A Collaboration with Steph Frigon, Badlass and Blogger
Meet Sarah Sallade, February’s “featured badlass”. Hers is a story of grit and grace, patience and perseverance as she navigates motherhood, starting a small business, educating her children, and staying true to her passion for adventure and the outdoors. She sets a beautiful example through her approach to motherhood, family and career from a place of balance, harmony, and organic evolution rather than sacrifice and compromise. Instead of looking back at what she “used to do” before she had children, she looks forward to what adventures their family is going to pursue next. I admire her strength, stamina, engagement in the world, and her ability to wrangle two truly amazing children more than she’ll ever realize!
WORDS BY SARAH SALLADE, PHOTOS BY MIKE AND SARAH SALLADE
In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a Badlass? How do you embody these characteristics as you move through the world? To be a Badlass you have to have GRIT and grace. You have to know when to push on and when to bow out. You have to know that while perseverance and finishing what you start are great in theory, some expectations you have about the day or the challenge may not be met and you will be better off if you take a deep breath, accept it and formulate a new plan. It is better to have a fun day out than to not make it home.
Tell a story from your life that you feel illustrates what it means to “Be a Badlass” Let’s just start with…you are a Badlass if you are willing to do just about anything with your baby strapped to your back. Getting outside and being active everyday is challenging for most people. It takes motivation, time, gear, planning and preparation. Maybe in the warmer seasons it is easy to take a 30min road run everyday, but as soon as you add some distance, some colder weather, decide to head out on trails instead, you have already upped the ante. Now add average temps of 15dgF, 12in of snow, and two children under 5, and the need to get out for at least 1hr of active movement every morning and perhaps repeated in the afternoon, so you don’t all lose your minds during a pandemic. This is epic. My now 5 year old, after years of diligent training and a lot of patience on my part, needs little in the way of physical assistance until gaiters are required or a zipper needs to be pulled up after mittens have already been dawned, chatters non-stop as he dresses in layers from head to toe crushing any focus I might need to prepare myself or my 15month old. I toss on my bottom half layers and then gather the, what seems to be, 27 individual tiny items that my daughter will need to stay warm. Then I call her over to get started…it is hit or miss if she comes right over, runs away laughing with a devious look in her eye, or pretends not to know I’m calling to her. At this point in the season we typically have the whole routine down to less than a 10min ordeal, but the first 50 times we layered up it took us something like 30min to get out of the house…every day! Getting a toddler ready is sometimes a bigger adventure than actually climbing the mountain! Okay, so now imagine that you don’t just want to leave your house, grab some snowshoes or skis from your garage and walk to the woods, but instead you have to do this whole routine in the car in some parking lot so you can actually get out into the backcountry. You may be wondering, “have you lost your mind?” I may tell you now that indeed I have, how could I not. But what is my alternative? I live for being outside, the trees, the mountains, they sustain me; without them I get into a state of funk that can only be resolved by, in fact, going outside. So on one particular day I packed enough snacks to sink a small ship, water in bottles that wouldn’t freeze, tow rope, foot warmers, bothy bag, extra diapers and this is all on top of the normal preparations and gear that one would need to safely travel into a backcountry ski glade. Now mind you on this particular kind of trip my supportive, helpful, and amazing husband and father is also part of the team, but it doesn’t really change the fact that this whole set-up is challenging from tip to tail.
I’m carrying our little one, L, and Mike is towing our big guy, F, as we skin up. The route from the parking lot to the steeps goes smoothly, the people we meet are friendly, intrigued, and perhaps inspired by children in the backcountry, the snow is powdery and the weather is a reasonable 25 degrees Fahrenheit with overcast skies. Snacks are had and water bars are navigated. As we approach 2hrs and more challenging terrain, the wheels start falling off the bus. My little one starts fussing and the big guy gets nervous and starts chattering. Fussing shifts to crying and I shift into singing mode as I power up the hill. I lose track of Mike and F as I watch him fall over again as they go around another switch back. I don’t know how many songs I sang, but I know I ran through a full 10 verses of The Ants Go Marching and every animal I know a sound for in Old MacDonald. The worst part is that I have no idea why my toddler is crying. Is she hungry, tired, cold, wet? Does she need a diaper? Should I stop? The questions that every mom asks herself run through my mind over and over as I power on. But in backcountry skiing you don’t stop on the steeps, you go until there is a good place to stop and re-evaluate the situation and in this case that was the top of the glade. You have to have the mental fortitude, the GRIT and grace, to work through this moment.
Upon arrival at the top I start stamping out an area to throw open the bothy bag to get shelter for whatever comes next, diaper, lunch, water, a mitten free moment. I pull my pack off my back and talk as sweetly as I can muster to L as I unfasten all the buckles to release her. She seems a little happier already, but as Mike and F pull up it is clear to me the struggle is not over yet. Hanger seems to have set in and there are some tense moments and harsh words as we set up shelter. Luckily no one cries, today...
To hear how the story ends and read my other responses to life's Badlass questions, head to the original post on Steph's Blog, "Be a Badlass":