Sports - 14/08/2013

Meet ECCO Ambassador Morgan Kwan

Morgan Kwan, Adventure Blogger          
Age: 24
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A recent graduate of engineering school, Morgan has more than 15 years backcountry experience. She’s travelled and trekked through more than 20 countries, including China and much of northern Europe. Most recently, she spent two months exploring the wonders of South America.
We’re proud to welcome Morgan to #TEAMBIOM as she continues to use her blog and social media presence to educate and inspire people worldwide about the amazing experiences found in nature.
How did you get into hiking and backpacking?
Growing up in Calgary, we’re very close to the mountains, so my family was outside exploring every weekend. As I got older, my interest in backpacking, mountain biking and all the adrenaline stuff only increased. I used to ski race in the winter as well. I’m still very into skiing – anything in the mountains really. 
What inspired you to start your blog, Beauty in the Backcountry?
Many of my friends were asking me for advice on how to get started hiking and backpacking. A lot of them were intimidated going into outdoor stores and felt like they had to be at a higher level to even be involved. They liked how I was able to break it down and make it easier and less scary, so I decided to start a blog to help get people involved. I think my blog represents people between a novice outdoorsman and an expert mountaineer. I strongly believe that the self-confidence established through overcoming obstacles, persevering through ascents, and trekking through less than ideal conditions empowers people, especially women, in all aspects of their lives. Through my blog I hope to share this belief and encourage others.  
You just returned from a two month trip to South America, what was the most interesting thing you saw?
We did this four day trek called the Lares trek, through a high mountain valley in Peru. The people we met still dress and live like the Incas did hundreds of years ago. They brought us into their homes which were nothing more than mud huts with guinea pigs and chickens running around. We talked to some of the kids who hiked two hours each way to go to school every day. The people in these villages didn’t have a lot, but seeing how happy they were made you realize how fortunate we are. The hike really allowed us to experience the Peruvian culture on a personal level, I loved it!
Where to next?
It’s funny, I always find myself planning the next trip even before finishing the one I’m on! In South America I met a lot of awesome people from the U.S. and Canada and realized that I haven’t traveled around North America much. I think for the next trip I’ll explore closer to home. I recently finished a book about the Pacific Crest Trail through Washington, Oregon and California. I would love to hike that someday. A great adventure doesn’t have to start with a long haul flight.
You took a fresh pair of ECCO BIOM Terrain Sandals with you to South America, how did they work out?
They were fantastic. I initially didn’t think about bringing a sandal like that on the trip because I didn’t think I would need them, but they were awesome. So many times they were the perfect shoe; I did a lot of hiking in the jungle and never got a blister. They were light and the traction was perfect.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen traveling or out in the backcountry?
One night on a trip to an Alpine hut we decided to sleep outside under the stars so we could watch a meteor shower. All throughout the hut there were postings advising people to keep the windows and doors closed to prevent pack rats from entering.  We didn't seem to connect the hut’s pack rat problem with us sleeping outside.  At some point in the middle of the night, my friend, who I should mention is seasoned mountain man, let out a squeal (he'll debate that) and jumped up shaking his sleeping bag furiously.  Apparently not only had a pack rat made a bed inside his sleeping bag but one had also fallen onto his face! He hasn't slept outside since.
Follow Morgan as a member of #TeamBIOM:
Twitter: @BackcntryBeauty