On The Loom: Kate Gress

On The Loom: Kate Gress

Posted 2019 Nov
L Lauren Turley

Kate is one of our favorite Threadheads ever. She's the kind of person who will drive hours to support a friend. She's the one who shows up early and stays late all with a smile on her face. She's spontaneous, independent, and has a level of grit that we have so much respect for. Read on to find out a little bit more why we think she's so cool. 


Who are you & what's your thing?

Hi, I’m Kate — dog-mom to Arlo, diehard Thread Wallets fan, full-time paramedic, hiking addict. I say yes to adventure even if it means driving too far between oil changes and I say yes to spending time with people, even if it means giving up sleep. One of my current endeavors is summiting all of Colorado’s mountains over 14,000ft “14ers” (I’m at 42/58, currently). I’ve also dabbled in thru-hiking as well and I hope to do a whole lot more of that, soon (stay tuned).


What made you get into the outdoors?

Funny story. I grew up in Colorado, but I sincerely thought I hated hiking until my early twenties. Two of my older cousins spent a few months living with us when I was in elementary school and they drug me along on one too many hikes. At that age I wanted to spend my summers sleeping in and hanging out with my friends; I had zero interest in carrying my lunch on my back uphill for a few miles before I could eat it. The first serious hike I went on by choice was during finals week, my sophomore year of college. I went purely to avoid studying, but in the middle of the hike, I had this “wait a minute, I can’t remember why I thought I hated this,” moment. And here I am making up for those lost years.

Why do you backpack/climb/hike?

I could answer this question with a novel — I could write all about how dark my life felt before I started running to the mountains, or tell you how much these things have healed me. I could try and explain the feeling that wells up inside of me when I stand on a summit or talk about each one of the individual people I’ve met through my endeavors, but I’ll answer it with my all-time favorite quote instead:

“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” 

— René Daumal


Best hiking snack?


Anything scary ever happened to you on a climb? What made you decide to keep climbing after that?

Oh boy, a handful of moments come to mind. I research the heck out of every route I attempt and I make a point of surrounding myself with people I trust, who know what they are doing, but the wilderness is wild. 

I’ve seen rockslides and sketchy weather roll in, I’ve pushed myself a little too far from my comfort zone, I’ve watched nearby climbers fall, I’ve run out of water, I’ve encountered wildlife and dead car batteries at remote trailheads. I do my best to learn from every mishap and tuck those lessons away for future endeavors. 

I keep climbing because, in a life riddled with change, mountains are a constant for me. They’re solace in the midst of tragedy, the source of favorite memories and despite their inherent dangers, they’re one of the safest places I know. 

Favorite mountain you've climbed?

Every mountain I’ve climbed has a superlative, to me — favorite weather, best view, best sunrise, met the newest friends, the climb I laughed the most on because we quoted the Office the whole way down, most redemptive, longest summit nap, etc. But, these two stand out the most:

Longs Peak is the most special. I grew up looking at this mountain outside of my kitchen window. Standing on top of a mountain I grew up looking at was surreal and powerful and moving. And now, every single time I see it, I think of how I’ve been there and it means more to me than I ever knew a mountain could. 

Mount Yale is the most monumental. It was my first solo 14er and boy was it an adventure — my dog rolled in cow-poop during a rest break we took in the middle of the four-hour drive. When I stopped at a gas station to get soap to rinse him off, he ate my dinner. I “slept” for two hours at the trailhead in my car next to a dog that smelled like poop. And then we climbed that mountain. Eventually, the sun came up, the weather was perfect, I proved big things to myself, I felt strong and I met three fellow solo-hikers on top. We must’ve sat there together for an hour. I still keep in touch with and have since hiked with, each one of them to this day.


Anything else you want to add?

Only that I big-time love being a Thread Head and everything this company is about. 

And if you find yourself in Colorado in search of an adventure, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

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