We were first introduced to Tribe members Nikki McGee and Melanie Ford's idea to tour South America (with a focus on Chile) when we were in Salt Lake City at Winter Market Outdoor Retailer this past January. With massive amounts of energy and passion, Nikki (who is originally from Minnesota and a longtime friend of Founder Jake) told us about The Female Frontier...
Gasp! YES. SO rad. (yep, these were our initial reactions)
Being the wanderlust souls that we are, their mission to explore uncharted territories and share these experiences with others in an attempt to educate and inspire other to explore beyond their borders, immediately resonated with us. Struck us to the core. So much so, that we wanted to drop everything and join them. But we thought, what better way to support Nikki and Mel on their journey, then to equip them with Ethnotek swag so they could celebrate and promote world culture while traveling. So we did. And it has been quite the journey for these two hardcore chicks.
Nikki and Mel recently wrote a post on their blog about the intentions behind their travels that's definitely worth a read. To give you a little taste, here is their shared answer for the reason why they're in South America. We dig it. Duh. Here goes:
We want to get down and dirty in the South American backcountry, where few tourists ever venture. We want to immerse ourselves in the culture so we could take a piece home to share. We want people to hear the word ‘Chile’ and think of the sky scraping Andes, frigid glaciers, and warm hospitality – not just earthquakes and trapped miners. We wanted Chile to become a travel fantasy for more than just 6-year-olds. This is why we are in Chile. By sharing these experiences, we hope to educate and inspire others to explore beyond their own borders.
So, without further ado...meet Nikki McGee and Melanie Ford!
Tribe member and expert climber Nikki, rocking her Guatemala 2 Acaat Messenger on San Cristobal in Santiago.
Photo Credit: Jose Manuel Soto Chevesich
A 31 year-old resident of Park City, Utah, Nikki is originally from Minneapolis, MN. As an expert climber, the granite of the Wasatch and sandstone cracks of southern Utah were too much to resist. Nikki also specializes in canyoning, fly fishing, snowboarding, and any other outdoor sport she can get into. Her experience includes Outdoor Therapy for the Oakley School, snowboard instructor, and professional climbing and fly fishing guide. When not working, Nikki is usually found on vertical rock faces across America and Canada, fishing, diving, or carving up the Park City slopes.
Tribe member and expert caver Mel, rocking Team Ethnotek's Limited Edition Amaru village Peruvian Raja Pack.
Melanie is a 29 year-old from Seattle, WA. As an expert caver with eight years of experience in the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, and the UK, she has professionally guided caving, hiking, and kayaking worldwide. Mel is currently employed as a seasonal park ranger for the National Park Service at Oregon Caves National Monument where she is involved in off-trail caving and search and rescue. Her off-seasons are spent in the mountains of Park City, UT, the canyons of southern Utah, or bumming across the globe. Melanie’s passions include canyoning, kayaking, hiking, travel, skiing, and violin studies.
Nikki and Mel: The Female Frontier
Nikki and Mel: thank you for allowing us to live vicariously through you while you adventure through South America. Thank you for inspiring us to think beyond our cubicles and comfort zones. Thank you for letting us tell your story, and thank you for telling our story and the story of our artisans. You are true Ethnotek Shaman (Shamanistas?!) and we are proud to sponsor you!
To the Tribe: To close this Tribe spotlight, we'd like to thank you for constantly inspiring us, for sharing your stories, and for celebrating and promoting world culture with us. In Ralph Waldo Emerson's poignant words, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
Stay tuned for future stories from Nikki and Mel's South American adventures. We're hoping to cook up a little collab. with them that would involve a visit to the Amaru village in the Pisac District of Peru (see Amaru village THREAD on Mel's Raja Pack above)...that's as much as we're divulging now. Can't wait to share more in the future.
Family Company, Tribally Organized, Globally Engaged...