Kalahari Trailblazers

Morgan smalley

In our new ambassadors’ blog series, we’ll introduce you to the awesome people who taste the adventure every day! Our next trailblazer is Morgan, a visual artist and backcountry ski mountaineer based near Seattle, WA.

woman with long brown hair in grey hoodie and leggings standing smiling with biltong bag in front of lake in front of snow capped mountains

Tell us about yourself

My name is Morgan Smalley. I’m a full-time abstract visual artist and backcountry ski mountaineer born and raised in a beach town due north of Seattle, Washington.

What does adventure mean to you?

To me, adventure means so much more than just an extreme activity – it’s something embedded deep within the spirit, a curious nature. It takes on many different forms, pushing you to try new foods or dye your hair blue, climb higher, dig deeper and take on risk of defying convention to pursue your dreams.

woman sits on snow covered mountain eating biltong with bright pink skis standing next to her

What is your favorite outdoor activity and what makes it special to you?

My favorite outdoor activity is backcountry ski touring, which combines a few of my most favorite things – the solitude of wilderness hiking with the thrill of downhill skiing – throw in not waiting in long lift lines and I’m a happy snow camper!

Tell us about a memory or accomplishment from your adventures that you are proud of.

Before I turned 30, I wrote a list of thirty goals I wanted to accomplish. A few goals included solo ski tour, solo camp trip, snow camping etc… with my birthday quickly approaching and so many things left on my list I decided to combine a few goals into one epic weekend adventure and set out for a solo ski tour up Mt. Rainier to spend the night at Camp Muir. I made it to Muir after 7 grueling hours uphill with an aggressively heavy 70 L pack on my shoulders just in time to set up my tent and watch the sun set over the mountains in the distance. While I can now make it to Muir in less time I often look back on that moment of sitting above the clouds with a heart full of accomplishment and shirt full of backsweat – knowing full well that there is no end to what I can achieve.

woman traverses mountain on skis with backpack holding a bag of biltong

How does food and nutrition play a role in fueling your adventures?

During lengthy days in the backcountry it can be difficult to consume a sustaining amount of calories to fuel my lofty adventures. I often struggle to eat and drink enough to keep my body moving so with dehydration creeping up, choking down a dry trail bar is just about as appetizing as eating chalk. After years of trial and error, I’ve found that I need a balance of fresh fruit and high protein snacks like Kalahari Biltong. The burst of sugar from the fruit gives me an instant energy boost while the protein and sodium provide for long-lasting endurance and hydrating thirst!

Do you have any intentions or goals this year? What are you hoping to accomplish?

Some of my top intentions for this year are to really lean into my intuition, fine tune my technical ski mountaineer skills and develop my voice as a woman in the backcountry. Through this, I’m hoping to summit several of the 10,000’+ volcanoes in Washington, including Mount Rainier, Mount Adams and a second summit of Mount Baker and Mount Saint Helens.

This or That: Adventure Edition

Kayaking or Hiking

Skiing or Snowboarding

Mountains or Beach

Biltong or Crisps

Winter or Summer

Camping or Glamping

Surfing or Paddle Boarding

Cycling or Running

Beer or Wine

Explore Alone or Adventure Buddy 

Cardio or Strength Training

Follow Morgan on Instagram at @mksmalleyart

Visit her website: https://www.morgansmalley.com/

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