September 8, 2016

Most people get home from work tired from all the day’s stress.  Natalie is a different story, her energy levels never seem to deplete despite her stressful title of Store Manager.  She arrives in the morning, usually with a banana and peanut butter in hand, vibrant and ready to take on whatever the day has in store for her. At the end of the day, she’ll put that same amount of energy into a climbing session at the gym.  Natalie’s weekends are taken on with that same vivacious energy.  If the weather is good, you’d be sure to find her climbing or hiking.  I remember a few months ago Natalie sent me a Snapchat in the morning, she was hiking one of the shorter local peaks, that same evening sent me another one watching the sunset on the beach.  I’m lucky if I can just make it from my car to my apartment after a day of hiking.  With that kind of endless energy you can bet that Natalie takes on active hobbies voraciously.

NataliePhoto: Michelle Jung
NataliePhoto: McKinna Krieghoff

Natalie’s climbing origins are similar to many others: she and a friend decided to check out a local gym, Rockreation, for a different kind of workout; she stuck with it, her friend didn’t.  That was in October of 2011.  Now almost five years later, Natalie is leading awesome routes all across California.  She even climbed Sail Away, a 5.8 in Joshua Tree, using only nuts.  She’s climbed the “pitch of the universe” on Third Pillar of Dana, and has plans to climb Fishhook Arete, Bishops Terrace, Mount Whitney’s East Face, and Mount Conness West Ridge, just to name a few.  These goals have taken time for Natalie to achieve or become attainable.  She has dedicated herself to overcoming plateaus and mental fear, a crucial step to moving onto bigger and more challenging climbs.  Her main climbing partner, Michelle, often hears Natalie repeating, “good hands, good feet” when fear presents itself while she is leading a route.  This naturally calms her breath allowing her to focus on the goal of cleanly completing the pitch.  Natalie’s focused demeanor on the rock translates well to her determination hiking.

NatalieCover photo: Michelle Jung
NataliePhoto: Michelle Jung

Aside from the shorter, but still challenging, day hikes scattered across Southern California, Natalie has also bagged some pretty major peaks: White Mountain (14,252’) and Mount Langley (14,042’).  She plans on summiting all California 14’ers, and once she’s hiked them all she will be going for the fastest supported female time for the California 14’ers.  She also looks forward to the challenge of  longer hikes.  Natalie plans to hike the Tahoe Rim Trail solo unsupported and intends to complete the hike in about 4 days to put her name down for the first fastest known female time.  Once she goes for all of these fastest female times, it will be time to leave California and visit some new trails in Alaska or Colorado.  Then she’ll travel south to hike the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu.  You may be wondering how one person could have so many goals that all take significant dedication, skill set, training, and energy.

NataliePhoto: Michelle Jung
NataliePhoto: Manny Damani

If there is one thing I’ve learned about Natalie, it is to never, ever underestimate her.  She’s surpassed expectations in a challenging and critical role here at the Coop, often times staying late to ensure that her store front looks impeccable.  She takes her goals seriously, and has fun accomplishing them.  If a day ever comes when Natalie isn’t smiling and living life to its fullest, be sure to look up to the sky because pigs must be flying.

NataliePhoto: Michelle Jung
NataliePhoto: Michelle Jung

Cover photo: Michelle Jung