In the spirit of Women’s History Month, the Ten Toes team has been celebrating all the incredible women who inspire us, particularly the women of the outdoors who we have the pleasure of meeting and following through our products. One such explorer is Cherise Tuttle: a paddle boarding, paragliding, voyaging badass whose zest for life knows no limits. We got the chance to pick her brain and you don’t want to miss it. And be sure to check out Cherise’s adventures on Instagram: @cherisetuts & @inverted_life!
Have you always been an adventurer? Who or what sparked your interest in the outdoors?
I grew up in Western Canada with a family that loved the outdoors. My parents ran a kids camp so things like canoeing and rock climbing was very familiar to me and my brother was always doing something outside - building treehouses, riding mountain bikes - he was the one who taught me how to snowboard and actually got me on my first paddle board! I did go through a brief period in my teens and early twenties when I didn't like certain things about the outdoors. I hated tent camping and needed indoor plumbing.
When I moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA 8 years ago, my passion for the outdoors increased 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 two years we have also spent half 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 that have little 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.
What is one thing you can't travel without?
Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap.
Do you think there is accurate representation of women in the outdoors in the media? Why or why not?
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 I think there is always room for improvement and often not accurate representations of anyone in media, women are becoming more and more recognized for their achievements which then inspires other women to push for more.
We can't help noticing your furry companion we always see on your Weekender board. Tell us a little about him. What is it like to have him with you on your paddle board adventures?
My furry companion’s name is Astroman Tuttle - Astro for short. He’s a 6 year old wolf hybrid that lives for outside. While I would have loved to have him stay on my paddle board for our adventures, he’d much prefer swimming beside me. He has a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out) so I had to get him a lifejacket last summer so he could be in the water for longer. When he gets tired, he swims to the shore and runs along the shore before jumping back in and catching up. He’s definitely on the top of the list for favorite adventure buddies. Most people assume he’s still a puppy based on the amount of energy he exudes. We laugh because he has calmed down so much since he was a puppy and for that we’re thankful. Having a full-energy dog can be super difficult when they’re an independent, stubborn, too-smart-for-his-own-good puppy, but once you build the trust and companionship, they’re the perfect adventure bud. I don’t think I could go for a hike or paddle without him.
Where can we find you when you're not exploring the world?
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 has 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.
What trips do you have planned this year?
We just got back from a 4 month trip to Nepal. Our next trip will be in a couple of months to the West coast of Canada, then we plan on spending the summer in home in the Eastern Sierras with possibly a short trip to Europe tucked in there, and then back to Nepal in the Fall. To be honest, I’m really looking forward to being home for a bit. The summers in the Sierras are incredible with endless opportunities to get outside. Living out of a duffle bag can also get a bit exhausting, so while I love traveling, it’s nice being home and hanging my hat in one place for a minute.
What would you tell young girls who want to get involved in the outdoors but don't know how or where to start?
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, also don’t be afraid to go by yourself. My favorite moments are being alone on a lake on my paddle board with a picnic for one waiting for me on the shore (two if you include Astro!)
Is there anything else you think we should know about you?
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 - I don’t want to get a waterproof case for it because I don’t need it 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 6 times in two 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.