Outdoors Blog

‘Late outdoors bloomer’ turns her travels, recreation into a business

Kristen Bor, who graduated from Bishop Kelly High in 2001, visited Mt. Everest base camp for her Bearfoot Theory blog. That’s Ama Dablam peak in the background.
Kristen Bor, who graduated from Bishop Kelly High in 2001, visited Mt. Everest base camp for her Bearfoot Theory blog. That’s Ama Dablam peak in the background. Courtesy of Kristen Bor

Kristen Bor left college with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a fellowship on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Many would envy the path she was on. Bor wanted something different.

So she quit her job and set out to travel and start an outdoors blog. Three years later, the Bishop Kelly High grad is living in a customized Mercedes Sprinter van based in Salt Lake City, traveling the world and connecting with tens of thousands of recreation enthusiasts through her Bearfoot Theory blog (bearfoottheory.com) and related social media accounts.

“I cared about school. I took my job seriously. But I always got bored after a year,” Bor said during a recent visit to Boise. “The longest job I held was probably a year, anywhere in my entire life. I always got antsy and wanted to go do something else and wanted to go travel. This is such a better fit for me because I’m totally in charge of where I want to go with it.”

Bor’s degrees are in chemistry (bachelor’s) and environmental management (master’s). She taught scuba diving in Thailand after college and focused on fisheries management in graduate school with an eye on marine conservation. During a six-month gap between graduate school and her fellowship, she visited Indonesia for two months. On her first day of diving, she ruptured both eardrums.

“This whole path I was on, that’s why I got into it — I wanted to go dive in pretty places, and I care about the oceans,” she said.

Her first year in Washington, D.C., focused on the marine environment, her second on public lands and her third on international fish treaties.

“My heart wasn’t in it because I didn’t connect with my work as much,” she said. “(On the Indonesia trip), I couldn’t dive. I got into hiking. It helped me see there was an alternative to this diving passion and hobby that I had.”

Bor left her job in April 2014 and was blogging within two months. She worked with another blogger with a similar background — The Blonde Abroad — to learn how to build her brand. And one of Bor’s first adventures was a 22-day hike on the John Muir Trail in California, the coverage of which still ranks among the most popular items on her website.

Since, she has taken a three-month trip to New Zealand, visited base camp at Mt. Everest, hiked all over the West and learned to ski. She has a trip planned to Alaska this summer.

“I knew I wanted to write about the outdoors and use my journey as a late outdoors bloomer to show people if I’m doing it you can, too,” Bor said.

Her business is more than just a blog. She has organized group trips, including a backpacking trip this summer in Alaska, and worked with businesses on branding campaigns. Someday, she’d like to have her own product to market.

Her website and blog are named after the Grateful Dead dancing bear she has tattooed on her right foot. The name was one of the first decisions she made — and one that has met her goal.

“I really wanted something that was going to stick in people’s minds,” she said.

Explorer of the Month highlights people doing unique, notable or inspiring activities outdoors. Please send ideas to ccripe@idahostatesman.com.