Stio was founded on the idea that place matters—that mountains and access should drive our daily existence. We’re lucky to have landscapes on our doorstep that fill us with daily awe and to have neighbors who inspire us on a grand scale. Like many mountain towns, together we inhabit a community drawn to the same place, by the same big thinking.
We’ve said it before—we love Jackson. Not just because of the Tetons but also because it’s filled with so many stories and characters who add depth, color and dimension to our town. People who inspire us not just in recreation, but also in mindset. Freeriders, filmmakers and freethinkers; pro athletes, outdoor educators and career professionals. Conservationists and creatives. Consensus builders and visionaries. Icons focused on giving back, rather than just taking what exists here.
Yet ours is not the only town brimming with good souls who add volumes to our communities. From Bend to Boulder, Bozeman to Ketchum, it’s a common mountain town theme. So this season we’re plugging into our localized networks to profile the characters who make the mountain life better, richer and more vibrant for all of us—the under-the-radar heroes we’re all lucky to have in our towns. We’ll examine the ways these pioneers are pushing our culture forward and show them the respect they deserve for what they bring to our mountain towns and the mountain life.
When Lizzie Watson arrived in Jackson, WY sixteen years ago, she wasn’t planning to become a community leader or trailblazer. Now, she’s fully rooted in this mountain town as the only female fire captain currently on the Jackson Hole Fire/EMS team. She uses her role not just to fight fires, but to help everyone—especially kids—broaden their view of who can be a hero.
After years of hustling to build his custom furniture business, climber and career woodworker Chad Parkinson knew he needed to make a change to focus on his family in a way that still maintained their love for adventure. So, in 2016 he and his wife took the radical step of moving their family of five into a Sprinter van—in less than a month. While some days during the two years they lived in the van had their snags, for Chad, “It was the best decision I ever made.”
The times when things go sideways are hard, but important. For Stio Ambassador Andy Cochrane, a bikepacking journey with friends in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range revealed the dusty, dirty grind behind the glossy images online and connected him to the true grit of the mountains—and adapting when it's time for Plan B.
After leaving the professional cycling circuit, Garrett Gerchar knew he needed to shift gears. So, he found a new pursuit—one that helps him continue cycling, but in a way that focuses on sharing the fun and play that got him on the bike in the first place.
When climber and adventure photographer Jules Jimreivat spends a relaxed day sport climbing with her friends at their home crag of Smith Rock near Bend, Oregon, she knows it’s about much more than the send. In between laughs, snacks, spotting blue herons and facing down heady run-outs, they uncover the shared connections and daily wonder that give life to their chosen hometown.
It takes skill to cast the perfect line or make a perfect meal, but both are best when seasoned with a willingness to toss out the rule book if inspiration strikes. That’s exactly what professional chef and fly fisher Ranga Perera has done for his entire career, eventually leading to his chosen hometown of Bozeman, Montana.
For Indigenous runner Geneva Mayall, trail running isn’t just a workout. While for many people running fuels their sense of competition, for her it’s a chance to quiet that noise, connect to the land and experience radical joy.
For Joe Stone, the director of mission at Teton Adaptive Sports and an avid paraglider, the sense of power and possibility that come from spending time outdoors keep him motivated and working toward inclusion for people of all abilities in outdoor recreation.
Featured Photographers: Tristan Greszko, Black Koles, Andy Cochrane, Natalie R Starr, Jules Jimreivat, Tom Attwater, Becca Bredehoft