REI Outessa Wilderness Retreat

This past weekend I attended the REI Outessa located at Squaw Valley Resort in Lake Tahoe, California. Outessa is a REI sponsored wilderness retreat created by women for women! A 3-day event where women of all ages experience guided outdoor adventures, test products from leading outdoor retailers, learn valuable wilderness and survival skills, and connect with likeminded women from all over the country.

Is there an outdoor activity that you want to try out but you are too intimidated to check out on your own? Outessa is the perfect environment to try those new activities! For the 3-day event, I was able to customize my schedule with a variety of classes and workshops. I was surrounded by expert instructors and encouraging women.

I’m an avid hiker and love participating in outdoor activities. I’ve taken 1 indoor belay rock climbing class, but always wanted to try it in the outdoors. I saw that Outessa offered an all-levels workshop so I jumped at the chance to try it out! The experience was completely thrilling and terrifying! Even though I was harnessed in with all the proper gear, I wanted to stop half way up the rock and quit! The granite rock was slippery and steep, more than intimidating for a newbie climber. I was so glad the other women in my class cheered me on and encouraged me to finish. I somehow found the strength to pull myself up, push through and climb to the top!

Outessa also offers educational workshops. I attended Outessa as a Garmin ambassador and naturally had to check out their GPS 101 workshop! In the class I learned the basics of GPS navigation as well as the functions and features of my Garmin Fenix 5s watch. I discovered so many add-ons in the Garmin Connect IQ store, including widgets, maps, weather apps and more I can load on to my Fenix 5s watch. I tested some of the new features on my group hike to Shirley Canyon Trail.

The Outessa event included a lot of “firsts” for me including SUP yoga; essentially yoga performed on a stand up paddle board! Sounds easy, but takes lots of core strength to maintain your balance on top of a floating SUP board. With that said, it’s also quite meditative to layback on your board, close your eyes, dip your fingers and toes in the water and listen to the natural sounds around you!


The Outessa retreat had lots of fun crafts and activities, like making your own nutrition bar at the ProBar booth, creating a wrap bracelet at Lorissa’s Kitchen, and customizing your own Igloo cooler! There are also a ton of perks that come with attending the event including three square meals a day, open bar every night, tons of freebies and giveaways, and a swag bag chock-full of outdoor goodies.

I met so many women at Outessa from all over the country. We were able to share experiences, make memories, and encourage each other to try new things. I met the amazing Diane Van Deren, a Northface ultra marathon runner on our group hike. She told us her amazing story of being the first and only athlete to run a 1000 mile ultra marathon! Unable to read maps or remember directions due to a brain injury, Diane relied on a dedicated team for support and navigation.

Most importantly at Outessa, we had FUN! Every night included music and dancing, where we could just let our hair down, strip down to our sports bra and truly be “sweaty, dirty, happy”!

Interested in learning more about REI Outessa or attending an event for yourself? Be sure to check out the upcoming  REI Outessa White Mountains Retreat at Waterville Valley Resort, New Hampshire.

Photos courtesy of Outessa & Ryan Tuttle Photography @ryantuttlephoto


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Vanessa says:

    What a great write up. I enjoyed following your journey at Outtessa! Looking forward to hopefully experience this once in my lifetime 🙂


    1. Thanks so much Vanessa! I hope you get to attend an REI Outessa event someday! It was a pretty awesome experience!


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