Mina Young Lee 🦋

✧ currently in 🇳🇿 #followyouradventure ➶


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I started doing ice cold dips along my hikes as a way to challenge myself, get past the discomfort of entering a body of cold water, eventually learning to control my breathing to and embrace the bite. Soon after I discovered the euphoria that tends to linger after a cold water submersion and have been taking just about every chance to seize the opportunity on sunny days.
Last weekend I went on my first self-supported (no crutches or stabilization tools) overnight backpacking trip since fracturing my ankle, and it felt good to be back. I came out of the trek feeling stronger, as if the more I move at this point in the recovery stage, the better it is for my ankle. But there’s one thing that I feel contributed greatly to feeling so great after 24km of hiking for the first time in a long time.
The first day of the hike after establishing base camp and nourishing our bodies with high protein and caloric foods and water, we followed the river that runs parallel to Routeburn Track and found ourselves a little swimming hole. I started by dipping only my sore ankle and let the familiar sting set in. A few ankle plunges later my inflamed lower back, ass, and legs screamed “me too” so I stripped off my pants and sank my lower body into the frigid liquid of goodness. After 3 dips of 30 sec each, @juusoringman and I both noticed the dull pain (and soreness in the ankle) that usually follows a long hike disappeared. Poof, gone. I’m not sure of the science behind cryotherapy, but cold water submersions is something I find myself increasingly drawn to. #whenidipyoudipwedip🎶


Three years ago @chrisbrinleejr told me his intentions to motorbike through SE Asia. Without hesitation and a little over $1k in my bank account, I booked a one way ticket to Bangkok to meet Chris. After a music festival in Thailand we hopped on an overnight train to Cambodia, visited temples, camped on islands and made our way to Vietnam. After securing our bikes, we discovered our schedules had conflicting interests. We agreed to go our separate ways in the beginning, reconnecting in cities along our ride. It was my second time ever owning a bike, the first one I had totaled in a head on collision with an SUV at a combined speed of over 100mph on the PCH. I took that as a sign to back off for a bit til i could develop the respect and wisdom I needed to handle such a powerful machine. So here i was 2 years later with only less a week total in riding experience and I was going solo in a country I was unfamiliar with and didn’t speak the language. I started my ride north before dawn to find out my intended route didn’t allow bikes. It took over 30 minutes through a game of charades and google translator with a guy on the side of the road next to the entrance of my 3rd route attempt to discover I had to hop on a ferry and cross a river through some back roads to make it to my next destination. I had no idea what I was doing nor did i have an exact route mapped out, just an idea of when I needed to be up north by. It ended up being one of my favorite adventures ever and exactly what i needed: a month mostly by myself (i did meet some cool ppl along the way to ride with for a bit) touring an unfamiliar country with no specific plans, no expectations, unbelievably kind locals, two wheels and a pair of feet to guide me. This photo was taken on the day I said goodbye to my little rocket before handing it off to the new owner. I imagine in this moment I was reflecting upon my trip and telling the bike thanks for one hell of a ride. Thanks Chris for igniting this trip. If you’re debating a solo trip, DO IT. If your plans don’t go as expected, EMBRACE IT, it’ll probably end up being exactly what you need. #followyouradventure


20km of paddling, 6.5 hours on the water, 3 to 5 foot waves propelled by the 48479337km winds and xxl sized tour boats... this wasn’t your average taylor made tourist tour packaged with a pretty red bow. photo taken before shit hit the fan. trip report to follow. #followyouradventure #packraftingand #waterfalls



Descending Mooney Falls in Havasupai Indian Reservation with two of my loves. The reservation, commonly mistakenly called “Havasupai Falls” is composed of several waterfalls ranging from 15ft to 200ft including Havasu Falls, Beaver Falls, Little Navajo Falls, Secret Falls, Fifty Ft Falls, and Mooney Falls. Getting to Mooney requires a steep slippery climb down limestone assisted by chains and ladders. We put the 65lb munchkin in a 100liter bag for the trip down, and into a harness and leash for the way back up. Fun fact: the waterfall was named after a miner who fell to his death here. Maybe not so fun, but true. Who’s going here this year? I got 6 avail spots for May. #followyouradventure


Clouds... tiny water droplets and ice crystals condensed on particles in the air for a brief period of time forming majestic, otherworldly patterns in the sky reflecting light during a sunset in Queenstown. Pretty f’ing amazing, universe ☁️💜


This photo was taken on our first ever packrafting trip. It was the first day out of a three day trip and we were heat exhausted, dehydrated, and drained. We paddled about 10km in 110F+ temps before pulling up on a little island in the middle of the lake with no one else on it and called it Miso Hot Island and claimed it ours for the night. The sunset displayed pastel colors of pink and purple as temperatures cooled and we fell asleep to the gentle splashing of the water colliding with the rock beneath us. There was no need for a sleeping bag as the rock under our bodies served as a natural heating pad. To say we were hooked to the possibilities a packraft can bring to our adventures would be an understatement. If you’ve ever wanted to get into #packrafting, nows your chance. @kokopellipackraft is giving away their newest and lightest model at an early bird price (limited quantities) via Kickstarter. Head over to the link in my profile to grab yours.



I’ve been in Queenstown for a week now and it’s been nothing short of amazing. Here’s a short list i created of things I like about New Zealand:
•recycle and trash bins everywhere, all public and private waste; recycle is free, other waste subject to trash fees
•roundabouts instead of traffic lights in small intersections, and even big ones; more efficient traffic movement
•a lot people here care about their public lands and speak up when people are taking shits on their playgrounds, literally; front page news in the weekly newspaper; current petition for change
•petition for Maori name change for the rivers, how fucking cool; can tell a lot about rivers with their native names; majority voted against changing the name back to the native names but council decided it was too important not to
•no bad views; everywhere you look is😱😍; more nature than development; photo was taken at our first night’s stay in Queenstown, from the backyard lawn of our homestay
Have you been here? If so, what was your favorite part of New Zealand?


Cold water immersions along a river in Idaho, in between hot springs soaks


we left on our motorbikes while most of the town was still asleep. we weren’t exactly sure where we were going, just knew it was somewhere in that part of the map. as we drove out of the main town and into the smaller villages we saw the locals wake up and start their day. we didn’t speak Lao, but holding up three fingers told them exactly what we were looking for and they would point in a direction. when we got to the swimming hole there was no one in the water, just some fishies (zoom in). I floated on my black tube and admired the scenery around me. if I stayed still long enough the little swimmers below would brave come nibbling on my toes and fingers. it tickled. as the day went on Tuk Tuk loads of people poured in, and the place took a turn in presence, energy, and space. beers, laughs, flipping competitions, and my favorite, people watching. everyone traveling is a happy one. #followyouradventure



Protein break while canyoneering in Utah. It was my second day being introduced to the sport and I was in love. Access to otherwise inaccessible places, rappelling down waterfalls, swimming through sandstone slot canyons, and views like this while we stuff our faces with bars and jerky. #mykindofheaven


Did you know every flight booked to fly from or to the United States is required by the Department of Transportation to be refundable for a period of 24 hours after booking? No excuses, book that dream trip ;) I just booked a one-way ticket to a country that I’ve never been to but has been on my list since the Lord of the Rings. 🤩🏔️🧚🏻‍♀️ What new places are you going to this year? #followyouradventure


Around a mile and a half into the Wire Pass Trail there was this carved out arch in the wall. I wonder what it’d be like to live in that space. Harmoniously with nature, campfire for heat, bed built out of logs and greens or even carved into the ground. What it’d be like to live in a world where you just walked up to a spot and said yep, this is mine. I’m calling this Home for the next 382 days. Actually, we kinda do do that. Where’s Home for you? #followyouradventure



Here’s to wishing you all an amazing 2018! ✨💗🦋 Make goals! Write em down. Big or small but dig deep and write what you want to happen in your life this year. Then let it go. “Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction... The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” - Melody Beattie #writeyourdreamlife #followyouradventure #happynewyear ;)


One of my favorite trips of 2017. Wins every. damn. time. I mean this place. How MAGICAL is the scenery at the bottom of Mooney Falls? Seriously though where’s T-Rex, Sid, and the kids? Missing this place and the crew we stomped around with on these fairytale grounds a couple months ago. #otherworldly


When I was little, my mom or dad would dress up as Santa, sneak into our rooms the night of Christmas Eve and stuff our stockings with presents. One year I had trouble falling asleep and saw “Santa” come into the room. He looked a lot smaller, shorter, skinnier, and beardless than I imagined. That’s when I slowly started putting together that “Santa” was actually my parents. Instead of letting my parents know that I knew their dirty little secret, I played along for a couple more years (until my sisters caught on) pretending that I still believed in Santa so I could check off more of my wish list. Silly little Mina. Presents, Santa, and Reindeers might have been the most exciting part of the holidays for me when I was younger, but now that I’m a bit older and possibly a little wiser, time spent with loved ones during Christmas is what I cherish the most and I am so damn thankful to be with those I love this year. Here’s to wishing you a happy happy holidays and more time spent with your loved ones! ❄️💗



How fortunate are we that the presidents and heroes before us had the brilliant idea of protecting natural wonders such as the site you see before me in this photo. The more I travel the more I realize how places like this are diminishing day by day. Not only in our homeland, but all over the world. An alarming amount of rainforests are being illegally deforested by governments to create furniture from exotic and rare trees for quick revenue. Increasing palm oil production by bulldozing tropical forests and wildlife habitats has taken precedence over protecting endangered specifies and preserving nature for the sake of all life on earth. One trillion plastic bags are used and discarded every year. That’s around 2.7 billion per day. How do we make a difference? This is a question I find asking myself often. Did you know that palm oil is in just about everything processed? Have you ever looked at the ingredients on the back of your Quaker Oats? How about your Doritos? Choosing to vote with your wallet is a small, but powerful act if we do it together. Companies will only start to change their business models from efficient and minimal cost to ethical and minimally harmful to humans and the environment if we drive the market there. Shopping is generally a long and drawn out process for me as I take my time to inspect ingredients, source of a product, and ethics and practices of a company before making a purchase. Another simple way to #votewithyourwallet is to support companies, products or services with the @1percentFTP logo. These companies give 1% of annual sales back to non-profit organizations who are dedicated to creating a healthier planet. What are some ways you guys find yourselves #makingadifference?


Earlier this summer I took two people behind the brand @Merrell on their first backpacking trip. With an elevation change of over 2800 ft in 3.5 miles and a trail full of loose rocks on an unofficially established trail with class 5 scrambling in temperatures over 100 degrees, to say it wasn’t a beginner hike is to say the least. We carried 2 days worth of food, 10 liters of water, and our homes on our backs. There were tears shed, heat exhaustion battled, and bruises decorating one of the girls. When asked what their favorite part of the hike was, their response was “getting out alive”.

If you know me, or have ever adventured with me, you know its pretty typical of me to plan something where sleep is little and bruises are served for breakfast. When one of my good friends asked me to take him camping for his birthday one year we drove 11+ hours to the desert, carried down 3 days worth of food and gear along with a foldable kayak down a narrow steep rocky crevice and paddled 5 miles to our campsite which we hauled over wood from another 1/2 mile away for a campfire. On our way out, on our 6th trip up the rocky crevice and sandy slopes, he took a break from hauling his kayak, looked at me in complete exhaustion and said something along the lines of, “if I asked anyone else to take me camping they would have taken me to a drive up spot where we’d pitch our tent right next to our cars. But I ask you to take me camping and you take me on this trip where we have to carry 60lb of gear for multiple days and a kayak on our backs. Wtf.” They were words mixed with feelings of disbelief, gratitude, awe, and maybe a little bit of regret.

In retrospect I can honestly say to these girls, and my friends who’s fallen victim to my expeditions: I’m sorry for putting you through hell, for not prepping you guys better, for the bruises, heat exhaustion, and blue toes. But I am not sorry for being able to witness you guys push past your self-doubts, overcome your fears, and conquer yourselves on the trail. To witness this is incredibly rewarding, humbling, and inspiring. If you’ve ever come with me on a trip, thank you for putting your trust in me. #createyourtrail


Hats off to you Mother Nature 🧢
What an incredible piece of work this place is. It’s hard to put into words or encapsulate in a photo what it’s like to stand here in person. The majestic rocky towers glowing from the peak of daylight through the clouds, the crystal clear turquoise lake which flows from here and snakes it’s way down the valley to where the hike all begun 5km ago. The 2748km of driving it took to get ourselves there. The endless master of butt sculpting stairmasters we conquered on our way up. When I look at this photo I remember very clearly seeing this place for the first time, standing there slack jawed trying to comprehend all that overwhelming beauty - but for me it’s the moments along the journey that stick like a sore thumb in my memories. Four fully grown adults sleeping in the car waiting for border patrol to open the gates, the moment my best friend came to comfort me during a mental breakdown during the drive down, the panic we felt when we did a replay of all we went through to hike our way to base camp and the campground host told us there may not be enough room, the countless amount of alpacas we saw on the road and the excitement we felt about it every single time. The experiences accompanying the adventure is what keeps calling me back, every objective smacking me with exactly what I was subconsciously seeking. Humility, humanity, reflection, excitement, gratitude, and transformation. Although everything we seek is already inside of us, the trail to Mirador Torres del Paine certainly had a way of bringing it all out. @merrell #createyourtrail



Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction - so easy to lapse into - that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us. [Robert Macfarlane]


Where do you guys find yourselves showering when living on the road? hotels? rivers? travel centers? gyms? RV campground showers? developed campground showers? out of your own bag and hose? a built in mobile shower? hot springs? in your personal outdoor, hot springs filled hot tub at your private campsite? The latter was one of my favorite places of rejuvenation on the road. #dipfeedthefire #privacypluswater #followyouradventure


Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. [Bruce Lee]
It’s been over a month since I sprained my ankle and I’m still on crutches so I decided to go to a local hospital here in Ninh Binh, Vietnam to get another set of x-rays. With the type of pain I’ve been experiencing and research I’ve done online I was sure I fractured my fibula. The x-rays, local doctors, and friends who have been nice enough to take the time to look at the x-rays from overseas have confirmed this. At best this means another month on crutches, casted and immobilized right foot. At worst this can require a flight back home for surgery and a longer recovery period. What had originally thought to be just a few torn ligaments and expectation of walking soon has halted our plans of motorbiking, packrafting, and trekking our way across Vietnam. When life throws curveballs like this I know it’s a sign to step back and reevaluate. The universe, and maybe subconsciously I have been screaming “slow down” for the past month but I didn’t listened. Guiding a 20 mile trek and hobbling around Vietnam continuously pursuing adventure with and sometimes without a simple brace and crutches probably wasn’t the best course of action but I have no regrets. Looking into the present now I know it’s time to shift my focus, taking the much needed time to catch up on photographs, blogs, books, meditation, along with a few exciting potential projects and let the seeds of opportunity blossom into flowers of passion, creation, partnerships, balance, and continuous potentiality in the realm of uncertainty, all while giving back. #followyouradventure #wearelimitless #createyourtrail


Trekking through some parts of this canyon felt like walking through nature’s pottery. At 21 mikes Buckskin Gulch may be the longest slot canyon in the world and although most notably known for its snake like narrow passages, this part opened up a bit wider with softer edges taking on a more feminine like energy. #createyourtrail


Legend has it that Ha Long Bay got its name from a dragon descended from the heavens spitting jade jewels into the water to protect Vietnam from its invaders. Being one of the seven natural wonders makes it a popular tourist destination. However, this photo wasn’t taken in Ha Long Bay, but it’s lesser known and ventured adventurous sister, Lan Ha Bay. Home to over 24 known deep water soloing crags and over 200 establish routes, along with several secret lagoons, this place makes for an exploring climbers paradise. One can hire a basket boat to take them deeper into the bay anywhere between $5-20 depending on ones negotiating skills but due to the variability of the tide levels which affects the ability to access and safely climb most of the routes, we had the help of an excellent guide from @asiaoutdoors (only licensed climbing tour operator with certified climbing guides on the island) and their basket boat driver who also climbs and know the appropriate safety measures to take to assist a climber onto a wall. We took our @kokopellipackraft to launch from our basket boat to explore the hidden lagoons in between climbs which we had all to ourselves. More on this later. #followyouradventure


Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. [Ralph Waldo Emerson] // 2017 has been pretty nutty so far. I’m grateful for all that’s happened. The adventures, mishaps, injuries, my wonderful and crazy family, the friends who always say yes to adventure, the kindness of strangers along the way, the kickass brands i get to work with, the inspiration that circles among instagram, the go-getters i’ve gotten to know through my guided trips, the sites I’ve had the privilege of visiting this year, old and new, my health, my dog, lessons I’ve learned, experiences I’ve had, the boundaries which have been pushed, the countries I’ve explored, our public lands which supply us with ground to play, air to breathe and water to drink, the universe for letting me know when to slow down, this floating pink flamingo for supplying us with a couple hours of fun on this amazingly gorgeous place of magicness, @rexekuhn for taking and sending me this photo, my bf who’s been there for me in unconditional ways, my mom who’s always cooking me deliciousness when I’m home from my trips, my sister who’s always checking in with me, my other sister who’s moved to and getting to explore a new state, my dad who’s about to have another child, my half-aunt who’s come into my life recently and is hosting thanksgiving in her home for all the family (unfortunately I won’t be there for it but hey), the absolutely stunning scenery I’m immersed in at the moment in Vietnam, the lovely homestays we’ve stayed at and the hosts we’ve gotten to meet along the way, the nights spent under the starry sky, the trails I’ve hiked, the waters I’ve swam in, you guys who follow my adventures, I’m thankful for it ALL. #happythanksgiving 💞🍁


The following is a note I wrote in my phone earlier this year about relationships:
- - - - - - -
I think for relationships to be tested with downs and then recovering from that down always makes a relationship stronger. I think fights aren't always a bad thing. It's good for two people to be able to stand up for what they believe in without worrying about whether that person will hate them or not. It's good to show your true colors from the getgo and ween out the fakes.
- - -
But that's part of what makes us strong. The downs suck balls but at least we see our true colors all the time and sometimes they're not all bright and rainbow colored with purple fucking butterflies. Sometimes they're dark and have shit written all over it with dinosaur t-rex blood but at least we know every depth of both of us and choose to accept it.
- - - - - - -
No one is really ever your friend or truly loves you until they have seen every dark shadow inside of you... and stayed. Choose someone who chooses you just as much as you choose them every single damn day. 💞 Happy birthday @juusoringman.


Got word from my family this little munchkin has been misbehaving lately. It’s hard traveling and leaving her home but SouthEast Asia isn’t really the most dog friendly environment. What’s funny to me is that dogs are just like humans in the sense that they need the outdoors, wild open spaces, and physical exercise just as much as we humans in orders to be healthy, happy, and well behaved. Unfortunately she doesn’t get a whole lot of this when I’m not home and it’s interesting to see how different of a dog she becomes when she doesn’t get her fix. #sorrybabesbutwewilladventurewhenimhome #sheadventuresmorethanmostdogssoitevensout #wearewild #getoutdoors


One of the last shots I took in Norway before a huge wave came crashing down on me and my photography gear. I learned very quickly from an incident a couple years ago that salt water will erode the metal in your camera. I lost a $4,500 set when i put the camera and lens into a bag of rice after it fell in the ocean. This time the first thing I did was turn off my camera and take out the batteries. The second thing i did was grab a water bottle and immediately wash off the salt water. The last thing I did was leave in an open area to dry for at least 24 hours before turning it back on. These steps saved my gear and hopefully this will never happen to you, but if it does, my lesson is your gain :)


There is strength in every struggle. Struggles create opportunities for you to become stronger, wiser and better. The moment you shift your thinking from "I cannot" to "I must," you will begin to see 'Beyond the Pain' and draw strength from within. Learn to see each obstacle as a stepping stone and watch your life change significantly. [Kemi Sogunle] // when I sprained my ankle a week before I had planned to guide a 20+ mile trek so many people told me “Mina, you can’t” - “reschedule your trip” - “hire someone else” etc etc. My response: “I must, and I will.” Look for the opportunities in every problem. Chances are, it’s a moment to overcome obstacles and build inner (and outer) strength 💕 @merrell #createyourtrail


Can’t say enough good things about the last trip’s crew. Kind, humbling, inspiring, driven, go-getters. The trip wasn’t how i imagined it. Guiding a trip with mutiple ligament tears and an unusable right ankle made getting around more difficult. However, limited mobility presented an opportunity to pull out and play with the 70-200mm lens from a birds eye view. Each time I come here, I find a new way to appreciate this place. This time, it was through the eyes of others. #followyouradventure


What you see: a happy, healthy Mina. What you don’t see: @juusoringman on the other side of the lens who just dropped everything and flew across the planet to help me with my Havasupai trip, my handicap foot, and to drive me back across the country to Virginia within three days after the trip. What a fucking man. #iloveyou #luckylady #offthegridfor3days #wildernesstherapy #havasupaiherewecome #seeyousoontribe