Irene is a testament to living life to its fullest. As a forestry technician with the U.S. Forest Service in Alaska, she regularly braves the elements—often alone. She’s also faced breast cancer, surviving to have three children.
Call of the wild
At 12 I knew I wanted a job working in the woods. In high school I transferred to the rival school across town because they offered courses in forestry and wildlife management.
Being charged by a brown bear was very scary, but it happened so quickly and then it was over—though I was still shaking after 20 minutes. On another occasion, I was bluffed by a brown bear, which was almost scarier because it went on for a couple of minutes. Bears are so majestic from a distance, but when they’re up close and in your
face, it’s a horrible experience.
Most rewarding outdoors experience
Being out in the woods or mountains, year-round, much of it alone and seeing the beauty of each day, whether rain or shine, cold or warm.
Favorite outdoor sport and why?
Skate skiing. I love the motion and action, the rhythm, the physical exertion and the ability to go long distances, especially if I am skijoring with my dog, Lark. Skijoring is a winter sport in which a person on skis is pulled by a dog. It requires skill and stamina, especially when not on
groomed trails and while carrying a pack that weighs 35 pounds or more.
Great outdoords beauty routine
On overnight trips, I use Body Cleansing Sheets and save DHC samples for camping.
Helen Mirren! I hope to be proud of my body as I age and never be afraid to wear a bikini.
Feeling beautiful in your own skin
I take time to pamper myself, doing a little something for just me that makes me smile and feel good, every day. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out affair—just the few minutes I take first thing in the morning to wash and apply moisturizer makes me feel beautiful as I begin a new day.
Read more about Irene’s love of nature and travel.
What drew you to a career in the outdoors?
I was a tomboy growing up and loved playing in the cow fields. By age 12, I already knew I wanted a job working in the woods. In fact, during high school I transferred to a rival school across town because they offered courses in forestry and wildlife management.
What’s your advice on getting through long Alaskan winters?
Visit friends and stay active with outdoor activities. And make sure you have a good headlamp, boots and insulated clothing. I regularly snowshoe, ski, snowboard and ice skate. It’s also good to have hobbies you enjoy doing indoors.
Have you taken outdoors trips outside of Alaska?
I spent six weeks traveling the Baja peninsula in Mexico: camping all but two nights in a hotel, swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, kayaking, relaxing, and eating fresh fish and fabulous Mexican food. There are many places I would love to travel to hike/backpack once I retire and have more time.