Every woman has her own specific strengths, and the “My Mountain Girl” series aims to capture them. Capture why she loves living in the Rocky Mountain West, and how she uses those strengths to be her best. We are all so similar, but our differences provoke a sense of wonder and awe for each other. And by telling each other’s stories, perhaps it will motivate or spark something inside of another to reach beyond her own comfort zone. To try something new. To see things in a new light.
Our first Mountain Girl is Rhett. She is beautifully strong, confident, vibrant and adventurous. She is an absolute lover of water, and it puts a twinkle in her eye to share it. She was chosen because there is an obvious spark in her soul, and she is not afraid to dive in, head first. Thank you, Rhett, for sharing your energy and heart with us!
Tell us about you. I live in Missoula, MT with my husband and two sons, ages 7 and 4. I am fortunate to be a stay-at-home-mama and I also volunteer at my eldest son’s school as the President of the parent-teacher association. I love gardening, both flowers and food, learning about birds and wildflowers, and being outside. I like to bike and hike but I really, really love to paddle. Before moving to Missoula, I was the Operations Manager of a whitewater rafting company in Upstate SC where I was born and raised. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the College of Charleston. While I was in Charleston, a very lovely but flat place, I realized how much I loved and missed the mountains. When my mother was pregnant with me in 1971, my father took her canoeing on the Chattooga River. I spent my entire childhood swimming and playing on the lake I grew up on, traveling to the coast to explore the marshes, beaches, and ocean, and finding cool stuff in small creeks. But it took me 22 years to discover the river my mom had paddled with me in utero. Once I found it, I was hooked on flowing water and spent the next 14 years working on the Chattooga and sharing my passion with my rafting guests. The Chattooga will always hold a very special place in my heart. My experiences on that river gave me a lot of confidence in what I am capable of and really shaped who I am today.
What is your favorite thing about living in the Rocky Mountain West? I have so many favorite things about the Big Sky Country! I don’t know if I can pick just one. I love the wide open spaces, the amazing light that bounces off the grassy hills and high mountains (especially on summer evenings), the crystal clear creeks and rivers, the opportunities to explore our incredible public lands, the wonderful and warm people of our community.
How do you put that into action? My family and I spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. Birding, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, gardening, biking, canoeing, rafting, and paddleboarding.
What is your favorite place to visit in the region? I have two very favorite places. The Big Blackfoot River is a favorite place to paddle. It’s beautiful, has some fun whitewater that’s not too difficult for kids, and is close to home. Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is great for birding and exploring with gorgeous views of the Bitterroot Mountains. We visit Lee Metcalf throughout the year and are always amazed at how many birds and other wildlife we see.
Who or what motivates you in your space? Maps! We love them. We love to hold them in our hands and pour over them. Local, national, international. Any and all. Digital can be great but I prefer a good old fashioned atlas. One of my favorite things in our home is a huge classroom map of Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa from 1959. I found it at a vintage market a couple of years ago and I never get tired of studying it.
What do you do to feel your best? I feel my best when I’m outside, preferably on a river or in the woods. Sometimes I have to remind my self that I need it and it’s important. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday life. Chores, kids, dinner (every night!), after-school activities, grocery shopping. Being out in the fresh air surrounded by beautiful views is a guaranteed way to reset my attitude and relieve stress. I especially love the feeling I get when I first push out into the current of a river. Releasing a deep sigh and relaxing my tensed shoulders, and a peaceful feeling of well-being, even if getting there was stressful. As soon as I’m floating,everything is right with the world.