr.’s don’t want to do anything about it for the time being so that was fun.

Double diamond rescue in Copper Bowl

Topher: I got into CU Boulders College of letters arts and sciences studying math this year. We moved up north closer to Boulder both for Mikaela’s new job and for school. Colorado’s rent prices are slowly but surely pricing us out of the market. So that fun. But I like our new place it it about twenty five minutes from Boulder and only about half and hour from downtown Denver.
Mikaela: In third grade, I met the sweetest, rad-est, red-headed human and she has been one of my dearest friends ever since. Serena and I were inseparable through our years at community college. Life took us down very different paths, but those paths have continually crossed. We graduated college on the same day and this summer our paths once again crossed. She and her fiance (also named Christopher!) got married in August just a month before we did. Topher and I flew out to Richmond, Virginia where we ate all the southern food in between wedding activities. Standing next to her as she professed her love to her new husband was such a sweet experience. I think one of the best parts of being twenty-something is watching your friends find their happily ever after.

Best friends since 3rd grade and Summer 2018 Brides

Topher: As if this year wasn’t already jammed full of enough going on what with a move and a wedding and an international honeymoon we also had a weekend bachelor/bachelorette in New Orleans with some of our closest friends. It was a whirlwind weekend full of seafood, late night beignets, and plenty, I mean plenty, of alcohol. It was a trip for the ages and a blast to make new memories with our closest friends. Plus, who doesn’t like creole cuisine.

Mikaela: Planning a wedding is very hard work. From January up until the night before the big day, I feel like every spare minute was spent planning. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed it, although at times it felt like I had two full-time jobs. To save money, we DIY-ed or did most things ourselves, with significant help from our awesome friends.
Our wedding day was the very best day of my life so far. Getting to finally marry my best friend, surrounded by our closest family and friends was everything I could have ever hoped for.
I’ve been sure of Topher’s love for me since we were teens, but what became obvious over this summer was how truly loved we are by our crew. Through pain-staking DIY “parties” (don’t ask how many paper cranes I made them fold), dress fittings, mental breakdowns in Michael’s, tasting dozens of beers, wines and margaritas, a debaucherous weekend in New Orleans and heart-felt speeches all of our friends showed us how much they truly loved us. We’ve got a beautiful group of friends and an amazing blended family I am so grateful for.

Topher: Arguably the biggest thing we did this year and what will undoubtedly be the defining event of 2018 in review for us: Mikaela and I finally tied the knot this fall. I’d say planning a wedding wasn’t as hard as everyone makes it out to be, except it was. All the things that you never even think to think about that need to be addressed in some manner or another. But at the end everything worked out amazing and I got to be surrounded by friends and family celebrating my marriage to my best friend and the love of my life. All the lead up to deciding what kind of straws to pick to spending hours upon hours curating the perfect playlist all worked out. From the light shower of rain to the beautiful fall evening, perfect for tacos, the whole day was storybook. One that I would relive over and over if that was something I had in my power.

Topher: This year we also had one the greatest trips I’ve ever been on, we went to Japan for 2 weeks on our honeymoon. I could write a book about our time in Japan. It was without a doubt the coolest trip I’ve even taken. And some part of me felt so amazingly at home there. Since our return I’ve honestly been kinda depressed that we aren’t still there. We spend time in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and a few days in the countryside hiking through the mountains and staying in tiny guest houses on tatami mat floors. Since even before we decided to go to Japan for our honeymoon, the idea of teaching English abroad in Japan and living there for a year or two always interested me and after visiting it has renewed in me a desire to live there. Not forever but definitely for some time. Japan definitively left and impression on me, one I hope never fades.

Yunomine Hot Springs Town

Mikaela: I have to admit, I was a little nervous to go to Japan. International travel is something that’s always been so important to me. Topher had never been abroad before and part of me was worried he’d hate it. We had our moments (like not buying the right train tickets and forgetting allergy medicine and a hotel incident I’m still not sure I fully understand) but it was the most amazing trip and it fueled both of our passions for travel.
We ate udon in a tiny ten-seat shop where we watched the chef make our noodles from scratch. We got seriously lost in a whole city that exists under Tokyo. We ate octopus and eel off sticks and pond smelt, whatever that was. We set up tripods and laughed as we took shot after shot in the dark. We took traditional Japanese baths with strangers in a tiny hot springs village we took a two hour bus to. We drank beer out of vending machines. We hiked a pilgrimage in the pouring rain. Topher saved our butts more than once with his limited knowledge of the Japanese language. We said “sumimasen” and “arrigato-gozaimas” over and over again and my purse was always stuffed with Kit-Kats. We were warmly welcomed by locals in every city and town. We ate grocery store sushi for Thanksgiving that rivaled anything I’ve ever eaten in the US. We fell in love and it was beautiful. We tried to make tempura at home last week and I splashed boiling oil on Topher and it was squidgy and terrible and I realized that just like when I returned home from Italy or Costa Rica in college, I will always be a little homesick because a part if my heart will always be tucked in the streets of Japan.

Koguchi, an itty bitty village in the hills through which the Kumano Kodo trek runs
Kyoto at night

Kenzie dog continues to blow us away with her spirit and energy. She will be 13 next month but still acts like a pup, hikes miles with us and is full of joy.
She loves: Nuzzling down in her favorite beds, playing in the snow, splashing in questionable water, Shakira, getting puppuccinos at Starbucks and new bandanas.
She hates: When her parents sleep in on the weekends, social events where she has to behave *cough* weddings *cough*, getting baths, antioxidants and free-market economies

As we reflect on 2018, we feel so much gratitude. Life is not easy, but life is very good. We’re looking forward to slowing things down in 2019: spending more time outside, exploring some new places and of course, scheming and dreaming for what’s next.
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

*All wedding photos by Coldiron Photography

The Outside Millennial Holiday Gift Guide

We’ve put together our ultimate gift-guide for the Outside Millennial this holiday season.

By Mikaela and Topher Yanagihara

We’ve put together our ultimate gift-guide for the Outside Millennial this holiday season.

While this gift guide is written by outdoorsy millennials, for outdoorsy millennials, we are strong believers that there is a little bit of the Outside Millennial in everyone. Who doesn’t love fresh air and new experiences, after all?


Gigi Pip Felt Adventure Hats – $36 – $84
Whether I’m at the office or strolling the streets of Kyoto, felt adventure hats are my go-to look. Gigi Pip has a ton of drool-worthy styles and colors, and you’re supporting small business when you purchase!

REI Women’s Lightweight Base Layer – $39.50
I practically live in this base layer all year long. It’s wicking and lightweight enough to wear on chilly mornings at camp, or to stick in your pack in case it gets cold above timberline, but it’s warm enough to act as a great base layer for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Farm to Feet Socks – $21
Remember when you were a kid and getting socks was like, the worst gift ever? Yeah, not anymore. Socks are pure gold! Especially these Farm to Feet merino wool socks, made in the USA, in all sorts of thicknesses – the perfect stocking stuffer. There’s all sorts of cute patterns, but I’m pretty partial to the foxes.

Parker Jotter – ~$7.00
Whether I’m journaling, goal setting in my planner or taking notes at work, the Parker Jotter is my go-to pen. It’s a classic ballpoint that feels good in the hand and is stylish enough that I’m always getting compliments on it. True story, the cleaning people at my work even swipe it if I don’t put it in my drawer at the end of the day.

Ab’Asanas Ebook – $14.99
I’m all about quick workouts that WORK and Morgan Tyler’s Ab’Asanas ebook is my favorite. I’ve got it downloaded on my phone so I can get a quick workout in when I’m traveling, before I hop into bed, or while camping. These core workouts have their base in yoga, so are right up my alley.


Picture credit: Coldiron Photography

Benchmade Mini Griptilian about $100
I truly believe everyone should carry a pocket knife. From opening packages to spreading butter on toast when everyone stole the knives in the office kitchen, the number of things I use a knife for on a daily basis can’t be counted. And when it comes to knives, as all things, I prefer a quality item that will last a lifetime over cheap junk you will replace several times over. Made in the USA and so nice I bought it twice, you can’t go wrong with Benchmade’s classic Mini Griptilian. Blade HQ always has the best prices.

KZ ZST In-ear Headphones about $20
Everyone, and I mean everyone, has headphones. Most people have the crappy ones that came with their phone, or spent $300 for the really crappy ones with the “b” on the side. Get some headphones that exist to sound good, not to tell other people how much money you have to spend. Regarded as some of the best sounding headphones at this price point, and maybe even quite a bit above that, these KZ’s sound phenomenal and are cheap enough to get a few pairs. You might not have ever heard of the brand, but that’s not really the point of a pair of headphones, is it?

Rhodia Webnotebook about $20
I have a bad memory. Like a really bad memory. I may not be as diligent as I would like, but writing down my thoughts or just keeping a journal at the end of they day helps heaps in trying to keep my scattered mind from blowing away in the wind. Another quality product from a quality brand, Rhodia notebooks are made of quality materials that will hold up to use and feel great to write in with any implement.

Work Sharp Field Sharpener – $30
Everyone who’s home I’ve ever visited is full of dull knives. Everyone’s pocket who contains a pocket knife probably contains a dull one. Fix that. Made in the USA right up in Oregon, Work Sharp does one thing. And they do it pretty well. I bring this guy camping, use it to sharpen knives at home, you name it. Everyone should learn how to maintain their knives, it makes them safer and easier to use.

Columbia Ascender Softshell – $70
If you live in Colorado or anywhere with inclement weather, you know of the utility of a midweight jacket. Warm enough for excursions to and fro and, at least in Colorado, totally work appropriate, a softshell jacket is a great add to the hall closet. I’m a huge proponent of value. Making your hard earned money work just as hard. Cheap junk is bad value because it doesn’t work and will need replacing and top shelf is bad value because after a point its diminishing returns. That’s why I love this jacket, and Columbia as a brand in general. 95% the performance of North Face at 40% the cost, yes please.


Maldon Sea Salt – $5.49
Can one be obsessed with salt? If the answer is yes, then this is the one. It’s texture is superb. It’s luxuriously flaky and is perfect atop avocado toast (don’t @ me, it’s not a trend, it’s a lifestyle), pasta and honestly, eaten straight out of the box, which is also beautiful.

Subscription to Bon Appetit Magazine – $10
While print may be dying, especially among millennials, there’s something I just can’t shake about this monthly magazine subscription. I’ve been cooking out of Bon Appetit since college and love the poignant writing, beautiful photography and recipes that I trust to turn out well 99% of the time. This is a must for the foodies in your life.

Merf’s Hot Sauce – $5
We discovered Merf’s at our local farmer’s market a few years ago and have been obsessed ever since. We bulk ordered for wedding favors, and our friends ask for bottles from our secret stash every time they come over. It’s that good. Create a hot sauce sampler by buying a few bottles or stick to the classics and gift the Hand Grenade Sriracha.

Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife, 8-Inch $35-$40
A good knife in the kitchen makes all the difference. One that is sharp, handles well, and won’t break the bank. A tried and true brand, Victorinox has been making knives since 1884. I’ve spent my time working in and around professional kitchens and you never see fancy show knives, just knives that need to get a job done just like this guy. Skip the Cutco Pyramid scheme and get yourself a new kitchen best friend.


Picture credit: Coldiron Photography

Telluride Clothing Company Dog Bed – $49.99
When Kenzie dog got back home from her two week stint with our parents while we were in Japan, she refused to leave her favorite bed for two days straight. It’s got her paw of approval all over it. And, mom loves it because it’s Buffalo Plaid. Duh!

Cabella’s Kid’s Sleeping Bag – $39.99
Kenzie used to love camping…right up until it was time for bed and the temperature dropped and she was hardcore cuddling with our feet. So, we bought her a kid’s sized sleeping bag and it’s her favorite thing in the entire world. We also love it because it keeps her dirty paws and marshmallow-matted fur contained to her own space.

REI Wallace Lake Bandana – $4.95
Red. Hem. Must we say more? We die.


Let’s get real, one of our defining qualities as millennials is valuing experiences over stuff, so this section is where the real gems are.

National Park Trip Media’s Photography Workshops
I may be a little biased, because I do work these events, but honestly these workshops were some of my favorite experiences of the year. If you want to take your photography up a notch, these workshops are a great place to start; especially if night sky photography has been eluding you.

The Lady Alliance Trips
Kieren, the founder of The Lady Alliance, is such an amazing human and curates the sweetest trips for badass ladies. Whether you join her to surf in Tofino or trek in Peru, you won’t be disappointed.

Copper Mountain’s Moonlight Dine and Ski
This was a favorite experience of 2018 for us for sure. Copper Mountain hosts Moonlight Dine and Ski events a few times a season, where you eat dinner at Solitude Station and ski down the slopes in the moonlight. It’s pure magic.

Denver Passport Book – $25
One of our favorite ways to be a tourist in our hometown is trying new restaurants, coffee shops and bars. We’ll usually push ourselves to get out and try new places by working our way through a “top” list, but the Denver Passport Book is a great way to drink your way through Denver, offering 2-for-1 drinks at 64 locations. Many of our favorite restaurants, breweries and coffee shops make the list, along with many on our bucket list!

Carbon Footprint Offsets
Balancing travel and adventure with eco-friendliness is an internal struggle we battle all the time. While not nearly a direct substitute for avoiding travel all together, offsets give back to the environment and help to bring consciousness to travelling. I like CarbonFund, because it allows you to purchase offsets in the form of planting trees at the end of the calculator.


Stanley French Press – $57.50
Coffee is where I draw the line at roughin’ it. There must be coffee, it must be good and hot and there must be plenty of it. Those are my stipulations. This camping French press is on the pricey side, bit it’s so worth it. It’s durable, it keeps your coffee warm and it holds four servings, so you can double up without breaking the stove back out, or share with your friends who are nursing their instant coffee. Win.

REI 18L Ruckpack – $64.95
These 18L packs are the perfect size for day hikes. They easily fit a hydration bladder, lunch, a camera and some layers, are comfortable, affordable and cute. They come in plenty of colors, so you and bae can match without being too matchy matchy. In a pinch, you could even live out of one. I did for three days inn-to-inn hiking in Japan!

Krieg Chalk Bag – $26
A chalk bag should be a direct reflection of your personality and with Krieg, you can find a chalk bag to suite any of your climbing friends. Topher’s personally a rainbow unicorn type of guy while Mikaela goes for the feathers.


Happy Holidays!
Xx, Mikaela and Topher

Don’t Be a Square: Say No to Instagram FOMO

Originally published by Keep it Wild.

Last week, I went hiking after work on a trail close to my office. It was a beautiful evening: the grasses were at that beautiful stage of green before they turn summer-brown, the sun bathed the red rocks in golden light, the birds were chirping and the air smelled like things growing. That night, I had every intention of posting one of my pictures from my hike, but then I started scrolling through Instagram. One of my friends had lucked out and won the daily lottery for the Wave. Another girl I followed had posted a picture from Havasupai. One influencer had ‘grammed her dawn patrol ski up Mt. Hood, the sunrise colors epic. Another influencer was flying over waterfalls in Indonesia in a floatplane. Yeah, in a floatplane.

I scrolled through my pictures from my hike and the colors didn’t seem quite as bright, the subject matter quite as appealing – they suddenly seemed pretty ordinary. I went to bed without posting.

Social media is an amazing space for inspiration; it’s grown my bucket list exponentially. In fact, I have a whole gallery folder on my phone solely dedicated to screenshots of other people’s ‘grams, depicting places I never knew existed but now desperately want to visit. But, on the flipside, it’s also really easy to get caught up in thinking your life is boring when you’re seeing the highlight reel from hundreds of other people all in one place…

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A Balancing Act

I want to do it all, and that is the root of many of my problems.

I’m an over-acheiver, I hate saying no, I have serious FOMO and my rose colored glasses always tell me I can accomplish more than I think in the allotted time.

In college, there was an image floating around on the internet that basically said you’ll only have time for two: good grades, a social life and sleep. It rang true in college, but as adult life continues, it only gets worse.

Some people seem like they have all their shit together. You look at them and can’t imagine that they’d ever forget and pay rent late three months in a row or eat taquitos for dinner at almost midnight because food was an afterthought. It’s frustrating to feel like you’re clawing to juggle it all and someone else has it serenely figured out.

But you know what? Nobody does. My friend Marian is a college student, has a job and a social life, but she doesn’t sleep, like ever (I’m pretty sure she’s a vampire). I have another friend who cuts off her social life when she gets stressed. One of my favorite adventure ‘grammers, @alexborsuk, posted recently that the trade off for her running commutes, healthy eating, happy pup and epic weekend warrior adventures is a messy apartment.

I started a new job this week and the commute is pretty rough. It’s been a bit of a shock to try to re-work my routine. Suddenly I’ve lost three hours a day to commuting, plus I have to, like actually get dressed now which takes time. I’ve been frustrated at myself because I haven’t gotten a single workout in this week. I tried getting up early this morning, but curse my Egyptian cotton sheets, that doesn’t appear to be a viable option.

I’m reminding myself that I need to be patient and I need to learn to let it go. When my free time is limited and I’m prioritizing my relationship, adventure, wedding planning, blogging, cooking, there are going to be days when a workout doesn’t happen. The house is probably not going to ever be totally clean. I’m probably not going to have time for those Skillshare classes I wanted to take.

And you know what? That’s okay. I’m not super woman. Some days I’m going to tear through my to-do list and some days I’m going to sleep too long and not get a shower and spend the whole evening binging Netflix.

And that’s okay. That seemingly perfect person you see? They’re probably not hiking and skiing every weekend. And that’s okay too.

Know what you’re okay sacrificing and what is non-negotiable and be patient. Be creative. I’m going to start doing yoga at work.

You can’t balance if you take and take and take weight and never let anything go.

Lessons from Tofino

Three planes, a train, a bus, a ferry and a five hour car ride with strangers was all that stood between me and Tofino, British Columbia; a land of towering rainforests, moody beaches, hidden hot springs where the forest meets the sea and knee deep bogs.

I’d read about the world-famous cold-water surf town of Tofino originally in a Bon Appetit magazine. I had never been surfing, or traveled somewhere completely alone before, for that matter. But there I was, carrying an overstuffed duffel with backpack straps that were not meant to be used for more than a quick jaunt across the airport on my back, and another backpack in my arms, jumping into a car with people I’d only briefly chatted on Facebook with, in a foreign country.

I quickly realized that the Canadian accent is not just an American gimmick and that my trepidations for going on this trip alone were for naught. By the time we got out of the car in Tofino, me slightly green from riding in the back seat on winding mountain rounds through Vancouver Island, I had made two new friends.

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Restaurant Review: Concourse, A Wow Moment

Concourse Restaurante Modern
Neighborhood: Stapleton

As I get older and we try more restaurants and more dishes, I think what I’m in search for are those wow moments. I love good experiences, outings where every dish is great, but what really sets a restaurant apart are those moments of shock and awe.

Concourse, ChoLon Concepts third restaurant, was the only restaurant that we tried in 2017 that provided that wow moment. It was named one of 5280’s 25 Best Restaurants in Denver, and rightfully so.

Situated in Denver’s newly hip Stapleton neighborhood*, Concourse visually impresses on entrance with it’s incredible wave shaped wooden ceiling, eliciting a feeling of movement.

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Thanks, Dad.

When my sister and I were kids, we’d start complaining on Friday nights about going skiing. We’d complain about getting up early and about being stuffed into snowsuits and having to wear googles and that our boots hurt and that we had to walk what felt like a million miles across Copper’s main village to get to the lifts.

As soon as we hit the slopes, we’d have a blast, but once it was time to call it a day, we’d be back to complaining. My dad would gather his skis, my skis, my sisters skis and my mom’s skis, my mom would take everyone’s poles and I would ensure my little sister didn’t eat it in the icy parking lot.

Continue reading “Thanks, Dad.”

Motivated, Passionate, Inspired.

In the last days of December, as I envisioned what I wanted 2018 to look like, I tried to create a word for the year.

2017 was a good year, but it was also a hard year for me. I struggled mightily against what I dubbed a case of the “meh’s”. I struggled to do things: big things, little things, even the things I loved to do seemed like a huge chore. I struggled to do housework, to make time for friends, to cook. I just felt “meh”.

2018 needed to be different and the word that came to mind when I envisioned the new year was not one, but three: motivated, passionate, inspired. 

Continue reading “Motivated, Passionate, Inspired.”

Telluride, Camping at 11,000 ft in September

Travel diary on exploring Telluride

My favorite campsites are the ones you discover in the middle of the night, the ones that surprise and stun you when the sun rises.

We’d pulled up in the middle of the night, so had no idea what we’d wake up to. The temperature had plummeted in the wee hours of the morning and when I woke, in my hat, gloves, two pairs of pants and down jacket inside my zero degree sleeping bag, a hot cup of coffee was the only thing on my mind.

I unzipped the door and numbly shoved my socked feet into my hiking boots. I went to pull aside the fly and froze, my breath a cloud billowing above me.

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The Power of Intention

On New Year’s Eve last year, we sat in a coffee shop in Five Points, drafting our 2017 New Year’s Resolutions. Among twenty other things, I wrote “Hike to a hot springs”.

Summer 2017 came and went and we didn’t end up hiking to a hot springs. Another resolution, like “Continue my drama-free stint with mom” that fell under the loose-some category of you-win-some-you-loose-some.

Last month I found myself in Tofino, British Columbia, getting on a float plane with three women who had been strangers to me up until three days before to fly to a remote coastline where we would hike to a hot springs.

Intention is a powerful thing.

Continue reading “The Power of Intention”