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I can barely watch the news these days. It just sucks. However, I WOULD watch the news if there were more stories like this one. It’s some Merrell Magic and it’s about an amazing mom finding some balance in this crazy world out on the trail. Here’s how it came together. 

First of all, Merrell Magic is the outdoor shoe maker’s partnership with Backpacker magazine. Together they scour the backcountry looking for chances to surprise hikers and trail crews with gifts and treats. It’s their way to celebrate people who share a passion for the outdoors.

About a month ago, my friend Shanti Hodges, founder of Hike It Baby, got the chance to take a single mom of five kids out for an overnight backpacking trip. Single mama of five. Let that sink in. Her name is Autumn Cullen and she would soon become the next recipient of Merrell’s goodwill.

Shanti met her through Facebook and got her involved with Hike it Baby, a nationwide organization that encourages parents to get outside with their kids. Shanti then reached out to Backpacker magazine to see if she could write a story on her, because as you’ll see, Autumn’s story is completely inspiring. They went for it.

Autumn and her five kids met with Shanti in the Tahoe National Forest outside Sacramento, California. After hiking in the woods a mile and a half they arrived at their campsite by a lake. What Autumn didn’t know was the fine folks from Backpacker magazine and Merrell had set up camp for her. Not only that, they had an extra sweet surprise. See what it was and how she reacted in Shanti’s Facebook video here:


Steve Lemig

Steve Lemig is the founder of Wilderdad. He's been a lot of things over the years. Skateboarder. Mountain biker. Climber. Snowboarder. Bike mechanic. Forest firefighter. Woodworker. Creative director. These days he's a runner, writer, husband, and father. He writes stories to empower dads and encourage them to share outdoor adventures with their kids as a tool to strengthen families and build respect for the environment. He has also been the Communications Director at Road Runner Sports for the last 13 years.

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