Hey Lily Trotters fans! This is Crista Valentino (@cristaa_v) and I'm excited to be a part of the LT Community. I've called Jackson, WY home for the last 12 years, affording me a mountain playground as my backyard. There's nothing that settles my stress and resets my inner compass better than trail time far away from screens and signals, so that's where you can find me more often than not. I'm proud to be a Lily Trotters Ambassador, and will be sharing with you all some of my favorite places to unwind and unplug.
Wildflower season is my favorite season, and every year I add a few more newly identified species to my rolodex. Balsam Root (the happy yellow flowers) are usually one of the first to pop, alongside Sticky Geranium (a smaller purple/pink flower). As the summer goes on, new species take the place of the early bloomers and we're about to enter wild huckleberry season here in the Tetons, which quickly turns my trail runs into huckleberry picking walks and leaves me with purple fingers. It's a pretty good transition if you ask me!
Getting into trail running has been an unexpectedly perfect compliment to rock climbing. Big climbing or running days in the mountains require mental and physical endurance, a close relationship with your body, and sometimes surrendering to the suck. I've found both my darkest moments and my greatest strength at mile 30 or hour 20, and yet still get humbled daily by the difficulty of a 3 mile run, a track workout, or a crag session. No two days have ever been the same, but that's what I think makes it fun and keeps me coming back.
Here's a photo on one of my bigger days last summer, on hour 12 with about 6 more hours to go. What you can't see is the amount of clothing I'm wearing to keep warm, including: Lily Trotter socks, long johns, climbing pants, a sports bra, tank top, base layer hoodie, vest, puffy jacket, and houdini, two buffs (one for my head, one for my neck), big winter gloves (shoved inside my jacket while climbing), hand warmers both in my gloves and taped to my stomach, and a helmet. They say there's no bad weather, just bad layering.
This year has become 'The Year That Crista Gets Lost,' and I've found myself off trail and off route more times than I'd like to admit. This day was a welcome change from that routine since I know this peak like the back of my hand. It's a magical thing when you can stand atop a peak for the 16th time, like I am here, and still be awestruck by its view. I wear my Lily Trotters on every mountain adventure because they save me from the inevitable scrapes, cuts, and snags my legs face scrambling across boulder fields and bushwacking searching for where the trail is supposed to be. The greatest gift these mountains give me is perspective. Being amongst their peaks and valleys, especially when I am lost, reminds me of my place in this world, and the respect and gratitude I need to have for what surrounds me.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know a little about Lily Trotters amazing ambassador, Crista! We love our Unstoppable Squad and continue to be inspired by the incredible things they accomplish every single day!